'Captain America: Civil War' is the best Avengers movie yet (no spoilers)

It may only have Captain America's name in the title, but Marvel's "Civil War" is a blast of an Avengers movie.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
3 min read

"Civil War" may only have Captain America's name in the title, but (almost) all the Avengers are on board -- and it could be the best Avengers movie yet.

Each of Marvel's big heroes, including Captain America and Iron Man, leap from their own solo movies to join forces in "The Avengers" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron". Now they're back and split down the middle.

By pitting the Avengers against each other, "Civil War" provides the greatest test yet for Marvel's band of heroes. If they stand together there's no alien horde or robot battalion they can't meet with a good old-fashioned sock in the jaw, but how do you punch your own doubts and fears?

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Iron Man and Captain America go head-to-head in Marvel's "Civil War".

Rachael Stott/CNET

Behind the masks

To celebrate "Civil War", we recruited comic artist Rachael Stott for some exclusive artwork. (Click the image on the right to see Cap and Tony go at it in full-size, full-colour glory.) Best known for her stunning work on "Star Trek" and "Doctor Who", Rachael is a London-based comic book artist who last year won the British Comics Awards best newcomer prize.

"I knew I wanted to show the actor's faces," said Rachael, "as Marvel has always put as much focus on the characters behind the masks as they do on the action, in their comics and in the films. It's also a brilliant part of the rich shared film universe they've built up, so when you're watching 'Civil War' it's not just Cap and Ol' Shellhead throwing punches at each other, but two people with rich, separate histories we've watched develop over several years now. It raises the stakes, and adds so much extra weight and emotion to this clash of ideals."

And clash they do. The scene that forms the highlight of "Civil War" is maybe the climax of the Marvel movie project so far. In the scene, the characters we know and love unleash their personalities, power and punches in a superpowered scrap that leaps straight off the comics page in a riot of colour and cool moments. It's a big old Marvel party and we're all invited.

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It's almost strange to think the first Avengers movie was a gamble. The question over whether these characters could work together hung over the film both on and offscreen. Fortunately writer and director Joss Whedon made sure it did.

Sequel "Age of Ultron", while spectacular, showed that perhaps you could have too much of a good thing. But "Civil War" unites the Avengers once again -- and does it in style.

If you're planning to see the flick and want to make sure you're up to speed with Cap and his chums, here's our handy guide to which Marvel TV and films you need to catch up on first:

Watch this: What you need to see for 'Captain America: Civil War' to make any sense

Once you have seen "Civil War", race right back for some spoiler-packed chat about the highs and lows of the film. We also need to talk about the ending and the one thing that nearly made me spit out my popcorn.

"Captain America: Civil War" is in cinemas in the UK and Australia now, and opens in the US on 5 May.