Once I heard "Captain America: Civil War" was going to feature so many members of The Avengers, I started referring to the third Cap film as "Avengers 2.5." But only somewhat facetiously.
There's a balanced mix of fantastic drama, action, humor and character interplay.
It's a treat to see the various Avengers interact with each other -- especially those who haven't met each other until now.
The Russo brothers (the co-directors also delivered the kick-ass "Captain America: The Winter Soldier") are adept at handling ensembles, so there are plenty of wonderful "moments" for fans to enjoy. They "get" the characters and know when to let them shine.
Even though the subtitle is "Civil War" and we know there are warring factions, the story never lets us forget these same Avengers are teammates who have a history with each other and siding with Captain America/Steve Rogers over Iron Man/Tony Stark (or visa versa) is a difficult moral decision. And making those decisions aren't as clear-cut as it might appear from the outside or even judging from the trailers.
There are legitimate reasons the characters support who they do. But as I said, despite the philosophical divisions, you always know these superheroes are friends, first and foremost. (As one Avenger asks another in the middle of the Big Battle, "we're still friends, right??")
And even when some of the heroes might not have met until they do battle, it's obvious they have respect for each other. Contrary to how Stark is characterized in the trailers, he'd rather be on the same side as Rogers then not. But there's one certain spoiler-ific revelation that pushes Stark over the edge. ...
(And honestly, anybody paying attention to the facts laid out in "The Winter Soldier" -- to a much lesser extent, "Ant-Man" -- and the first "Civil War" sequence will see that development coming long before that Big Reveal.)
So the Big Battle (now that I write that, I realized there are two!) -- while extremely fun to watch and borders on sensory overload, is no free-for-all.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Russos deliver a fun experience, with lines and circumstances that provoked me to laugh out-loud genuinely.
Comic book fans will see immediate connections to the CIVIL WAR limited series. While it's a must-read for Marvel fans, keep in mind it's not necessary to read it before seeing the cinematic version. Very much like what the Russos did with "The Winter Soldier," the movie is its own creation while clearly being deeply rooted in its published cousin.
That being said, it is completely necessary to watch "The Winter Soldier" beforehand to understand how the situation in "Civil War" — and the challenges and baddies Cap and The Avengers now are facing -- has to come to be. Without the "Captain America: Civil War" predecessor, the casual fan might be somewhat lost and wonder who's who.
"Captain America: The First Avenger," the first "Avengers" film and "Winter Solider," but I didn't get around to watching "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Those are the four Marvel Studios flicks you should see before "Civil War" -- in that order.) Maybe it's the way I remember movies and my undying love for Cap and Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but I didn't feel like I missed anything too important to setting up "Civil War" without "Age of Ultron." I hope that helps!
There are some genuine geeky surprises.
To say anything more about the biggest of those giddy moments would ruin it. Let's just say fans of classic AVENGERS comics will really dig where they take one of the superheroes. And this Caphead was tickled to know this "Civil War" story developed a certain long-time romantic relationship from the CAPTAIN AMERICA comics.
So the question might remain: Where would I rank "Captain America: Civil War" in the grand scheme of the plethora of exceptional Marvel movies?
"Civil War," without a doubt is one of Marvel's most delightful, well-told and well-done films. The crowd at Thursday's sold-out show in Sandusky, Ohio clapped as the credits started rolling -- a rarity I hadn't experienced in years and years (aside from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on opening night in nearby Norwalk).
If push comes to shove, I'd rank it easily in the top 3 or four 4 of Marvel's greatest movies.
"The Winter Soldier" remains my favorite, but to say how I'd rearrange my top 5 now is like asking a parent to say which kid he or she loves the most: It's just wrong! And impossible to say! All the Marvel movies and one's children are great in their own unique ways, so how -- and why -- should we choose?
(Although before "Ant-Man" was released last summer, I did rank my favorite Marvel releases. Crazy thing to do, huh?!? Start that two-part op-ed here with Nos. 11 through 6.)
There's no doubt about this: "Civil War" is fun and a must-see experience.