It's not been long since the [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) trailer dropped and surprised a lot of fans with the Russo Brother's new take on the Civil War comic book storyline.
Instead of positioning the breaking apart of the relationship between Iron Man / Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America / Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as a result of divided ideologies over the registration of superheroes (as we had expected), it looks to be more concerned with Steve trying to protect his friend, the newly returned (and apparently no longer brainwashed) Winter Soldier / Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan).
In the trailer, as in the comic books, there doesn't really appear to be a clear villain presented. Civil War is more concerned with how a group splits along ideological and personal lines, at war with each other instead of punching big bad aliens in the face.
But there is one familiar face showing up who may fill the villain sphere somewhat someone returning from the very beginnings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross
It's a good thing that Hulk / Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) isn't still booting around because, yep, William Hurt is back as General Ross, father of Betty Ross and nemesis of her ill-fated love, Bruce Banner.
Last seen in The Incredible Hulk (when Banner was played by Edward Norton and it was a strange time for all of us) Ross, who likely gets drafted in due to his experience dealing with super powered guys, is the one pushing the new regulations upon Cap and the gang.
So clearly Ross is one of the big forces behind the Sokovia Accords, as he's the one addressing Steve, accusing him of being a "vigilante", not a hero. But he's not exactly doing this out of an objective sense of justice, he's clearly got it out for superheroes in general. Indeed Joe Russo describes him as having "a fanatical anti-superhero point of view" ...
Joe Russo: "We thought it would be interesting to take a character who had a fanatical anti-superhero point of view. Now he’s become much savvier and more political and has put himself in a position of power, not unlike a Colin Powell. He’s cornering the Avengers politically now, he’s out-manoeuvring them."
Politics, apparently, is the Avengers one weakness.
As the Russos expand upon, the nature of the Accords is control. To control the Avengers, to govern their power. This issue has been raised in the MCU before, by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Iron Man 2, and it's coming back in full force here as the jumping point for the Accords, justified by the collateral damage caused to New York, Washington D.C. and Sokovia in the preceding films.
Joe Russo: "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?"
This damage is something that the world can no longer tolerate (never mind what the alternative was in each cause - mass genocide and/or total extinction. Yeah you're welcome guys), and so the Accords are brought in by General Ross riding on the wave of anti-superhero ideology that's been under his feet ever since his daughter decided she fancied someone big mean and green.
But you see Cap already explained to Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders in the MCU) why mixing government and superheroes is a big no-no, as we saw in the Civil War comic book.
Linking Back To Hulk
So General Ross' function is to act as a figurehead for this movement, but as it turns out there's more than just a narrative reason for why he was included in Captain America: Civil War.
It's no coincidence that General Ross has been brought back at this juncture, in fact the Russo brothers made sure he was included deliberately so they could try and tie things back to the much neglected The Incredible Hulk, which is technically part of the MCU even though we may try to deny as such. And it's all part of the plan leading up to the big climax - [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027) in 2018.
Joe Russo: "The job is to tie all these films together. To be able to pull from The Hulk, which may have been forgotten about a little bit, and make it relevant again within the cinematic universe, is important to us."
This is pretty neat, especially considering that we aren't getting another solo Hulk film for a long while yet, if at all (at least we now know that distribution rights shouldn't cause much of a problem anymore).
It's perhaps not the most pertinent problem right now though as neither Bruce Banner nor his big green alter ego are set to appear in Civil War, rather Mark Ruffalo will be showing up next in [Thor: Ragnarok](tag:956858), which is set for a 2017 release, and presumably will appear in Infinity Wars also.
Captain America: Civil War is set to release April 29th 2016.