Captain America: Civil War – where does it leave the MCU?

HUGE SPOILERS: We look at what the fallout of Captain America: Civil War means for the future of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe...

This article contains big spoilers for Captain America: Civil War.

It’s finally here! Captain America: Civil War is out in the UK, and now the time has come to start analysing the film in excruciating detail. There’s certainly a lot to digest: allegiances have been shattered and certain Avengers are now fugitives. Rhodey is on crutches and Cap is on the run.

So, what does the superhero slugfest of Civil War mean for the MCU writ large? How will the fallout of this film drip-feed into the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Here are some thoughts…

The Accords

The Sokovia Accords are now a thing that exists. Hundreds of countries and a fair chunk of the Avengers signed the agreement during Captain America: Civil War. You can read the specifics of the Accords at this MCU Wiki, but the basics of it are fairly clear: superheroes can’t do whatever the heck they want any more.

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Legally, vigilante heroes now have to get the go-ahead from the United Nations before undertaking any missions. As Cap points out in the film, this could mean that they’re sent to places they don’t want to go, or not allowed to save the people they want to. This is bound to cause friction in upcoming movies, especially as Team Cap still hasn’t signed the agreement.

The Accords could also have ramifications for Marvel’s non-filmic superheroes. Now, if Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist or the Inhumans of S.H.I.E.L.D. make too much noise in their respective shows, they could attract the attention of angry government folk with huge legal documents in their briefcases. 

Foggy Nelson, we assume, will have to wrap his head around the Accords at some point and try to work out if signing up is in the best interests of his Hell’s Kitchen clientele. After all, on the movie side of things, some of the Avengers are now in fairly big trouble because they chose not to sign on the dotted line…

Underground Avengers

The final scene before the credits roll on Captain America: Civil War sees the Russo brothers’ camera swooping into the giant submergible prison where every Team Cap member (except Cap) has been locked up. Unconscious guards are strewn across the floor… Steve Rogers steps out of the darkness, just before the film ends. 

“[A]t the end of it, he’s busted out the people who were detained”, Chris Evans explained to us at a roundtable press interview recently. So, we can deduce that Ant-Man, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye are now fugitives. They were locked up for disobeying the government, and now they’ve escaped thanks to the help of another outlaw.

The implication here seems to be that Cap’s teammates will now have to go underground, figuratively if not literally. As known fugitives, they’ll need to stay off the radar and operate in a clandestine fashion from this point onwards to avoid getting locked up again. In the comics, this unsanctioned team became known as The New Avengers.

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Cap sends a letter and an old school flip-top mobile phone to Tony Stark, via Stan Lee special delivery. As Cap’s voiceover explains, Tony can reach him and his team of super-outlaws by phone if he ever needs help. We doubt Tony will be in too much of a hurry to pick up the phone… 

Bucky on ice

Cap busts out his teammates and Stan Lee makes his delivery to Tony Stank. Credits roll. But, this being Marvel, of course there’s still more to come. Bucky has been brought to Wakanda, and is volunteering to be cryogenically frozen until a cure can be found for his brainwashed mental state. After all, a list of words is all it takes to turn him back into a killing machine at the moment.

Why Wakanda? Well, the film established early on that Black Panther’s home country is a very secretive nation that mostly keeps to itself. So Wakanda would probably make for a good hiding place if you wanted somewhere to stash a brainwashed assassin/your BFF.

It’s hard to tell right now what Bucky being here means for the future of the MCU. He’s certainly not going to be taking up the Captain American mantle – as fans have been predicted for ages – any time soon. Maybe he’ll show up in the 2018 Black Panther movie, as that’s probably the next time viewers will get to visit Wakanda.

“I have no idea what happens there”, Sebastian Stan told us. “You know, some of the movies that they have on-slate now, they are going to be shooting simultaneously. So, a lot of the stories are going to be intertwined with the Infinity Wars. So, it’s gonna be… it’s tough to even say why he’s there at this point.”

Spidey all set up

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is now ready and raring for action. He’s got an upgraded suit (complete with a snazzy Spider-Signal), and a host of powerful allies to call upon if the going ever gets too tough. Indeed, it’s already been announced that Robert Downey Jr will show up in Holland’s first solo Spidey film. Peter Parker will be hoping that Stark stays away from his aunt.

