4 out of 5 stars (one of the best in its series)
Captain America: Civil War is the definition of an event film. All of your favorite Marvel heroes (sans Thor and Hulk) choose sides in a battle of ideologies as well as personal demons. The action is great, the writing is mature, and the performances are highly memorable (especially from Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, once again showcasing their dramatic chops). Everything from Tony Stark’s captivity to the battle with Ultron has lead up to this. Sides will be chosen, friends will become enemies, and nothing will ever be the same. And if you aren’t on the Marvel train by now, then don’t expect this to clear anything up, because you will not understand half of what is going on.
I won’t spoil anything for those who have not seen it, but here’s the gist: The government is tired of the destruction the Avengers leave behind after their epic battles, so they have imposed a law that would require all “enhanced beings” to be at the beck-and-call of a committee that would determine where they go, where they go, and how often they go to save the world, eliminating the choice each one has to use their abilities or not. Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans totally disappearing into the character) doesn’t like this idea, so he is firmly against it. However, Iron Man/Tony Stark (An angry, powerful Robert Downey Jr.) believes that the heroes should be put on a leash to prevent the deaths of innocents. This difference of opinion will tear the Avengers apart, some siding with Cap, others with Tony, all while a vengeful man (Daniel Bruhl) watches with nefarious intentions
I cannot go into plot details without spoiling this event. The actors have really grown into their characters over the years, and they are directed to near-perfection by the Russos (those guys who brought you Community and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.) They know the seriousness of the story here, having the characters act like the adults they are instead of having misplaced wit after dramatic moments. This is the least humorous film in the Marvel cannon thus far, and it needed to be. There is humor here, but it is only for comedic relief in what is otherwise a very dark offering.
Spider-Man is in the movie. Yes, they are rebooting him AGAIN. While Tobey Maguire will always be My Spider-Man, this version fits the character well, injecting the snarky humor he is known for in the comics. I wore my Spider-Man T-shirt to the film, eagerly awaiting the new wallcrawler. His Peter Parker comes off as a regular 16-year-old should (and yes, the actor is actually 16 this time, no more attractive 30-somethings in teen roles). Though I have seen two film series of the character in the last 10 years, I am eager to see this version expanded upon in his own solo movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, out in 2017
Overall, this is the Marvel movie for people who think these films are afraid to tackle mature issues. It is gritty, serious, and surprisingly realistic in its treatment of the subject matter, which was necessitated in order for this to work. I don’t know if this will be a billion-dollar phenomenon, but I can say that this is exactly what Age Of Ultron should have been, and what DC’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice so desperately wanted to be.
Rated PG-13 for Extended Sequences of Violence, Action, and Mayhem