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Theaters Welcome Another Superhero Movie: 'Captain America: Civil War'


This weekend brings the opening in the U.S. of "Captain America: Civil War," which is the latest from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It features Captain America, of course, along with Iron Man, Spider-Man and many other men, even a few women.

It's already opened overseas and brought in more than $200 million before opening in the United States. So we've brought in our Ironman man of critics, Kenneth Turan of MORNING EDITION and the LA Times. Hi, Ken.


INSKEEP: What's this about?

TURAN: Well, this is about kind of a schism in the ranks of the Avengers between Captain America and Iron Man. They're kind of arguing about whether the Avengers should have independence or whether the U.N. should supervise them and tell them where to go, where not to go. And you can hear Iron Man and Captain America, played by Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Evans. We can actually hear them arguing, Steve.


CHRIS EVANS: (As Captain America) If we sign this, we surrender our right to choose.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR: (As Iron Man) What if this panel sends us somewhere we don't think we should go?

EVANS: (As Captain America) What if there's somewhere we need to go and they don't let us? We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.

DOWNEY: (As Iron Man) If we don't do this now...

EVANS: (As Captain America) It's going to be done to us later.

INSKEEP: Are you sure that's from the movie, or is that from a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about the United Nations?

TURAN: Well, it sound like that, doesn't it? You know, the problem that these guys are grappling with is that there's been collateral damage committed by the Avengers. The Avengers have killed innocent people.

And it's kind of like "Batman V. Superman," that some people are happy about this. Some people say there's nothing we can do. In "Batman V. Superman," they just pounded on each other. Here, all the Avengers are involved, almost all of them. They're six on six. It's this is huge kerfuffle that goes on.

INSKEEP: OK. This is interesting because this actually sounding a little bit like a commentary on some news of recent years. But obviously, we're in this fantasy world. What appeals to people about it?

TURAN: Well, you know, these worlds are addictive. They're addictive in the same way comic books are. They're extremely detailed. You can go very deeply into them. For me, Steve, one of the paradoxes of this particular film is that they go in so deeply that even though they're hugely popular, they're kind of exclusionary.

If there is a man on the street who's never seen one of these films, he or she is going to have a lot of trouble coming into it and knowing what's going on.

INSKEEP: Did you like it?

TURAN: I did like it, though I was troubled by that exclusionary nature. I kept thinking, well, do I know that character? Wasn't he in a film, you know, five films ago? And what is that joke that everyone's laughing at but me? You know, it's kind of odd.

INSKEEP: One other thing, Ken Turan. We mentioned in the introduction, there are few women in here. There's been a lot of commentary over the years about how women are excluded from superhero flicks, or partly excluded anyway. How are they doing in this one?

TURAN: Women are doing much better here. And actually, people of color are doing really well. There's a new character, Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, whose here kind of to promo himself for his own standalone film next year. But you know, for me one of the things that's more interesting is that they're introducing kind of new characters here.

We have Spider-Man. And Spider-Man is a franchise where the films are made by Sony. And kind of intense negotiations went on between Sony and Disney as to whether Spider-Man could appear in this film. You know, there's so much money involved in these things that the studio said whatever. Usually, studios are not saying whatever when it comes to money. But with these Marvel characters, that's what happened.

INSKEEP: Ken, thanks very much.

TURAN: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.