First off, don’t trust the title; the movie isn’t a Captain America film. Unlike its predecessor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the film (unfortunately) doesn’t delve much into Steve’s psyche or past. Rather, this is an Avengers film, and I will be addressing it as such. Overall, despite the sheer number of plot threads it had to weave, I think the movie handled them rather well. Nevertheless, some viewers may find the build-up to the climax a slow and daunting one.
One of the main points of the film is that every action has a consequence, regardless of whether the action was done with good intentions. No matter how hard the Avengers try, their behavior will ultimately cause some form of harm. This may draw comparisons to Batman v Superman, which arguably revolved around the same issues. Unlike that DC show, this film fleshes out Tony’s and Steve’s respective rationales well. By taking the time to reveal how each has been individually affected by superheroism, the viewer inevitably feels some conflict in deciding whose side they’re on. Both heroes have a point: the Avengers need to be accountable for their actions (Tony), but simultaneously, they themselves are the best ones to make judgment calls (Steve). This is also where Marvel’s patience in building its cinematic universe enriches its fare – after following both heroes in their individual films, viewers would also understand that their experiences both lend credence to their points of view.
To be honest, I entered the theatre with pretty low expectations. There were far too many characters to juggle and there was a large possibility that Marvel may have overestimated its ability to keep a lid on all the issues the trailers promised. Thank goodness for the Russo brothers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who surpassed the bar set by their previous work, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The team clearly understood that Marvel’s greatest asset is its grip on its characters’ core motivations and dynamics, which is what allows this movie to shine. From the snappy one-liners levelled at each other during an otherwise banal meeting, to the personal banter during fights, the scriptwriters remind us that the Avengers are a family – which makes the fall out all the more devastating to watch.
I was never a fan of the previous Avengers flicks due to their overemphasis on action, and Marvel has thankfully seemed to have learnt its lesson. The Russo brothers’ thoughtful approach towards the emotional conflicts between the characters really drove the show home.
That’s not to say that the action sequences were unimpressive. In fact, they were rather brilliantly and purposefully weaved into the narrative. Perhaps the only disappointing feature is the incredulity of the gambit pulled off by the film’s main villain, which arguably had many loopholes. The climax of the film may also be underwhelming for some viewers, given the ultimate (spoiler alert) insignificance of the villain himself.
However, the movie isn’t just doom and gloom, thanks to the breath of fresh air Ant-man and Spiderman bring. While Tony and Natasha brought some laughs with their occasional sarcastic remarks, the bug-named duo considerably lightened the mood of an otherwise depressing film.
While Civil War thankfully had a different ending from its comic book counterpart, it is still undoubtedly bittersweet. My heart goes out to Tony for the continuous and multiple personal traumas he had to endure over the course of this show. It is somewhat lamentable that the film denied Steve the opportunity to fully bring his character development arc to a close. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing how Marvel will continue shaping its cinematic universe in the films to come.