Hey everybody, and welcome to my thoughts.
It's my first article, so I'll start off by saying the views portrayed herein are purely my own. There will be no amendments once published and certainly no retractions. It is a download of my thoughts around things that I am passionate about. I hope you enjoy it, and certainly welcome any counter-thoughts and theories you may have.
This will be spoiler-heavy to some, so turn back now if spoiled you do not wish to be!
To start off, I thought I would ease in with a small theory that I have been musing over for a while now. It is linked to Captain America: Civil War.
Recently, it has been revealed that there will be an unexpected twist at some point in the next instalment. While most may speculate it to be around which side Spider-Man falls on, something around Daniel Brühl's portrayal of Baron Helmut Zemo, or maybe even placing odds on the oft-spotted Loki appearing once again - my thoughts are drawn to one key event in the story as I remember it.
So, Captain America dies at the end. Unexpected? Shocking? Controversial even? To the gen-pop watching a Marvel film purely from interest in the MCU, or any more casual-than-that viewers - yes of course it is. Makes even more sense too when you factor in Chris Evan's personal situation, with his contract running down and an expression he would like to move behind the camera in the future. It is not beyond belief that The First Avenger could be the first major player to exit the franchise. As plausible as all of this is though, and in-keeping with the canon of the comics, I don't think this will happen.
But as we've found over the years with all things Marvel, nothing is forever. Or is it...
There are very few constants across the MCU. Obviously, we have our main characters the Avengers. We have Nick Fury, Maria Hill and previously Phil Coulson making up the S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel throughout (RIP Phil). And we have Loki of course. There will be others, I'm not naming them all!
In terms of comic-lore, excluding extinction-level events such as Infinity Gauntlet (half the population of the Marvel Universe being wiped out) and Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe (if you haven't yet, go read it!), who is indispensable?
Captain America, by my count has been both killed and replaced (twice!), Barton has bitten the dust, Thor has met his Ragnarok, been cloned (as Ragnarok...) and been reborn. Coulson has died and been revived, Fury faked his death and is still alive, so let's not even go there with Hill. Loki has technically already met his demise twice (Thor, Thor: The Dark World).
That leaves us with two main contenders - Iron Man and Black Widow. And my vote for 'most likely to survive' of these two goes to Natasha. Sorry Tony, you're out.
But they couldn't, could they? It's the character with the biggest pull in the franchise, with arguably the highest paid actor in Hollywood, the goose that lays the golden eggs - not to mention how on earth would the Avengers survive without him at the helm.
The reason for my thinking is all of the above, and more. Let's muse:
- Iron Man's success makes it all the more unexpected/controversial should he be the character that dies during Civil War
- Iron Man 4 is consistently missing from all future Marvel phases and plans currently
- RDK earns the big bucks, and the roster is expanding exponentially - something has got to give sometime
- He's also getting older (every year that passes), how long can he put on the suit for?
- The successes of the other films in the MCU show that there can be life after Iron Man
If Marvel are looking for the 'big twist' then this is it. Killing Stark and not Cap opens a whole realm of opportunity and a more comfortable direction for Marvel to take on multiple fronts. Money aside (relevant, but not the main motivator), if Cap dies, the the arc for Tony would see him spiral into depression and down that famous route that he once took in the comics, a role none of us would doubt RDJ could carry off quite easily, but not something I believe Marvel (or Disney) want from their 12A offerings. It's too complex, too much emotion and not enough action. Hands up who wants to head to the IMAX to see 2 hours of Stark on that couch talking to Dr Banner, verbally abusing Pepper and drinking himself into an abyss. We've already got Jessica Jones for that fix!
If Tony dies, Cap gets the hammer blow at the end of Civil War that makes him realise that all the fighting is for nothing. He sees the light and calls it all off. He's lost a close ally, but he's been through it before - losing Peggy, Bucky. He gains perspective, regains a purpose, and a realisation that it's not about individual rights, it's about coming together for the common good. To defend the fate of the world rather than protect the pride of it. After all, the fate of the world, and the entire universe, is what the next phase is all about.
The Avengers live on. There are not nearly enough characters available on the MCU roster currently to advance into the realms of multi-factions of Avengers branches across the USA just yet. Some may actually leave, same as any other Avengers movie to date (Thor back to Asgard, Hulk off in his Quinjet, Hawkeye off to build a wall in his home or something), but still never too far away should that call to action come.
Sure, the Stark dollars are that bit further out of reach, but does anyone truly believe that the funding from Pepper would simply stop upon Tony's death? And even in the eventuality that she blames the Avengers/Civil War for what happened, do you really think S.H.I.E.L.D. are penniless despite the recent Hydra infiltration and disbandment? More importantly, do the Avengers even desperately need the funding, really? It's a moot point to me.
The largest part of my theory, though, is based on a personal interpretation of a particular scene in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Picture it, Stark is surveying the Chitauri weaponry on display in Strucker's Sokovian hideaway. Scarlet Witch sneaks up behind and does her thing. Cue the vision of his fallen comrades. They're in outer space, decimated, and Cap speaks to Tony, with those words...
"You could have saved us"
Now, a lot of people look at this as being a past-that-might-have-been, or a possible future as a result of the creation of Ultron, or whatever. I can't find a lot being spoken about post-release around this scene and its meaning. I haven't looked intensely it must be said.
Also, I am more than aware of the follow-on line from the clip ("...why didn't you do more?"). For me, it's discountable, due to the fact that it's not in the same context. Cap speaks the first line, the second is in Tony's head. It's what he identifies the scene to mean, voiced by Cap - Tony's conscience, of sorts.
Being familiar with the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, I immediately identified this scene as being set very much in that timeline. The person responsible for the defeat of Iron Man's comrades is Thanos. They all lie dying, no hope of victory.
"You could have saved us"
What if Cap's words are said because Iron Man wasn't there at all. Wasn't there to fight Thanos. Wasn't there to support his fellow Avengers. Wasn't able to assist with his quick-thinking. Wasn't there to distract Thanos with his awesome wit as a delay tactic. Wasn't there to fly in from afar and steal the gauntlet from Thanos' arm.
The list could be endless. Yes, any of those roles could easily have been reassigned to another hero (Hank Pym has the smarts, Star Lord the wit, any number of them could wrest the mighty glove away).
What if Cap's words echo Stark's worth. What he means to the Avengers. What his loss means to the universe. What if...?
"You could have saved us..."
For me, there is no more plausible reason for Cap saying these words. Admittedly, a large element of context is missing, and the scene itself is equally a easily viewed from the perspective of it being relative to the Chitauri invasion in Avengers Assemble. For me, that just doesn't seem to be realistic. Probability tells me that it's happening deep into the Infinity War. Step back and ask the question - "Why didn't Stark save them, if he could have?"
The answer for me is - because he is not there to save them.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments/opinions/counter-theories in the comments!