Captain America: Civil War - The superheroic drama and why it is not just about Bucky

When the first trailer of Captain America: Civil War was released it generated divided opinions. Many considered that Marvel Studios and Disney were abusing the popularity of the comic book. Other people criticized that the trailer was focused almost entirely on Bucky and not in the ideological conflict that leads to the facture of the small superheroic community. And others complained that Spider-Man was missing. As people who knows me say about me, I love to overanalyze everything, and it couldn’t be any different with this trailer, and with what I think this movie might be, so keep reading while I let you know the reasons why I think this trailer is not only perfect to put us in the film context, but also it provides us with all the stuff people think is missing, obviously they are all my opinions and hypothesis and I could be far from what the movie might actually be. First of all, I’ll leave you to the trailer again and the official plot synopsis:

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

The road to Civil War. 


Not everyone likes heroes.

In the comic book version of Civil War, the Superhuman Registration Act is passed mainly because of the death of hundreds of civilians in Conneticut, children included, due to an unnecessary fight caused by a team of teen superheroes that had a reality show, called the New Warriors, against a team of hidden supervillains in order to get more rating. Actually, this is the last of a chain of events with civilian deaths that initiated the social discomfort about superheroes and the public pressure for accountability. This Act requires the mandatory registration of every person with powers or using technology for superheroic activities, to reveal their secret identity (if it is not public yet) with the Government of the United States in order to undergo proper training and to transform them, explained in a very simple way, in super cops.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU, the films) there are several events that generated society and governments discomfort: In Marvel’s The Avengers we can see a senator blaming the Avengers for the chaos left by the Chitauri Invasion, while our star waitress defended them for saving the day; in Iron Man 3 the Mandarin mocks the heroes; in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, even though is not on screen, we can imagine the political and social impact unchained after the world finds out that an agency dedicated to keeping world peace had been infiltrated by an terrorist agency with Nazi origins (at least in the movies); in Avengers: Age of Ultron we confirm that not everyone is happy about the superheroes and that their governmental independence allows them to act where they consider pertinent without requesting permission from anyone (at least is seems that way); in Ant-Man, Hank Pym says that the Avengers throw cities from the sky and it’s not hard to imagine that many people share his opinion and blame the Avengers of the tragedy of Sokovia.

In the MCU the Superhuman Registration Act will not exist as such, as far as we know, because, by considering the characters of the movies and not those of the series, all the superheroes' identities are public, everyone knows who is Captain America (remember that museum exhibition?), everyone knows who is Iron Man since the ending of the very first MCU movie, War Machine works for the US Government, Black Widow released S.H.I.E.L.D. files that made her identity, and Hawkeye's, public; everyone knows that Dr. Banner is the Hulk, etc., if anything, the only ones that might remain under the radar are Ant-Man and Spider-Man. The Sokovia Accords let us know that Wanda, Vision and Falcon identities are public too. There is no point for a Registration Act in the movie, which is why I think there will not be one, and that’s where the Sokovia Accords come in.


Stark, his sins and his guilt.

In the Civil War trailer, Ross speaks to Cap telling him that “acted with unlimited power and no supervision”, even though he could be reprimanding Cap about that last incident the synopsis talk about, I think that he could also be saying it, directly or indirectly, to Stark because of one simple reason: Cap was first under the control of the US Army (of course he disobeyed orders to rescue Bucky), and afterwards he was under S.H.I.E.L.D.’s control (but he obviously didn't approve Project Insight, more about that later); after the disintegration of S.H.I.E.L.D. he joined the Avengers for approximately one year busting arms dealers and looking for Loki's Scepter, currently he leads the New Avengers (I think they are not going to be called that way but I'll call them like that for differentiation purposes). Can we say that he has had unlimited and unsupervised power? Maybe, with the Avengers and the New Avengers, but not before; but we have one character that has done whatever he wanted since the beginning, what he had considered the best, without any supervision, and that had led to many tragedies in the world: Tony Sark.

His technology contributed to the creation of two technological supervillains, the Iron Monger and Whiplash; he inadvertently contributed in the creation of the portal for the Chitauri invasion (because Stark Tower provided the needed energy to create a stable portal with the Tesseract without the portal collapsing); Stark's rejection to Killian and the little help he provided to Maya Hansen with Extremis almost led to the assassination of the President of the United States and a system where Killian would control peace and war for his own benefit; he is entirely responsible, along with Banner, for the creation of Ultron, that eventually led to a threat to all life on Earth and the destruction of Sokovia; we know he fought the Hulk and prevented hundreds of deaths but many people could easily blame them for being there in the first place. Stark is in many ways guilty of many negative events related to the still small superheroic community, and it seems that he has now realized it, the creation of the Twins could be another eye-opener. That’s why it will not be unthinkable that this guilt has led him to support the creation of an accountability system.

