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Captain America: Civil War reviews: Marvel movie earns raves

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A few weeks after Batman and Superman squared off, it’s now time for Team Cap and Team Iron Man to battle in Captain America: Civil War.

The superhero film stands to be the biggest Marvel movie yet; its trailer garnered nearly 100 million views in 24 hours. The Russo Brothers, who directed 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, are back behind the camera for the ensemble film that reunites the familiar faces among Marvel’s mightiest, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and also welcomes new ones in Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Tom Holland’s Spidey. The heroes fall on opposing side of a battle over whether the government should monitor people with superhuman abilities. 

Last year’s Marvel epic, Avengers: Age of Ultron, raked in major box office returns and met mixed-to-positive reviews (EW critic Chris Nashawaty gave it a B-). Can the Russos reach or surpass Joss Whedon’s effort? Early signs point to a resounding yes. Reviews are still rolling in, but so far, most critics applauded the movie, with some calling it Marvel’s best so far. Critics acknowledged Civil War‘s top-notch action scenes and signature MCU one-liners, as well as praising the movie for posing bigger questions and portraying the emotional strain felt by familiar characters deeply divided on a pressing issue.

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Read more critics’ early takes below, ahead of Civil War‘s May 6 release.

Sheri Linden (The Hollywood Reporter)

“Call it ‘civil war’ or call it brand extension; call it a ‘cinematic universe’ or a corporate behemoth — the latest Marvel extravaganza furthers the studio’s cross-pollination of action franchises in a way that’s sure to satisfy devotees. Posing serious questions about violence and vigilantism while reveling in both, Captain America: Civil War is overlong but surprisingly light on its feet. It builds upon the plotlines of previous Avengers outings, bringing together known marquee quantities and introducing the Black Panther and a new Spidey in winning fashion.”

Justin Chang (Variety)

“… this clean-burning cinematic engine may qualify as a peak Marvel experience, but it isn’t a transcendent one; transcendence simply doesn’t factor into the calculations of a franchise dedicated more to its long-term survival strategy than to the quality of any individual chapter. Captain America: Civil War doesn’t break the mold; it burnishes the brand, and sets a high but not insurmountable bar. Let the games continue.”

Mike Ryan (Uproxx)

Captain America: Civil War feels like a pinnacle for Marvel. Like, I can’t imagine their movies getting any better. This feels like the crescendo. This feels like the movie this series has been building towards for eight years. After all these movies, Marvel earned this fight. This is the best Marvel movie so far. This is not hyperbole. I have my doubts they can make anything better. This is as close as things come to “superhero movie perfection.” This movie made me really happy.”

Dave White (The Wrap)

Civil War strikes that admirable balance: serious-minded action that never forgets to indulge in serious fun.”

Scott Mendelson (Forbes)

“Captain America: Civil War is a good movie, one worth enjoying on the biggest screen you can find, and one that will entertain the hell out of lots of people even as it goes against the grain in some surprising ways. But the film is periodically an exercise in long-form frustration, one which flirts with ‘The Idiot Plot‘ more often than it should. I’m not sure if this counts as a major problem, but I was shocked at how often I found myself siding with Tony Stark over Steve Rogers. But, in the end, I’m on #TeamHulk, since Dr. Banner was among the only ones smart enough to stay out of it.”

Jim Vejvoda (IGN)

“Featuring what’s arguably the best ever screen depiction of Spider-Man as well as a cool new hero in Black Panther, Captain America: Civil War can’t quite recapture the emotional and cerebral strengths of its predecessor, The Winter Soldier. Its central villain is ultimately lackluster and its final act, while dramatic, lacks the energy and effectiveness of the central action set-piece that assembles the Avengers in instant-classic fashion.”

Devin Faraci (Birth Movies Death)

“This is it — the peak of the superhero movie shared universe. Captain America: Civil War is a tight action thriller that works on its own, but when taken as the latest chapter in an unprecedented experiment in longform storytelling it’s a brilliant chapter, one that makes everything that went before seem better if only because it was all leading to this pinnacle.”

Brian Truitt (USA Today)

“Tear away the powers, abilities and egos, though, and the third Captain America movie … is at its core a deep exploration of friendship and family and what sacrifices should be made to hold onto both. And while it’s not the greatest Marvel effort — that honor goes to the previous Captain America: The Winter Soldier — Civil War does pull outstanding performances from its two franchise faces, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.”

Josh Dickey (Mashable)

“The 13th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — which is falsely billed as a Captain America film because let’s face it, this is really an Avengers movie — stands firmly upon the bedrock and sediment of all 12 that came before it, trusting that its audience is up to speed and, most importantly, cares about these characters. And not only do we care about them, we care about their relationship dynamics. Which is why Civil War works so well, hits us so squarely in the solar plexus, whips us around a full range of emotions.”

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 84

Rotten Tomatoes: 100 percent

Rated: PG-13

Length: 147 minutes

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo

Distributor: Disney