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Captain America: Civil War Review

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The epic clash of Iron Man and Captain America delivers laughter, drama, and excitement.

Captain America: Civil War is the latest installment in the Cap franchise, and another puzzle piece in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. We've seen a lot of #TeamCap versus #TeamIronMan on social media, with a massive "choose your side" theme in the lead-up to the film's release.

So who's right in Civil War? Well...everyone.

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Now Playing: Captain America: Civil War Spoiler-Free Review

In Civil War, our heroes are forced to stand and be held accountable for the death and destruction they've caused after the events of the first two Avengers movies. A coalition of 117 nations have banded together to create the Sokovia Accords, which would effectively retire the Avengers unless specifically called upon. Captain America (Chris Evans) worries putting their powers into the hands of people/countries with political agendas would be disastrous, while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gets a close-up look at the terrible cost of these battles and decides to sign.

The disagreements in Civil War build up like a Katamari (sadly, the King of All Cosmos is not an Avenger...yet), starting as a basic verbal disagreement and culminating in full-out war between Cap and Iron Man, with a slew of Avengers on each side fighting for what they believe in.

If you’re worried about Civil War serving as a sort of Avengers 3 instead of a Captain America movie, you'll be pleasantly surprised to discover that's not the case at all. While we get a lot of Avengers action, this is absolutely, at its core, a story about Steve Rogers and his friendships with Tony Stark and Bucky Barnes.

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Bucky is the catalyst for a lot of the movie's more personal beats, with the plot revolving around his transformation into The Winter Soldier...and one mission in particular. Cap really believes Bucky can be saved, but after a global act of terrorism places Bucky square in the crosshairs of Team Iron Man, Black Panther, and the rest of the world, Team Cap chooses to protect Bucky, making them fugitives in the process.

I won't say more about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but every hero acts in their own self-interest, choosing which side they're on based on their personality and individual reasoning. Nobody makes dumb choices to push forward the plot in Civil War, and the film is better for it. Emotional beats play true to both the fictional characters in the film, but they also play true to us as an audience. It's also a terribly funny film; there were more than a handful of times the laughter of the premiere audience drowned out the next few lines. If you thought the airport fight looked amazing in the trailers…well, let’s just say you’re in for a huge surprise when you see how it plays out on the big screen.

The introductions of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman playing King T’Challa of Wakanda) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland in his first outing as a teenage Peter Parker) played to huge cheers and applause in the theater. After seeing Boseman and Holland play their respective characters, you’ll be frantically looking up when Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming hit theaters (we'll save you the trouble: Spider-Man: Homecoming will arrive on July 7, 2017, and Black Panther bows on February 15, 2018). Boseman is regal, yet relatable. Kind, yet terrifying. As for Holland, I’ve never seen a better Spider-Man portrayed on the big screen. Sorry Tobey and Andrew, this kid’s got it.

Marvel has spent the last six years laying the foundation for Captain America: Civil War, and it pays off huge here. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and the other characters we know and love have spent a lot of time honing their characters into finely tuned machines, both literally and emotionally; indeed, without seeing that history play out on the big screen in previous films, their big showdown in Civil War would feel hollow and contrived. To see Tony and Cap's friendship fall apart is heartbreaking, because you buy it. You buy Tony's weariness. You buy Cap's unwavering loyalty to his friend Bucky, even in the face of international consequences.

It's like I said earlier. Tony and Cap are both on the right side in Civil War. And you'll agree with both of them because of how damn likable they all are.

Civil War? More like Charisma War!

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Ashley Esqueda

Host of CNET's Tomorrow Daily. Writer, jokester. I want to be a robot when I grow up.

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