If you thought Batman v Superman was an epic mano-a-mano battle, how about a dozen superheroes engaging as Team Captain America vs. Team Iron Man? Those who come only to see this battle royal will not be disappointed. As each superhero has his or her unique superpower, the action choreography is imaginative as it is spectacular.
Even casual movie-goers are familiar with the ensemble cast, consisting of a cavalcade of stars. The long hero list includes Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd),
In this world, less is not more; more is more. So, they add Spider-Man, with Tom Holland replacing Andrew McCarthy, and the Black Panther character is introduced with Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in “42”). The producers had considered including Thor, and The Hulk had been included but scenes were cut. Samuel L. Jackson was surprised to discover his character, Nick Fury, was not even considered for this film.
This big and noisy blockbuster generates sensory overload for the uninitiated, but fan boys can’t get enough of this stuff. As this is the 13th film in the Marvel Universe, we know most of their background stories (and expected boom-booms) from prior films, but it is not required to have followed their history to jump into this extravaganza.
On the 75th anniversary of Captain America, we have learned defending the free world involves significant collateral damage, such as leveling several city blocks in each epic battle. The General (William Hurt) explains, “While a great many people see you as heroes, there are some who prefer the word vigilante.” Vision agrees, “Our very strength incites challenge, challenge incites conflict and conflict breeds catastrophe.”
Tony Stark reluctantly agrees to be placed under the direction of the U.N., but Steve Rogers objects, saying, “I know we’re not perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.” They are really not that far apart, but this escalates into war between the Avengers. While the teams are trying to destroy each other, a new villain is emerging behind their backs.
We would have hoped these super beings could have discussed the matter a little more civilly or agreed to disagree. But today, our society views diplomacy and compromise as objectionable. As might makes right, its time to rumble to the death; or at least to the pain. To keep on the lighter side, while losing the battle Iron Man pleads to his heroes, “Anybody on our side hiding any shocking or fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose?”
Earlier this year, “Deadpool” successfully mocked the insanity of these overstuffed blockbusters, where the gist is to challenge unchecked violence by celebrating it, as well as to set up two more sequels. You’ll need a scorecard to track the various characters, while the impressive audio-visual effects simultaneously thrill and assault the audience.
Give credit to Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. for carrying this colossus on their broad shoulders. Their star power rises to superhero status. The sheer weight of this momentous epic assures legitimate popcorn entertainment for all. Whether you’ve seen the prior 13 or not, you get them all doing their thing in one screening.
“Captain America: Civil War” is 146 minutes (longest Marvel film yet) and rated PG-13. The inventive action scenes and innovative effects are similar, but bigger and better. In one scene, Rogers stops a helicopter taking off with only his bulging biceps. He actually pulled an arm muscle in that sequence, but the scene is powerful and convincing.
It’s a sad commentary when good people choose to engage in such vulgar displays of unrestrained power rather than finding ways to work through valid differences. One character explains, “If you’re wrong and think you’re right, that makes you dangerous. Rogers declares, “This doesn’t have to end in a fight.” The response, “It always ends in a fight!”