THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS A LOT OF SPOILERS FROM CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE FILM, STOP HERE AND COME BACK TO THIS ARTICLE AFTER YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM.
The first film to kick off Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has opened to huge a critical and audience reception and now the team is totally split down the middle with Team Captain America wanted fugitives and Team Iron Man having signed the Sokovia Accords with the UN that regulates our super heroes’ activities.
So, the one question this complex and entertaining film leaves us with is – where to from here with the MCU? The Civil War storyline has made the game changing choice to split the Avengers and forcing a wedge between two former best friends.
The meta-narrative of the franchise has taken a drastic 360, so how does this affect the MCU?
Here are some thoughts about what the film reveals and some possible steps into the next phase of this huge and complex universe.
The Sokovia Accords
The Sokovia Accords are now exist in the MCU, with 117 countries and half of the Avengers signing the agreement during Captain America: Civil War. You can read the specifics of the Accords here (provided by the MCU Wiki), but the basics of it are that superheroes can’t act alone.
Vigilante heroes now have to get the go-ahead from the UN before undertaking any missions. As Captain America points out during the film, this could mean that they’re sent to places they don’t want to go, or won’t be allowed to save the people they want to.
Avengers go underground
The final scene before the credits roll on Captain America: Civil War visits the giant submerged prison where the fugitive Avengers are being held. As the film fades, Captain America appears from the shadows…
“[A]t the end of it, he’s busted out the people who were detained”, Chris Evans explained at a roundtable press interview recently. So, we can deduce that Ant-Man, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye are now fugitives. They were locked up for disobeying the government, and now they’ve escaped thanks to the help of another outlaw.
The implication here seems to be that Cap’s teammates will now have to go underground, figuratively if not literally. Now they are known fugitives, they’ll need to stay off the grid to avoid getting locked up again. In the comics, this unsanctioned team became known as The New Avengers.
Cap sends a letter and an old school flip-top mobile phone to Tony Stark, via Stan Lee special delivery. As Cap’s voiceover explains, Tony can reach him and his team of super-outlaws by phone if he ever needs help. This signals the end of a beautiful bromance.
Bucky is frozen
So for those of us who know the drill, there is both a mid and end credit teaser with the MCU films. What we know from the mid-credit teaser is that Bucky has been brought to Wakanda, and is volunteering to be cryogenically frozen until a cure can be found for his brainwashed mental state.
When just a few words can turn him into an unstoppable killing machine, this seems like a sensible option.
Why Wakanda? Well, the film established early on that Black Panther’s home country is a very secretive nation. So Wakanda would probably make for a good hiding place if you wanted somewhere to stash a brainwashed assassin/your BFF.
It’s hard to tell right now what Bucky being here means for the future of the MCU. He’s certainly not going to be taking up the Captain American mantle – as was suggested and mulled over constantly by fans. Maybe he’ll show up in the 2018 Black Panther movie, as that’s probably the next time viewers will get to visit Wakanda.
“I have no idea what happens there”, Sebastian Stan recently said in an interview. “You know, some of the movies that they have on-slate now, they are going to be shooting simultaneously. So, a lot of the stories are going to be intertwined with the Infinity War films. So, it’s gonna be… it’s tough to even say why he’s there at this point.”
Spidey is rebooted – properly
Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is now ready and raring for action after his well-executed reboot by Civil War’s writers. In the 20-odd minutes of screen time he had, he got an upgraded suit (complete with a snazzy Spider-Signal hinting at a possible direction for the future franchise), and a host of powerful allies to call upon if the going ever gets too tough. Also his origin story has dovetailed him into the larger canvas of the MCU. Indeed, it’s already been announced that Robert Downey Jr will show up in Holland’s first solo Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The character will not need an origin story as was done in the original Sam Raimi trilogy and then again in the Andrew Garfield reboots. Instead the film will be able to focus straight up on his juggling his high school career with his crime fighting. This younger approach to the character will give filmmakers a broader canvas to work with, and head honcho Kevin Feige has confirmed that other Avengers will appear in the new trilogy now that Sony and Disney/Marvel have a collaborative partnership.
Peter Parker will be hoping that Stark stays away from his aunt.
Civil War doesn’t set up any villains for Spidey to face in next year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, but with the hero and his home-life established with such style, finesse and humour here, said solo film should be able to hit the ground running. There’s certainly no need to explain his origins for a third time.
Introducing Black Panther
As with Spidey, Captain America: Civil War arguably gave Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther all the origin story he needs. Audiences will now know that he’s a recently-ascended king who also serves as the warrior protector of Wakanda.
This is what Civil War has achieved well, with masterstroke introductions and origin stories within this larger story, both Spidey and Black Panther have had excellent MCU introductions.
