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Marvel fans, rejoice! Captain America: Civil War just hit theaters and our movie critic has all the superhero details.


“… And we say, we like Pepsi better than Coke! What?! ‘Dem’s fighting words!” L to R: Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and War Machine/James Rhodey (Don Cheadle) prepare to square off against their fellow superheroes in a scene from CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Credit: Film Frame..© Marvel 2016.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Martin Freeman, Emily VanCamp, Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie with Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Marisa Tomei, Daniel Brühl and John Kani.

WRITER(S): Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (screenplay); Mark Millar (comic book); Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (characters) 

DIRECTOR(S): Anthony & Joe Russo

60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): Following up after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War does something most Marvel movies don’t do: Flashing back in time to 1991 to find Joseph Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes in the control of Hydra agents being read a seemingly innocuous series of words that have a very specific purpose: Triggering the “Winter Soldier,” a near-unstoppable one-man killing machine capable of crimes on command.

The Avengers, however, have their own problem in the modern world: The Sokovia Accords, a document that 117 countries have come together to sign in favor of get the team under control given all the collateral damage they have done in New York, Washington, D.C., Sokovia and most recently Lagos in dealing with Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), which has earned the ire of King T’Chaka (John Kani), ruler of Wakanda (the African nation where the vibranium comes from. If you don’t know what vibranium is, you’re watching the wrong movie. Anyway …)

Iron Man’s human alter ego Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) knows which side he is on. It’s the same one his best friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes a.k.a Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Vision (Paul Bettany) and now Secretary of State Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) is on: Putting the Avengers in check and signing off on the document. Unfortunately, Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans) is not – and neither is Wanda Maximoff a.ka. the Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Sam Wilson a.k.a. the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) nor the now-retired Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). But despite their objections, the countries are going to sign the document, making it a foregone conclusion that the world’s protectors must play by the rules or be subjected to the law lie anyone else when they wantonly break it. 

Then there’s a bombing in Geneva the day the accords are to be signed, which kills King T’Chaka, much to chagrin of his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). And to make things worse, the Winter Soldier is believed to be the culprit. So now, with the world placing blame on the Avengers for even more trouble, the suspected bomber being Steve Rogers’ former best friend Bucky Barnes who’s been on the run since the events of the last Captain America film. So now, Captain America is trying to protect his friend and fight off the Sokova Accords, while Iron Man is trying to bring Cap in before the government does – and not in a nice fashion. And therein lies a bit of a conflict in terms of how far will someone go for friendship and does the end justify the means when people are dying in the process?

And that would be bad enough … But since no one is quite sure what in the world Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is up and why, Captain America is going to have his hands full if he is to prevent the world from falling apart. 

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Fans of just about every other Marvel movie; Chris Evans fans; Robert Downey, Jr. fans; Chadwick Boseman fans; people who were worried about how Black Panther and Spider-Man would fit into the mix; people who love Stan Lee’s cameos 

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Pretty much anyone who still thinks D.C. makes better movies than Marvel and/or anyone who doesn’t like superhero movies 
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? OK, show of hands – How many of you would have picked the Captain America franchise to be the one to turn out three terrific (dare I say classic) superhero films when you heard about Marvel Studios’ plans to make films centered around its core Avengers characters? Exactly. For while Captain America might be the oldest, he certainly was never considered to be the coolest of the bunch in the comic book world. 

Now, not only is Captain America an essential part of the Marvel Universe, he’s possibly its on-screen MVP, with Civil War being another top notch on his belt – or shield, as the case may be. 

Say what you want about superhero movies; there is no way – and if I was to channel my inner Dwayne Johnson, no way!Civil War would work without the actors behind the characters layering and committing their respective selves to their roles as well as they do in the movie. Fortunately, directors Joe and Anthony Russo and their cast continue their excellent precedent set in The Winter Soldier by ACTING AS IF THEY ARE ADJUSTING TO THE WORLD and NOT AS IF THEY ARE ACTING IN A SUPERHERO MOVIE. If you’ve seen last summer’s disastrous Fantastic Four reboot, you know exactly what I mean. Instead of acting like they are doing something heroic, Evans, Downey, Jr. and company are simply trying to do what each thinks is best to secure the world. Yes, there are moments of cracking jokes and some really dynamic action sequences, but none of it would matter if the characters were not presented in a fashion were you felt their highs, lows and the relationships between them felt as real as possible. Civil War delivers on all those fronts to the point where you are emotionally invested in their individual outcomes, which is enhanced by the storytelling which never drags, features major incomprehensible sequences (looking at YOU, Batman Vs. Superman) and manages to tie up most if not all of its loose ends well. 

Thrown in the grand introduction of a major character seamlessly into the mix and the interpolation of the one that many fans wanted to see in the main Marvel universe and Civil War hits high marks at every turn. Instead of being a typical good-vs-evil story, this is a battle of principles that turns high stakes and adds to the overall Marvel canon. Evans holds the Captain America mantle with ease and aplomb as the moral center while Downey, Jr. serves as the hotheaded-even-though-he’s-calmer-and-less-impulsive perfect adversary (even though both should be concerned with someone else). Meanwhile, Bettany brings the Dr. Manhattan-like (yes, I DID mention a D.C. Comics character in a Marvel review in a positive sense!) nature of the Vision to life better than he did in Age of Ultron and Boseman does a strong job of establishing the man you can now look forward to seeing in two years in his own solo flick. 

While the film is fairly serious in tone, subject matter and its battles, Civil War does feature some great joke exchanges of near Deadpool like quality (but NOT subject manner and language!) Rudd delivers “giant” comic relief as Scott Lang (a.k.a. Ant-Man) and Tom Holland may have found a way to master a role that some may have thought near impossible for another actor to make his own.  To say much more about that would ruin how well things are tied together and excel … And that would be enough to cause a war between myself and anyone who reads this review.

But if you’re still reading this, you likely haven’t figured out you need to just go see the movie, I’m not sure what I can say that will. For Captain America: Civil War is another great Marvel flick – and one worthy of your time and interest … If you’re into that sort of thing.