“Captain America: Civil War,” the 13th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series, recalls last year’s extravaganza “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” although it’s less slick and has a stronger emotional center.
Kicking off the summer movie season, “Civil War” assembles a whopping 12 costumed characters, yet focuses on trials and tribulations of three.
After much destruction in the last few Marvel movies (and this one, too), the Avengers are informed of the impending Sokovia Accords, which would grant power to a United Nations panel to police the super-team.
A distraught, guilt-ridden Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is in favor of the Accords, while Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) doesn’t trust the idea.
Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), has been framed for a bombing in Vienna which resulted in the death of the king of Wakanda. Bucky essentially is a pawn in a new evil plan to bring down the Avengers from within.
The inevitable big fight is handled with far more intelligence and grace than in the recent “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and comes closer to something many young comic book fans have played out in their imaginations.
Cap’s team includes Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and San Francisco’s own Ant-Man (Paul Rudd).
Iron Man recruits his pal Rhodey, aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Vision (Paul Bettany), plus the new Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) — the son of the slain Wakandan king — and a new Spider-Man (Tom Holland).
In addition to the centerpiece battle, the screenplay (by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, based on comics by Mark Millar, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) deftly balances politics and feelings, and asks the age-old question of whether power can assuage fear.
Meanwhile, Cap stands up for his childhood pal Bucky, and Downey Jr. again demonstrates his awesome acting prowess in his angry, wounded Stark.
“Civil War” might have been better than “Avengers: Age of Ultron” if the directors (brothers Anthony and Joe Russo) weren’t camera-shakers.
They are like undisciplined fight fans, punching and jabbing at ringside. Instead of filming the beautifully-designed, choreographed action, they throw their cameras into the fight, whipping them around and tumbling them every which way. It’s disorienting and aggravating — a waste of a good fight, and unfair to an otherwise fine superhero movie.
Fortunately, like any good action movie, “Captain America: Civil War” is about more than just fighting.
Captain America: Civil War
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Running time: 2 hours, 27 minutes