 "Is this what you wish the legacy of the great Tony Stark to be?"

The Sokovia Accords


As you can read, in this Accords is established that the individuals signing it cannot act freely and without any regulation, but only to do it how and when the United Nations panel indicates them, if they deem it neccesary. By knowing Cap and the events that took place in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and Civil War's official synopsis), is only logical to think that he will not agree with this terms, also that he will defend and protect another person that has already gone through the same situation: his best friend Bucky Barnes, also known as the Winter Soldier.

Winter Soldier, the trigger and Cap’s decision.

Black Panther gets involved.

Even though HYDRA seems to have vanished (and this could be in conflict with the events that had happened in the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) there are still some assets present, in Civil War we will have at least two, Baron Zemo and Crossbones. Although the Sokovia Accords put an end to the free acting of the New Avengers, the trigger for Cap’s rebellion could be who is blamed for the attack at the United Nations that is seen in the trailer (the explosion in the beginning). It’s suspected that in this attack there are victims from Wakanda, which would force T’Challa to come out as Black Panther to hunt the guilty or scapegoat: the Winter Soldier.

The last time Bucky appeared in a movie he seemed to have been released from HYDRA's control, and wandered in “anonymity” solving the puzzle of his broken mind and memory by visiting Cap’s exhibition in the Smithsonian Museum. If Zemo actually controls everything from the shadows as it is speculated, it wouldn’t be hard for him to blame Bucky for the attack to the UN, even when the responsible could be Crossbones or someone else. As we know, thanks to the post-credit scene in Ant-Man, Bucky is on the run after the Accords are signed and maybe this is the moment when Cap takes his side, he wants to help his best friend but can’t ask for Stark's help, if the United Nations had force the Avengers to hunt Bucky, helping him would break his commitments with the Accords.

Now, this is the situation that many people complains about, Cap is going to betray not the US Government, but the United Nations panel, because of his bromance with Bucky, no, not only for that. Think of what the Accords establish: the ones who sign “shall no longer operate freely and unregulated, but instead operate under the rules, ordinances and governances of the afore mentioned United Nations panel, acting only when and if the panel deems it appropriate and/or necessary”. There is a fire and Falcon is near, sorry dude, if we don’t allow you, you can’t move a finger; there is an organized assault and Cap and Widow are eating across the street, they have to wait until the panel analyze the situation and approve their involvement in action. The UN demanded North Korea to disarm their nuclear arsenal, they didn’t do it, then if the UN panel commands the Avengers to go and disarm them they are obliged to do it even if they don't want to.

Do you know who was forced to do what someone considered suitable for the interests of a few? Winter Soldier, and he was forced by HYDRA, and as it was established in the previous Captain America film, how can anyone be sure of where HYDRA is infiltrated? What if there are HYDRA agents, like Zemo, in the UN panel? How to ensure that the Avengers won’t be doing the will of HYDRA as Bucky did for decades? Why not to act when possible? Why the Avengers can act only when a panel full of people with personal or "national" interests allow them to? 

Cap defending Bucky is not just about their bromance, it is an issue of mistrust to a corrupt system, it is the choice of being a “good Samaritan” and not an agent of something. Cap already showed disobedience for a greater good in three of the four movies in which he had appeared; in Captain America: The First Avenger when he disobeyed orders to go and rescue Bucky and his unit; in Marvel’s The Avengers when he steals a Quinjet to join Stark in his fight with Loki; and in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when he refuses to reveal the little he knew about Fury and the USB that he received. 

The conflict with Stark is also about how both of them approach the superhero "job" and the responsibility: Cap is the ultimate Avenger, he fights when a crime has been committed, he fights to avenge; on the other hand Iron Man has tried many times to prevent war the way he thinks is the best, he plans ahead, that's why he built the Iron Army, and tried to design Ultron as a global peacekeeper, but we know Cap's response: "Every time someone tries to end a war before it starts, innocent people die. Every time." Stark is doing almost the exact same thing S.H.I.E.L.D. was doing with Project Insight, and we know that initiative was in fact designed by HYDRA.

When Cap disobeys he usually ends up saving the day, but in this case his disobedience would have serious consequences for him and for the ones who join him, because how does he intend to defeat Stark when he has the support (in theory) of hundreds of governments and some of the most powerful superheroes?

Whose side are you on?

