Is there really nothing left for comic-book superheroes to do on the big screen but fight each other? I find that a sad state of affairs and frankly, not much fun to watch. Nothing could be as dreary as Batman v Superman, but this latest Marvel offering is teeming with good guys, including two “converts” from the last movie, Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and several new recruits: Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). That’s a lot of characters to juggle, even for series screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who did such a good job with the last Captain America movie. They also have to introduce a new villain and a character or two who straddle the fence.
The premise of this chapter in The Avengers saga is sound and intelligent: having created a certain amount of havoc in their last call to action, the government wants to regulate the actions of our heroes. Even the iconoclastic (and egotistical) Iron Man, Tony Stark, thinks this is a good idea. But true-blue Captain America does not: he feels the Avengers have proven themselves and shouldn’t be restrained in any way. With this, the other Avengers are forced to choose sides.
No wonder Captain America: Civil War is almost two and a half hours long: there are so many plot threads and character arcs to deal with. The novelty of introducing a new Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is a high-point, but to my great disappointment, Ant-Man gets short shrift (and that’s putting it mildly).
Bigger isn’t always better, and this film is bursting at the seams. Are the action scenes spectacular? Yes. Are the characters well-defined? Yes, and that’s what saves the movie. But I found it more frustrating than entertaining.