I think by this stage in the game most of us know a lot about the upcoming Marvel blockbuster [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), the third piece of the Captain America trilogy and a hugely anticipated part of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But there's one character that I haven't seen much discussion about, perhaps swept to the wayside by all the Spider-Man/Black Panther excitement. So have you heard of General Vasily Karpov?
In the comics Karpov was a pretty minor character, a Russian Soviet officer who made his first appearance in Captain America Vol 5. Together with Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Bucky Barnes (pre-Winter Soldier) he's involved in an operation to overthrow a Red Skull base in the Soviet village of Kronas during World War II.
He'll be making his first Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance in Civil War and will be played by Gene Farber. Known for several voice acting roles in video games Farber also appeared in X-Men: First Class as a minor character, so this isn't his first Marvel rodeo.
So why is the character in Civil War then? That's a bit out of his timeline no? Well, Karpov is most commonly affiliated with the KGB but there's another organisation that he's associated with that could have big ramifications for Civil War...
The World War II Backstory
Now, the joint American-Soviet assault on the Red Skull's base that I mentioned earlier sets the backstory for how this all connects to Civil War. During this operation Captain America managed to seriously outperform the rest of the soldiers, including Karpov. Not a big surprise there, he is a super soldier after all.
But Karpov isn't the type to take a slight on the chin, and especially not from an American. The outcome of this battle left Karpov both admiring and fearing Cap whilst looking for a way to one-up him in revenge for the perceived shame he cast upon Karpov by being better than him in front of his own men.
That chance came when Captain America and Bucky Barnes were sent after Baron Zemo to stop a bomb threat. Flying in an experimental drone the bomb detonated, dropping the two of them into the Atlantic Ocean.
If you've seen Captain America: The First Avenger this probably sounds pretty familiar, but the big difference between the comics and the MCU here is that Bucky was in the plane with Cap when it exploded. Whilst Cap ended up frozen in ice until he was revived later by the Avengers, Bucky was presumably killed due to not being a super soldier and all.
How Does This Connect To Civil War Then?
Thanks to [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973) we know that Bucky in fact wasn't killed, but was instead taken and brainwashed by HYDRA, becoming the Winter Soldier. And thanks to the Ant-Man post-credits sequence we know that Cap and Sam Wilson (Falcon) have managed to find and capture the Winter Soldier, who seemingly still doesn't quite have his memory back.
What's really important here is that it was in fact General Vasily Karpov, a major player in Department X, who found Bucky floating in the ocean and revived him as the Winter Soldier. And his reason for doing so? To get back at Captain America for making him look bad by turning his best friend into an assassin in service to the Russians during the Cold War and later his personal slave/bodyguard. Harsh. Here's an excerpt on what Karpov had to say regarding his motivations about the Winter Soldier:
"I am getting old and I know there are only a few years left for me, so I wish to spend them watching this twisted creature defend my life. I almost feel sorry for him, as he tenses up whenever anyone approaches, waiting to take a bullet for me. It will never make up for what his people did to me in the war, how they shamed me in front of my own men, but even after all these years, it still makes me smile seeing Captain America’s partner serving mother Russia."
Dude, get over yourself.
Thanks to the Civil War promo pictures we know that the Winter Soldier is going to be taking Captain America's side in the oncoming conflict, which isn't surprising given that they're besties and all. What is surprising (and will need clarification) is what happens between Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and Civil War as presumably Bucky now has at least some of his memories back.
We saw Bucky start to regain flashes of memory during Winter Soldier but there's still a gap needing bridged there. Will Karpov play a part in this? Or will he appear in a Bucky/Winter Soldier flashback?
Either way it seems like there's another layer being added to the already very complex narrative we'll be seeing when Captain America: Civil War releases on the 6th May 2016. It just keeps getting better and better.