After the global tragedies that the Avengers’ have been involved in, governments of the world are clamouring to limit the power of the superheroes. The need to sign or not sign to a proposed oversight agreement splits the loyalty of Captain America and Iron Man. With shadowy figures behind the scenes and the dangerous Winter Soldier apparently bombing the UN, even those fighting for justice find that they are fighting each other, with terrible consequences.
Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Running Length: 147 minutes
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johansson
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Comic Book
Marking the first entry in ‘phase three’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), ‘Civil War’ focuses on showing the aftermath of the destruction in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, and the splintering loyalties of the ever-expanding cast of super-powered heroes. The usual standard of high-octane action is as reliable as always but for the first time ‘Civil War’ shows that the MCU could be in danger of collapsing under its own weight.
The core story of ‘Civil War’ is a very good one; conflicting loyalties and motivations drive a wedge between Captain America (Evans) and Iron Man (Downey Jnr) with other characters forced to take sides. Instead of combating a world-ending villain, this time around the conflict comes from within; how best to deal with the consequences of city-destroying fights (to the extent that one wonders how any future battle will take place without heavy guilt for all concerned!). What leeches away from this good central plot is ‘Civil War’ trying to throw so many established characters at the screen (whilst also establishing some new ones) that the film quickly becomes clogged up. For a Captain America film there is a distinct lack of the man himself for the first half of the movie. Indeed, Civil War could well have been Iron Man 4 due to the conflict within Stark stealing much of the screen time!
There is no denying that it isn’t hugely fun to see a massive punch-up with cameos from Ant-Man and Spider-Man, and that, once ‘Civil War’ actively puts the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man front and centre, Evans and Downey Jnr both shine through, but ‘Civil War’ feels more like a half-house Avengers effort. Sadly, the titular Captain doesn’t appear to be the star of his own movie. Bigger is often better in the world of blockbusters and ‘Civil War’ is a hugely entertaining and fun entry in the MCU, but if the MCU continues to grow and forget to focus on the actual characters within itself then future entries could start to exclude the wide audiences they are trying to catch.
IS ‘CAPTAIN AMERICA : CIVIL WAR’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
An opening battle scene features many physical fights and firearms. However, these are typical of the Marvel universe and have no blood or suffering involved for the majority. There is the use of the insult ‘son of a bitch’ early on. The battle culminates with Captain America fighting the lead enemy only for them to attempt to detonate a grenade and kill them both. The explosion is re-directed but obliterates several floors of a high-rise building. No bodies or suffering is shown but it is made clear that innocent people were killed. There is genuine guilt and regret by the characters to this.
A meeting with the Avengers and the Secretary of State involves playing a variety of clips of the events of previous movies. There are brief clips of suffering and bodies. This isn’t graphic but the main characters show remorse for the consequences of their actions.
Tony Stark has a conversation with lady by a door shortly after giving a speech. She describes the events at the climax of ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ and how that led to the death of her son. She is angry and upset and her description of her sweet son who was killed before his time could be upsetting to sensitive viewers.
One character tortures another by hanging them upside down with their head in a sink that is slowly filling with water. The character asking questions states that they could use ‘other, bloodier, methods’ to find out the information. The subject of the torture is defiant until the water starts to go over his mouth. The scene cuts away very shortly after this happens.
A scene shows medical experimentation on several characters. They have drips in their arms and whilst most are lying in bed with obvious discomfort, one yells ‘it hurts!’ and struggles to escape.
During a large battle between many established characters, one character is shot down and crashes heavily into the ground without being caught. Everyone is very upset by this and it is later made apparent that there was spinal damage and the character will no longer be able to walk. As this is an established character it may upset some children but after the incident the moment isn’t lingered upon and it is much later in the film that the narrative returns to this character who is shown to be recuperating.
Several dead bodies are seen in relative close-up with bullet wounds in their foreheads. These are not established characters but the violence of their deaths could be upsetting for some kids.
CCTV footage about a car crash is combined with a flashback to show the deaths of two characters. These characters are very important to another character and the deaths are particularly violent. After forcing the car crash, one character walks up to a male character who has crawled from the car and has blood on their face. Two violent punches to the face are delivered and the character slumps to the ground. The attacker then moves around the car to the woman who is still in the passenger seat. He slowly wraps his hand around her neck and strangles her. The camera stays on the woman’s suffering for 5 seconds before panning up. This is a violent scene and could be distressing for children. Once the scene returns to present day one character is very upset and angry.
The film culminates with two established good characters getting into a very violent fight. Up to this point any ‘good on good’ fighting has been largely a matter of trying to get the upper hand, but in the climax fight each character is trying to inflict injury on the other. This could be upsetting to young children who are used to seeing these characters team up and work together.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Captain America: Civil War’ is still as entertaining as any Marvel film and children will no doubt love the carefully blended mix of action, comedy, tension and character. What would have moved the movie from ‘good’ to film ‘excellent’ would have been reducing the scale to make it a character driven story with more emphasis on Captain America himself. Instead we get a quasi-Avengers movie where casual fans may not even realise who half the characters are. Regardless, children are bound to love the fast-paced entertainment and with virtually no blood and absolutely no sexual content (aside from a little innuendo) we believe that this movie will be suitable for most children aged 7 and up (with caution regarding the car crash / character murder scene detailed above).
- Violence: 2/5 (virtually no blood, but there is one water torture scene and violent deaths of two established, although incidental, characters)
- Emotional Distress: 3/5 (Stark / Iron Man is plagued by doubt regarding the death of innocents. One character is very distressed to learn of the violent deaths of people close to them)
- Fear Factor: 0/5
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 2/5 (some moderate cursing and mild blasphemy. ‘Son of a bitch’ is used several times and one common moderate curse word is used on several occasions throughout)
- Dialogue: 2/5 (When one character says they were ‘studying abroad’ another asks, ‘what broad?’. When Stark relays the story of the incident at the end of ‘Age of Ulton’ as put to him earlier in the film he says they ‘dropped a building on [him] whilst we were kicking ass’.)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of loyalty, team work, political compromise and responsibility for consequences.
- There are two ‘bonus’ scenes, one after the main ‘picture’ credits, and another at once the credits have fully run.
Words by Michael Record