Seven Big Questions After Captain America: Civil War

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.

Scarlet Witch

“No, Vision… THIS is how you add paprika!”

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.


Jessica Jones has waited patiently during a less-than-stellar Daredevil Season 2.

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?


We’re confused, too, Scarlett.

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. Black Widow emojiJust 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.

The WTF Primer to Marvel’s Post-SECRET WARS World

If you’re a longtime comics fan who hasn’t been keeping up with the books over the past decade, you may have taken a look at the new Marvel titles appearing this fall and saw the following:

  • Peter Parker is an apparently wealthy playboy industrialist
  • Thor is a woman
  • The Falcon is now Captain America
  • The new X-Men lineup includes a teenaged Jean Grey, an adult Iceman, and a gray-haired Logan in street clothes
  • … and Wolverine is a teenage girl

Understandably, you might have thought, “What the f___?!?”

For the sake of your sanity, I’m going to quickly fill you in what’s been happening in Marvel over the past few years. As crazy as it looks, many of these stories have actually been pretty damn good. I’ll post Comixology links to the titles where appropriate. You can also read most of them on Marvel Unlimited if you have a subscription.


In the instant classic (and highly controversial) Amazing Spider-Man #700 (2013), Spider-Man was finally defeated by his arch-nemesis, Doctor Octopus, who switched bodies with him. Peter’s mind went into Otto’s frail body and died. Otto, having endured a forced mind-meld trip through Peter’s life, vowed to The Superior Spider-Mancarry on as a hero: the Superior Spider-Man. As Peter, Otto established Parker Industries, using money loaned by Aunt May and her wealthy husband, J. Jonah Jameson Senior. What makes this extra-weird is that Otto was once engaged to Aunt May himself. (Roll with it, my friend.) However, Otto found that he was NOT a superior superhero, after all. He made quite a mess of things, in fact. Unable to rescue the woman he loved, Otto relinquished Peter’s body back to a fragment of Peter’s consciousness that had survived – in effect killing himself so that the real Spider-Man could live. Peter, who has no memories of the months that Otto was in control, has been struggling to keep Parker Industries afloat since. Based on that one new cover image, though, he doesn’t seem to be struggling anymore.

(Note: I can’t praise writer Dan Slott’s run with Spider-Man highly enough. He’s put the character through a mad, exhilarating wringer. Read or pick up the collected editions starting with “Big Time” and continue through The Superior Spider-Man.)

Thor:Thor, Goddess of Thunder

During the Original Sin story (2014), Nick Fury whispered a secret to Thor that caused him to lose what makes him “worthy.” He lost the ability to wield Mjolnir. A woman took possession of the hammer and – using the old enchantment – gained the strength and power of Thor. Neither the original Thor (now called Odinson) nor Odin was happy about this, but they’ve begrudgingly accepted this. While the identity of the new Thor was Marvel’s biggest secret for a while, we now know that it’s Thor’s long-ago girlfriend, Jane Foster, who – in another twist – is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Her use of Thor’s powers is slowly killing her weakened body.

Captain America:

Agents of Hydra injected Captain America (Steve Rogers) with All-New Captain America by Alex Rossa chemical that negated the original Super-Soldier treatment! He suddenly became a frail, 90-year-man, yet he kept his sharp, tactical mind. Steve gave his shield to his longtime friend and partner, the Falcon (Sam Wilson), and told him to carry on as Captain America. From what we can see of the new covers, however, Steve doesn’t look nearly as frail as he did last year! He’s bulked up a bit, so perhaps the Hydra chemical’s effects weren’t permanent.


In Paul Cornell’s and Alan Davis’ excellent Wolverine run (2013, beginning here), sentient alien microbes took revenge against Logan by removing his healing factor. Thus, no more instant healing for the man who had made more deadly enemies than perhaps any hero in comics. Even popping his claws caused his hands to bleed. Time, foes, and karma caught up to Wolverine last year, and he died. Now, months later, it seems that X-23 – a female clone of Logan (note the two claws on her hands) who has been bouncing around the X-books for years – has taken on the genetic mantle.

Young X-Men:

Cyclops (Scott Summers), while possessed by the Phoenix Force, recently killed Professor Xavier. The Beast (Hank McCoy), distraught by the current path of mutantkind and Scott’s actions, hatched a desperate and kind of crazy plan: He went back in time to when the X-Men were just getting started and convinced the teenagers to come back with him to our time, in the hopes that they could stop present-day Scott from inadvertently derailing all of Charles Xavier’s progress. Things didn’t go as planned. (See All-New X-Men from 2012.) The original X-teens, while stunned by the continuing anti-mutant violence of our time, didn’t want to return to the past, feeling they could do more good here and now – regardless of the temporal paradox that created. Teen Scott developed a romantic interest in X-23, which – considering she’s a clone of Logan – is pretty funny. Teen Jean Grey, though, had to come to grips with the fact that, as an adult in our time, she destroyed star systems and died. She also committed the mental faux pas of outing Teen Bobby Drake as gay, something that even the adult Iceman hadn’t come to grips with yet.

