Title: Captain America:Civil War
Director: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Major Players: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Junior, Scarlett Johansson
Out Of Five: 4.5
What is it with superheroes? First, Batman and Superman throw their toys out of their prams, and now Cap and Iron Man are having hissy fits. Not only that, but their posters are remarkably similar as well. Somebody needs to sort them out. Correction. It looks like somebody has because, once you get past the poster, that’s where the similarities between the two mega-movies end. Not only that, but Captain America:Civil War is simply head and shoulders above Bats V Supes, so much so that a certain Mr Snyder might want to take a look and see how it’s done.
And the difference all starts with the reason for the disagreement between long-time allies, Cap (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Junior). No actual personal animosity here, but a difference in their approach to what they’re doing, with a large helping of politics thrown in. An accident, caused by one of the Avengers, results in the death of innocent civilians and puts the super heroes slap bang in the spotlight. To prevent the same thing happening again, they are stripped of their independence and ordered to report to a committee. The politically minded Iron Man agrees, the more idealistic Cap doesn’t and the rift is created between them and their followers. So Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) stand shoulder to shoulder with Cap, while Iron Man’s line-up is Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Vision (Paul Bettany).
But it isn’t just a case of the usual suspects. There’s new faces on both sides, some familiar, some less so. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is out to avenge the death of his father. He purrs his lines and has a manicure like a mini Wolverine. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) enthusiastically joins Cap’s team and demonstrates his ability to reverse the miniaturisation process so that he becomes, if you like, Gi-Ant Man (sorry, that’s a bit of a spoiler). Finally, and most sensationally, comes the first sighting of the new Spider- Man (Tom Holland), a teenager still at school with the most glamorous of Aunty Mays (Marisa Tomei). He has some – nearly all – of the best comedy moments, most of which are about him working out how to use his impressive powers. And he comes perilously close to stealing the whole thing from under the noses – and masks – of the more established members of the cast.
This is a film that really knows how to use humour. Admittedly, once the fight between the two teams gets started, it seems like it’s falling into the trap of taking itself too seriously. Not a bit of it! Just at the right moment, we get some laughs to lighten the mood. Falcon is, as ever, bang on target in puncturing Cap’s tendency to be a wee bit pompous, but now we have the youthful exuberance and cheekiness of Spidey and Ant-Man with his tongue firmly in his cheek. There’s also the usual cameo from Stan Lee, but this time with a great gag about Tony Stark’s name. It can’t fail to run into the next episode in the franchise. It’s simply too good to waste. And all of that means the balance between humour, seriousness and action is perfect.
It almost goes without saying that the action comes thick and fast and borders on the relentless. Like most super hero movies, it’s a film that needs to be seen on the big screen, preferably with those 3-D glasses for the whole experience. As with Winter Soldier, it starts off with a massive action sequence and, as before, you wonder if it’s peaked too soon. Oh me of little faith!
Sadly, not quite all of the gang is here. There’s no sign of Thor and his hammer, nor is there a certain rather large green man. If you saw the last Avengers movie, you’ll know why. You can’t help but wonder whose side he would have been on – Black Widow has her own views on that – and what effect he would have had on the outcome. Sadly, we’ll never know.
But overall, Captain America:Civil War is what a super hero movie should be: full of action and humour, but with enough for you to think about as well. It also manages to sit comfortably within the Marvel universe in its own right, while at the same time introducing characters to expand it. Showdowns don’t get much better.
Captain America:Civil War is released on Friday, 29 April and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 28 April.