Marvel continues its domination of superhero genre

Marvel continues its domination of superhero genre

‘Captain America: Civil War’

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr.

Directed by: Joe and Anthony Russo

Rated: PG-13

Marvelous Marvel Comics continues its summer domination with this latest superhero feature with almost all of the Avengers in the mix. Let’s face it: This group was just one sequel away from turning on each other after fighting off the world’s bad guys. It was inevitable, and as you might expect, the ending is left primed for the next installment.

The issue that splits the group apart is a bit flimsy. It rates higher than a high school girl squabble over who gets to date the hot quarterback, but it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. After all, the only way the Avengers have made it this far is by sticking together.

That changes after a wobbly mission led by Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) goes awry, leaving behind a lot of collateral damage and the deaths of many innocent bystanders. The world outrage is quick and punitive: the Avengers must have oversight by agreeing to sign a pledge stating they will take no action without a U.N. vote allowing them to do so.

Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) surprises all by signing the pledge along with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Rhodey/War Machine (Don Cheadle), and Vision (Paul Bettany). On the other side, Steve Rogers resists the intrusion, mainly because his old friend Bucky Barnes aka Winter Soldier (Sebastion Stan) is in danger. His camp includes Scarlet Widow (Elizabeth Olsen) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Each faction will gain members as they go along, and a new character – Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) – sides with Stark. Likewise, a little guy named Spider Man (Tom Holland), whom Tony recruits personally. Meanwhile, Ant Man (Tom Rudd) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) suit up with Cap.

There are other vengeful forces at work that succeed in splitting the superheroes apart, which as it turns out is all by design, specifically to drive a wedge between them all. But no matter the cause (and the convoluted plot), this leads to some epic battles between the two sides in some action sequences that pull out all the stops.

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, this is literally stuffed full of action with each superhero getting to show off their powers. And show off why Marvel continues to edge out the D.C. Comics gang in feature films. The dark, dour “Superman vs. Batman” is a prime example of the difference between the two. It so sorely lacked in humor it was painful to watch.

The Marvel clan has always known how to find the balance between the action, the human side, and the humor of its characters. The result is a better movie on all accounts. If I had a quibble, it would be the two-and-half-hour running time. All this proves is that this movie has a lot of moving parts — maybe too many. But to set up the next feature required much from “Civil War.” The whole Winter Soldier/Hydra era had to be revisited, and we learn some secrets past about one of the characters. There is also the introduction of a new super power by one of our heroes — one that I didn’t see coming. But rest assured Stan Lee makes his cameo. Look for it late in the movie.

I have to confess to a little superhero fatigue, though. When these characters face off against one another, make no mistake — they are playing for keeps. The pounding that Cap gives Iron Man in one scene is fueled by muscle and rage — and it’s intense.

As always, don’t dare leave that seat before the final credits are over.