By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT’S CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR ABOUT?
When the United Nations wants to assume authority over the Avengers, the heroes are divided over whether to comply. The ideological divide, coupled with a villain’s machinations, eventually pit the super-friends against one another.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A+)
Getting right everything Batman v. Superman got wrong, Captain America: Civil War gives us a smart, cohesive, well-paced film that deftly balances heartbreak, exhilaration, laugh-out-loud humor, and crowd-pleasing, fist-pumping moments. It may be Marvel Studios’ strongest film yet overall. With the Russo brothers (Captain America: Winter Soldier) directing from an incredibly savvy screenplay, the creative team performs a frankly stunning balancing act; it’s two and a half hours long but never lags, it develops its many pre-existing characters in satisfying ways while skillfully introducing others (Black Panther and Spider-Man are terrific), it smartly builds on previous films and, most importantly, it gives us a rational central conflict that allows audiences to relate to both sides (and allows the heroes to maintain their heroism even as they clash).
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
Captain America: Civil War is rated PG-13. I would not recommend it for small children. They likely won’t understand the context of heroes fighting each other. Also, a villain drowns an interrogation victim, an assassin kills innocent people, there’s action violence galore (superhero fighting, etc), and a dozen or so profanities (SOB, g–d-mn, sh–). A man and a woman kiss, but there’s no sexuality or nudity.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Don’t allow your pain to lead to vengeance; everyone who’s been wronged may think that revenge is justified, but that path only leads to more pain. Friendships, honor, and personal peace depend on seeking justice and practicing forgiveness. Be accountable for your own mistakes. Uphold government, but beware of sacrificing freedom for the sake of security. Stand for what is right, even if the world (and your loved ones) oppose you.
If you need more comic book joy after Captain America: Civil War, take a look at the seriously underrated Hellboy II: The Golden Army.