Film Review: Captain America: Civil War

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo.

Apparently, when Hulk and Thor don’t show up for the party, you can’t dub a film Avengers. But when Marvel films are grossing $1 billion plus a pop, you can pay just about every other character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, throw them into Captain America: Civil War and sprinkle a few new characters for good measure. Stir, and serve at boiling point.

Yes, this is the film we’ve all been waiting for, especially after the disappointment of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Our beloved Avengers (sans Hulk and Thor, clearly off buying clothes and shampoo respectively) find themselves split down the middle following an Avengers-led incident in Nigeria, where innocent lives are lost. The United Nations decide that the team must be held to account, and come under their control. Meanwhile, Cap (Evans) works to protect his buddy Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), which Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) ain’t happy about. A rift is created, and everybody shows up at an airport to swing a punch and destroy a bunch of aeroplanes – just watch Ant-Man’s (Paul Rudd) new moves.

First things first – I really enjoyed Civil War. It’s an exciting film to watch, if only to see so many well-loved characters participate in the action. Once again, Marvel have hit the mark making a really enjoyable superhero flick with the right balance of action and humour, and stacks of geek-out moments for Marvel fans. Anthony & Joe Russo (Captain America: Winter Soldier) have nailed the direction – the film looks lovely and moves briskly (although it’s a long one), and they balance such a large cast with ease – it’s the best Marvel flick since Guardians of the Galaxy. Seeing Iron Man in a Cap film is a treat, as is the inclusion of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), both who are well-cast. Although originally cautious, I’m now really looking forward to their spin-off flicks in the coming years.

For all the fun though, this film is very reliant on the labyrinth of Marvel backstory, and there’s a real sense that it’s also setting up for future episodes. There were points when I found myself asking questions. What’s with Stark sitting around and suddenly supporting governmental control? Why is Vision now a comic relief character, confined to cooking? What really drives the team to a big rough-and-tumble fight, when through most of it they’re just joking with each other verbally? And is the in-fighting just for our benefit, so we can see how our favourite heroes each use their ‘gimmicks’ and tricks to beat each other? It’s questions like these that left me feeling like Marvel are just trying to pander to fans. But hey – it worked.

‘Who is going to avenge my son, Stark? He’s dead, and I blame you.’

Civil War spends a lot of time questioning what is right and wrong – and whose job it is to take vengeance. It’s interesting that as Batman held Superman to account last month’s flick, so here Iron Man does for Cap. But are they heroes, or vigilantes?

One thing that is clear is that a team can’t function if it’s divided against itself. Not being united to the task of fighting evil sees our beloved Avengers looking like a joke to the watching world. This made me think of Paul’s first letter to the (very messy) Corinthian church, when he challenges them to stand as one. 1 Corinthians 1:10 –

‘I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.’

Members of this church were following different leaders – but Paul implored them to follow Christ and find their unity in Him. For to be united is the best way to operate as a team, to live for Christ, working together. I think Civil War shows us that even though fighting happens amongst teams, there’s still an underlying cause, and sometimes we need to come to our senses and forgive – for the greater good.

The Verdict: Captain America: Civil War is fun, well-constructed, and filled with your favourite Marvel heroes. And as always, stay until the end of the credits. It’s worth it. 4.25/5

Captain America: Civil War releases in Australian and UK cinemas today. It releases in the US on May 6th.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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