On a scale of The Avengers to Iron Man 2, where does the final installment in Marvel’s Captain America trilogy rank?
The last time we saw Steve Rogers and Tony Stark share the screen was in last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, a film hit by on-set and behind the scenes dramas.
Civil War, on the other hand, was destined to succeed from the start. The Russo brothers, taking forward their Winter Soldier momentum, were on board to direct, Marvel secured Spider-Man, the trailers only got better, and not even DC fans could argue with the early reviews.
If Joss Whedon managed to turn Age of Ultron, a film he suggests was hurt by Marvel’s interference, into a perfectly suitable Avengers sequel, you can only imagine how good this movie is.
And what’s great is that it’s a movie first, and a comic book movie second. When you have countless superheroes, each with some unfathomable ability or superpower, it must be tempting to put them into a ring for two hours and have them throw down.
What we get instead is a Winter Soldier sequel that builds even further on Cap and Bucky’s relationship, and adds a whole new level of depth to Avengers you thought you knew by now.
Falcon is one whose link to Cap is extended beyond running mates, and as well as providing most of the film’s laughs, you get to see him do things you didn’t even know Falcon could do.
The Winter Soldier half of the film is slow-building, as you would expect, but you need it to fully realise the Civil War side of things.
At this point, you have to compare the film to Dawn of Justice, which is also two or three movies inside one movie. The difference is that Zack Snyder struggled to connect all of his story threads, and ended up with a film whose positives are outweighed by awkward pacing and only half-fleshed out characters.
By the time Civil War actually reaches Civil War, you know where the characters stand, and on top of that, you have probably changed your mind about which side you are on two or three times, such is the conviction with which each side presents their arguments.
This kind of pacing is crucial to the longevity of comic book movies, as only with some kind of thought-provoking build-up can you fully immerse yourself in any film’s final third.
It just so happens that the final third of Civil War is spectacular. The Russo brothers finally unleash all the superpowers they have at their disposal, and it kicks off with the airport runway sequence, which goes straight in as the most entertaining 20 minutes in Marvel’s catalogue.
Spider-Man and Ant-Man keep it light, and both show you the full extent of what they’re capable of, while the likes of Cap and Black Panther are just about taking things seriously enough that it remains grounded and plot-driven. You’ve seen it built up in the trailers, but the airport fight scene has to be seen to be believed.
And if you’re worried that the trailers and TV spots for this film showed you too much, you needn’t be. Marvel just got it right. From the marketing to character to action set-ups, Civil War ensures they stay well on top of DC on all counts.
Not that it’s a perfect film. Daniel Bruhl is fantastic as Baron Zemo, but his plan to turn the Avengers against each other is an eventuality they would probably have reached on their own.
That way, we would have been spared one or two distracting scenes with another generic Marvel villain, and the stakes might have been raised by having one of Cap or Iron Man as the villain, depending on which side you’re on.
The editing is jarring in places, and there are times when the mystery surrounding Black Panther is not enough to explain some of the things he does. The film makes a real effort to do Black Panther justice, but we’ll have to wait until his solo film in 2018 to learn the ins and outs of his powers.
There’s nothing left to learn about Spider-Man’s powers, and the film knows it. Thrust straight into the action, Tom Holland is the Peter Parker we’ve all been waiting for. The British actor has the awkwardness of Maguire, the mouth of Garfield, and an aunt who looks like she could actually be his aunt.
Spider-Man: Homecoming drops in 2017, but as of right now – Spider-Man is home.
And Marvel definitely chose the right film to introduce him. Peter Parker is a Marvel character, and Civil War is a Marvel movie back to front.
It allows Marvel’s lighter tone to shine through, but it’s a character-led action thriller at its heart. It’s confident in introducing its new characters, leaving us excited for their own adventures, and it builds upon the characters we already knew.
Even its customary average villain is less of a negative and more a minor inconvenience. Still, Marvel is yet to find a villain like Loki, and are therefore yet to reach the heights of 2012’s The Avengers, but Civil War is perhaps the closest they’ve come.
FINAL SCORE: 4.7/5
Captain America: Civil War is released in the US on May 6th. The film is showing in UK cinemas now.