Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Official poster shows the Avengers team factions which led by Iron Man and Captain America, confronting each other by looking each other, with the film's slogan above them, and the film's title, credits and release date below them.
Dawn of Accountability

Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Running Time: 146 Minutes
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl, Frank Grillo

If anything, 2016 can be remembered as the year cinema held superheroes accountable for their actions. Coming out over a month after Warner Bros and DC's limp attempts at tackling the matter, Marvel prove yet again why they're at the top when it comes to the superhero genre.

Opening on a mission in Lagos, The Avengers' efforts to stop Crossbones (a returning Frank Grillo) results in civilian casualties, the latest in a long list of such events. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt, returning to the role after 8 years) informs them of the Sokovia Accords, a decree passed by the United Nations to oversee the actions of the Avengers. While Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) believes government interference could hinder the saving of lives, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) believes it's the right call. The matter leaves the Avengers choosing sides, with matters complicated when Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is framed for a terrorist attack.

In spite of its massive cast, this is a Captain America film at its core. Chris Evans once more solidifies his place as the heart and soul of The Avengers, as his priority is bringing back the friend he thought he lost, even if it serves as his blindspot. Sebastian Stan remains compelling as the soldier who just wants to be as far from his mysterious past as possible, which is easier said than done.

The inclusion of fellow Avengers and other heroes doesn't detract from the dispute, but instead widens the scope, as each member are given an appropriate amount of screen-time. The conflict is made all the more compelling by how neither side is portrayed as wrong, or in an antagonistic manner. Just like Gavin Hood did with Eye in the Sky, the Russo's successfully delivers compelling and understandable arguments for opposing sides in an argument.

This time around, Tony's focus is on his accountability stance than the wisecracks. He's merely doing what he believes is right, to prevent any more mistakes like creating Ultron, even if it threatens to split these friends apart. In short, it's yet another fantastic performance from am utterly dependable performer. Anthony Mackie acts as terrific support to Evans, proving to be an invaluable asset to Cap, while game for a funny line every now and then.

One of the main talking points has been the appearance of Spider-Man, in his the third cinematic iteration over nearly 15 years. While the character doesn't massively impact the plot, one is left not caring when Tom Holland does such a good job. A 15 year old who's been web-slinging for six months, intent on using his abilities to help those he can in his Onesie costume, while harbouring apparent regrets from unmentioned (but well known) past events. Carrying an infectious sense of fun, brimming with humorous quips, completely lovable in his need to impress Iron Man, one's left feeling the Daily Bugle's own menace has leapt from the comics straight onto the big screen.

While their Cinematic Universe has been growing, Marvel has accumulated an unfortunate reputation for disappointing with their villains. Thankfully, Daniel Brühl's Zemo bucks the trend, as his tactician proves to be fleshed out and rather calculating (even if some parts rely on convenience). Also making his MCU debut is Black Panther, who carries rage during his personal quest for vengeance. Chadwick Boseman does a perfect job embodying the character, dignified and full of charm, yet perfectly capable of taking part in fights.

You can't help but feel as though the film is building towards one big battle between both sides, and it does so rather well. While the opening conflict is noticeable in its shaky camera work, that's merely a niggle compared to the rest of the pictures clashes. One such moment occurs in a stairwell, rivalling a similarly set fight in TV's Daredevil. When both teams face off at an abandoned airport, you can't help but feel as though you're witnessing a splash page ripped straight from a comic. It's an all-out Battle Royale, packed with creative moments and ready to deliver mass amounts of pleasure. Every combatant gets a moment to shine and contribute, but it's Ant-Man and Spidey who stand-out and threaten to steal the show (with the former silencing any doubts about his usefulness).

By the time the final act comes around, you'd be forgiven for expecting things to revert to the "big battle to stop the villain" formula which is often the go-to for superhero films. While there is a battle, it's destructive impact hits at a more personal level than the typical decimation of scenery. The emotional stakes have been risen, and after 8 years and 12 films, one can't help but care for these characters.

There must have been palpable temptation for Marvel to deliver a film only focused on the action and the massive cast. But it's clear their interest for Phase 3 was moving forward and taking these characters and audiences out of their comfort zones. Captain America: Civil War not only succeeds with delivering an interesting story packed with conflict for these characters, but it stands as a successful entry into the superhero genre.


Zach Murphy said…
This movie was loads of fun and strong with its themes and conflicts.

Nice reference to this year's underrated Eye in the Sky.

- Zach
James Rodrigues said…
It definitely was. Thank you, the parallels seemed so apparent between those two highlights of 2016.