The latest installment in the Avengers cinematic universe — Captain America: Civil War — is filled with action, great battles and a plot anchored firmly in our own world dilemmas.
A star-studded cast packs a serious punch in this Marvel story of moral dilemmas and confrontation among brothers and sisters. And, superhero-style, it is expected to smash the box-office competition.
As in previous installments, while fighting crime, the Avengers wreak havoc once again; this time it's during an anti-terrorist mission in Lagos, Nigeria. But it's not just the bad guys that suffer — the civilian casualties are profound.
The United Nations can no longer tolerate the collateral damage and it wants to put the superheroes in check. Despite his independent streak, billionaire and former weapons manufacturer Tony Stark agrees with the international panel's decision. But Captain America refuses to accept the U.N.'s political interventionism. Despite his military background and his conservative ethics, he tells Stark that the U.N. is not an organization he can trust.
"If we sign this," he tells Stark, "we surrender our rights to choose. What if its panel sends us somewhere we don’t think we should go? What if there is somewhere we need to go and they don’t let us?”
Sounds familiar? The blockbuster by filmmakers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo introduces the current political and national security issues that superpowers deal with and drops them squarely into the superhero genre.
The questions are eerily timely: Who polices the police? What should the proper political oversight be in a war against terror? And who decides on foreign military intervention?
A difference of opinion tears the group apart, says Chris Evans who plays Captain America. “It’s not enemy vs. hero, villain vs. hero, it’s friends. It’s family. This is sometimes the most dramatic conflict — when it’s people that have a history and care about each other."
The filmmakers have put superheroes into a very human dilemma. “It’s very complicated and hard to decide who is right and who is wrong," says Joe Russo. "It’s surprising and it’s scary, and I think people will like that about the film. It moves to a place you can’t predict.”
Captain America and Stark lead the two superhero factions embroiled in a "civil war." Things get even worse when Captain America is reunited with his oldest and once most faithful friend: Bucky Barnes, who disappeared during the Captain's World War II days, returns.
But he's not just Bucky anymore. He is also the villainous Winter Soldier, a wanted and very dangerous assassin.
He proves to be the wedge that splits the Avengers apart.
Though Marvel has made new strides by taking note of the destruction that superheroes wreak on normal humans, it's not clear if it provides any answers, or insight into the dilemmas it is posing. But then again, this is a superhero flick.
Nevertheless, this is a thrilling picture enhanced by some serious acrobatic battle scenes and a star-studded cast. Evans as Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as the witty and ingenious Stark are the front-runners accompanied — to name a few — by Scarlett Johansson, who reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow; and Don Cheadle as Lieutenant James "Rhodey" Rhodes, the War Machine.
Daniel Bruhl plays the evil Zemo. Captain America: Civil War has been hailed as Marvel’s best so far, with the comics behemoth promising much more to come. Till then, enjoy the spectacle of two superhero teams duking it out in IMAX.