After members of the Avengers cause collateral damage in their attempt to take down a criminal in Lagos, the UN pulls the superheroes in line, forcing them to sign an accord that puts them under UN control. When Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is implicated in a terrorist attack, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) sets out to protect his friend, effectively splitting the Avengers, and turning them against one another in their bid to do good. What the former friends don’t know, however, is that someone else is controlling Barnes, and wants to see the Avengers empire crumble from the inside.
Marvel is back, and this time they are throwing everything they can into Captain America: Civil War to not only set up the next instalment of the Avengers franchise – Infinity War – but to make the film as engaging as possible, while introducing Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and his semi return to his home studio. This is all well and good, as it goes some way to relieving the Marvel fatigue that has set in with audiences, but it leaves the film feeling rather like the mini Avengers – only Thor and Hulk do not make an appearance this time out.
The cast features many familiar faces; Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Paul Bettany as Vision, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes and Anthony Mackie as Falcon, and some new faces join the fray here; Tom Holland makes his debut as Spider-Man, Chadwick Boseman brings Black Panther to the big screen, Daniel Bruhl amps up the manipulation as Zemo, Marisa Tomei plays Peter Parker’s Aunt May and they are joined by Martin Freeman. Everyone does well enough in their roles, although some are given more to do than others – this is the Captain’s film after all – although the new Avengers members – Scarlet Witch, Vision and Ant-Man – perhaps do best with what they are given in their small roles.
Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely gleefully explore the Civil War theme from the Avengers graphic novels, bringing a disagreement between friends to a violent and action packed conclusion. There are definite holes throughout the film, with the final payoff and reasoning for just why the team are turned against one another feeling patchy and thin. The dialogue throughout the film is fairly strong, however, the action nicely paced throughout and each of the new characters is introduced in a thrilling and engaging way, it’s simply that the sum of everything somehow ends up feeling less than each part feels individually.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo do their best to keep the 2 and a half hour running time moving quickly, but with a convoluted story that seems to want to throw almost every character into the film somewhere, Captain America: Civil War does end up feeling cluttered, and the constant arguing between friends becomes tiresome after a while. That said, the smaller characters have a ball with their cameo roles, and the fight sequences are thrilling and a lot of fun, but the pacing stumbles from time to time, leaving Captain America: Civil War sometimes feeling more like a political thriller with Avengers, rather than a fun and self aware super hero movie.
In all, Captain America: Civil War feels more like an Avengers outing than a stand alone Cap film, but the cameos make the film fun and engaging. The running time is a little too long and motivations feel patchy, but there is fun to be had with the film, even if it does feel like more of a set up for the next move in the franchise than a stand alone film in itself.