Dateworthy – Captain America: Civil War

There are about 400 films released each year, and for the past decade it feels like at least half of them star comic book superheroes. The two main comics companies bringing them to the silver screen are DC and Marvel Comics, which have had distinctly different approaches to their heroes’ exploits, with DC taking a dark and somber approach in the “Dark Knight” trilogy and “Man of Steel,” and Marvel using vivid visuals and a heavy helping of humor in its films.
This year is barely a third over and we’re already experiencing the biggest showdown between DC and Marvel so far, as each created a mega-film combining their biggest heroes into one project. DC’s “Batman Vs. Superman” came out at the end of March and made over $300 million in the US alone, despite terrible reviews and the fact that no one seemed to actually enjoy it.

But now, Marvel is unleashing its own latest superhero flick, “Captain America: Civil War,” this weekend and is not only pitting Captain America against Iron Man, but about a dozen other superheroes in a movie-long battle royale between factions of the Avengers. The result is exciting, fun and at times hilarious as the incredible all-star cast members let loose with zingers as much as they do with weapons.

But while this entry in the superhero sweepstakes is undeniably entertaining, it does start to show the strain of forcing too many characters into one movie. With around a dozen heroes all trying to save the planet while disagreeing enough on their methods that they will fight intensely over it , “Civil War” comes off feeling too hectic and overstuffed sometimes, cutting into what Marvel clearly hoped would be the Ultimate Superhero Movie.

Yet it’s still a fast-paced, non-stop and often funny blast to watch, and everyone you know will be talking about. So, count it Dateworthy.

The film hopscotches all over the planet, as well as between the present day and December 1991, as it shows how Captain America/Steve Rogers’ best friend Bucky was subjected to dangerous forms of mind control by evil Russians and programmed to become an unremorseful killing machine. In the present day, the Avengers are about to be forced into being controlled by the United Nations after the State Department says that the collateral damage wrought during their global missions in the two “Avengers” films so far is bringing shame and the danger of retaliation upon America.

But the Avengers are sharply divided over whether they will agree to being controlled, rather than operating as a private entity using their own best judgment. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) is the leader of the contingent willing to be put in check by the global authorities, while Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) weighs in on the side of the idea that the Avengers are saving the world from its most nefarious threats, and sometimes a few innocent people are hurt or killed while striving to save millions more. But just as the accords are about to be signed, a massive explosion sends everyone scrambling for dear life while taking the life of the friendly king of Wakanda. When news reports reveal that Captain America’s old friend Bucky was near the scene of the explosion, a slew of cops come gunning for him while the Captain and his half of the Avengers team race to capture him before he can be killed, since the Captain believes that he was innocent of the killings or at least did them under the unwanted control of Russians.

Thus sets off the titular civil war, as the Avengers battle each other in an insane series of set pieces that bring in characters as far-flung as Ant-Man and (in his movie debut) Black Panther. The crowd went especially wild for an extended pair of sequences introducing yet another actor as Peter Parker/Spiderman. While the movie wisely steers clear of the utterly ugly, brutal tone of the “Batman vs. Superman” battle royale, it still makes for a confusing mess at moments.

I hadn’t refreshed my memory of the prior “Captain” and “Avengers” films and found myself lost at a few points, so I can only imagine how confused someone who is checking out this as their first Marvel movie would be. It’s clearly made for the genre’s superfans above all else, but at the same time it’s impossible not to be left in a state of dropped-jaw wonder by the stunt work and just as impossible not to laugh at its many lighter moments and sarcastic lines.