The latest MARVEL Blockbuster Captain America: Civil War (or as I like to call it: The Avengers 2.5 – because it has the majority of The Avengers in this movie, minus Thor  The Hulk, but with the addition of a couple of new heroes), is one of the movies in 2016 that I was most looking forward to.

captain-america-civil-war-poster-fea-1200x737In Civil War, the action occurs in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe (MCU) once again, and begins some months after the events of last year’s Ant-Man (as if the last few months in the real world has also elapsed in the MCU). The action begins with a fantastic chase and fight sequence in Africa, with The Avengers tracking down an old foe, Rumlow/Crossbones, last seen in The Winter Soldier. Unfortunately, the mission doesn’t quite go to plan, and the nations of the world decide to put The Avengers ‘in check’, by making them heed to a new protocol, “The Sokovia Accords” (Sokovia being the fictional eastern European country destroyed by Ultron in the last Avengers film).

Some agree willingly (Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow, Vision), others disagree and refuse to go along with the Accords (Captain America, Falcon, Scarlet Witch). However, at the ceremony to mark the signing of the Sokovia Accords, there’s a terrorist bombing – pinned to Captain America’s old frenemy, Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier. That’s where The Avengers really end up splitting – with Captain America wanting to protect his old friend, and half the team following him, the other half following Iron Man and trying to enforce the new Sokovia Accords. All this build up leads to the amazing battle at the airport, as shown in the trailers – hence, the ‘Civil War’.

This cinematic version of the Captain America/Avengers Civil War storyline differs vastly from that told in the comics in the mid-2000s, so straight away don’t be upset if you feel that MARVEL didn’t follow the source material on this one (as many people suspected that the producers might). Most of our now-favourite MARVEL heroes are in this movie (hence why I call it The Avengers 2.5), and two new superheroes join the MCU in this movie, namely the Black Panther (who is awesome!) and everyone’s friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man (making a welcome return to his nerdy roots). These two new heroes pretty much steal the show, and of course plant some pretty decent seeds for future MCU movies and storylines. Everyone else that we’ve come to know and love over the last eight years is on form, with hardly a misstep from Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier) and the rest of the main actors, although for some such as Paul Bettany (The Vision), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) and Elisabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), their appearances are almost extended cameos rather than decent roles.

As always, the special effects are as brilliant as we’ve come to expect from a MARVEL movie, and Civil War is directed well by Joe and Anthony Russo, they themselves back for a second Captain America film, after helming 2014’s brilliant Winter Soldier. The only small concern I had with this movie was about the plot, and what that did to the running time of the film. After the opening scene in Africa, there was a lot of prolonged setup heading towards the Civil War at the airport, which is the definite high point of the film. After this battle concludes, a truce is called between the two sides due to some new information coming to light – but that truce is flipped on its head as a brutal truth is revealed. But getting all of this told on screen takes almost two and a half hours, and it’s perhaps a bit bloated in its storytelling.

As I thought about the film afterwards, I also felt something was ‘off’ slightly about this flick, and although it was great I felt it didn’t quite reach the heights of both Avengers films, nor The Winter Soldier. Maybe I didn’t like the fact that our heroes were fighting each other instead of bad guys? Or maybe it was because Thor and The Hulk were missing? The other thing to note with this film is that it relies heavily on all the previous movies in the MCU – if you haven’t seen them, this movie might seem a bit silly or far-fetched to you if you jump in now.

But it’s a fantastic start to the MARVEL Cinematic Universe’s Phase III line-up of films, which is building towards the final battles with Thanos in the two-part Infinity Wars in 2018 and 2019, and definitely worth forking out for if you’re a MARVEL fan.

And although I loved it – Sorry Captn, but Deadpool is still the clubhouse leader to date in terms of movies in 2016!

4 stars for the movie itself + 0.5 star loading for a film series I’m (very much) invested in = 4.5 stars!

PS. As always with MARVEL movies, there are two post-credit scenes, one in the middle of the credits, the other after the very end. Don’t miss them!

Reviewed by David Emms