We all love superheroes, but sometimes less is more. After having been treated to some excellent superhero team-up films like The Avengers and X-Men: Days of Future Past, it’s become clear that simply throwing a bunch of different heroes into a single movie isn’t enough to impress anymore. It no longer feels like an event to have Iron Man fighting alongside Captain America and therein lies the problem with Captain America: Civil War. It’s a film that throws together more superheroes than we’ve ever seen together on the big screen, but it lacks an interesting story or memorable action to make anything standout. If this film had come out at the beginning of the recent superhero craze it probably would have felt incredible, but it’s hard not to watch this and feel numb to its effects.

In reality, this feels like two separate films that are mushed together and the two different storylines don’t always complement each other particularly well. The first major thread involves a disagreement that brews between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). When a group of the Avengers accidentally end up killing several civilians in Lagos, the Secretary of State (William Hurt) proposes that all of the superheroes sign an accord that would prevent them from acting on their own free will. If they agree to sign this document, they would be under the control of the United Nations, who would give the Avengers orders when they see fit. Stark is in favor of signing this document, while Captain America strongly opposes it.

The other major focus of the movie involves Captain America trying to help his friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), who has been reprogrammed by Hydra into the Winter Soldier. When the headquarters of the United Nations in Vienna is bombed, Bucky is the prime suspect, although Captain America is still determined to prove his innocence. Stark sees this attack as even more reason for the heroes to sign the accord, but he’s unable to convince Captain America. This leads to a standoff, with half of the Avengers siding with Stark and the other half siding with Captain America. It may not be an easy choice, but everybody is going to have to choose a side and stick to it.

While Civil War is being marketed as The Avengers 2.5, the focus of the film is still mostly on Captain America and Tony Stark. And you have to give Marvel credit for effectively working so many different characters into a single story, without it ever feeling like an overload. Admittedly, certain characters probably aren’t given the attention they deserve and a reveal involving Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) would have been so much more satisfying in his own movie, but things definitely could have been much worse. But even if the screenplay from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely is able to juggle so many different heroes, it’s all wasted on mediocre direction and a lack of vision from Anthony and Joe Russo.

The Russo Brothers have proven that they know how to film a big budget picture, but their inability to direct compelling action has become more apparent with each Marvel film they make. Their action sequences are too frantically edited, cutting way too often and refusing to let a scene breathe. In a sequence where Bucky grabs a motorcycle and hops onto it in one quick motion, the Russo Brothers cut together at least three different shots in less than a second and completely distract from what should have been a cool action moment. It’s this over-editing that creates a lack of coherence in most of these big action scenes; it’s often difficult to tell what is going on and what everybody is immediately doing.

But it’s clear that the majority of the Russo Brothers’ attention was on the big 17-minute airport fight between the two groups of heroes. And you would think that this would be the moment that dazzles the audience, making grown men feel like children again. Sadly, this isn’t the case and the extended fight sequence is blandly directed, weakly choreographed and generally uninteresting. This is an action set piece that hardly feels like an action set piece. If it wasn’t for the fan-favorite heroes at the center of this fight, hardly a single moment would feel memorable and nothing about it feels extraordinary. The Russo Brothers are certainly no Joss Whedon and the dullness of this big sequence has me worried about their involvement in the next Avengers sequel.

While the direction of this big sequence feels completely mediocre, there is one element that at least makes it somewhat fun to watch: Spider-Man. Tom Holland is a joy to watch as Spider-Man, perfectly capturing the sarcastic quips and fun nature of the web-slinging hero. It feels like casting a younger version of Spider-Man was a smart move and I can’t wait to see Holland further flesh out his character. It’s a testament to Holland’s performance that I’m much more excited for the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming than The Avengers: Infinity War. The other new addition to the cast is Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. While he isn’t quite the scene-stealer that Spider-Man is, Black Panther is a welcome addition to the Avengers team. His unique costume and interesting background make him far more interesting than most of the other secondary heroes in the film.

The prospect of Iron Man and Captain America fighting was sure to excite Marvel fans, but the finished product is a disappointment that brings hardly anything new or interesting to the table. Remember that feeling of joy you experienced while watching The Avengers fight together for the first time? Well Captain America: Civil War has twice as many heroes doing battle with each other and it’s unable to generate even a fraction of that wonder or excitement. If all you’re looking to do is turn your brain off and stare at the screen while a dozen superheroes fight each other for a few minutes, this movie will scratch your itch. Beyond that, it’s sure to be forgotten by most when the summer movie season concludes.

Captain America: Civil War receives 2/4

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