Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War recently premiered to hugely positive reactions and a stunning box office. It’s also really, really good. We were promised a game-changer in this early “Phase 3” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Marvel certainly delivered.
So where does this leave the key characters in the film? What impact might the conflict have on the lead-up to Avengers: Infinity War (or whatever its title will be)? Might we even see this play out in the Netflix series? The Brains of Morbius take a look.
NOTE: The rest of the post will be SPOILER HEAVY. If you haven’t seen Captain America: Civil War yet, go now! It’s excellent! We’ll be here when you’re done. Moving on….
…we’re running low on Vibranium – let’s get to it!
1. What’s the status of the Avengers now?
One of the best things about Captain America: Civil War is that it doesn’t neatly wrap up the conflict after they tell each other their mother’s first name. The Avengers are well and truly shattered at the film’s end, and there’s no clear path forward, especially for Team Iron Man. Sure, Steve tells Tony, “The Avengers are yours,” but what’s left? The Black Widow is on the run, War Machine is partially crippled, the Vision is wracked with guilt, Spider-Man has to go to school, and the Black Panther is back in Wakanda, where he’s hiding the Winter Soldier! So he’s out, too.
Ironically, Tony Stark – the man whose intense desire to retire led to Ultron’s creation and his agreement to the Accords – may have no choice but to keep wearing the suit. Sorry, Pepper.
Team Cap is in better shape in some ways. Cap busts Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Ant-Man out of the Raft at the film’s end, and they’ll likely be joined by the Black Widow to do – what? Presumably, they’ll continue tackling the big threats to the world, yet they’ll constantly be on the run from the world’s governments. (That’s a bummer in particular for Hawkeye and Ant-Man, who can’t return to their families.) Hmmmm…. Secret Avengers, anyone?
2. Have relationships been irrevocably destroyed?
In the case of Steve and Tony… it’s not good. Steve’s note – in which he apologizes to Tony and admits he should’ve told the truth about the death of Tony’s parents – is a step forward. But every time Tony looks at Rhodey or thinks about his parents, he’s going to be reminded of the cost of the conflict and Steve’s role in that. Forgiveness will not come easily.
The relationship between Scarlet Witch and the Vision, though, is salvageable. They did become a romantic item in the comics (leading to some of the weirdest plot developments in Marvel history), and the beginnings of that are evident in this film. The Vision’s “distraction” directly leads to Rhodey’s near-fatal injury. His analysis of his surprising feelings toward her undoubtedly will carry into later films.
3. What impact will the Sokovia Accords have on Marvel’s other films and TV shows?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasted no time in saying that the Accords will apply to Coulson’s team of Inhuman agents, although the alternative to signing sounded more like incarceration than forced retirement, which would be closer to the comics’ version of Civil War.
For the Netflix shows, things could get very interesting. One of the early episodes in Season 2 of Daredevil had a minor teaser for Civil War, where one character (Marci) refers to growing national and international concerns about super-powered individuals. Will government officials come knocking on Jessica Jones’ always-broken door? Expect to see Luke Cage trying to keep a low profile (and probably failing) in his series this fall.
Also in the fall is the next Marvel Studios film, Doctor Strange. While Dr. Strange’s talents will all come from magic, not science, that won’t matter much to the world’s governments – if they find out about him. Still, since Strange operates on a VERY different playing field, don’t expect more than a quick reference to the Accords in this film.
After that are movies with the Black Panther, Spider-Man, and (finally) Captain Marvel. Black Panther will likely mention the Accords quite a bit, given Wakanda’s role in their creation and the strong likelihood that the Winter Soldier will guest-star in this film. We already know that Robert Downey Jr. will appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming, so repercussions from the Avengers split should feature prominently there, too. And since Carol Danvers starts off as a military officer before becoming Captain Marvel, her attitude toward the Accords could be a key plot point.
4. Where will Thanos fit into all this?
Thanos, Marvel’s top cosmic villain whose hunt for the six Infinity Stones has been seeded throughout the films, will eventually have everything he needs to power up the reality-controlling Infinity Gauntlet. We know that the next Avengers film will be in two parts, arriving in May 2018 and May 2019. Expect Part 1 to feature more internal Avengers conflict as Thanos’ threat becomes apparent, possibly ending with an “Avengers Assemble” moment in the cliffhanger.
5. Who will be in the next Avengers film?
Probably everyone who was in Captain America: Civil War to start! Thanos’ cosmic connection (and his link to Drax) likely means that at least one of the Guardians of the Galaxy will appear, too. Also, the Russo Brothers recently let slip that Captain Marvel is in the cast, and probably Thor and the Hulk as well. What about Doctor Strange? Maybe. The Netflix heroes? Highly unlikely. Howard the Duck? Make it happen!
6. And what might their status be AFTER the next Avengers film?
When the second part of the Avengers two-parter is released in May 2019, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be 11 years old. Think about that, True Believers. Robert Downey Jr. will have been Iron Man for that whole stretch, and he’ll be 54. Although Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlet Johansson will still be in their thirties, it’ll be time for a change. Whether some of the characters die or choose to retire (along with their actors), we’ll see the old guard of Avengers making way for Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and maybe Ant-Man and the Wasp, with hopefully at least one founding Avenger continuing. That brings us to….
7. Why the hell hasn’t Marvel Studio greenlit a Black Widow movie?
The marketing campaign for Captain America: Civil War was superb. “Choose your side!” Millions of us on social media were urged to pick #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. After seeing the movie, though, the Brains of Morbius are squarely #TeamBlackWidow. Natasha Romanoff is a focal point of this film. She’s the audience’s guide to everything that’s going on and she’s also – ironically since she’s a trained assassin – the movie’s moral compass.
When the group privately discusses the Sokovia Accords for the first time, she immediately says yes – not because she agrees with the Accord’s objectives but because it’s the only way to keep the team together. That’s when you realize how important the Avengers are to her. It’s the first time in her life that she actually has a family. She cares about each of them, and she joins Steve at Peggy’s funeral because she doesn’t want him to be alone. During the huge airport battle, the first thing she says to Hawkeye is, “We’re still friends, right?”
It’s only when she finally accepts that Captain America isn’t going to stop fighting that she pulls back and switches sides. Let’s give plenty of credit to the writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, for giving Natasha the intelligence that a super-spy should have: The Black Widow doesn’t stick around in the airport fight for long. Just as in The Avengers, she’s aware she can’t match the raw power of her teammates. So she goes to the spot where she knows that Cap and Bucky have to end up: the Quinjet. And she waits, like a spider in the web. Terrific.
Also, this isn’t a case of the Black Widow being a double agent and playing both sides – and she rightly bites Tony’s head off when he accuses her of that. She simply wants to keep the family together, and when that becomes impossible, she does what she can to minimize the damage.
Captain America: Civil War is a great showcase for Black Panther and Spider-Man. It also shows more than ever than a Black Widow solo film would kick ass. Considering that Scarlett Johansson possesses proven box-office strength and is a fine actor to boot, there has never been a good reason for Marvel Studios to punt on this. In the year 2016 it’s flatly ridiculous that Marvel still hasn’t released a film starring one of their excellent female heroes.
Good news: Marvel Studios’ head, Kevin Feige, recently said Marvel is “committing” to a Black Widow movie… whatever that means. Make that movie, Kevin. She deserves it, and so do we.