One could argue that the sides the heroes choose in Civil War are arbitrary, especially with a few Avenger novices being given little choice in the matter and even less information. On top of that, Cap and Iron Man, the driving forces of the two opposing sides, choose roles that are against type. But maybe that arbitrariness is not a bug, but a feature. This is a story about grappling with what it means to be a superhero, not just in terms of responsibility but identity. In a world that is constantly besieged by world-ending threats, how can any soul bear the day-to-day grind of that? There are a variety of answers to that question, and the differences in that variety lead to conflict – the sort in which the fighters know that they have something to fight for, but they are not entirely what it is.

There is a close-up shot late in the film of Tony Stark slipping out of his jet on his quest to track down Cap. The expression on Robert Downey, Jr.’s face carries the weight of this man’s heroic burden. This moment represents the humanity that is so profoundly present when Marvel is at its best. There is a lot of chaos and confusion to Civil War, just as there are for the individuals who populate this universe, and so the meaning is in the mess.

I give Captain America: Civil War 8 Ka-Pow’s out of 9 Splash Pages and 6 Too Many Cooks in 10 Kitchens.