2016 seems to be the year for films based on comic books, with multiple such films hitting screens. But it is the audiences, who are more than happy to witness superheroes battle the forces of evil on screen, who are certainly in for a definite treat with the release of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. However, will the film that has managed to generate immense hype manage to live up to expectations is the big question.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR follows the story of what happens when political pressure to install a system of accountability headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team begins to mount after yet another incident involving the Avengers ends with severe collateral damage. This ultimately results in the Avengers fracturing into two groups, one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without interference by the government, and the other led by Tony Stark whose decision is to support government’s oversight and accountability.
The film starts off with the camera panning across a vast inhabited frozen landscape to a bunker, wherein a soldier is seen speak Russian words to a docile Bucky aka Winter Soldier, conditioning his neural response to one that can be controlled with suggestions. From here the film moves to an ongoing fight in Lagos between a part of the Avengers team and terrorists after a biological hazard led by Brock Rumlow. The Avengers manage to stop Rumlow in his endeavour, but Maximoff loses control of her powers and causes a nearby building to collapse, killing several Wakandan relief aid workers. Meanwhile, after giving a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tony Stark is confronted by a woman whose son was killed in the Battle of Sokovia. Following this confrontation, Tony leads Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross to the new Avengers facility to inform the team that the United Nations has established a legislative bill that will serve to monitor and police the rapidly growing number of super humans. The team is divided over the act: Stark supports the accords because he feels responsible for his role in creating Ultron, while Rogers refuses to trust the government after discovering that HYDRA was secretly operating within S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the meeting is cut short when Rogers is called away after learning that Peggy Carter has died.
Agent Romanoff follows Rogers to London in the hopes of convincing the latter to sign the Accords, but Rogers makes it clear that he will not. Following this Romanoff travels to Vienna, where several heads of state have gathered to ratify the accords, among them King T’Chaka of Wakanda and his son Prince T’Challa. When T’Chaka prepares to make the keynote address, the building is struck by a terrorist bombing, killing T’Chaka and several others. Security footage reveals Barnes is responsible and T’Challa vows to personally avenge his father’s death. Over Romanoff’s objections, Rogers and Wilson decide to find Barnes themselves, only to be arrested along with T’Challa after capturing Barnes. While in captivity, Barnes is released by Colonel Helmut Zemo, only to embark on a rampage after he uses the trigger word HYDRA had programmed him with. Rogers and Wilson manage to stop him and learn that Zemo is heading to the facility where he and other Winter Soldiers were created. Rogers recruits Wanda, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to help him. Stark convinces Ross to let him bring his renegade comrades in, and assembles Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to intercept them at Leipzig/Halle Airport. Romanoff lets Rogers and Barnes escape in Stark’s Quinjet, while the rest of their team are captured. Rhodes suffers severe spinal injuries after he is accidentally blasted by Vision. Romanoff reveals to Stark that Barnes was framed by Zemo. But will the rest of the team which includes Rogers, Ant-Man, Bucky, Clint Barton, Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlett Witch) join Tony Stark and team in signing the Accords or will they eventually form a renegade new team is what the rest of the film is about.
What sets CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR apart from the previously released films THE AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA or even IRON MAN series is the fact that right from the start the viewer notices a gradual shift in focus from technicality to that of a more emotion filled yet relatable battle between contradicting ideologies. Though the film still retains its share of gadgetry and action, it focuses mainly of the human struggle of the team that is growing apart. However, this does not diminish the fact that the film is replete with action sequences that will keep the viewer on the edge of his seat. Well executed and perfectly synchronized, the action sequences are spaced out well so as to give the viewer a breather with the interlaced human drama. In fact directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo have done a brilliant job with executing the film’s proceedings in a way to keep the audience hooked. Especially the action sequence between team Captain America and team Iron Man is the biggest highlight of the movie, as it has brilliant visuals layered with witty lines exchanged between the characters.
Coming to the performances, unlike Tony Stark’s previous avatar, in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, Robert Downey Jr.’s character seems more muted in terms of his sarcastic, narcissistic, witty rebuttals. Instead the character of Stark is the one who provides an emotional connect with the audience right through the first half of the film. On the other hand, Chris Evans as Captain America/ Steve Rogers who has up till now been the soldier with the human touch is thrown full swing into an action packed avatar while he struggles with the ideology of loyalty towards his onetime friend Bucky Barnes and his current Avengers team. Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow/ Natasha Romanoff is very well depicted. Her inner turmoil of being torn between supporting Rogers’ with whom she shared a bond in the previous film and her logical support for Stark’s idea of the accords is well executed.
However, the highlight of the film is the introduction of two new characters viz. Black Panther and Spider Man. While the latter has been much talked about as just a cameo, Spidey fans will be happy to note that though short, his role is definitely not a cameo. Tom Holland as Spider Man/ Peter Parker is perfect eclipsing the previous actor who portrayed the same character on screen. Here again directors Joe and Anthony Russo have done well in setting up the character for a future franchise series. But it is Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther who steals the show with him playing a major part in helping the audience connect the pieces.
Overall, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is a story heavy film and shows the emotional journey of The Avengers, especially Captain America and Iron Man. The film has some mind blowing action sequences with the introduction of new Superheroes joining the team. A definite must watch.