Marvel Studios Reaches New Heights in Satisfying ‘Captain America: Civil War’

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CHICAGO – “Captain America: Civil War” is more of an “Avengers” movie than it is a Captain America movie. But that’s okay because this is easily the best Avengers movie Marvel Studios has ever made, and it also might be the best movie the studio has ever made.

All the legwork from the previous movies in the Marvel cinematic universe pays off handsomely because the stakes are so profoundly personal. The best parts of the Avengers movies – and Marvel Studio movies in general – is the interplay among the characters, rather than the villains. This film dispenses with the forgettable villains and their overblown plans for total annihilation, and gets down deep into a divide between the Avengers themselves.

Chris Evans
Captain America (Chris Evans) Gathers His Team in ‘Captain America: Civil War’
Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios

After an operation chasing a global terrorist incurs some unfortunate collateral damage, the Secretary of State (William Hurt) wants to put the Avengers on a tight leash under the authority of the United Nations. Captain America (Chris Evans) has grown increasingly disillusioned with bureaucracies and his own government, and bristles at the idea of adding even another layer of international bureaucracy to their missions. But Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), nursing a broken heart and a bout of grief over the events covered in “Age Of Ultron,” is all for changing things up. When Captain America’s old brainwashed buddy Bucky (aka “The Winter Soldier”) is wanted for a terrorist bombing, the cracks in the team come to the forefront, as Captain America tries to get to his old friend before the government does.

I continue to be amazed at how Marvel Studios and Chris Evans have turned what I still think is one of Marvel’s dumbest ideas for a character (Captain America) and turned him into the heart and soul of the franchise. He’s the character with a conscience who doesn’t always see things in black and white. And after a two movie dip where I thought I’d had my fill of Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. has successfully found a way to grow his character beyond the cocky and fast talking billionaire playboy. I found a way to enjoy Tony Stark again, and that’s partly because he spends so much time outside of his Iron Man suit. He’s vulnerable, and eager to keep the peace rather than race into conflict – it’s so refreshing to see him uneasily trying to coax friends from becoming enemies.

The movie expects fans to know who these characters are, and adds in a few notable additions. Tom Holland capably fills Spider-Man’s tights by infusing his version of the webslinger with a geeky adolescent effervensence, while Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther is a welcome newcomer. Even characters that didn’t necessarily work in earlier incarnations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like Paul Bettany’s Vision or Elisabeth Olsen’s Scarlett Witch, work a lot better this time around.

Civil War
Confrontation in ‘Captain America: Civil War’
Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios

And with so many characters and so many moving parts, it’s worth noting how remarkably nimble the movie is. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo keep the quip heavy spirit of the series, while also creating a grounded and modern franchise-building blockbuster. The action set pieces are consistently thrilling, and substantially satisfying in a way that the earth shattering bombast of the “Age of Ultron” CGI effects couldn’t deliver.

There is a villain in all this (Daniel Bruhl), but he’s about as memorable as a bank teller – and he doesn’t even have to be there, since this all about the Avengers. Marvel Studios has been tremendously successful and been able to turn even comic also rans into big screen stars. And there’s no better testament to their over-arching vision than “Captain America: Civil War.”

”Captain America: Civil War” opens everywhere on May 6th, in IMAX, 3D and regular screenings. See local listings for IMAX & 3D theaters and show times. Featuring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johanssen, Paul Bettany, William Hurt, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen and Daniel Bruhl. Written by Christopher Markus and Steve McFeely. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Rated “PG-13” contributor Spike Walters


© 2016 Spike Walters,

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