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Spoiler warning: Do not continue if you have not already seen Captain America: Civil War. Seriously, there are big spoilers in this whole article. You’ve been warned.
Captain America: Civil War is finally here and it’s beautiful. Despite being a big summer blockbuster, the film is deeply personal with most characters caught up in a battle of ideology as much as a literal battle of punching. While this punching is all well and good (and it is very good), the film wouldn’t be much without personal connections. At the heart of this conflict is Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Barnes is still recovering and coming to terms with his actions as a brain washed assassin and it’s one of those actions he committed as the Winter Soldier that produce the films biggest reveal.
Again, it’s a huge reveal so turn away lest you be spoiled on the biggest twist in the entire film. Still here? Then here we go.
It is revealed in this film that one of the many victims killed by the Winter Soldier were Howard and Maria Stark, the parents of Tony Stark! It was a huge revelation but to some fans, it might not be so shocking. As pointed out by Hit Fix, fans with a keen eye will remember that this was very briefly teased in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The tease in question happened when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson) found the secret Hydra bunker that contained the computerized brain of believed to be dead, Arnim Zola (Toby Jones). The living computer informed the two that Hydra was alive and well, growing inside of SHIELD. Zola explains that whenever "history would not cooperate—history was changed." Quick flashes of images of the Winter Soldier appeared on screen, followed by a news headline about the death of Howard and Maria Stark in a car accident in 1991.
The implication was that Hydra had arranged for the Stark’s death but it didn’t stop fans from creating a theory that it was Bucky who carried out the hit. This is something that was set up all the way back in 2014, but it’s possible to trace it back even further. In the first 10 minutes of Iron Man, we see a series of headlines celebrating Tony’s life, mostly from magazine covers. One image, however, is another news headline of Howard and Maria Stark’s death. The headline is from the same year of 1991 and the cause of death is a car accident.
While I don’t think for a second that Marvel knew in 2008 they were even going to use the Winter Soldier, let alone make a movie about Civil War, it’s still a really cool Easter egg that goes all the way back to the birth of the MCU. It's just nice that they remained consistent with the date. How did you all feel about seeing the Stark’s die onscreen? Let us know in the comments.