The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Since 2008, when Iron Man first blasted onto the silver screen and brought flawed heroes into the collective consciousness, audiences the world over have been invested in Marvel's shared universe. As recognisable as the heroes flaws were, or how evil the villain, there was a familiarity. We enjoyed them and to say there was a formula would be flippant, but certainly the word comfortable would not be unfair. Then in 2014 The Russo Brothers gifted a potentially fatigued but loyal audience Captain America: The Winter Soldier - A superhero flick wrapped up in twisty spy thriller. It was a game-changer. Since then we've had Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Which, although fun, never seemed to reach the slightly more significantly adult themes.
Where previously any of the stand-alone flicks seemed to exist with references and cameos to remind us that we were in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War, does a perfect job of of threading the strands from Avengers while still remaining true to itself. Anyone who's seen the numerous trailers can tell you which avenger stands with #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, so it's even more of a triumph that the Russo's manage to give everyone their due without ever sidelining Steve Rogers himself. Captain America: Civil War's triumph is that it cleverly uses the relationships built in the previous flicks to create, not just motivations for the individuals but, a real sense of weight to the choices being made by each and every character.
After so many go-rounds it's easy to take for granted that the cast may be putting on a second skin when playing the roles we know inside and out. However, so precarious are the decisions being made by our characters that you can see the conflict changing them. Everyone here has a decision to make and knowing the consequences adds new dimensions to each.
Civil War is also very much aware that we didn't come to see the Avengers Alumni stage a play by David Mamet. There's punch up's and mêlées that not only play to the strengths of our heroes, but also speak to what's happening to them at that place in the narrative. The opener is very much a take on the seasoned spy's we saw take the ship at the beginning of Winter Soldier (albeit with a newbie under their wing), whereas the punch-up of our brothers in arms is just as emotional as any heart-wrenching dialogue.
There's some welcome laughs to punctuate the breaking up of Marvel's first family. Sure, the quips come from those you expect, but there's also gratifying amusement from seeing conversations play out by the people that are so comfortable with each other they don't give a second thought ribbing one another in ways only those who know us can.
By curtain call Captain America: Civil War does a lot of things. Not only is a satisfying movie delivered, but it moves the MCU along and changes the stakes while all along never forgetting that (while the effect should be shattering to everyone involved) this is still Captain America's show.
4* - Brooklyn Strikes Back
Others in the series: