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Captain America: Civil War Review: A

With the memories of Batman v Superman still fresh in our minds, I'm going to do the best I can to avoid drawing comparisons between the two films. If I do, be aware, I do it to show the differences in execution and what works vs what doesn't, not grade them comparatively to one another.

Simply put: Civil War is awesome. The Russo brothers had my confidence after Winter Soldier, and although it was entirely possible they would have been one-off wonders they hit another grand slam with the third installment of the Captain America saga.

Although First Avenger fell short of the awesomeness that was Iron Man, Captain America has gone on to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe's defining franchise.

Everything comes to a head here. Many have often criticized the MCU for the events having a 'lack of weight' or impact, that there are no lasting repercussions. It's as if the Russo's have heard those criticisms and masterfully wove a story of consequence, morality, and personal belief. No one is right, no one is wrong, but someone must win and someone must lose.

Civil War is excellently paced, much like Winter Soldier, starting once again with a James Bond-esque opening mission (again, much like Winter Soldier) to start the film to get everyone's blood pumping before jumping into the actual story. Here, however, the outcome of the mission has lasting effects on the tone of the film and on certain characters.

Spiraling out of the events of Winter Soldier, Avengers, and Age of Ultron comes the Sokovia Accords, a document agreed upon by 117 nations of the world that would keep the Avengers in the pocket of the UN that can act only when called upon by the nations of the world.

Filled with grief over the events of Iron Man 3 and both Avengers films, we see Tony Stark as a grief and guilt stricken man. A man who has set a path of reconciliation but, in typical Stark fashion, thinks he knows what's best for all and seeks to have all the Avengers side with him.

On the other side is Steve Rogers, who has been around long enough to know that people always get hurt, whether through action or in action, and believes tying the Avengers up in red tape and government politicking will hurt more people than would otherwise get hurt.

The best part of this film is, unlike it's comic counterpart of the same name, both sides have merit and solid argument as to why each side is the better choice. The comic wrote Stark out to be the villain, while in the film Tony is sympathetic and there are several points where Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Stark is heartbreaking as he sees his brothers in arms torn apart.

And in the shadows is a villain unlike any other we've seen in the MCU is Helmut Zemo. Without giving anything away he uses events from Winter Soldier and Avengers to masterfully spin a plan to use the tension already existing between the Avengers to tear them apart.

Civil War continues the expectation of Cap movies having the best fight scenes in the MCU, and the namesake fight and skirmishes throughout the film are no different. They are smooth, believable, and excellently choreographed.

The movie is much like Winter Soldier where it largely carries a serious tone, and the material demands such. There are some relatively heavy themes here for a comic book film, themes that are developed and matured throughout the entire film, not offhandedly discussed in one scene and never further explored. There is humor, of course, but it is natural to the characters the humor is coming from or from the moment. Aside from a small number of forced jokes that felt awkward, it is a film that shifts from laughs to serious to heartbreaking all in the same scene.

Aside from Cap and Iron Man (who are both awesome) Bucky continues to be a one-man wrecking crew despite being a man who's horrified of himself and what he has become under HYDRA. The new introductions of Black Panther and Spider-Man are nothing short of spectacular. Spidey is a rookie, but he has the quick wit, awe, and spirit any Spider-fan would expect of old Webhead.

Chadwick Boseman IS T'Challa. Perhaps the MCU's greatest strength in it's movies has been it's casting, and this is no different. T'Challa is all at once respectful, dignified, intimidating, and regal. Everything the King of Wakanda should be. I honestly can't wait to see Boseman's Black Panther standalone film.

Civil War raises the 2016 CBM bar set by Deadpool back in February. It's a solid A in all respects, on the same tier as Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy. Here's hoping Suicide Squad can top it, and the CBM greatness can continue.

Granite Score: A

Wife's Review: This is Marvel's best movie. I love Chris Evans and Cap is a badass. Paul Rudd's Ant-Man is great, Falcon is great, everyone is great. No one felt pushed aside in the film even though there were so many characters to handle.