In the spirit of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, here we are given Marvel’s version of the good guy v good guy storyline; two superheroes stuck in a moral dilemma featuring nearly every Marvel superhero ever given a cape.
Following on from the previous installment, Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Avengers are back on a rescue mission in Lagos, Nigeria, where they are trying to stop the villain Crossbones from stealing a biological weapon. The mission goes horribly wrong when one of the Avengers accidentally blows up a building containing dozens of relief workers, calling into question the immeasurable power of the superheroes and the destruction they have caused.
After the United Nations present the Sokovia Accord, a bill signed by 117 countries stating that the Avengers are to be governed by them, the comradery held within the gang is destroyed by the conflicting opinions of Captain America and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr). Plagued with guilt after the devastating effects that Ultron had on destroying Sokovia, Iron Man no longer trusts the infinite power of his fellow superheroes, and feels it is time that some boundaries are set by the government in order to avoid another massacre. Captain America, however, has a severe distrust in any governing body and refuses to sign the bill, causing the Avengers to become split in their loyalties, with Falcon (Anthony Mackie) remaining as the Captain’s right hand man.
After a further explosion in Vienna, a witch hunt ensues after Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) aka The Winter Soldier, who caused much of the destruction in the previous movie, and is also an old friend of Captain America. This is just one of the film's many sub plots, which to a newbie could be confusing - Civil War is very much the heir to its predecessors. There is also the developing rivalry between Iron Man, Captain America and the rest of the Avengers unfolding throughout the film, and as the rift continues, the two main protagonists call in for reinforcements.
Cue the arrival of both Spiderman (Tom Holland) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the best scene of the entire movie! Against the wishes of Iron Man and his posse Captain America tries to escape with Bucky to Siberia in the pursuit Colonel Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). In a magnificent scene we see every beloved Marvel hero go head to head: Ant-Man v Spider-Man, Hawkeye v Black Widow, Scarlet Witch v Vision, The Winter Soldier v Black Panther, and most climactically Captain America and Iron Man. This scene is emblematic of how today's amazing technology can do justice to bringing these iconic comic stories to life. We see every detail of the powers these characters possess in the ultimate superhero showdown, which finally sets the scene for answering the ultimate comic book question: who is the best superhero?
As well the exciting action sequences, the film has a lot of heart and moral dilemmas. In breaking with the classic genre convention of good cop v bad cop, there are no obvious bad guys in the movie with each character staying faithful to their own agenda, and even the bad guys having a plausible back story.
I couldn’t help but feel really sad in the final showdown between Captain America and Iron Man, two beloved heroes who have thus far been the best of friends but now each with an opposing allegiance to their own cause. In the ultimate clash of power you’re never really sure who is going to survive and the film does well in keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, waiting for someone to meet their bitter end!
I'd recommend seeing this movie in 3D, as it really enhanced the experience of being totally engaged in the plot. There's a great balance of narrative, character development and action sequences with some very impressive CGI that transported the audience into another world. Well done Avengers, this is your most exciting film yet!
Book tickets to see Captain America: Civil War at FACT this week