Even though everything so far has been total speculation, the teams are not, they are already confirmed and even if the motifs of some of the superheroes are evident, some others might not have such clear motifs and it’s easy to picture that treasons will happen, here I explain why I think each hero will take the side they apparently choose:

Captain America’s side is more than obvious in many ways:
Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Agent 13, Falcon,
Winter Soldier and Scarlet Witch

Agent 13 is Cap's love interest (or at least it seems so), Falcon is his best friend in the present and have similar values, Winter Soldier is his best friend from the past (in the 40’s) and the one he will protect in this movie, Scarlet Witch doesn’t trust Stark so is obvious that she will take the opposite side, Hawkeye might have a similar ideology to that of Cap (at least in my theory), because he had already disobeyed S.H.I.E.L.D. commands for what he considered a greater good (let Widow live, recruit her and help Cap to steal and fly the Quinjet towards what would become the Battle of New York), and he also built his house while he was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. but hiding it from everyone else but Fury; finally there is Ant-Man, that could be on the side of Cap because is to whom Cap and Falcon turn for help to protect Bucky. If anyone turns out a traitor it could be Agent 13, this is related to the outcome of Civil War in the comics, where she is psychologically manipulated.

On Iron Man’s side there will be:
War Machine, Black Widow, Black Panther and Vision

Even though this side is obvious too, there could be more conflict in it. War Machine is used to do what he’s told because he works for the US Government, even if Tony would be on the other side, Rhodey would stay in the side of the law. Black Panther could get involved as I mentioned before due to the death of a Wakandan representative in the UN attack, chasing Bucky, which wouldn’t necessarily make him Stark’s ally, but they would be fighting for a common cause. Vision, as we have seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, is independent of Stark but being the superintelligence that he seems to be, he could take the side that will lead to less unnecessary deaths.

Finally Black Widow, her side choice is the one who generates me more problems, since the beginning I thought she would be on Cap’s side, so her reasons are still not clear to me, is well known that she feels lots of guilt due to the unimaginable amount of deaths that she has caused, so it’s logical that she puts herself in the hands of someone more “responsible” that fights for the good as she did before with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers, but I also think that, following my hypothesis of Cap’s choice, she will see the parallelisms she has with Bucky. Although is obvious that I think Widow will betray Iron Man, I also think Black Panther will do the same when he finds out that Bucky wasn’t responsible for the UN attack, of course, this are all suppositions, there is no certainty yet.

The role of Spider-Man and the possible outcomes.

Although there has not been revealed in the slightest anything about Spider-Man we can theorize a lot, but there is something almost certain, his role will not be even close to that in the comic books. In the Civil War event in the comic book, Spider Man lived with the New Avengers in Stark Tower, he has being a superhero for decades (obviously in the comics these decades had not an impact in the age of the characters) and was friend with a lot of superheroes, to whom after a long time he had revealed his identity. Making his identity public represented an emotional blow to such friends, that considered him a sellout and other negative qualifications; afterwards he rises up against Stark when he finds out of the steps that Iron Man was taking to win the War, after that he became a fugitive and an enemy of the Pro-Registration side, but, if the Thunderbolts hadn’t almost killed him, I don’t think even the Anti-Registration side would have taken him in.

Spider-Man can’t have this emotional impact in any Avenger. Already confirmed by Kevin Feige, at the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man would have only a year of activity as a superheroe in the film, the Accords of Sokovia will certainly consider the emergence of new superheroes, metahumans, or enhanced humans, that would have to act accordingly to this rules and is possible that Iron Man “recruits” him; accordingly with one of the news that appears in the fictitious news that were released as Ant-Man’s promotion, Stark was giving scholarships to promising students, this could also be a wink to Peter and how he meets Stark, being Tony a kind of mentor to Peter it sounds logical that he will join his side, at least in the beginning. But following the hypothetic ideology of Cap, of the “good Samaritan”, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Peter end on Cap’s side.

About the outcomes, I think there could be three. The first, the heroes found out that Zemo is behind all the conflict and join to defeat him, and the Avengers are assembled once again. The second, there would be an Avengers team acting with the risk of being imprisoned while Stark is committed to stop them. Or a third one, where the UN panel has no longer authority over the heroes but the Avengers no longer exist and the everyone remain separated fighting each one on its own. Considering the complications the second ending would bring to the development of the new characters from Phase 3 of the MCU I think we will have the first ending or something alike, where the heroes at last, can act freely again but with some kind of accountability.

We can say that Captain America: Civil War is a reaction to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, making the main heroes fight against each other, but with very different motifs; even if it is a direct reaction, there are elements on other MCU movies that set the foundations for this movie so it will be a film with good grounds and not just a miss planned reaction to the competition. Even though the cinematographic version of Civil War would not have a very political story neither a scale as huge as in the comic, we will have a very emotional and personal story which could become one of the most memorable films from Marvel Studios.

I hope you had enjoyed the long reading.