Directors Anthony and Joe Russo quickly cottoned on to what made the first Marvel ensemble epic so memorable. We know and love these characters, have spent countless hours debating who’s the best, and now we want to find out in the funnest way possible – by watching them fight.
Following several sequels and the destruction of innumerable cities, the world isn’t too happy with the Avengers running amok and want to bring them into check by regulating who and what they team up to battle.
Ideological differences on the role of the superheroes split members of the once tight-knit group, as does the re-emergence of Captain America’s (Chris Evans) oldest friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), the designated bad guy of a previous instalment.
Civil War works because the creators didn’t feel the need to a destroy a whole city block every time they wanted to create a bit of excitement, nor introduce a villain (as was the case with Thor: The Dark World) whose singular aim appears to be the decimation of the universe as we know it.
The action sequences instead thrive on Marvel’s trademark witty interplay, achieving its highest notes not with explosion-heavy CGI-fests but numerous haughty and often tense confrontations between the film’s now well-established icons.
A fight between three characters in a stairway consummately sets the tone for the action while the highly publicised extended melee at a German airfield packs a very welcome surprise and is well worth the wait.
Driving much of Civil War are the none-too-simple moral questions of its characters’ continued unaccountability and the recognition that much of the carnage surrounding their heroics is in fact their own doing.
Good guy/bad guy roles aren’t black and white, even when it comes to favourites like Iron Man (Robert Downery Jr), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) or Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and you might even see a favourite protagonist switch roles.
Civil War is also notable for introducing two new Avengers (both of whom are scheduled to get their own films) and neither disappoint. Chadwick Boseman commands his turn as the King of Wakanda/Black Panther in some of the film’s best action sequences as well as owning some of the more character-focused scenes.
Tom Holland is the Spiderman woefully missing from previous instalments – adolescent, wise-ass and overly-confident in his get-up – arriving in a hilarious introductory sequence also featuring Marisa Tomei as Aunt May.
Also introducing Martin Freeman in a bureaucratic role, Civil War noticeably underutilised the talented Sherlock actor, not such a crime in a film overflowing with strong characters and terrific fight sequences that, unlike a few other Marvel instalments, easily merits repeat viewings.