Note to Zack Snyder: This is how you make a superhero movie. Captain America: Civil War has a similar plot to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but unlike that dull, leaden slog Civil War has wit, charm, genuinely exciting action sequences and even a modicum of political and moral food for thought.
With the Avengers increasingly criticised for collateral damage, the United Nations want oversight of the group. Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) believes this oversight is necessary, whereas Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) believes surrendering autonomy will mean political agendas get in the way of justice. This disagreement deepens as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) makes a volatile return, causing Avengers new and old to take a stand on either side of the debate.
The cast do very well too, with Chris Evans bringing to mind another Chris, the legendary Christopher Reeve, in his total commitment to what he believes is right. Robert Downey Jr is superb as ever as Tony Stark, equally committed to what he believes is right. Other returning Avengers – including Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, Don Cheadle’s War Machine, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany’s Vision – provide fine support, but Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man deserves a special mention for nearly stealing the show at one point. New Avengers in the form of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) get very good introductions, and I look forward to their planned standalone movies.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo helmed my favourite Marvel movie to date, the previous Captain America picture The Winter Soldier. Whilst Civil War doesn’t quite top that, the Russo Brothers have done a tremendous job here too. What makes it works so well is the fact that Stark and Rogers both have good, well motivated reasons for their actions which demand audience sympathy, making their inevitable falling-out all the more compelling. Like The Winter Soldier, Civil War raises a number of increasingly relevant political issues, law versus liberty for instance, alongside moral musings on the futility of vengeance. However, none of this overshadows the usual bouts of running, jumping and fighting. And make no mistake, those bouts are tremendous, with one particular battle in an airport being a fun and exciting stand-out, boasting the usual superb special effects.
It may be a tad overlong, and there are times the plot feels a bit overstuffed due to the sheer number of superheroes involved. But overall, Captain America: Civil War is a tremendously satisfying blockbuster entertainment.