A spoiler-free Captain America: Civil War review

Want the shortest version of this? Captain America: Civil War is excellent for fans of comics, super heroes and action films.

However, if you don’t know what S.H.I.E.L.D. is or how it’s different from Captain America’s shield, you may find it hard to keep up with this one. Indeed, if you can’t accept that it’s perfectly reasonable for two World War II soldiers to have experienced different forms of suspended animation and still be able to smash down doors and leap through walls, then maybe you should give it a miss.

But I hope you don’t as it’s tremendous fun.

This, more than any other film I’ve seen, is for the geeks.

Those of us who experienced an involuntary sharp intake of breath as different characters appeared on the screen for the first time. Those of us who nodded with appreciation as subtle acknowledgements were made of the wider universe these characters inhabit. Those of us who squealed with delight as Spider-Man appeared as if from nowhere.

(Not a spoiler – he’s in the trailer, for god’s sake!)

This is a solid couple of hours of super-heroes doing all the things you and I just can’t, so suspect all disbelief or appreciation of the laws of physics and just get stuck in. Believe that it’s acceptable – nay, required – for men and women to wear spandex when they’re saving the world.

If you haven’t seen any of the other Avengers movies, I’d advise having a look at them first – it will make CACW a much easier ride. At the very least, you’ll have a better appreciation of the characters’ backgrounds and relationships. And this film is all about relationships.

I had high hopes for this one and I have to say it met expectations in every way. I was worried how the writers would include such a broad cast of characters and do them all justice. Don’t worry. They managed. Everyone had a part to play, nobody felt crowbarred in.

This is in stark contrast to Batman vs Superman, where even adding Wonder Woman seemed to be too much, reducing her to an advanced extra in the most disappointing of ways.

Brace yourself

CACW is Marvel’s most complex Avengers film yet. It jumps around in terms of time period and a focus on multiple, interwoven story-lines. We see the 90s, we see characters from World War II, we hear references to characters not even in this movie, but whose behaviour in other stories bear a direct influence on the present.

It’s far from a simple story and you really need to pay attention. I’m sure I missed a ton of stuff the first time round, so I’ll be going back for a repeat viewing for sure. It’s not brain candy and you can’t really just let it wash over you – there’s a lot going on.

Again, avoiding spoilers, the Avengers’ previous actions come back to haunt them and the threat of government oversight splits the team in two. Add to this the ever-elusive Bucky/Winter Soldier, international terrorism, a menacing and manipulative villain orchestrating the chaos and you have a fairly intense couple of hours of angst, disagreement, and outright battles.

All sprinkled with a generous topping of humour – the film doesn’t take itself too seriously (again, a comparison that leaves Batman vs Superman looking decidedly….emo) and the various heroes spend a fair proportion of their time trading good-natured insults and one-line zingers.

A final thought

I loved it and I’m sure that if you enjoyed any of the previous Avengers flicks, you’ll love it too.

So hard to pick a favourite part, but if you must know, it was Black Panther. Stole very scene he was in. Imposing, sleek, impressive and an excellent introduction into the Marvel Cinema Universe. Can’t wait to see him in his own film.

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