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Civil War doesn’t set up any villains for Spidey to face in next year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, but with the hero and his home-life established in such style here, said solo film should be able to hit the ground running. There’s certainly no need to explain his origins at all. 

Black Panther, standing by

As with Spidey, Captain America: Civil War arguably gave Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther all the origin story he needs. Audiences will now know that he’s a recently-ascended king who also serves as the warrior protector of Wakanda.

The 2018 Black Panther movie could jump right in where Civil War leaves off, then, with T’Challa back home in Wakanda as king. Only time will tell if this is the approach that director Ryan Coogler takes, or whether he’d prefer to include a few sequences/flashbacks set before the events of Civil War. Either way, it’s clearer now than ever that Black Panther is cool enough to carry his own film.

Rhodey out of action

He may not have died as the trailers wanted us to believe, but it doesn’t seem likely that Colonel James Rhodes will be suiting up as War Machine again any time soon. He’s struggling to walk now, which Tony is trying to help with by manufacturing some metal leg-aiding apparatus.

Going forward, your guess is as good as our with regards to Rhodey’s future in the MCU. If he’s not returning to superhero duties, perhaps he’ll fall back into his previous career with the military. Maybe there could be a role for him wrangling the government-sanctioned superheroes alongside General Ross? 

After all, it seems certain that William Hurt’s moustached General will return, probably with Martin Freeman’s smarmy Everett Ross at his side. Rhodey could be an interesting addition to that mix. Whether or not Sharon Carter and Black Widow will stick with this official team presumably depends on how forgiving Ross is feeling regarding their Cap-assisting decisions from Civil War

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Scarlet Witch and Vision lacking control

Controlling one’s abilities is something of theme in the movie. The Vision was detaining Scarlet Witch at one stage (“a pinch of paprika”, anyone?), because nobody trusted Wanda to leave the house without blowing something up. By the end of the film, it was clear that neither of these characters are in full control of their powers.

Wanda chose to leave captivity, and presumably didn’t get much telekinesis training from Cap, Hawkey and Ant-Man afterwards. And when The Vision waded into the fight, he accidentally shot Rhodey – his own teammate – because he can’t fully control his powers either. And, in both of these cases, the superpowers in question came from the Mind Stone.

Again, saying what this means for the future is just speculation at this stage. But, since Vision has an Infinity Stone in his head that he doesn’t fully understand, it seems likely that the arrival of the great stone-collector Thanos will have big ramifications for Vision. Will Thanos try to corrupt him or kill him during Infinity War? Who knows, but Vision will surely play a significant part in those two movies.

What next for Tony?

Tony Stark has had a rough time of it by the time Civil War ends. He’s found out that Bucky killed his parents, loads of his friends have deserted him, and he’s still not back together with Pepper Potts. All he’s got left is Rhodey. Well, that and his huge stockpiles of cash.

Earlier in the film, Tony explained that he couldn’t give up being Iron Man, despite his big romantic suit-destroying moment from the end of Iron Man 3.  There’s always someone else to fight, and that isn’t about to change. 

We can assume, then, that Tony will remain in active superhero duty from this point onwards, under the guidance of the government and the Accords. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that Robert Downey Jnr is on board for Infinity War and is also open to doing a fourth Iron Man movie.

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Thanos on the way…

Everyone knows that the next Avengers movie, Infinity War, will show Earth’s mightiest heroes finally going toe to toe with Josh Brolin’s Thanos. Thanos is peeved that the Avengers stopped Loki’s invasion back in 2012, and presumably fancies picking up the Infinity Stone embedded in The Vision’s head as well. And he probably wants to destroy all mankind, let’s be honest.

Thanos was notable by his absence in Captain America: Civil War. There were two credits scenes, but neither of them included a big purple alien plotting an attack on Earth. But, although the film didn’t tee up Infinity War overtly, some important groundwork was laid here nonetheless. 

The Avengers are scattered. Half of them have been busted out of prison and will now have to live off the radar. Another can barely walk. Bucky, one of the best fighters on the planet, is frozen. Tony has been left holding the metaphorical baby, and the allies he has left aren’t exactly the A-team (Vision lacks control, Black Widow can’t be trusted, Spidey is just a kid, War Machine can’t walk, and General Ross is an ass-hat). 

So when Thanos arrives, it’s looking like the official Avengers team will be completely screwed. Start placing your bets now on how long it takes Tony to pick up the phone…