If nothing else, Captain America: Civil War stands as something of a corrective to this spring's other superheroes-bludgeoning-each-other opus, Batman v Superman. Civil War is expansive, even light, finding conflict in its characters' more ennobling qualities: Captain America's idealism, Iron Man's pragmatism, Black Widow's resourcefulness. Zack Snyder's film was stylized to a fault, with its slo-mo shots and pirouetting camera moves; the Russo Brothers' is functional, un-showy -- maybe even a little drab. In trying to ground its characters in something resembling the ordinary, Civil War overcorrects.
The story feels similar as well. After a big fight in Lagos leaves civilians dead, the Avengers are left to mull the consequences and collateral damage of their world-saving. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) tries to get his superhero cohort to join him in signing the Sokovia Accords, which will bring our heroes under the control of an outside governing body. Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), an earnest believer in American individualism, bristles at the idea. The heroes take sides -- Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) cast their lot with Iron Man, while Falcon (Anthony Mackie) goes with Captain America.
The climactic battle in Leipzig Airport is Civil War's high point: fast, inventive and funny. It also finds suspense, and even some pathos, in the idea of superhumans pulling their punches; they're explicitly trying not to kill each other, and it turns out that's sort of hard. But it feels like it's there not because of dramatic inevitability, but because somebody behind a desk decided it had to be. I never found myself genuinely wondering what was going to happen next; the moves are too familiar.