The latest film in the blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally hit cinemas in the UK and is probably the best one to date. Not only is it a film that Marvel has finally perfected the formula after the previous two phases but also shows signs of maturity as it spreads out the roster of characters to include not only old favourites but also new blood to the team.
The film opens with the usual big set piece typical of the films with Steve Rogers, Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson, and Natasha Romanoff hunting down Brock Rumlow, the Hydra agent who was burnt during the events of Winter Soldier, in Nigeria as he attempts to steal a biological weapon. All appears to go according to plan until Wanda throws Rumlow away from Rogers as he detonates himself but crashes into a diplomatic building causing mass casualties. This leads to the creation of the Sokovia Accords to limit the agency of the Avengers and provide UN oversight that provide the main conflict of the film.
The main content of the film focuses largely around the relationship between Rogers and Tony Stark and their now differing (and IMO flipped) views on how to proceed, with Stark believing that they need oversight after being confronted by the mother of teenager who was killed in one of their operations and Rogers believing that bureaucracy will just get in the way of their mission to save people.
The character motivations for all the characters in the film are well thought out compared to some of the previous films of the franchise, which have suffered from cutting between events too quickly, with even the side-characters having reasons to pick their sides, which sees friends appear on opposite sides of the battle and having to deal with that.
In terms of the characters themselves I have to say between the old reliables from the earlier phases and the newer ones the new guys were much better. Rogers, Stark, and Romanoff are still played incredibly well but it seems they’ve run out of places for them to go as characters as many of their stories this time round were similar to previous entries, with Stark in particular quite boring at times as he once again went down the ‘I’m guilty’ road. Instead the lesser used characters, like Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, and the new characters, such as T’Challa, really stole the show as they added a fresh face to the billing.
In particular the best of the film had to be T’Challa, more commonly known as Black Panther played by Chadwick Boseman, and the villain Helmut Zemo, played by the incredibly talented Daniel Brühl, who had some of the best character arcs of any film of the last few years as, unlike the more common heroes and villains with insane backgrounds or reasons for what they do, both felt remarkably human with their stories being ones of immense loss and what that does to people.
This notion of loss and its effects on people was really the heart of the film. After the previous films which were largely your usual ‘bad guy does bad thing, good guys do good things’ it was surprising Marvel took such a gamble by making such a non-traditional Marvel film. This was a film in which the good guys may have saved the day but in doing so not only cost innocent lives in the process but end up creating their own evils, with Zemo set out on destroying the Avengers from within due to them causing the deaths of his family during the events of Age of Ultron.
Despite this however the film doesn’t get lost in its negativity and brings back the humour from previous ensemble films but also does it much better. While I was a fan of the Whedon humour and banter it was very cliche in terms of content with it being the usual mix of bets between fighters, oorah attitude, and big speeches. Instead this had characters actually joking with each other, breaking the fourth wall, such as by describing that all the heroes have their gimmick on the introduction of Spider-Man, and more relatable pettiness, in particular scenes between Wilson and Barnes, which saw one of my favourite moments of the film where Wilson refuses to move his car seat forward to give Barnes legroom. It makes no sense for a Marvel film and that’s why I love it in its normal nature.
Despite this however the film did have a few negatives. Once again it fell into this obsession with having characters either be in relationships or appear to want to be in said relationships, with Vision and Wanda looking particularly domestic at times and a Rogers/Sharon Carter relationship appearing out of nowhere. Also a few of the initial reasons for the events of the film are completely forgotten about, with Rumlow being killed off fairly quickly and the mother of the dead student never being brought up again either.
Overall though this was a film that really showed a transition in the MCU that we knew was coming for a longtime now where older leads like Iron Man and Captain America are inevitably replaced by newer characters like Black Panther and this has understandably worried some fans but if this film is anything to go by I’d honestly say we have nothing to worry about as the newer characters are being given the same attention to detail as the old and the retiring ones aren’t simply being put out to pasture for the sake of it.
This is a film I wholeheartedly recommend you go see.