Captain America: Civil War and the Future of the MCU
It’s been two weeks since Captain America: Civil War came out, which should be enough time for you all to have seen the film and if you haven’t, what is wrong with you?? With the release of the third film in this trilogy, the Captain America franchise has cemented itself as the tentpole of the MCU. However, I would classify Captain America: Civil War as more of an Avengers film as it was clearly an ensemble effort. Like it’s source material, the film pits Cap against Iron Man, though with the events in Sokovia as the inciting incident instead of the influx of superhumans. The film focuses mostly on Steve Rogers torn between his loyalty for the Avengers and his loyalty for Bucky, though there is the underpinning main argument that is also present in the comic Civil War, the debate of whether superhumans should be registered and controlled by the government.
To Tony Stark, who is still dealing with PTSD and the guilt over creating Ultron, this is a reasonable request. Granted, the events at Sokovia are largely his fault. Steve Rogers, quite rightly, points to the conflict of interest of being run by politicians, “What happens when they won’t let us go to a place we should be? What if they send us to a place we shouldn’t?” It hasn’t been that long since the reveal that HYDRA had infiltrated all aspects of SHIELD and governments worldwide, after all. The team (excluding Thor and the Hulk) are split among these two leaders. Iron Man, War Machine, Vision, the newly recruited (newly cast) Spider-Man, and surprisingly Black Widow all think there should be government oversight. On the other side, Captain America is joined by Falcon, Scarlet Witch, the briefly retired Hawkeye, and Ant-Man.
Meanwhile, someone has framed Bucky for a terrorist attack at the UN which killed T’Chaka, King of Wakanda, incurring the wrath of Prince T’Challa aka Black Panther.
Steve knows that Bucky is under the control of Hydra and despite orders from the Secretary of State tries to bring him in alive, this plan works out but not without some interference from T’Challa, set on vengeance for his father and outrunning cars on the freeway.
I, like everyone else, was so excited for this film. Civil War was my first introduction to comics and though I don’t read as many as I’d like, that story really cemented how I view all of these characters and heroes. I was a bit disappointed about the focus on Bucky and the glossing over of who the Avengers owe their allegiance to, as I think that theme is a super interesting and important one. Cap makes the argument at the start of the conflict but it’s never really mentioned again.
The MCU formula so far has been to have individual films that center on a central character and end that “phase” with an ensemble Avengers film. Captain America: Civil War really changes this formula as it showcases other heroes as much as Cap. Tony Stark actually opens the film with a full scene before we are introduced to Cap who is introduced with a team. While this works well for the plot of this particular film, it raises the question of how standalone the Marvel movies will be going forward. Both Black Panther and Spider-Man are introduced into the MCU in this film and we have been promised standalone films featuring these characters as well as Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and in the next phase of the MCU. Ultimately, Captain America: Civil War is still Steve’s story, well Steve and Bucky Barnes’. The Winter Soldier is a character that exists almost solely in Captain America’s world, similar to Loki in the Thor series. However, when Loki’s actions begin to have an effect on the other MCU heroes, the film was housed under the Avengers franchise. This does not happen for Bucky which begs the question, is this a sign of what is to come in future films?
Captain America: Civil War is the first film of Phase 3 that will ultimately culminate with Avengers: Infinity War. For this reason, it’s easy to look at what happened in Civil War as a sign of what’s to come with the subsequent films of this phase. Black Widow has never had a solo film but has made appearances in many films in the MCU so we know her well and have a good handle on who she is as a character. Though it’s rumored she will have her own film and other heroes will make appearances, what will those appearances look like? Should we expect the Steve Rogers level cameo in Thor: The Dark World or will there be more substantive appearances as the heroes had in Civil War?
In phase two of the MCU, appearances by other titular heroes in a standalone film were largely in the form of cameos. With Captain America: Civil War we see that trend end with appearances from Iron Man, Ant-Man, Black Panther, and Spider-Man the heroes who we know will play a role in Phase Three. While we still have not been introduced to Carol Danvers, fans have been introduced to the Inhumans through Agents of SHIELD. Marvel has done an incredible job of planning and executing these films and they have been hugely successful. With each film the excitement for the next increases 10-fold but we are usually left with as many questions as answers. After Civil War, my biggest question was, is this the future of the MCU standalone franchise? I hope so, as we draw nearer to the Infinity Wars and the reappearance of Thanos, the relationships of these heroes will be more and more dynamic and important to the universe.
Also, when is Kamala Khan getting a movie?