Should a law acting as a method of accountability for those with superhuman abilities breach their right to freedom? In possessing superhuman powers, are super-powered beings accepted as being less than human? These are the questions that are raised when political pressures call for a system of accountability to be in effect for those who possess superhuman abilities.
Captain America: Civil War (“Civil War”), a film directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (a.k.a the Russo brothers), is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and takes place after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, wherein, the actions of the Avengers lead to a devastating amount of collateral damage.
Upon conclusion of the events in Sokovia (which led to the world both cheering and sneering at the Avengers for both their help in saving the people as well as destroying an entire country), a new, slightly more immature team of Avengers is put together under the leadership of Captain America. With the rest of the original team members scattered across the Universe, the new Avengers team consist of, Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) , Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), The Vision (Paul Bettany) and The Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
The main premise of Civil War is the notion that the Avengers and other superhuman beings need to be kept in check in order to prevent large scale casualties and damages, which, seem to result directly from superhuman interference in trying to save the world. Clear evidence of this came in the form of the Avengers’ fight with the villain, Crossbones, who appeared to be a rather worthy villain of the Avengers. Despite their good intentions, the apprehension and eventual defeat of Crossbones resulted in damages that were far too costly for the civilians, who blamed the Avengers for the destruction.
Upon putting together the Sokovia Accords, the Avengers are made to sign the agreement, to which Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is all for, which we see as being due to his tremendous amount of guilt over the death of an innocent boy in Sokovia, and which is strongly opposed by Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) who believes that signing the Act will remove the basic human freedoms that the heroes currently enjoy. Naturally, this leads to the heroes standing on opposite sides as the rest of the team are forced to choose.
While this is the major plot-line in Civil War, the attempts of Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) to frame Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) in attempt of achieving his own personal vendetta sets off one of the greatest battles the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever seen.
The plot of Civil War is undoubtedly good, based on the 2006 Marvel Comics crossover storyline, which pits hero against hero as the world looks on. With such a strong plot-line, tying it in with Captain America’s own dilemma in dealing with his former friend, Bucky’s, return as The Winter Soldier, allows for an entertaining experience. However, while the overarching plot was solid, little things certainly raised a few questions.
For a film with a solid plot, I found it humourous and slightly off putting that Tony Stark’s selfish motivations are made to once again be the driving force behind his actions. Unlike other heroes, Tony only ever looks out for himself and when his arrogant superiority complex is damaged slightly (for example, when the mother of the boy who died in Sokovia, called him out on his failed heroics), his immediate response is to show the world just how much of a hero he really is. On this occasion, he sides with the government, completely disregarding the feelings of his friends and team-mates. What’s worse, Tony’s temper tantrum about the death of his parents and the person who killed them leads to an epic fight scene between himself, Captain America and The Winter Soldier. While I acknowledge that this scene was extremely well done, the only thing I could think of at the time was Tony’s cry-baby antics. Now, that does not mean that I am all for Captain America’s values and beliefs. Aiding and abetting a wanted criminal (or rather, letting him escape simply because he is a good friend) is against the law and Captain America certainly isn’t a man who is above the law.
There were many other moments like these, which I found rather cringe-worthy despite adding value to the rest of the film’s plot. Another example of this would be the ridiculousness of imprisoning regular humans, whose only abilities come from the suits they wear and weapons they carry, in an underwater prison built to contain the most powerful super-villains. I mean, really? Are the likes of Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) really all that powerful that they needed to be kept in a prison that secure and guarded? I wonder what kind of prison would be required to hold the likes of Loki, or even, the great Thanos for that matter. Not to mention that one of the most powerful beings on Earth (that’s Scarlet Witch in case you were wondering who I am referring to) , whose powers stem from her ability of mind control, is merely locked away with a straight jacket? Again, my dislike of Tony Stark only grew throughout this film. However, I have to admit that The Vision’s neat attire consisting of immaculate sweaters distracted me from my feelings toward Tony Stark.
Of course, Civil War did have several redeeming points, in my opinion. The character of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and the addition of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) was incredible. Black Panther certainly is a superhero that astonished me, both in his role as King of Wakanda and as a skilled warrior. Spider-Man on the other hand was as goofy as I anticipated.
Both these characters’ appearance made the film so much more worth watching for me personally and led me to believe that their own upcoming films will be one to keep an eye out for. Speaking of Spider-Man, did anyone else wonder why Aunt May seems to be ageing backwards?
Civil War, just as all other Marvel films, is a visual spectacle. Each scene is brilliantly portrayed, the effects marvellous and the colours used are exceptionally vibrant. This is clearly evident through the different types of scenes throughout the film, from action sequences and fight scenes to the less intense moments between characters in conversation. The costumes too are worth mentioning as each character’s costume just screamed ‘hero’.
Taking the film as a standalone Captain America film, Civil War is a brilliant sequel in what can only be said to be one of Marvel’s best trilogies about a character that is a true icon and the very symbol of American patriotism. As a sort of sequel to the Avengers films, leading up to the biggest Marvel film ever, Avengers: Infinity Wars, Civil War certainly lays a good foundation and brings about avenues for new heroes to make their mark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
To those who are Marvel/superhero film genre fans, I shouldn’t have to recommend this film to you as you would have already seen it on opening night (or within a few days). As a stand alone film for those who would rather decent plot and story as opposed to stunning effects, visuals and bad ass heroics, I certainly recommend this film to you. Be warned that the story is flawed in certain parts but overall, Civil War is a must watch.