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A note on those notorious spoilers: I'll be talking about plot elements of "Captain America: Civil War" in this review, but for your spoiler protection I’ll avoid revealing anything specific that’s not in the trailers. But if you’ve somehow managed to avoid those in hopes of a pure, virginal Civil War experience, consider yourself warned!

It’s no secret that Your Friendly Neighborhood Geek Speak Writer is a big fan of the movies that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, they’ve shamelessly embraced both the fun and the drama of superhero stories in a way few movies before them had the courage to. But while most of them have been excellent, a few have fallen just short of the mark. So on a scale of, say, Avengers 1 to Avengers 2, where does the latest installment fall?

One could be forgiven for mistaking "Captain America: Civil War for Avengers 3." Almost every hero in the MCU makes an appearance, and it even introduces two newcomers – Black Panther, hereditary ruler and protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and Spider-Man, whose handlers at Sony Pictures finally acknowledged that they just can’t do the character justice anymore. The Agents of SHIELD are busy dealing with Inhumans, the Guardians of the Galaxy haven’t yet reestablished Earth contact, and Thor and the Hulk are...Somewhere (cough*Asgard*cough), but everyone else manages to make an appearance. Even Ant-Man.

Amazingly enough, despite the massive cast, everyone gets a moment to shine, and while the movie assumes you know who all these characters but the new ones are, none of them are taken for granted or kept in the background. Even the ones who only show up for the big superhero smack-down – and if you’ve seen the trailers, you know the one – play memorable parts in that fight. It’s a two-and-a-half hour movie, but none of that time is wasted.

But despite the colorfully-clad supporting cast, Civil War is still a Captain America movie. Steve Rogers’s decisions are what put these heroes in conflict with each other, and while it’s clear where “Team Iron Man” is coming from, Steve’s story is central to the movie.

After the collateral damaged caused by, well, most of the events in the MCU movies thus far, the United Nations wants to make the Avengers accountable to the UN Security Council. But despite Iron Man – Tony Stark – being firmly in favor of it, Steve doesn’t trust a government body to decide where and when they should act. Their disagreement comes to a head when Steve’s old friend Bucky Barnes, recovering from his Soviet brainwashing as the Winter Soldier, is seen at the site of a terrorist attack and Steve decides to rescue him from the police regardless of silly formalities like “laws”.

The only thing that doesn’t stand out is the actual villain – not Iron Man, but Hemut Zemo, who is working behind the scenes to pit the Avengers against each other. Ironically, the reasons he’s forgettable here are the same reasons he manages to pull off as much as he does: He’s a single man working behind the scenes without any kind of superpowers, only intelligence, military knowledge, and a skill for manipulating people. There’s nothing wrong with him, he just fades into the background among so many costumed heroes punching each other with fire.

"Captain America: Civil War" is not only a better Avengers movie than Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s possibly an even better Avengers movie than the first Avengers. (Your mileage may vary based on your affection for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki.) It’s hardly a jumping-on point for the MCU, but if you’ve become invested in these characters from the previous movies, this is a must-see.

And don’t forget, as the first big superhero movie of the summer, the release of Civil War also marks this year’s Free Comic Book Day! Stop by one of Central Ohio’s many independently-owned comic book stores on Saturday, May 7th and find something new to read!