Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Robery Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brühl
The truth is I’ve got superhero fatigue. I’m tired of watching enhanced humans – almost always men – saving the world. I’m tired of seeing digitized cities being destroyed and I’m especially tired of the philosophical or political themes that post Christopher Nolan directors feel compelled to weave into their 200 million-dollar franchises. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice felt like the death of a genre.
So I’m thrilled to report that Captain America: Civil War marks a renewal of faith. The film is too busy and too long. There are so many super-heroes in the mix that you might have trouble keeping track of who is siding with whom but still, directors Anthony and Joe Russo manage to keep it light and propulsive. You stay hooked and you come out satisfied.
Why is everyone fighting? For the same reason Batman and Superman were – that delicate question of collateral damage. When big burly men and one woman dispatch villains, buildings get destroyed and, surprise, surprise, people die. The Avengers might have saved the world but they killed so many people that the United Nations wants the super-heroes to sign an accord that requires them to take permission before they take off on their missions. Iron Man believes this is necessary but Captain America refuses to sign.
The rest of the gang must now pick sides – there is a staggering set-piece at a European airport where Black Widow is pulverizing Hawkeye, Ant-Man is creating big problems for Iron Man and – this really took my breath away – Spider-Man has got Captain America’s shield. It’s complex and beautiful and incredible to watch.
Yes there is a villain, played nicely by a grim Daniel Bruhl, but he’s mostly there to keep the plot moving. The real battle is between the Avengers themselves. The writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely construct strong arguments for both Iron Man and Captain America so that it isn’t a comforting question of good versus evil. It’s thorny and complex and resolutely gray. Even the villain’s motivations are more humane. He isn’t interested in conquering the world. Thank god.
It’s still far too much for too long. You might get restless but you won’t get bored. I strongly recommend you watch Captain America. This is the type of spectacle cinema that makes multiplex popcorn taste better.