Captain America: Civil War (CACW) has so far received pretty much rave reviews across all fronts: the action’s solid, the scripting’s not overly cheesy and the film is quite entertaining. At its heart lies the ultimate question that Pixar addressed over a dozen years ago in The Incredibles: “quis custodiet ipsos custodes”, or who watches the watchmen? (Not, as you may be thinking, Edna Mode’s motto: “no capes!”)
Of course in Pixar’s case, superheroes disappeared very quickly, while in CACW there’s more of them than ever. Kudos goes to the Russo brothers for integrating them rather seamlessly, so much so that it feels more like an Avengers movie than a Captain America-centric one.
It does introduce a number of new characters to the franchise. There’s Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, who’s the prince of the Wakandan nation (where they found all the vibranium in the last Avengers movie, remember?); a new Spiderman and various other cameos.
The story line is pretty much as follows: the Avengers try to stop a terrorist group from stealing biological weapons. In the process aid workers are killed. The UN decide they need to govern superhero actions. Captain America prefers to be a free agent while Iron Man likes supervision – a strange turnaround of roles, given the former is a military man and the latter the enfant terrible. The Winter Soldier stops the signing of the accords, controlled by villian/victim Helmut Zemo. Incidentally, do we also mention how great is the choreography for Bucky’s fight scenes?
The rest of the film is about rescuing Bucky, who as it turns out killed Stark’s parents and Zemo is a Sokovian who wants revenge for what the Avengers did to his hometown and the death of his family. In terms of plot, it’s really not the most inspired.
But what it does say about the Avengers, and Captain America and Bucky Barnes in particular is what ties the franchise and the various superheroes: not so much a common ideal, but friendship and loyalty. This is especially true of Barnes and the Cap. The former goes back into the ice so he won’t go on a murderous rampage again, the latter chooses friendship over the Captain America role and abandons his shield – Cap’s calling card. There’s also his internal struggle over what’s right and what’s wrong.
In the end, the superheroes and Zemo all wind up in Wakanda, under the shelter of Black Panther. If you do find the “hunters become the hunted” theme familiar, that’s because it was also in the Winter Soldier film.
Incidentally, there are no capes in this movie. Thor is noticeably absent, focusing his attention on the Ragnarok film that’s coming up next. That’s a year from now. Stay tuned.