After an operation in Lagos goes wrong and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) accidentally kills innocent people with her powers, the United Nations calls for a law controlling the superheroes which would rob them of their independence.
Captain America (Chris Evans) is not onboard with this – he wants to be able to decide for himself when to fight – and he is joined by Scarlet Witch and The Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), and Vision (Paul Bettany) are for the new law and sign the papers.
The divide gets worse when a bomb goes off in the UN headquarters in Vienna and Cap’s old buddy Bucky, aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), is named as the prime suspect. Naturally Cap believes his friend is innocent but Iron Man considers him dangerous and wants him locked up.
What both sides don’t realise is that they are being manipulated by Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), who is trying to make the Avengers implode from within to get revenge for the destruction of Sokovia, in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are absent from the movie, but the list of characters is still overwhelming. Even more are introduced throughout the film to bulk out the sides for the incoming civil war.
Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is recruited and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is brought out of retirement to support Team Cap, while Iron Man brings Spider-Man (Tom Holland). We have also have the introduction of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who seeks revenge for his father, who was killed in the UN bombing.
The previous twelve Marvel movies have been leading to this moment – and the culmination of all those stories could have easily gone horrifically wrong if it wasn’t for the capable hands of the directors Joe and Anthony Russo.
The scale of this is huge – there are so many character and stories – yet the Russo brothers managed to fit all the puzzle pieces together perfectly.
Every character’s screen time was proportionate to their importance in the story.
Only the villain felt underused – Zemo feels quite irrelevant when the superheroes are too busy taking each other out.
It was no easy feat, but Downey Junior stood out as Tony Stark who was his usual witty, egotistical self and the new Spider-Man, who is given the perfect launching pad here. Tom Holland’s appearance as alter ego Peter Parker is a highlight of the movie. He was funny, nerdy and uncool and stole every scene he was in.
Unlike the recent Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie Cap and Iron Man’s reasons for their position made sense and their actions remained true to their beliefs. The civil war felt believable and not remotely contrived.
The main battle at an airport is spectacular and a total showstopper. Every superhero gets its moment to shine and we get to watch new fight combinations.
The film is littered with funny quips which have become a Marvel standard but it also has an added political and emotional depth. The final fight between Cap and Iron Man is a tough watch even though you know deep down they’ll always be buddies.
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