Sitting in a theatre a couple months ago watching the ponderous, boring "Batman v Superman" or "Clark v Bruce" or whatever it was called (honestly I don't care enough to even try to remember) I remember looking at my watch and remembering how much fun the superhero movies used to be.
If you are looking for all the storytelling, characters with relationships, laughs and most of all, the FUN that was sucked out of that film, look no further than the terrific CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.
Civil War finds the Marvel universe pondering the same global issues that BVS did for DC and "Spectre" did for James Bond, wondering where the balance is between oversight and invasion of privacy and attempting to discover the point at which the collateral damage of saving the world from the bad guys outweighs the goal.
After the massive amount of deaths in the final act of last year's "Avengers:Age of Ultron" and the civilian casualties in the opening scenes of Civil War, over 100 countries around the globe pull together to enforce new rules for how and when the Avengers can engage their powerful might.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr, terrific as always) supports the rules, suddenly faced to weigh the personal tragedies behind the kick ass superhero v alien invaders.
Captain America (Chris Evans in fine form) sees it differently, not wanting the rest of the world and all their individual agendas to get in the way of what their team sees as right and wrong.
As our two leads entrench on their sides of the argument, the rest of the Avengers line up for battle.
Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) all pick a side, while Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson...uh, wow) finds herself torn between her friends.
Three great new adds bring plenty of drama and laughs to the screen by joining our team.
Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up) brings excellent screen presence and acting to his role of Prince T'Challa/Black Panther. From his first appearance as a superhero in a superb car/foot chase in pursuit of the Winter Soldier and Captain America, Black Panther rocks.
Finally, and I mean FINALLY, we have a Spiderman worth rooting for as well.
Young Tom Holland brings Peter Parker/Spidey back to his high school roots. The writers brilliantly get through the Spiderman backstory in about 90 seconds and launch him full speed into the film, with a pretty awesome costume upgrade courtesy of Stark Industries.
The first two Spiderman films with Tobey Maguire were terrific, with Spiderman 2 my fave superhero film for many years, but that was back in 2004. Everything Spidey since (with the exception of Marc Webb's first Amazing Spiderman film) has been a full on trainwreck or a simple disappointment, so it's a genuine movie going thrill to see the Marvel team get Spidey SO right here.
Lastly, Antman (Paul Rudd) joins Captain's team for this adventure and Rudd brings all the laughs and charm he had in his stand alone film last year, to this ensemble.
The film's major action set piece is a major battle between our heroes set at a huge German airport. It might be the best Marvel action scene of all time, fusing toss away humor, full on laughs, immense action and real drama into one perfectly executed sequence.
Daniel Bruhl (Munich, Rush) is a bit underserved in the villain role manipulating our heroes into conflict, but he gets the job done.
Just as with the last Captain America film, Cap's friend Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier serves as the catalyst for much of the action as loyalty is tested at every level.
Also just like that terrific last Captain America film, our writers our Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, crafting an excellent story. I didn't see the emotional impact for Tony Stark coming in the final act. For everyone wondering why these folks are fighting, it provides plenty of emotional heft, versus the bland story mechanics you could hear cranking loudly just off screen all throughout Batman V Superman.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo are back as well, answering the very difficult challenge of equaling 'The Winter Soldier". Challenge met.
This is a terrific summer film and one of the best MARVEL films of all time.
I found real depth in the way the story is structured, with the very young Tony Stark seen early and cleverly at MIT echoed nicely in our first glimpses of the young Peter Parker when Tony visits his home.
Spidey's line in the airport scene referencing "The Empire Strkies Back" is both funny and perfect in its context.
With CIVIL WAR standing as the perfectly executed middle chapter between Ultron and Parts 1 & 2 of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR coming in 2018 & 2019, it earns the right to be compared to "Empire".
FUN (are you listening DC Films??) taut, exciting and suspenseful, CIVIL WAR should unite all film fans at the box office as a massive hit to kickoff Summer 2016.
Just like "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", it gets an A+.