Old Man Logan:

This one is nuts, in a good way. In an alternate future timeline where supervillains have taken over the country, Logan lives in seclusion after having killed all of his friends. And then… well, no, I can’t spoil it. It’s too wonOld Man Logan in SECRET WARSderfully Cronenbergian. Just read Old Man Logan when you can. But the question now: How is he here in the present?

Secret Wars and the Incursions:

In the background of nearly ALL of the main Marvel books were the Incursions. You see, the multiple violations of space and time that occurred in All-New X-Men, the Age of Ultron mini-series (which was fairly dull, to be honest), and other titles were causing fractures in the multiverse. On top of that, Molecule Man (an obscure Fantastic Four villain) killed the Molecule Man of another Earth, destroying that Earth in the process. A multiversal domino effect resulted, as universes began to collide and destroy each other, with Earth as the cataclysmic impact point each time. Behind the scenes, the Illuminati (Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Mister Fantastic, Namor, Black Bolt, and the Beast) secretly worked to protect our Earth – often by destroying the other Earths first. Yeah, it was morally dicey. Ultimately, there were only two universes left: ours and the Ultimate universe, home to Miles Morales and the Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury before Samuel L. Jackson was cast as Nick Fury.

Just as both universes were about to be annihilated, Doctor Doom – who’d been using science and sorcery to set himself up for JUST this moment – used the Molecule Man to rearrange reality and compile everything that was left into one world: Battleworld, where Doom now presides as an unquestioned, omnipotent god. And that’s the premise of Secret Wars and its various tie-ins.

Obviously, Doom will not hold on to his godhood for long, but some of the cross-time and cross-reality effects will carry through to the new titles, hence Old Man Logan on the new X-Men team.

As for Howard the Duck? Howard the Duck abides, dammit. Rock on, Howard.

If your brain hasn’t melted and you have any questions, please comment below. Thanks!

Geek Dad: “Big Hero 6” review


Geek Dad: a new recurring series on tidbits for geek parents or parents of newly hatched geeks.

For a long time, Disney Animation was overshadowed by the work of its amazingly talented acquisition, Pixar. It was little surprise, then, in 2007 when Disney made Pixar head John Lasseter the top guy for ALL Walt Disney Animation Studios projects. It’s been on a roll lately, with Wreck-It Ralph, a little film called Frozen, and now Big Hero 6.


Baymax gets suited up by Hiro

The first Disney animated film based (very loosely) on a Marvel property, Big Hero 6 is funny, touching, exciting, and – most surprising of all – inspiring. All the heroes are geeks and scientists, and the movie shows that science isn’t just real (as They Might Be Giants put it) – it’s also fun and can lead to amazing things. Don’t be surprised if your child looks over at you during this film and says, “I want to be a scientist” or “I want to go to college.”

The film takes places in “San Fransokyo,” a gorgeous mashup of San Francisco and Tokyo that’s the bright, optimistic sibling of Blade Runner’s Los Angeles – or maybe an alternate reality where maybe Japan won World War II? Hiro Hamada, a young Japanese robotics wiz and orphan (of course he’s an orphan, it’s a Disney film!), grapples with a tragic event and the theft of his robotics tech by a kabuki-masked villain, nicknamed Yokai. With support from his healthcare robot, Baymax, and three collegiate brainiacs (plus their kaiju-loving “mascot,” Fred), Hiro decides to use their combined tech to hero up and stop Yokai before anyone else gets hurt.


The kinetic, straight-talking GoGo Tomago

The emotional relationship between Hiro and Baymax is the heart of the film, and Baymax himself is a brilliantly designed bit of animation. He’s essentially a cross between Wall-E and a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloon, but he’s the source of both the funniest and most tear-inducing moments. The rest of the team is admirably diverse, representing different ethnicities and both genders equally well, and they’re supportive of each others’ efforts, even when their first superheroic outing is a bit of a bust.

Adults – especially comics fans – will enjoy the action-packed setpieces and the various in-jokes about superhero origin story tropes, plus the excellent post-credits scene. Yokai and his creepy, crawling microbots are scary, and they create some harrowing moments for the heroes, but those scenes are brief and shouldn’t overly frighten kids age 6 or older.

Now that the weather is turning colder, if you want to get the family out of the house for a couple of hours, go check out the high-tech heroes of Big Hero 6.

And be sure to be in your seats on time, or you’ll miss a magnificent short film, Feast, also from the Disney team. You’ll smile and get choked up at the same time.


Halloween Reading: The Legion of Monsters

Do yourself a favor, especially if you ever enjoyed the horror comics from Marvel in the Seventies: Read The Legion of Monsters by Dennis Hopeless and Juan Doe. It’s a nutty, fun, whacked-in-the-hell, Hellboy-like mystery. It reads like an independent comic which happens to feature Marvel characters you may have forgotten about.

It’s worthwhile picking up via Amazon, and certainly worth reading on if you have the Marvel Unlimited subscription.