The title is a misnomer, as in spite of everything the Marvel Cinematic Universe machine will tell you, Captain America: Civil War is not a Captain America movie. It may have the same writer and directors that gave us The Winter Solider, but it’s really a direct sequel in everything but name to the average Avengers: Age of Ultron. Steve Rogers is in it, sure, but no more than any other Avenger. There’s even an argument to be made that the story’s more about Tony Stark than it is about him.
So why not call it Avengers: Civil War? Probably marketing. It’s kind of false advertising to use the Avengers name when it’s missing two key Avengers in Thor and Hulk (who’ll get their own outing 18 months from now, if anyone still cares). Cynical ol’ me would suggest that ‘Captain America’ comes with more clout, based on the lauded Winter Soldier and its predecessor, than the Avengers brand that slipped below Disney’s expectations a year ago.
But all that marketing talk is just speculation on my part. The proof is in the pudding, and Civil War is a messy one, with a meandering, confusing plot (one that shies away from the uncomfortable politics of the comics’ Civil War event, more reflective of the mommy-issues scrap that was Batman v Superman) that’s just scaffolding to prop up appearances for everyone’s favourite superheroes like it’s a fucking float parade or something.
The pièce de résistance is the much-anticipated ‘return’ of Spider-Man from his Sony Pictures exile, portrayed here by Tom Holland as a weasel-faced smart-arse whose wisecracking under the red mask, while ostensibly true to the character’s comic-book origins, is rendered insufferable when amplified against the usual Whedonesque quips the Avengers deploy.
I’ll give it this much: it’s better than Age of Ultron, if only for relatively dialling down the ‘humour’ aspect, and for the absence of the Marvel movies’ worst supervillain yet. Also, can somebody give us a Bucky/Falcon buddy-cop movie, please?