Marvel's enormously fun superhero sequel is stuffed with standout performances - but Tom Holland's webslinger and Chadwick Boseman's T’Challa reign supreme
If you were disappointed by Avengers: Age of Ultron we’ve got good news for you. Marvel’s big summer release Captain America: Civil War is the Avengers movie you were hoping to get last year - even if it still suffers from some of the studio’s continuing problem to include every superhero in sight.
This is Anthony and Joe Russo’s second go-around directing a Marvel production and you can see why studio boss Kevin Feige selected them to spearhead the two-part Avengers: Infinity War which begins in 2018. The brothers have a unique talent in keeping this part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as grounded as possible considering there are “enhanced” beings from different worlds doing who knows what and when. That, in fact, is the crux of the film’s central conflict.
After the events in Age of Ultron, the nations of the world have decided that the Avengers have caused too much collateral damage to continue without proper supervision. U.S. Secretary of State and former General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt reprising his character from The Incredible Hulk) is put in charge of getting our favourite heroes to sign on to the plan.
Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and the team’s major financial backer, is on board. Unfortunately, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans) thinks it’s too dangerous to put their work into the hands of politicians who have their own agendas.
That storyline ties into the return of Rogers’ old friend Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), who is the chief suspect in a terrorist attack that inadvertently introduces T’Challa, aka the Black Panter (Chadwick Boseman) into the Marvel Universe. Each Avenger takes a side as the story ramps up for the inevitable brother vs. brother showdown. And, strangely, that’s when the real fun happens.
It’s a superfluous set up considering Civil War’s real storyline, but the debut of yet another Spider-Man in the set-up for this battle is one of the best parts of the movie. Tom Holland does a superb job of portraying a teenage Peter Parker that is quite different than the web-slingers Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield brought to the screen.
Tony Stark has a big role in transforming Parker into the Spider-Man we all recognise, but Marvel (and Holland) do a fantastic job of making him as funny as a dorky, super-powered high school student should be.
It goes without saying that Black Panther’s role in Civil War is a revelation. The prince of the African nation of Wakanda is in the film more than you’d expect and Chadwick Boseman is simply fantastic giving T’Challa the gravitas and swagger he needs (his accent is pretty fantastic too). In comic book lore the Black Panther stands alongside Captain America as equals on the battlefield and he proves it in Civil War. In fact, Boseman is so good Marvel fans may end up anticipating Ryan Coogler’s solo Black Panther film more than the recently announced Spider-Man Homecoming.
Overall there are certainly too many heroes to make this a true Captain America movie, but Civil War benefits greatly from the participation of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man. Rudd is simply the funniest performer on the screen, stealing scenes left and right and often opposite a befuddled Downey, Jr. (no easy task).
Oh, and the real Civil War storyline previously mentioned? It involves Daniel Brühl, revenge, more Winter Soldiers and a big revelation from Stark’s past. Just be advised that the acclaimed Rush star is almost a minor participant in the proceedings, but he does everything possible to make this version of Baron Zemo a three-dimensional antagonist.
Civil War may be overstuffed compared to the slightly superior The Winter Soldier, but it will certainly wash that bad taste out of your mouth for superhero blockbusters after Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. At this point can you ask for much more?
Captain America: Civil War is released on April 29