Technically, anyone can have a "civil war." I get that. There were places and people having them long before America's kicked off in 1861—and yet? The American Civil War still hangs heavy over current political and race relations (oh, hello, Mississippi state flag), which is why I'm not all that comfortable tossing the term around so loosely. After all, they're not making movies called Captain America: Trail of Tears. [End of rant.]
[Not quite end of rant.] Actually, instead of Captain America: Civil War, a more appropriate title might be Captain America: Cap and Iron Man Get Their Iddy-Biddy Feewings Hurt. Yes, I agree that's a mouthful. [End of rant for realz... or is it?]
In fact, if you want to get super technical about it, Captain America: Civil War isn't so much a Captain America movie as the third flick in the Avengers series. While Cap may be the heart and soul of this film, Marvel made sure to cram in as many of their products as humanly possible. But what should've been a 2.5-hour mess is another seemingly inconceivable Marvel miracle.
Civil War begins where Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron ended, with the human race (and the world governments) both impressed and scared shitless by the awesome powers these superhumans possess. And humanity is absolutely right to pose the "chicken or egg" question: Are superheroes saving us from evil or is their existence actually inspiring it? When an Avengers mission goes sideways and lives are lost, the heroes are asked to sign an oversight agreement that would put control of the Avengers in the hands of the United Nations. Naturally, Captain America (Chris Evans) is against it because FREEDOM! And AMERICA! Meanwhile, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is for it because he's kind of a fuckup, and he feels guilty about previous fuckups. And so starts the civil wa... umm... iddy-biddy hurt feewings situation!
Obviously the psychological weight each of these characters carry could also burden the script, turning it into a slow-moving morass. Instead, frenetic action set pieces are plopped in at regular intervals, and the uniformly terrific cast makes the long running time more than bearable. Of particular note is William Hurt as wary Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross, Paul Bettany as the increasingly human Vision, and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, who is both smoking hot and brings a regal, balletic grace to the character. (On behalf of everyone in the world, we want to see much more of him in the future.)
In fact, directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo are having such a ball throwing so much fun at the screen (Spider-Man! Ant-Man! Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes complaining about riding in the backseat of a VW bug!), one might worry all these pyrotechnics are hiding a lack of "there." Not to worry. While Civil... err... you know, may be an exploding roll of firecrackers, it's also a mature meditation on friends, loyalty, and taking responsibility for the individual while serving the greater good.
Yes, this is more of an Avengers movie than a Captain America flick—but it's way better than the marginally enjoyable Age of Ultron, and packs more fun than Winter Soldier, while still maintaining that film's dark, paranoid edge. At this point, we know Marvel's got an expansive, ongoing game plan, and this movie is just another piece in their puzzle. That's why I've decided to trust and not start a war about it (civil or otherwise). [End of rant.]