What this means for films moving through Phase Three of the MCU is that seeming stand-alone films like Doctor Strange and Black Panther will, like Civil War include much broader information and include other MCU characters in their films. Certainly Thor: Ragnarok has confirmed the inclusion of Thor.
The 2018 Black Panther movie could jump right in where Civil War leaves off, then, with T’Challa back home in Wakanda as king. Only time will tell if this is the approach that director Ryan Coogler takes, or whether he’d prefer to include a few sequences/flashbacks set before the events of Civil War.
Either way, it’s clearer now than ever that Black Panther is cool enough to carry his own film.
Rhodey out of action …
He may not have died as the trailers wanted us to believe, but it doesn’t seem likely that Colonel James Rhodes will be suiting up as War Machine again any time soon. He’s struggling to walk now, which Tony is trying to help with by manufacturing some metal leg-aiding apparatus.
Going forward, Rhodey’s future in the MCU seems dicey. If he’s not returning to superhero duties, perhaps he’ll fall back into his previous career with the military. Maybe there could be a role for him wrangling the government-sanctioned superheroes alongside General Ross?
After all, it seems certain that William Hurt’s moustached General will return, probably with Martin Freeman’s smarmy Everett Ross at his side. Rhodey could be an interesting addition to that mix. Whether or not Sharon Carter and Black Widow will stick with this official team presumably depends on how forgiving Ross is feeling regarding their Cap-assisting decisions from Civil War.
Scarlett Witch and Vision’s control issues
Controlling one’s abilities and the responsibility that comes with them is something of theme in the movie. The Vision was detaining Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch at one stage because of a mistake that cost a lot of people in an African country their lives. By the end of the film, it was clear that neither of these characters are in full control of their powers.
It is interesting how the film hints at a relationship between Wanda and Vision, as they were actually married in the comics. It will also be interesting to see how this develops throughout Phase Three particularly as Vision is in possession of the Mind Infinity Stone. In his forehead.
Wanda chose to leave captivity and used her powers to subdue Vision, but it is clear her powers are still in their infancy (which is what caused the unfortunate accident at the beginning of the film) and presumably she won’t get much telekinesis training from Cap, Hawkey and Ant-Man now they are on the run from world governments. And when The Vision waded into the fight, he accidentally shot Rhodey – his own teammate – because he can’t fully control his powers either. And, in both of these cases, the superpowers in question came from the Mind Stone.
Again, saying what this means for the future is just speculation at this stage. But, since Vision has an Infinity Stone in his head that he doesn’t fully understand, it seems likely that the arrival of the great stone-collector Thanos will have big ramifications for Vision and indeed to a lesser extent Scarlett Witch.
Will Thanos try to corrupt them both or kill them during Infinity War? Who knows, but Vision and Scarlett Witch will surely play a significant part in those two movies.
What’s next for Tony Stank?
No, that headline isn’t a mistake. It’s one of the funnier moments in the film that had its share of angst.
You couldn’t help but laugh at the humour when Cap sent Tony a delivery via a priceless Stan Lee cameo.
Tony has had a rough time of it by the time Civil War ends. He’s found out that Bucky killed his parents (even if he wasn’t aware of it at the time), loads of his friends have deserted him, and he’s still not back together with Pepper Potts. All he’s got left is Rhodey.
Earlier in the film, Tony explained that he couldn’t give up being Iron Man, despite his big romantic suit-destroying moment from the end of Iron Man 3. There’s always someone else to fight, and that isn’t about to change.
We can assume, then, that Tony will remain in active superhero duty from this point onwards, under the guidance of the government and the Accords. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that Robert Downey Jnr is on board for Infinity War and is also open to doing a fourth Iron Man movie.
Thanos looms large in Phase Three
Everyone knows that the next Avengers movie, Infinity War Parts One & Two, will show Earth’s mightiest heroes finally going toe to toe with Josh Brolin’s Thanos. Thanos is peeved that the Avengers stopped Loki’s invasion back in 2012, and presumably fancies picking up the Infinity Stone embedded in The Vision’s head as well. And he probably wants to destroy all mankind, let’s be honest.
Thanos was notable by his absence in Captain America: Civil War. There were two credits scenes, but neither of them included a big purple alien plotting an attack on Earth. But, although the film didn’t tee up Infinity War, some important groundwork was laid here nonetheless.
The Avengers are scattered. Half of them have been busted out of prison and will now have to live off the radar. Another can barely walk. Bucky, one of the best fighters on the planet, is frozen. Tony has been left holding the metaphorical baby, and the allies he has left aren’t exactly the A-team (Vision lacks control, Black Widow can’t be trusted, Spidey is just a kid and War Machine can’t walk).
So when Thanos arrives, it’s looking like the official Avengers team will be completely compromised.
How long will it take Tony to pick up the phone?