Impossible Sides; Irreconcilable Differences.
If you thought Winter Soldier was a game-changer, wait until you see how Captain America: Civil War shakes up the Marvel Cinematic Universe.There's no question that the Russo brothers have taken the mantle from Joss Whedon in forging the shape of the future of the MCU, having already delivered what is likely still the best entry by far with Winter Soldier, and now following it up here with a storming ensemble mash-up that refocusses the events following on from Phase 2 of Marvel's run into another game-changing war. For those somewhat tired of seeing alien invasions and cities destroyed, Civil War makes this very personal instead.Kick-starting with a frenetic terrorist attack that proves the tipping point to call the Avengers into check, we find almost every country in the world united in wanting some kind of control over the seemingly out-of-control 'enhanced' special operative unit who, thus far, has been their own police. Tony Stark - after the Ultron disaster - welcomes the decision, whilst Steve Rogers - after Hydra's shattering revelation in Winter Soldier - doesn't want to be under the control of anybody anymore.
When a shoot-to-kill order is put out on super-assassin, Bucky "Winter Soldier" Barnes himself, Captain America can't stand back and watch his old best friend get hunted down and executed, and picks a side, with the remaining Avengers falling in behind either Cap or Iron Man for various reasons. Largely eschewing grand, CG-driven set-pieces in favour of ensemble excitement - expertly utilising most every one of the entire gallery of enhanced warriors - Civil War builds through a series of shocking events and tries its best to avoid the same messy plot-gap-informed illogicality of Batman v Superman.
Yes, it trades in misunderstandings which sometimes could have been avoided by more discussion and less fisticuffs, but these still - for the most part - feel like genuinely irreconcilable differences; sides which people have picked that they (mostly) cannot come back from. Nobody is going to cry 'Martha' and kiss and make up after this. Joss Whedon may have shown the path to bringing all of these heroes together in one movie, successfully; but, once they've been brought together, the Russo Brothers clearly know how to better tear them apart.
Personal and powerful, this is almost everything that Batman vs. Superman should have been.
Although a Captain America movie in name, this is almost a full Avengers outing, with Hulk and Thor conspicuous in their absence only for the first few minutes, until it is worked into the story as a plot point - the team are criticised because they can't even locate the whereabouts of their own members. And the introduction of a couple of key new players is expertly handled and seamlessly integrated, once again showing that Marvel still has the edge and still knows how to handle their own characters - even the ones they've borrowed. Stark's character is as well-developed here as he's ever been, building on what's come before, whilst delving further into his past, all the while perfectly drip-feeding the events of Captain America and Bucky's own past into the same messy universe full of hidden secrets and traumatic revelations, drawing the trio into a messy, political - but ultimately personal - conflict.
Indeed, a more cynical marketing campaign would have just called this Captain America v Iron Man, but Marvel wants to stay true to its origins, and relies heavily on the seminal Civil War run of comic stories, no doubt to prove the stepping stones towards their Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 & 2 endgame. After the events of Civil War, it's almost impossible to predict where they will go from here but the film not only manages to set up the Avengers two-parter but also successfully sets up two other upcoming Marvel standalone films. The fact that it manages to do this whilst at the same time leaving the audience completely satisfied is nothing short of a miracle but Captain America: Civil War is not to be missed and, as always, stay right to the very end.
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