'Captain America: Civil War' doesn't quite match excellence of predecessors
‘Captain America: Civil War’ doesn’t quite match excellence of predecessors

It is May, so that can only mean one thing: pretty flowers. Oh, yeah, it also means Marvel is here to completely dominate the box office with superhero mayhem.

To their credit, Marvel does it better than anyone and they have arrived just in time to remind us of that fact while we cinematic nerds are just washing the taste of the clunky “Batman v. Superman” out of our mouths.

“Captain America: Civil War” is the third Marvel movie to feature Chris Evans as the all-American superhero. Captain America has turned in the highest level of consistency among Marvel’s mini, stand-alone franchises.

What hinders “Civil War”, as opposed to Captain America’s previous two adventures, is it suffers from the bloat of universe building. “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” were (relatively) lean, little movies that focused on a tight plot and didn’t really require any knowledge of the other 40,000 Marvel movies.

“Civil War” invites too many people to the party and is a little too beholden to other once-and-future movies to match the excellence of its predecessors. But still, even when Marvel labors a little under its own weight, it’s still a heck of a ride and some of the most fun you can have at the movie theater.

“Civil War” plays like a mini “Avengers” movie, only with Thor and The Hulk out on sick leave.

The premise is an interesting one, with superheroes coming under scrutiny for all of the death and destruction that follows in their wake, even when they manage to save the day. The governments of the world want all of the superheroes to register and act only with the approval of the United Nations.

Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), carrying around a healthy amount of guilt for creating Ultron in “Avengers 2,” thinks this is a good idea. Cap thinks surrendering his liberty to the whims and agendas of politicians is not something he can abide, especially when his deeply-misunderstood-childhood-buddy-turned-brainwashed-assassin Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) shows back up as public enemy No. 1.

Familiar faces start to take sides as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Iron Man’s buddy War Machine (Don Cheadle) agree with Tony’s prudent approach, while Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) want to keep their independence.

Even the new (and very solid) additions to the Avengers, the synthetic hero Vision (Paul Bettany), #TeamIronMan, and the telekinetic Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), #TeamCaptain, square off.

Also along for his first team-up is Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who sides with Captain America, just thankful to be chosen by anybody, and winds up nearly stealing the show.

While the superhero family feud is the focal point of the story, two peripheral characters are also introduced with much hopeful intrigue for the future. Young African prince T’Challa and his alter-ego Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) finds himself joining Iron Man’s team on a quest for vengeance but will helm his own movie in 2018.

And then there is Tom Holland who plays a nerdy, talkative high schooler named Peter Parker. The kid has a knack for clinging to walls and swinging from building to building with some homemade spider webs. Now that Spider-Man is back under the Marvel umbrella, the character that has been booted and rebooted all over the 21st century somehow feels fresh and new again. I’m actually looking forward to a new Spider-Man movie. Never thought I’d say that again.

Anyway, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed “Winter Soldier,” do a good job of making all the moving pieces come together in a way that makes sense both intellectually and emotionally. That’s no easy feat.

“Captain America: Civil War” lives up to the hype, although it would have been fun to see it exceed it. They still have the magic touch, but Marvel will have their work cut out for themselves if they want to keep dominating the month of May into the future.

“Captain America: Civil War” is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action, and mayhem.

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