Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson
Spoilers Within: No
Originally posted 1st May 2016 on Letterboxd.
Firstly, let me say that while I’m not a fan of the continuous glut of ‘tentpole’ superhero blockbusters per se, I’ve always enjoyed Captain America’s involvement in the MCU since The First Avenger and would place both of his entries within my Top 3 alongside the zenith that is Iron Man 3. This is surely down to Chris Evans’ perfected engagement in the role (even with conditions of stunted plots and poor scripting), as well as the entertainment factor of seeing a superhero knock heads in a historically distinct setting such as World War II.
I could go ahead and write all the problems I have with MCU films, but that’d take too long so it’s easier to say that if you agree with my admittedly uninvested Top 3 then that’ll go some way to explaining why I’ve enjoyed this more than most of my peers who to enjoyed the dreariness of both of The Avengers and the tremendously boring Thor and Hulk entries.
I can pinpoint the exact moment that I decided I’d like this more than the ‘Phase One’ and ‘Phase Two’ entries and that was the catalyst for the whole story: The Avengers having to answer to their slaughtering of thousands of bystanders in their multiple solo entries. The collapsing of a populated city and the dropping of another without so much as visible remorse continually baffled me when they were still lauded as Gods in both a literal and non-literal sense. Now, at least, with the ‘Sokovia Accord’ in place, they had to answer to their crimes and act as a team divided.
This has come a bit too late (just how many films into the MCU are we now?) but I’m glad that it’s started to be a tangible narrative that both the characters and the audience have to address. I don’t know the future of the series, or where the Civil War takes us (though it’s not hard to make a guess), but this is something that they could easily glaze over again in later instalments and revert back to demolishing populated cities, but for the sake of my enjoyment I certainly hope it’s a plot device that resonates to the very end.
There were several moments where I found myself fully enraptured in the same way that everyone else was with The Avengers: the multiple set-pieces were – although edited to near-oblivion at times – absolutely cracking. Clearly taking inspiration from small-screen entries Daredevil and Jessica Jones, the hits and the use of external objects was fun to watch and – at times – their acrobatics were reminiscent of The Raid, albeit less grisly.
It’s definitely overcooked, and even though the aforementioned ‘Sokovia Accord’ is in effect after the first act, it’s pushed into the background in favour of new introductions of those that weren’t given much air-time. It’s definitely a positive to have a person of colour in an identifiable and important role, but when it’s shoehorned in in the way that it was done here, there’s something to be said as to whether or not the creators put them in to tick a box or a genuine interest in having representation in defiance of necessity to the plot. Though having Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie in large roles (though substantially smaller than their white castmates) it sadly seems unfairly like the former. I certainly look forward to the character of The Black Panther in his own film, though now they’ve already dispensed his origins in this, the character of more interest would be his father. Add this with the rubbish aforesaid characters of War Machine and Falcon, and Scarlett With and Vision being characteristically redundant, it just felt like an overstuffed film in one that was already replete with characters both important and insignificant. Tom Holland’s reincarnation of Spider-Man, who absolutely steals the show and washes away the taste of the last two with a cocksure and bouncy attitude which was more entertaining than the entirety of Loki or Hulk’s previous attempts at levity, so I welcomed his inclusion and look forward to Homecoming.
It’s possible this is my platonic ideal of a Marvel film: wherein there’s intrigue, character development (no matter how slight), superbly choreographed action spectacle and characters that have to answer for their actions. But how long until the series relapses at the hands of another and becomes everything I loathed about the series thus far? Hopefully never, but only time will tell.