Ever since the first official trailer for [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) dropped this week it's been picked apart and analysed more times than you can shake a stick at, and perhaps none have been so complete than Empire's take on the trailer (complete with wonderful sub headings).
But Empire's breakdown stands above the rest because they had some special help in the form of Joe and Anthony Russo (aka the Russo Brothers), the directing team behind [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973), Captain America: Civil War and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War two-parter. They reveal a lot of interesting stuff, including their directing motivations which display a wonderful understanding of the characters.
But there was a little thing which stuck out, a brief mention of the current big bad of the series which may have repercussions further down the line for our Avengers...
He's the dark shadow lurking in the background throughout the series, and we last saw Thanos (Josh Brolin) at the end of [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035), donning the Infinity Gauntlet and murmuring: "Fine.. I'll do it myself".
About time and all, after the failings of Thanos' minions it's time for the Titan himself to take centre stage on the road to [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027). But his actions actually do explain one of the central questions of Civil War, why is Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) on the side of the government?
Tony Stark's Guilt
In the Civil War comic it makes sense for Tony to take the pro-registration side, because of his guilt over the Stamford Incident and a confrontation he has with a grieving mother whose child was killed in the event which kicks off the Civil War.
It makes sense in the comics, because the comic book Civil War is a huge event in the Marvel universe encompassing many individual superheroes and groups coming together and/or breaking apart on opposing sides over an issue which had long been brewing in narrative tensions and collateral damage.
There's nothing like this in the Marvel Cinematic Universe simply because there haven't been as many films building up the tension, especially when it comes to Tony Stark and his neuroses. The films have a different continuity from the comics too, the MCU designated Earth-199999 whilst the Marvel comics is Earth-616.
But whilst the MCU Tony Stark doesn't carry the guilt of the Stamford Incident on his conscience that doesn't mean he's squeaky clean either.
The Battle of Sokovia that took place during Age of Ultron had its own wealth of collateral damage caused by Ultron, brought to life by Tony's error, which in turn was caused by his overcompensating complex resulting from the events of The Avengers and the PTSD he suffered from that (as was outlined in Iron Man 3).
Joe Russo: "[Tony Stark] now has a guilty complex and the guilt drives him to make very specific decisions."
It is these specific decisions which influence Tony's actions, and his siding with the government Accords reflect him trying to right the wrongs he has made over the course of his Avengers career.
Joe Russo: "Tony has a very legitimate argument in the movie that’s a very adult point of view, about culpability, about the Avengers’ responsibility to the world, and the world’s right to have some sort of control over the Avengers. It’s a very complicated emotional arc for Tony Stark in this movie."
So How Does This Link Back To Thanos & Age of Ultron?
Because it's not just Ultron and the Battle of Sovokia which is affecting Tony here. A large part of it is to do with the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)-induced vision that he experienced during the opening sequence where the Avengers storm Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann)'s Hydra outpost.
In the vision Tony experiences his team mates lying dead and defeated at his feet. "You... could've... saved... us..." Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans) chokes out before dying, his voice echoing in Tony's mind "Why didn't you do more?" Tony looks up and is again faced by the wormhole that he passes through during the climactic scene of The Avengers, looking down upon an Earth which is soon to be destroyed.
It's a scene perfectly embodying Tony's fears and weaknesses, the PTSD, the feelings of failing to measure up and the terror that he won't be able to save his teammates from the oncoming storm - Thanos.
Though we don't see him directly the Russos did point out that this scene was caused by Thanos, and he is the fear driving Tony forward into the events of Civil War and onwards towards Infinity Wars. The "ghosts of Age of Ultron" still haunt Tony as we head into Civil War, Empire clarifies, and this forms a big part of the guilty complex described by Joe Russo.
Though it's possible that we might see Thanos showing up in [Thor: Ragnarok](tag:956858) and more likely that he'll feature heavily in [Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2](tag:1081113), it's not going to be until Infinity War rolls around that we're likely to see the Titan stepping out of the shadows to take centre stage.
But will Tony be able to face up to him - and by extension his own fears - when that happens? It all hinges on what happens in Civil War, and it's shaping up to be very exciting when that releases on May 5th 2016.