Written by Kate McCabe

Arts

Review: Captain America: Civil War

Another day, another comic book movie. Not that Kate McCabe’s complaining. She happily trotted off to see if Marvel’s latest offering is super or a party pooper.

Captain America Civil War face-off image

Photos: Marvel Studios.

Well, that was fun.

Captain America: Civil War does a crackerjack job of showcasing what makes Marvel Studios films so successful and eminently enjoyable. Featuring likeable characters, a strong premise and well-choreographed punch-ups, I left the cinema feeling like *wrings hands and intones in darkly geeky guttural growl* I got what I wanted.

Captain America: Civil War could just as easily been the third Avengers movie. The plot is taken from the critically successful Civil War storyline which crossed over several of Marvel Comic’s titles in 2006/7. The US government introduces the Superhero Registration Act as a way to track powered individuals. By registering, super-peeps can be held accountable for their actions but ALSO can be pointed like a gun in the direction they’re needed by the Feds in charge.

Obviously, this makes logical sense to some (a guilt-ridden Iron Man) and less to others (a Captain America who has lived through a government-gone-bad worst-case scenario). It’s a wonderfully chewy and fraught storyline and it makes sense to bring it into the movie universe.

The film version adapts the storyline as needed. For one, the Superhero Registration Act has become the UN-sanctioned ‘Sokovia Accords’ – named after the fictional Eastern Bloc country the Avengers tore up in Age of Ultron. Some characters take a different side to the comic book version and a few of the major outcomes are changed. This is OK. As long as the story still works, it’s actually nice for a diehard comic fan to be treated to a surprise or two.

“I’d just like to go on the record and say: I’m not on board for any romantic shenanigans between The Vision and Scarlet Witch. I don’t care for it in the comics and I’m not keen to see any robot peen in future instalments.”

Though the film admittedly funnels this huge crossover event through Cap’s eyes, it is indeed a group effort and it’s a delight to see so many big guns playing with some of our favourite second-stringers. The Falcon, Ant-Man, and Black Panther make especially big splashes.

Perhaps the biggest surprise (which was actually a non-surprise if you watched the most recent Civil War trailer) is the appearance of Spider-Man. The web-slinger’s presence is a welcome one and a jolly representation of the new peaceful accord between Marvel and Sony studios over this prime property.

Sony still has the rights to the Spider-Man films, but has more or less agreed to let Marvel Studios exert creative control over the character, and in doing so will allow some cross-contamination between Avengers films and any upcoming Sony-produced Spidey film. What happens with him here is both promising and exciting, with another British actor (Tom Holland) just killin’ it in the Spider-onesie.

Marvel knows what to do with its properties. For every occasion where you might question Marvel’s insistent editorial overreaches, there are results like this film, where we get to reap what Marvel has sown. All the attention to detail has made the studio a reliable architect of this big spectacular world we get to live in for a couple hours at a time.

nullOf course, all this interlinking continuity is an absolute dream come true for comic book people, but can be a real drawback for the uninitiated. I can’t imagine trying to care about any of this if it was my first Marvel movie outing.

On that note, as with my other film reviews, I dragged along a non-comic enthusiast for ‘normal person’ input. Again, it was my friend-wife Karey. “It’s a good thing I’ve seen most of the previous films because otherwise I’d have no idea what was going on,” she mutters.

What else did Karey have to say about Captain America: Civil War?

• I’d rather do something else, but I will go with a gun to my head to another stink-bag movie.

• *crying noises*

• How long is it?

• This is too long and fighty.

• I like Captain America. I’m on Cap’s side.

• No, I do not like Black Panther. I just think his costume and long nails look rubbish.

• The bow and arrow guy – what is he doing here? He doesn’t have any skills.

• Falcon is cool.

• Ant-Man is a joke, too. Him and Bow and Arrow Man can just go off and have their own joke movie.

• I hope I’m on a plane when the next one of these comes out so I don’t get dragged to it by you.

I too have a few (minor) criticisms:

I wish the film-makers could have focused just a smidge more on the conflict between the heroes and 10 per cent less on the villain behind the curtain. With so many worthy characters in the line-up, I wanted to see more of them. The villain barely matters in this anyway, as the conflict is strong enough without the person pulling the strings.

I’m not giving anything away here, but I’d just like to go on the record and say: I’m not on board for any romantic shenanigans between The Vision and Scarlet Witch. I don’t care for it in the comics and I’m not keen to see any robot peen in future instalments. They can be friends though.

Captain America: Civil War is by no means perfect, but it is an excellent example of how to successfully condense years of serialised storytelling and a metric ton of focus-stealing characters into a film. If you’re a fan of Marvel movies, you’ll most likely dig this one.

Missed the first episode of Strong Female Leads, our new nerd-centric podcast from Kate and Debra-Jane Appelby? Catch it here.

@katemccabesays

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Written by Kate McCabe

Kate McCabe is an American comic living in Manchester. When not gigging as a standup, she improvises with ComedySportz Manchester, and contributes to local TV and radio including The Gay Agenda on Fab Radio.