Marvel Studios is having a big year in 2015 with the release of both The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, but they have something equally as exciting brewing for next year. As was confirmed in late 2014, Captain America 3 will be titled Captain America: Civil War, and will feature heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe clashing with other heroes over a very divisive issue that could determine their entire future as costumed vigilantes. It promises to be a complex, action filled blockbuster event, and it’s one that we’re already set to start analyzing one year out from release.
In order to help you both learn what’s been officially announced by Marvel what what’s currently swirling around as rumor, we’ve constructed yet another one of our handy guides to help you keep track of everything related to Captain America: Civil War. What do we know so far? Read on to find out!
SPOILER WARNING: What follows does contain major spoilers for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. If you haven’t seen that film yet, you may want to click away to another one of our fantastic articles
Like the first two Captain America movies before it, Captain America 3 will be based off of a script written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley, and it will be an adaptation of one of Marvel Comics’ biggest crossover events: Mark Millar’s Civil War. The movie’s plot will be tied into the aftermath of The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the conclusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Two, and should be one of Marvel Studios biggest ensemble films to date.
According to an official press release, the movie will begin with Captain America leading the new team of Avengers around the globe and stopping threats. Unfortunately, one stop on this tour leads to an international incident involving a good deal of collateral damage. Mounting political pressure results in a regulation that will force superheroes to register with the government, but while some individuals are on board with this idea, others very much aren’t. This leads to a clash of the titans where heroes aren’t fighting villains, but instead other heroes.
Though they went into making Captain America: The Winter Soldier with zero blockbuster directing experience, brothers Joe and Anthony Russo absolutely blew audiences away in 2014 with their first Marvel film – and it came as a surprise to nobody when news came around that the studio wanted them back for Captain America 3. Given that the Russo’s work with the comic book company earned them an incredible amount of acclaim, it was equally unsurprising when they accepted the gig.
Feeding off of inspiration from 1970s conspiracy thrillers, Joe and Anthony Russo crafted Captain America: The Winter Soldier into a tight, tense, thrilling blockbuster that to this point arguably represents the best work we’ve seen from Marvel Studios. Their presence is a more than welcome addition to Captain America: Civil War.
When considering the events of Captain America: Civil War it’s not hard to see why Captain America a.k.a. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) might take issue with something like the Superhero Registration Act. This is because the last time he put his trust in a government body, it wound up being entirely rotten at its core and needed to be destroyed. It’s this viewpoint – and its contrast with Tony Stark’s – that will wind up driving the drama in Marvel Studios’ first 2016 blockbuster.
In the Civil War crossover comic book arc, Captain America was eventually driven underground and seen as a fugitive in the eyes of Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. following his resistance to the new legislation. Along with other heroes opposing Superhero Registration, Cap led a resistance movement, leading to both guerrilla attacks and all-out battles with Iron Man and his allies. At this point, it’s not entirely clear exactly how close to the source material Captain America: Civil War be will staying, but we can probably assume that the basics here will all be featured.
Tony Stark really isn’t the same character we first met on the big screen back in 2008. As seen in Iron Man 2, the guy used to be all about personal freedom and spitting in the government’s face. But that was before the trauma. The events of the first Avengers film left him with a serious case of PTSD, and it was pure fear that led him to try and solve all of the world’s problems through A.I. There is an argument to be made that Stark is actually the real villain of Age of Ultron - and that very much sets things in motion for his behavior in Captain America: Civil War.
In the Civil War comics, Tony Stark actually made himself the face of the Superhero Registration Act, feeling an immense guilt for the lives lost due to the recklessness of powered individuals. This obviously puts him in direct conflict with Captain America, however, and it’s expected that the dynamic between the two characters is what will drive the movie.
When Marvel Studios officially announced Captain America: Civil War in October 2014, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man wasn’t the only special hero revealed to be involved with the project. The company also took that time to confirm that Chadwick Boseman would be playing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther a.k.a. T’Challa, and that he would be playing a crucial role in the upcoming film.
While it hasn’t been confirmed, there has been some suggestion that the role Black Panther will be playing in Captain America: Civil War will be similar to the part in the comics played by Spider-Man. In the source material, the web-slinger found himself caught in the middle of the debate between Captain America and Iron Man, torn between both sides. This would be a very interesting way to introduce Black Panther into the MCU, and it’s a plausible one.
Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon has come a long way since we first met him jogging around Washington D.C. – but that will happen when you become best friends with Captain America. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we first learned that Wilson used a specially designed jetpack for rescue missions when he was in the military, but now he’s using that same technology to fight with a whole different outfit entirely: The Avengers. Unfortunately, that means that he is going to be embroiled in the entire mess within Captain America: Civil War and the debate over the Superhero Registration Act.
Beyond just his position as an Avenger, however, Falcon will also play a key role in another very important aspect of Civil War’s plot: the continued search for Winter Soldier. It was briefly mentioned in The Avengers: Age of Ultron that the search continues for the metal-armed former brainwashed assassin, and Falcon is still very much Cap’s partner in that mission.
The Winter Soldier
Nobody expected the Marvel Cinematic Universe to leave the story of The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) hanging after the events of the second Captain America movie, and while it doesn’t sound like he has a place in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, he has been confirmed to be an important part of Captain America: Civil War. We need to figure out what he’s going to do now that he actually knows that he is Bucky Barnes!
In addition to having a dramatic plotline involving Captain America, however, the 2016 film may also see The Winter Soldier running into a serious conflict with Iron Man. After all, it is implied in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that the brainwashed Bucky actually killed Tony Stark’s parents as part of a mission for Hydra. If Tony discovers this, he’s going to want to put Bucky down for good, and that’s just going to cause an addition conflict between Iron Man and Cap.
With her "shades of grey" morality pairing up perfectly with the titular hero’s more clear ideas of right and wrong, Black Widow a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was easily one of the best parts of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the good news is that she will be back once again for the next sequel. And while the specifics of her role in the whole business is unknown, it’s obviously a significant fact that she is still a member of the Avengers.
Certainly one of the most exciting aspects of Captain America: Civil War will be determining which team she winds up joining in the movie – be it pro-registration or anti-registration. She has been a wild card her entire life, and also happens to have very close relationships with both Captain America and Iron Man. Which side will she choose? We’ll have to wait and find out.
Paul Bettany’s take on Vision was certainly one of the best elements in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, perfectly capturing both the comic book character and beautifully representing the themes in the movie of chaos vs. order. After such a fantastic performance, we really didn’t want to have to wait long to see him again, and the good news is that we won’t.
Given that he is a member of the Avengers alongside Captain America and the plot description of Captain America: Civil War, it obviously makes sense that Vision would wind up becoming involved, and that has been officially confirmed. Exactly how he will fit into the plot of the film as an individual and where his loyalties will lie are currently a mystery, but given that Tony Stark is kinda sorta one of his dads, it’s not impossible to believe that he could wind up being on the pro-registration side of the conflict.
Don Cheadle’s War Machine a.k.a. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes not only finally got into some Avengers action with a small role in Age of Ultron, but the guy is now actually a full-fledged Avenger himself. Now that Tony Stark has left the team, the organization apparently had a need for a dude in a metal suit, so that’s exactly the role that he will be filling. And he’ll next be doing so in Captain America: Civil War.
While it hasn’t been officially revealed in any capacity, it’s also pretty easy to predict where Rhodey’s loyalties will lie when it comes to the conflict regarding Superhero Registration. He may be a teammate with Captain America on the Avengers, but his ties to Tony Stark go way, way further back, and we can expect that friendship to result in Iron Man and War Machine fighting side by side.
In The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hawkeye tells Scarlet Witch that as soon as she enters the battle against the robot army in Sokovia that she would become an Avenger. This turned out to be a very true statement, as the end of the film reveals her as one of the brand new members of the superhero team, fighting alongside Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Vision, War Machine and Vision.
But while it sounds like Scarlet Witch and the rest of her teammates might be a part of the big international incident that gets everyone talking about Superhero Registration, how she will fit into the plot of Captain America: Civil War beyond that is currently a mystery. It is worth noting that has held a deep hatred for Tony Stark in her heart since childhood, and while her feelings may have subsided during the fight against Ultron, the debate over registration could easily bring that conflict back.
Hawkeye a.k.a. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) sadly got left out of all the fun in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but that will not wind up being the case for Captain America: Civil War. Renner began hinting months ago at the possibility that he could wind up with a supporting role in the 2016 movie, and he has since confirmed that he will be a part of the event film. How exactly he will be roped into the battle is unclear at this point, however, given the fact that he basically retired to be a family man at the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Like Black Widow, Hawkeye is another instance where it’s not necessarily clear from the outset where his feelings may lie when it comes to the Superhero Registration Act. Jeremy Renner has gone on record saying that his character really isn’t much of a team player, so maybe he actually winds up staying neutral in the whole mess – or possibly winds up swapping sides during the story.
