*** stars (out of four)
While the freshness of the Marvel Universe has long since expired, Captain America: Civil War is still a solidly entertaining summer action film.
After a mission in Nigeria results in civilian casualties, the US Secretary of State (William Hurt) insists that the Avengers submit themselves to United Nations oversight. Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) supports this plan, but Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) does not. Captain America’s opposition is hand-in-hand with his desire to help his longtime friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), who’s been turned into a brainwashed assassin. As the commercials will tell you, the Avengers find themselves willing to fight each other over this debate.
One of the great strengths of the Marvel films is that they’re usually impeccably cast. This one is no different. Chadwick Boseman is a strong addition as Black Panther (he’ll have his own standalone movie in 2018), further proving Boseman’s versatility as an actor (he’s also shone on screen as Jackie Robinson and James Brown). The world probably does not need another series of Spider-Man movies, but Tom Holland gives the role an appropriate level of adolescent awkwardness.
At 146 minutes, the movie carries its running time well enough but continues a somewhat troubling precedent of blockbusters getting longer and longer. But, directors Anthony and Joe Russo do a better job of juggling an unwieldy amount of characters than Joss Whedon did in last year’s disappointing, messy Age of Ultron. Here, it’s clearly the story of Captain America and Iron Man, with the other Avengers working in supporting roles.
The finale, without spoiling anything, has a degree of sadness and grief that hasn’t featured in most of the other Marvel films. While the villain’s (Daniel Bruhl) motive isn’t anything new in the realm of action films, it’s treated with a level of gravity that most blockbusters don’t have.
This won’t win over new fans to the series and those suffering from comic book fatigue may not see anything here to restore their interest in this genre, but Captain America: Civil War is a well-made piece of escapism that should leave Marvel fans feeling they got their money’s worth.