What It’s About
Colleagues Tony and Steve are at odds, and enlist their BFFs and allies in a mighty explosive family feud in “Captain America: Civil War.” Make no mistake — this is a third “Avengers” movie because Tony is Iron Man and Steve is Captain America.
In a superior effort to “The Age of Ultron,” but not as standout as “The Winter Soldier,” this chapter in the Marvel Universe takes a while to hit its stride. By virtue of its assorted subplots and the sheer number of characters, the movie is dense.
But there are snappy quips, welcome elements of humor, character richness and impressive debuts to engage us. The chemistry of the cast and their talent level have always been this series’ strength.
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Saving the world has taken its toll on The Avengers, because innocent people have died during heroic displays of their super-human strengths.
The U.S. government wants to control the superheroes, deciding when they can unleash their powers. Tony Stark supports the UN accord, but Steve Rogers wants their consciences to guide them.
That disagreement sparks a clash of titans that fractures friendships and wreaks havoc in a global way. The fussing and fighting gets tedious — and harmful. Secrets and grudges come out, and very human feelings surface in this big blowout.
Of course, technical wizardry abounds, and there is much flying around in the sky and one-upsmanship by unleashing their superpowers.
Both are right — and both are wrong. I won’t disclose further details. But by the finale, an emotional toll has caused chinks in their armor and collateral damage.
We’ll find out if all is well with the brotherhood in the next round — “Infinity Wars” gears up in 2018.
Viewers must stay for the entire credits. Two scenes dispense more information.
Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans are so skilled at portraying their iconic roles that one expects Iron Man and Captain America to react in a certain way. We anticipate their moves, but these guys can surprise us, and we accept them. They’re comfortable in those skins.
I’m neither team because it is hard to see them at war with each other. Some interesting history is revealed in this chapter, too.
Captain is loyal to a fault — to brainwashed Bucky Barnes, aka Winter Soldier, (Sebastian Stan), whom he stands behind despite the personal cost. Iron Man, a more vulnerable Tony than we’ve seen, is committed to his cause in a very personal way.
Everybody’s here, except for Thor and Hulk.
The two women — Scarlett Johansson as Natasha/The Black Widow and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda/The Scarlet Witch -- really stand out this time.
Characters displaying more depth are Vision (Paul Bettany), an android with feelings for Wanda, and Clint/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the reluctant family man.
Anthony Mackie as Sam/Falcon and Don Cheadle as Rhodes/War Machine are strong in more developed roles.
Stealing the movie, however, is Tom Holland as Peter/Spider-Man. His fresh interpretation is fun, age-appropriate and spot-on. Holland, whose debut as the son of Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in “The Impossible” signaled a bright future, is destined to be a star after this impressive turn.
Another memorable rookie is Chadwick Boseman (“42”) as T’Challa/Black Panther. We’ll see more of him down the road, and that will be a good thing.
The movie is also enlivened by the presence of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man. He’s a hoot as the comic relief in a very tense tempest.
Daniel Bruehl (“Rush”) is a formidable foe as Helmut Zemo, seeking vengeance for tragic personal losses.
The returning team of directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriter Christopher Markus are confident helming this franchise, and don’t disappoint hardcore fans.
Iron Man still gets the best lines, and there are a few instant classics to repeat.
What Doesn’t Work
Sure, the computer-generated graphics must show off the state-of-the-art capabilities we’ve come to expect from blockbusters.
But it is the cast’s camaraderie that appeals to the non-comic book fans, and the human conflicts are what separates the superpowered people’s stories.
That’s why the arrival of the new kids and the intimate moments resonate. I wish more time would be spent on story than the bells and whistles, but it will make a gazillion dollars no matter what.
Flying chunks of concrete get old fast. Heart and soul do matter. The “X-Men” movies have figured that out. I wish “The Avengers” would too.
- Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
- Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan, Daniel Bruehl, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Paul Rudd, Martin Freeman and William Hurt
- Rated PG-13 (extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem”
- 147 minutes