Despite the name, Captain America: Civil War is actually both a Captain America movie and an Avengers movie. And set one year after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film directly takes on the question of collateral damage in the past film as well as the ones before it. Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, everyone is forced to pick a side, pitting two friends and allies against each other.
Just as the Avengers represented a turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War represents a new one. Here is where the Marvel Cinematic Universe diversifies and starts to tell more complex stories that tend to go beyond the simple blow-up-the-world and stop-the-bad-guy plot and set the stage for an integrated universe that hinges more about how that character fits into a greater world. The Russo Brothers who aimed to do a similar thing with Captain America: Winter Soldier are able to bring the same elements of a smart and intimate political-thriller into this movie while also letting the film function as a big-budget smackdown spectacle. The result is a film that’s not only the best film to come out of the MCU up until now, but also the most entertaining, well-crafted and well-balanced film in terms of character, story, action and plot.
Now as I mentioned earlier the film is both an Avengers movie and a Captain America movie. The former because it throws basically every superhero in the MCU onto the screen (except Thor and The Hulk) and attempts to explore the different ideologies between two of its most central heroes – Captain America and Iron Man – but it also does not forget the fact that it is a Captain America movie as well and it’s exploration of its fractious relationship between Cap’ and his childhood friend-turned-Manchurian Candidate Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), aka The Winter Soldier.
The amount of balance between exciting action-sequences and good, compelling story-telling is surprising, because it is something not common in Marvel movies, but it’s just one of the reasons that makes Civil War so good. The film presents such an interesting conflict that you as the viewer are never quite sure which side to pick and no side is essentially wrong. The airport sequence has been lauded by many and the reason it’s so exciting and works so well is because it’s directed with energy and for once there are no contrived stakes with the lives of millions hinging on one particular scene.
Civil War also introduces us to the newest version of Spider-Man whose rights have finally reverted back to Marvel (though they are shared with Sony) and it might just be the most perfect version of the webslinger we’ve ever seen on-screen. Tom Holland has very minimal screen-time as Spidey but is able to not only able to set up the character perfectly but also able to steal the show.
Captain America: Civil War is Marvel at it’s very best. The film represents a new direction for the MCU where the concentration is more towards telling complex and mature stories, where the stakes are intimate, rather than those relying on heavy amounts of destruction and chaos. The film manages to strike a perfect balance between good, exciting action and engaging story-telling and never forgets to be entertaining and have lots of fun along the way as well.