Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (13/05/16).
The third Captain America instalment sees The Avengers confront international politics, their moral ethos – and each other. ★★★★☆
Come 2016 and one would presume that the world would be completely Marvelled out. It’s been eight years since Iron Man, the first instalment of in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and since then we have been met with a barrage of establishing films (Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger and the aforementioned Iron Man and its sequel), secondary progression (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, culminating with Ant-Man) and the upscaled, end-of-the-world menageries also known as The Avengers and Age Of Ultron.
At a quick count, that’s 12 films in seven years. That’s an unprecedented amount for a wider integrated franchise. That’s a lot for any series. Luckily – for viewers and the company alike – Marvel are savvy to the worldwide superhero fatigue, and in entering “Phase 3 ” they are looking to deconstruct the alliance that they took so long to painfully establish. As such, Captain America: Civil War immediately takes a different tone to all of the aforementioned films. There is no hypothetical “big bad” in the conventional sense, and for the most part it is a refreshing departure that pays off, and in the lack of a full-scale “big bad” assault, all of the Avengers’ pent-up energy is spent inflicting it on each other.
It is the last of these fate-of-the-world initiatives that sparks the main dilemma: following their triumph (or consequential travesty, depending on whether or not you were situated on or under the floating town of Sokovia) in Age Of Ultron and after the full-throttle opening sequence in Africa results in a large amount of collateral damage, the United Nations intend to clamp down on the superhero team thanks to their disregard for accidental civilian death. They are presented with the Sokovia Accords whereby, in complying, the Avengers would only be legally allowed to act should a UN panel vote in favour of action.
It is ironic, with their main initiative being to save the world and everyone in it etc, but nevertheless, from the human perspective, who would want a bunch of strange super-able vigilantes acting as they see fit and claiming it to be in the benefit of the human world? Who is to say if, or when, those superheroes would turn on those they intend to help? Why should they get to wreak untold havoc in their quest to aid the world, without any regard for the consequences?