War... War never changes...
Oh wait, that's Fallout. Wrong franchise, sorry. But the sentiment remains; war never changes. Except when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because then maybe it kinda does.
We're no strangers to war in the MCU, Captain America: The First Avenger took us to World War II and the 'zero to hero' story of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he became Captain America. We've seen the birth of Tony Stark's Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in the midst of a war-torn Afghanistan and a failed attempt at war brought down upon the world by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers.
On the other side of the coin we have the cosmic: both Thor films have had their ties to historical intergalactic war, first with the tales of Frost Giants in Thor and then the Dark Elves and Malekith in [Thor: The Dark World](tag:206462). And the big bad of Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan (Lee Pace), was a militarist just really pissed off about the Kree peace treaty made with their ex-enemies the Xandarians. War feeds conflict, which is central to the superhero genre, so it's no surprise it's been used so much already.
Enter Captain America: Civil War
And now we have [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), and 2018 will bring the first instalment in the Avengers: Infinity War two parter. Civil War is set to bring another more grounded take to the MCU in the vein of last year's [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973). Here there's no invading space aliens, no Chitauri Leviathans bobbing about, no Chris Pratt having a dance off with a blue faced Lee Pace... There's probably not even going to be any Infinity Gems (sorry, Infinity Stones) beyond the obvious one embedded in Vision (Paul Bettany)'s forehead.
All this had us wondering exactly how Civil War was going to connect up with the upcoming [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027). But the question of the moment is less how it will go about it and more whether or not it will in the first place?
"This is Captain America 3, and not Avengers 2 and a half."
This Aint An Avengers Film Folks
The Russo Brothers have been pretty open about the fact that Civil War isn't really an Avengers film, certainly not the one which will bridge [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) to Infinity Wars; first and foremost it's about Steve Rogers.
And the Civil War in question is less a physical splitting of a massive hero universe (which doesn't really exist in the MCU) and more of a question of the government vs the tool of terrorism - Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). And when anyone takes up arms against Buck you can sure as hell bet Captain America will be standing against them, back to back with the Winter Soldier.
But even the very concept of Captain America himself is set to become the centre for political and ideological debate (and this is the MCU so by debate I mean fight scenes and explosions) as Joe Russo tells us:
"You cannot have a character called Captain America without examining the politics of what that means, especially in this day and age. The heroes in this universe operate under their own auspices, not under the directive of a government, and that can cause a lot of problems.
There’s a certain level of imperialism that we’re examining – what right do those that have power have to use that power, even if it’s to do good? How do you govern that kind of power?"
How do you govern that power? But most importantly how do you control it? This issue was raised in Iron Man 2 as Tony Stark is harassed by the US government to hand over the Iron Man suit as a weapon, but he eventually wins out by defeating the Hammer drones and is allowed to keep it (not that you'd get his suit without prying it from his cold dead body anyway).
Seeking Control Of The Avengers?
Discussing the events which have led to the government handing down the Accords in Civil War, Joe Russo points to the massive damage caused to New York (The Avengers), Washington D.C. (The Winter Soldier) and Sovokia (Age of Ultron) as a jumping off point for bringing in these rules, not just to reel in the collateral damage-causing Avengers, but to control them.
"Examining the third acts of all the Marvel movies, we’re saying, if you could point to the collateral damage in all those incidents, could you use that against the Avengers to control them?"
And Cap already explained to Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders in the MCU) why this is a big no-no.
But Civil War isn't really just about that. It's about friendships being forged and broken, and these friendships are something crucial to the Avengers as a team on the road to Infinity War.
Friendship, Betrayal & The Infinity War
What Empire describes as "the crucial line of the trailer" is the moment that the MCU's premiere hero Tony Stark responds to Steve's reasoning regarding the course of action he's chosen.
Steve: "I'm sorry Tony, you know I wouldn't do this if I had any other choice. But he's my friend."
Tony: "... So was I."
Okay, so it's still up for debate whether or not Tony and Steve were ever really established as "friends" rather than just "teammates" in the MCU, but for the purposes of Civil War and what comes next this is a very important moment, says Joe Russo:
"The theme of the movie is betrayal and it’s a very powerful theme. The movie’s extremely emotional. It hinges on that emotion, and on a very personal level we didn’t want the movie to become about politics and people arguing about platitudes. The third act is built around a very personal moment between these characters."
When Infinity War rolls around the Avengers, old and new, are going to have to band together again to answer the threat that comes knocking in the form of Thanos.
The two Avengers films thus far have both been centred around the concept that the Avengers still don't really work properly as a team unless there's a big bad coming down from the sky that they need to answer to, Thanos will be the big bad of Infinity War, but for Civil War the enemy is ideology - which is a lot harder to punch in the face.
So the Russos are in a tricky position now (thanks Joss Whedon), having to build upon that established story without becoming even more repetitive and somehow have the characters coming out of Civil War still intact both individually and as some semblance of a group.
Presumably this is where Crossbones / Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) and Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) - described as the "main villain" of Civil War - come in, to give both sides a common enemy to band against.
Regardless of which form it comes in, there's going to have to be something rearing its head by the third act to pull the Avengers back together in order to get them ready to face Thanos and his Infinity War after the Accords tear them apart.
Thankfully we don't have too much longer to wait to find out now, as Captain America: Civil War is set to release May 6th 2016.