The first film to kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 3, is Captain America: Civil War. Directed by the Russo brothers (Anthony and Joe), who previously directed Captain America: Winter Soldier, the film follows the titular character and most of the Avengers line-up, especially Iron Man, in a post-Ultron, post-Hydra situation. As the world’s governments try to keep the these super-humans in check, the Avengers is split by ideological differences.
The movie starts off by addressing the issues about superheroes raised from the previous films, Hulk and his volatility, Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) and his ambiguous morality, Tony Stark and his creation, Ultron, which tried to destroy the world. Having a long cinematic history already in the belt, the tensions are effortlessly set up early in the film. Within the first arc of the story, audiences would already be put in a position to think whose side are they on, Team Cap or Team Iron Man.
The comparison between the two biggest superhero films of this year is inevitable. In my personal opinion, Marvel’s superhero clash film stands out above the new DC Universe’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. While BvS did deliver the action and tension between the two titular superheroes, DC does not have that long cinematic history that helps to set up Marvel’s Civil War. As mentioned in the film, this issue with superheroes had been there since the first MCU film, 2008’s Iron Man. Building fandom and interests for 8 years, Marvel fans would have developed a unique support for their beloved characters, be it Captain America or Iron Man, they are forced in a position to rethink if their characters are good or bad.
While this film is mainly on the clash between the superheroes, it is not to say there isn’t a villain too. However, this issue with calling the villain a “villain”, is a little unclear. Neither Captain America or Iron Man are wrong, but neither of them are right. Is the government wrong to want to keep the superheroes in check? Are the superheroes wrong if they do not agree with the government?
This film, of course, also saw the debut of Spider-Man in the MCU. Portrayed by Tom Holland, this version of Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man is significantly younger that the previous Sony Pictures versions, played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Younger, funnier, morally undeveloped, this version of Spider-Man is closer to the comic books’ version. While fans who knew Spider-Man through only the film versions would find Holland’s to be a little too talkative and annoying, judging by the overall cheers and laughter heard in the theatres during his appearance, his is undoubtedly entertaining.
All the usual Avengers actors and actresses returned to portray their characters, including “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt, The Incredible Hulk), while new characters like T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman, 42), the Black Panther, who has his own solo film coming in 2018, Everett Ross (Martin Freeman, Sherlock, The Hobbit franchise), and Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl, Inglorious Basterds, Rush), whom comic book fans would know as a major enemy of Captain America, enters the cinematic universe for the first time.
Overall, the Russo brothers proved to MCU fans that they are capable of films with a huge ensemble cast and yet have enough screen time to each to develop a coherent story although people just see it as a “Captain America v. Iron Man” film. Next, the Russo brothers would be directing the “mother of all MCU films”, Avengers: Infinity War, coming in two parts (2018 and 2019).