In their ongoing pursuit to thwart all wrong-doings around the world, the Avengers continue to fight together to beat the bad guys. However, the public's trust in them is beginning to wane thanks to the devastating damage and fatalities they leave behind in their wake after each and every battle. Unfortunately, their doubter's worries are amplified when a mission against an enemy from Cap's past results in the death of several innocent Nigerian civilians, causing the UN to intervene in their crime-fighting and enforce some controlling regulation laws.
Plagued by the guilt of destroying Sokovia in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, bankroller Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) backs the accords along with James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany) and a surprisingly receptive Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). On the other hand however, leader Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) questions whether they'll still be able to keep people safe abiding by such restrictions and refuses to sign the treaty, as does his loyal comrade Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
Their differences of opinion prove problematic to the government, who threaten that they either go along with their rules or retire. The ultimatum soon turns Rogers and his team into wanted 'dangerous criminals' after a menacing German agent, with vengeance on his mind, throws a spanner in the works in the form of Bucky Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier and forces the star-spangled hero to take heroism into his own hands.
Well... that is how it's done, DC. While Captain America: Civil War is a completely separate entity to Warner Bros' Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice which came out in March, given how closely the two were released and how similar, in a sense they are, in plot, comparisons can't help but be made. Unfortunately for the latter, Marvel's attempt at pitting, not just two but several, heroes against one another is superior in so many ways.
Just like the other Captain America instalments that have come before it, Civil War can also lay claim to the statement that it features some of the best choreography work we've seen in the franchise. Executing the high-speed combat scenes with military precision, each one is more thrilling than the next, leading up to an emotion-filled showdown towards the end of the film that will leave you not even sure who you're really rooting for any more.
It's no secret that thanks to Cap's occasional goody two-shoes nature, the character fares better with fellow Avengers to bounce of off – a theory that was proven in 2014's The Winter Soldier instalment. Here, he has a plethora of other skilled-ones to banter and spar with, creating both hilarious and even heart-wrenching scenes. While Marvel has always owned humour in their movies, its the soul of this film that really stands it above its predecessors.
Throughout, it's evidenced that they know how important it is to fill these popcorn entertainment blockbusters with real heart as well as action-packed fight sequences and what successfully keeps Civil War as a Captain America instalment rather than Avengers 3 is the focus on Rogers' awkward but always touching friendship with enemy-turned-ally Barnes. Both out of time, it's clear the pair will always share a bond but with Barnes now a brain-washed ticking time-bomb of a killing machine, they both realise they can't remain side-by-side forever and it's truly sad. Similarly, Rogers' friendship with Stark comes into play frequently too. Yes there is a villain, but there's no over-the-top big bad here, it's not needed. Not when the real shock comes from seeing the Avengers broken from within.
On top of all of the existing characters and story that they had to allow time for in the movie's 147 minute running time, the fact that newbies Spider-Man and Black Panther get such effective introductions into the MCU is quite simply remarkable, and makes audience members desperate to see their upcoming standalone movies mere minutes after leaving the cinema. But as much as their impact is down to screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for allowing them to shine, it's actors Tom Holland and Chadwick Boseman who really deserve the praise.
Almost polar-opposite, and perhaps why it was so genius to keep them both in the movie, Boseman's T'Challa is grave and noble, shouldering the burdening responsibilities of a fallen King and feeling more forced into a necessary rough-and-tumbles rather than playing a long for kicks. Holland's Peter Parker on the other hand is eager to run alongside the big dogs, despite the danger and his relatively rookie status.
Enthused at the opportunity to impress Iron Man during the film's biggest [here's looking at you Ant-Man] scene, he manages to hold his own fight-wise but both his youth and inexperience show. "I don't know if you've been in a fight before, but there's not usually this much talking" berates one of his opponents, honing in on the fact that his quippy Queen's wise-cracks are what we love most about the spunky character.
Things are certainly not all about the fresh faces in the pack however, as the film is just as dedicated to developing familiar characters arcs too, touching upon subjects as diverse as Scarlet Witch struggling to keep hold of her humanity with her developing powers, Vision's confusion as to his meaning on Earth and Stark's crippling need to protect both the world and his relationship with Pepper Potts. They even make ample time for a splash of romance and the obligatory, if not mildly annoying, up-close shot of Johansson's derriere – just how do they do it? Marvel, our hats are well and truly off.