It didn’t seem like it would actually ever happen, but the dream is real: Spider-Man will soon be web-slinging in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But before he starts swinging around the streets of New York in his own solo film in 2017, the character will be making his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War - as was reported shortly after the deal between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures was announced.
What remains questionable is exactly how big a role Spider-Man will actually have in Captain America 3. The movie was going through months and months of development before Spidey became an option as a character, and it’s difficult to imagine Marvel completely upending their script to shoe-horn their newest hero into the plot. We can probably expect him to have a supporting role in the story, but nothing too major.
With no Ant-Man 2 scheduled as part of Marvel Studios’ Phase Three plans, there were many who were worried that Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang might not actually show up in a follow-up to his solo film until The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1. As it turns out, he will actually be one of the few Marvel heroes who have appeared in two Marvel Studios films in a row.
Now that Ant-Man has been confirmed for Captain America: Civil War, it will definitely be interesting to see how the events of his solo movie later this year wind up influencing the events. Will the film be more like Guardians of the Galaxy and operate on its own, or can we expect it to make some monumental changes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that we’ll see results of in Joe and Anthony Russo’s film? We’re excited to find out either way.
By the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Crossbones a.k.a. Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) is in seriously bad shape. While the Hydra agent did actually manage to survive a building falling on top of him, he was also shown to be extremely badly wounded, and had burns and blood covering all of his exposed skin. Presumably, by the time Captain America: Civil War rolls around, he will be back on his feet and ready to bring the fight to Cap, Falcon, and any other hero that gets in his way.
Admittedly, Crossbones has not yet been 100 percent confirmed to appear in Captain America: Civil War, but it makes all the sense in the world that he would show up. Otherwise, why go through the trouble of showing that he survived the last movie? It’s also worth mentioning that the character plays a very important role in the events right after Civil War in the comics, and while it may wind up being very spoilery, you can read more about that here.
We still have no idea where Red Skull is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having been teleported to god-knows-where at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, but Captain America: Civil War will see another one of Cap’s greatest foes head to the big screen.
In November 2011, it was revealed that Inglourious Basterds actor Daniel Bruhl had joined the cast of the blockbuster, and while his part in the movie wasn’t immediately revealed, it’s since been confirmed that he will be playing the purple-masked menace known as Baron Zemo. It’s unclear at this point how the character will be presented on screen physically, and we don’t know how he will fit into the plot, but we’re very excited to see how it all comes together. The official plot synopsis for the film does hint that there is a "nefarious" villain in the mix, and it’s been widely assumed that this is a reference to Zemo.
General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross
Of all the actors who showed up in The Incredible Hulk, Robert Downey Jr. is the only one who has actually had a second appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – but Captain America: Civil War will finally be ending that pattern. William Hurt, who portrayed antagonist General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross in the Hulk solo film, is now set to return in the 2016 Russo brothers movie.
At this time, there is no real information regarding the role that Ross will be playing in the events of Captain America: Civil War, but it’s not exactly hard to see how he might fit in. After all, he is closely associated with the government and has shown himself to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder where super-powered people are concerned. It wouldn’t be shocking at all if he winds up standing right alongside Tony Stark announcing the Superhero Registration Act.
With Captain America, Falcon, Winter Soldier, and Black Widow set to come back, you didn’t really think that Captain America: Civil War would leave behind Sharon Carter a.k.a. Agent 13, did you? The Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the character, portrayed by Emily VanCamp, made her first appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and it’s been confirmed that she will be back for the 2016 sequel as well.
Given the final scene of Winter Soldier, it’s entirely possible that Captain America could wind up in a romantic relationship with Sharon in the upcoming sequel – though it might just be a touch odd given that she is related to Cap’s lost love Peggy Carter. Beyond that, however, there’s also a good chance that she will find herself brought into the action as well, as we last saw her getting recruited for a gig at the CIA.
This one is definitely more speculation than fact at the moment, but it appears that Martin Freeman – best known for his parts in geek-friendly titles like Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Hobbit, and Sherlock - might be signed on to play Everett Ross: a United States government agent working for the state department who is best known as a liaison to the secret African nation of Wakanda.
At this point, the character hasn’t been confirmed, only the fact that the actor will be in Captain America: Civil War, but Ross does make a certain amount of sense as a role for the British star. After all, the plot of the film is expected to feature plenty of government characters, and, as mentioned earlier, it will be the first movie to feature a live-action version of Black Panther, who hails from Wakanda. Still, take this with a grain of salt.