The battle lines are drawn, the Avengers divided, and the winner is anyone who has been a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ hits theaters this week with comic book-consuming masses still reeling from a recent superhero duel on the big screen that underwhelmed by most observations. The Marvel Cinematic Universe collides here on a grand scale with an ethical split between two separate factions of Avenger heroes led by the Captain(Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) who both feel they are on the right side with a motivated villain making moves in the shadows. If that doesn’t feel like there is enough to make this pressure cooker boil over, the United Nations is involved to let you know this is not a cartoon.
Captain America back is back in the field with a new crew of heroes when an mission in an African city goes tragically wrong, and prompts an overall of of their operations in a UN-drafted sanction. Iron Man motivated by the death of his parents and innocent people hurt near the floating city mayhem in the third act of ‘Age of Ultron’ feels turning the team under government oversight is a must. While Cap passionately feels it will limit what the team can do if they are told when and where they can spring in to fight evil. Weave into all this internal drama, the most wanted man in the world is Captain America’s unfrozen super soldier pal from Brooklyn: Bucky Barnes a.k.a ‘the Winter Solider’.
‘Civil War’ delivers on the idea of division among these beloved heroes with hard consequences for the sides chosen by each of the “enhanced humans”. The comparison that hits here tonally is this Marvel’s ‘Empire Strikes Back’ except this time, there is not just a proverbial ‘Empire’ to bring the doom down on the good guys but a triple threat of good vs evil vs good. That is some mature elements especially for film that many expect to be just a popcorn blockbuster fluff. Topple on some gut-wrenching reveals and misfortunes, that give the fanboy feels you first felt when you found out who Luke Skywalker’s father was, but don’t worry a little guy in an Iron Man mask will be able to keep up.
The main fight between Captain Steve Rogers and Tony Stark gets more bitter, the rift grows with globe trekking geo-political escalation, and delivers a deep emotional sting in the eventual showdown. That is the meat on the plate of ‘CW’ but the side dish of the other players is not without their own rich flavor in Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), the Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansen), and the newly introduced Black Panther (Chadwhick Boseman). Some of these secondary characters deliver big eye-popping surprises like Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the new Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in a energetic fight scene in an airport. This elaborate sequence is so devious in that once you think it’s wrapping up, it finds another thumped to rev up and create a moment that matches the heights of first ‘Avengers’ adventure in 2012.
So just breathe a sigh of relief if you are coming into this expecting the letdown that a lot of DC fans experienced in March with ‘Batman v Superaman: Dawn of Justice’. Despite Captain America and Iron Man ravaging one another in a spark-flying blast of grit and convictions, when the dust settles (NO SPOILER) the winner is: the viewer! –@kevkellam