Let’s get straight into it. Civil War is good, really good. At the moment of writing this, I’m a bit undecided on the grade and even my final thoughts, it’s definitely a Film that you need to see a couple of times to really take it all in. Because, in the end, it’s a long Film. 2 and a half hours and even as I was enjoying it I was still feeling the length of it, from adverts to the end of the credits, it’s pretty much bang on 3 hours sitting in the same seat.
However as Marvel Films go, it’s the most coherent, surprisingly so with the number of characters and the hours do tend to pass a lot easier than in a lesser Film. There’s no real flab, no unnecessary set-ups for next films that don’t fit organically into the story and much like The Winter Soldier before it, Civil War has that deft political underpinning that made its predecessor so engaging.
You know the story, after huge collateral damage over the course of various adventures, the government wants The Avengers to register so they can be controlled. Iron Man and Captain America are on opposite sides of the argument, Tony thinks they should accept responsibility for the damage caused and register, whilst Steve, who’s judgement is clouded by best friend, now brainwashed operative Bucky Barnes, chooses to rebel.
On both sides are an assortment of superheroes, not including Thor or Hulk, who all rally to the sides of their friends.
The film’s greatest achievement is in juggling so many heroes, giving pretty much all of them a decent amount of screen time and a point of view. You understand how and why each person is fighting for what they believe in, siding with Tony or Cap, and each character decision makes sense.
What I love most, however, is that at no point do you think anyone of them is a villain. You may believe that one of them is wrong, but the beliefs of each side come from their own individual experiences. Of course, Civil War is, in the end, less about the registration and more about the fight over Bucky. Tony has strong reasons to hate him and to want him brought down but Steve, motivated by love and the truth is desperate to protect him.
Though it may be disappointing that the War is more a family skirmish, which only feels serious between 3 or 4 characters and not those who are just along for the fight, Ant-Man, and Spider-Man for example, but in the end it’s all remarkably engaging. The drama feels real and heavy, Robert Downey Jr gives his best Marvel performance yet, really, properly good and Cap is almost arrogantly confident in his own views.
The build up of their resentment and the culmination of their anger really hits home, by the time fist meets shield we’ve already had the massive super-powered brawl in an airport and the final is simply a 3-way fight over the soul of one man. It’s astonishing and occasionally breathtaking and you really feel the stakes are extremely personal rather than sprawling.
On that airport brawl, yeah, it’s epic. It’s awesome and funny, Spider-Man and Ant-Man steal the show, with everyone else getting their own moment of gold. The big reveal, you know the one, will make you squeal with delight and it’s the perfect way to let loose in a film that was fairly and sensibly subdued until then.
On the films MVP’s. Spider-Man is superb. He’s funny, sweet and engaging, pretty much stealing every scene he is in. He, like Black Panther, is perfectly formed before he even gets his own film and as for the Prince himself, well, his film is going to be fantastic.
Elsewhere, old favourites get a chance to shine. Scarlett Witch, in particular, gets a surprisingly meaty role and in once scene, proves that she is perhaps the most powerful of them all. You’ll know it when you see it.
Black Widow is sadly a bit underused, despite getting a fair bit to do, but she still remains as wonderful as ever and for the moments he’s in, Hawkeye continues to be the most charismatic and engaging hero this side of The Avengers.
The Russo Brothers have crafted a real winner. Maybe it’s not as politically adept or subtle as The Winter Soldier but it packs a real emotional punch and even holds back on the jokes, making the moments in which there is humor all the more effective.
The only trouble is that it may sag a little in the first half, it does feel quite long and you need to quickly attune yourself to the fact that this is a film about Bucky rather than that registration bill. Also, as it’s own story, I’m not sure where it will put the next Avengers film. On the slate, we have Dr. Strange, which may possibly be Marvels first misfire followed by 3 films in 2017, Guardians 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok.
This means that there will be a fair break between now and the reteaming of The Avengers, with the lion’s share of the Infinity War character repositioning to occur in the 2 space-based films of 2017
However with Civil War, we now have a practically perfect superhero trilogy, one that sets up and finishes a lot. I’m interested to see what’s going to happen next as Tony, Cap et all take a break before their biggest fight yet and I for one, can’t wait to see what surprises we’ve got coming next.
Overall I’d say Civil War is a rousing success, but I do need to watch it again.