Wait a minute. This really shouldn’t have the words “Captain America” in the title. Sure, he’s one of the leads in it and, in fact, is one of the two main characters (the other being Iron Man), but it really should have been called “The Avengers: Civil War.”

No, Hulk isn’t aboard, nor are Thor or Nick Fury, nor even Pepper Potts. But after a brief flashback to 1991, and the thawing out of the Winter Soldier, the current day events, which will please fans of ultra-stylized, action-packed beginnings made up of firepower, fistfights, and massive destruction of property, feature Captain America aka Steve Rogers, Black Widow aka Natasha Romanoff, Falcon aka Sam Wilson, and Scarlet Witch aka Wanda Maximoff, doing their best to find someone who has tucked something away in the Institute for Infectious Diseases.

Things go wrong, collateral damage results in many innocent victims, and the United Nations decides that it’s fed up with superheroes making their own rules and acting without supervision.

In short order, they (Iron Man aka Tony Stark and War Machine aka James Rhodes have joined them) are called in for a meeting with Secretary of State Ross and told in no uncertain terms that from now on they will work under the guidance of a U.N. panel, only when and if that panel deems them necessary.

This is obviously a bad day for Tony Stark to develop an electromagnetic headache, and after the meeting, a heated discussion begins: Should they obey the new ruling or should they stay well meaning renegades who are out to make things better for the world? Tony says they should sign, but Steve wants nothing to do with it. The discussion becomes overheated, and emotions grow raw, with the U.N. meeting, to be attended by leaders from 117 countries, all of them wanting to sign this new accord, fast approaching.

But there’s so much more going on in this smoothly flowing two-and-a-half-hour movie. The villainous Colonel Zemo is looking for information on that 1991 incident from the film’s prologue, a neat little domestic scene has the synthetic Avenger Vision (whoops, another Avenger) cooking a meal for Wanda, even though he’s never even tasted food, and there’s the savage appearance of the masked and steel-clawed Black Panther (a new Avenger).

Back to that idea of changing the film’s title: Hawkeye aka Clint Barton comes out of retirement, teeny-weeny Ant-Man aka Scott Lang joins the crowd, and Tony Stark seeks out a New York high schooler he’s heard about (who will remain nameless here, but lives with his Aunt May), and might want him to join their ranks.

The U.N. meeting in Vienna goes worse than the events in Lagos, a “Manchurian Candidate”-like storyline involving the Winter Soldier aka Bucky Barnes and a series of Russian words makes things interesting, and the initial rift among the Avengers turns into a full-out melee during a terrific airport set-piece that’s made up of equal parts beating the hell out of each other and both verbal and physical gags. That particular scene goes on for quite a while (that’s not a complaint), and at a few points it’s difficult to keep track of who is on which side of the argument that started it all.

Everything is sorted out, even when an additional side plot about deeply buried secrets from long ago comes bubbling up, and the film turns into a study of vengeance and forgiveness and friendship. OK, but what about the ritual Stan Lee cameo? No worries, he appears shortly after the two-hour mark, as a FedEx guy. Of course, there’s also that other ritual, an additional ending right in the middle of the closing credits. But don’t go home yet. There’s another one — a better one — just before the lights come up.

— Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.

“Captain America: Civil War”
Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely; directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
With Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, Rated PG-13