Captain America: Civil War is another Marvel tent-pole with an unfair load on its back. Firstly, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice broke our collective hopes that a superhero V superhero movie could be great. Just showed up and snapped it like a dry twig.

Secondly, there’s the constant problem of trying to adapt the comic book to work as a movie and Civil War may have it worse than everything that preceded it. The original Civil War narrative was a 100+ comic story arc, an all-encompassing event that did as much damage to Marvel’s universe as it did to comic fans’ wallets.

We even wrote a feature-length article where we warned that trying to funnel that amount of content into a two-and-a half-hour movie was bound to disappoint. But we did temper the fact by arguing why that’s okay and why this movie should be allowed to be its own monster.

The bad news is we were right.

The good news is… we were right. We may be singing to the orchestrated choir of “We read the book; it was better”, but Captain America: Civil War fails to capture the essence of the original arc. This isn’t a large-scale frontier with battles fought by superhumans, taking place across multiple fronts. It’s been boiled down to an extremely violent bar fight, in which a few planes get blown up.

There’s no sense of risk, no swing of emotions as your favourite heroes choose their sides. You get the foundation of the movie set up in the first half an hour. As the rest of the movie is built upon it, you “ooh” and “aah” as the action plays out, but you’re never so invested that you want to jump to your feet and shout for your team, no matter how much money Marvel and Disney pump into the ad campaign.

That said, this is still a great movie. You should watch it – regardless of your familiarity with Marvel’s Civil War.

It cribs more than a few pages from Captain America: Winter Soldier’s playbook. And it goes a bit more towards spy-movie-with-superheroes than anything where you’d expect “Bam!” or “Whiff!” flash on the screen. The classic Marvel humour is in there, with a lot of the great stuff coming from Ant-Man and and newcomer Spider-Man (more on him later), but it’s tinted with a lot more seriousness and violence.

Speaking of, you could watch this movie devoid of dialogue and it would still be great. We need to see it a few more times, but this may be the new gold-standard for impressive fight scenes and large-scale action – and not just for Marvel.

All the actors playing your heroes have slipped back into their roles flawlessly. Every action they take and line they speak feels like something an adult human would say, which means it trumps both its source material and Batman V Superman for leading roles.

The rest of the cast may be solid, but it  feels like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans add extra muscle. The highlight of the supporting cast is Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. We won’t spoil his performance, but we have to say that this is the Spider-Man we’ve all been dying to see.

Strap in for the ride and it will not disappoint you. Captain America: Civil War is not a better cape versus cape movie than Batman V Superman. What it is, is an extremely enjoyable romp in Marvel’s backyard (and will clean out the bad taste in your mouth left by Age of Ultron).

 

Verdict It’s not what you’re expecting, and it may not be what you want, want it’s fantastic regardless 70%