Watching the first big action sequence in Captain America: Civil War - where the Avengers fight in Lagos against terrorists led by Crossbones -- you may have noticed that there are two key members of the team missing. While Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch are all in action, Vision and War Machine are seemingly on the sidelines. Because we've always seen The Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe battle together, it's a curios fight -- but one with a simple explanation: Vision and War Machine simply weren't deemed necessary for the mission.
Having been curious about Vision and War Machine's absence in the Lagos action scene since Captain America: Civil War was first released back in May, I asked directors Joe and Anthony Russo about it when I recently had the chance to interview them over the phone. Explaining that I was basically in search of a No-Prize answer, I asked why the Avengers weren't fully assembled in that early sequence, and Joe Russo delivered a totally reasonable explanation:
We wanted to show that the Avengers were functioning like a military unit now - that they would take specialist into each location dependent on what was required. They're beginning the mission undercover, and it's easy for Wanda and Natasha to be undercover. They have the eyes in the air in Falcon and Cap, so we wanted to kind of create this idea that they're dealing with hotspot issues all over the world. And Vision and War Machine can be dealing with one problem, while they're off in Lagos dealing with another problem. So they divide and conquer using their resources on a mission dependent basis.
Given that the Avengers mission in Lagos winds up going horribly wrong, with Scarlet Witch accidentally causing massive collateral damage, hindsight suggests that Vision and War Machine probably would have been helpful assets in the field. Then again, they may have simultaneously individually been working on something equally important, so it's hard to fully judge without all of the facts.
As for why Vision and War Machine specifically were left out of the early Captain America: Civil War sequence, there is also a particular narrative reason. Looking at the list of characters who were on the scene, you'll notice that three of the four made up the main hero cast in Joe and Anthony Russo's previous Marvel Studios movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Given the way things wind up playing out for the story, Scarlet Witch is needed on the scene as well, which explains her presence in Lagos. Said Joe Russo,
We thought it would be best to bring back that group from Winter Soldier, just to re-embed you in Cap's story, and obviously Wanda is very story-specific in that sequence. And this is about Cap mentoring her and a tragic mistake that happens, so it made sense that she would become part of that group. But we wanted to slowly expand the group from Winter Soldier, just so you're coming into it from Cap's point of view. You're coming into the storytelling from Cap's point of view.
So there you have it! A Captain America: Civil War mini-mystery solved. Of course, we expect that even more will crop up as fans start to watch the movie on repeat when it hits Blu-ray and DVD on September 13th.