Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd

Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

147 minutes

After Scarlett Witch (Olsen) inadvertently kills innocent bystanders in the film’s opening action sequence, the screaming public want action to control the superheroes involvement in policing the world. Tony Stark (Downey Jnr) has yet another moral revelation and decides to team up with the UN to create a document controlling the enhanced human’s participation in events. Worried that the document will put the superheroes under the control of politician’s agendas, Captain America (Evans) refuses to sign and a hostile split is created between him and Stark’s Iron-Man.

Civil War suffers similar problems as Batman versus Superman in trying to weave so much storyline into a single movie that the plot feels increasingly confused. There are so many characters involved here that attempting to give each one time to develop their story pushes the running time out so far that at times it drags and feels lethargic. There are also points when there is genuine uncertainty about which side a character is backing.

The action sequences are unsurprisingly spectacular yet somehow lack the gravity of The Winter Soldier. The fight scenes are so impossible to choreograph that spinning camera angles are introduced to mask the cuts and CGI, and so feel a touch improbable and disengaging.

Spiderman’s inclusion feels forced and unnecessary, and his childlike naivety is tiring. Surprisingly, the real winner here is Ant-Man (Rudd), who is given one of the most significant scenes in the film and adds great unassuming humour to proceedings.

Evans is developing the Cap well, emerging from the unflinching pro-American soldier to the suspicious outsider with a growing mistrust in the authority’s activities. Downey Jnr however just looks bored, as if the whole Iron-Man story has been done to death and a bi-annual pay-cheque is the only thing keeping him here. Jeremy Renner feels renewed as Hawkeye and gets some of the best lines in the film, and is typical of the way the outlying characters feel much fresher than the Cap and Iron-Man.

Building a universe is the latest axiom in the studios of any multi-character series. Yet as the dust spins to create each new planet, the movies become more episodic in nature, and prior knowledge is increasingly assumed. Marvel are way ahead of DC in terms of universe development yet Captain America: Civil War still feels like a narrative-setter, a set-up piece for future movies, and because of that it feels disappointing and ultimately unsatisfying.

5 / 10