Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Of the relentless Marvel superhero films, so far the Captain America series has been the one that I have enjoyed the most.  Yes, there is Guardians of the Galaxy, but that has been limited to one movie so far.  I'm hoping it continues being as enjoyable as the Cap has been.

This time around the Avengers are in a bit of trouble.  Turns out no one was really appreciative of what happened in Sokovia (turns out thousands dead due to Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) creation of Ultron was not the best P.R. move).  After a botched attempt to apprehend the terrorist Crossbones (Frank Grillo) results in the death of a few hundred people, including a delegation from the African nation of Wakanda, the United Nations decides to step in and demand oversight of the Avengers. 

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is concerned that the Sokovia Accords will do nothing but tie their hands and make it impossible for the Avengers to do their job.  Tony Stark, on the other hand, is suffering a crisis of conscience due to what happened in Sokovia, and agrees to sign on to the oversight.  At the signing in Vienna, attended by King T'Chaka (John Kani) of Wakanda and his son (and heir apparent) T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), things go awry as Rogers's friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), also known as the Winter Soldier, appears to set off a bomb.  The explosion kills T'Chaka, leading to T'Challa to declare revenge and strengthening Starks's resolve.

Rogers, however, thinks his friend has been set up and sets out, with the aid of Falcon (Sam Wilson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to find Barnes before the authorities or the other Avengers do.  Despite what happened in Sokovia, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), also known as Scarlet Witch, sides with Rogers.  Tony, sensing that she could be dangerous on the wrong side, has Vision (Paul Bettany) keep an eye on her, but she gives him the slip and joins up with Rogers.

It turns out that, rather than Barnes, various crimes are being carried out by former Sokovian security agent Zemo (Daniel Brühl).  Captain America's team tries to stop Zemo, but Stark, with the CIA behind him, decides that the Captain has gone rogue and he needs to stop him.  T'Challa, now known as the Black Panther, tentatively backs Stark as he pursues his revenge against Barnes.  Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) throws in with Stark as well, along with two new recruits: a young boy from Queens named Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and former thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who is now Ant-Man. 

Inevitably, a showdown commences and, also inevitably, Stark learns the truth about Zemo and comes to Captain America's aid.  However, Zemo has a few extra cards up his sleeve which might spell an end to the Avengers.

It is missing Thor and the Hulk, but Captain America: Civil War is everything The Avengers: The Age of Ultron should have been.  There is enough action to fill its long running time and, like the other Captain America films, doesn't seem to be as much of a cartoon as the full Avengers movies are becoming.  It also gives us a new version of Spiderman (without going over the whole origin story for a third time) that is more believable as a modern teenager.  Tobey Maguire was good, but Tom Holland might breathe some life back into the franchise.  It is also nice to see Ant-Man whip out some new powers, with his brief time in Civil War being more interesting than his entire origin film.

There are some interesting motifs throughout, as every motivation, and every problem, stems from the desire for revenge or redemption from one character or another.  No attempts at world domination or grand plots this time; it is all personal.  Yes, the villain may not be that flamboyant or memorable, but he's not supposed to be.  He is one man affected by events out of his control, and he is attempting to remedy that by any means possible.  Going over the top would have just made things too unbelievable, even in a superhero film.

Happily, this third movie with the Captain continues to take one of the cheesiest characters from the original series and make him a serious counterbalance to Tony Stark, who is starting to look more like the boy scout he is always teasing the Captain about being.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Time: 147 minutes
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

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