[Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) is a film with many elements at play. It's simultaneously a sequel to The Winter Soldier and an adaptation of one of Marvel's most divisive and explosive comics. The MCU has been building towards this conflict for years, and we've been promised a "controversial" ending that could leave the team in tatters. And yet, they've got to get it together again to battle Thanos in [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027), set to be released in 2018.
Phew. So no pressure then.
It's difficult to work out just how much of Civil War is a set up for Infinity War. The Russo brothers are directing both, and they've commented that Civil War will lay the groundwork for the Avengers' next big team up. But how will they achieve this without Thanos?
The Biggest Of Bads
Anticipation for Infinity War is already high, which is unsurprising as this is when the Avengers will finally confront the long foreshadowed Thanos. First appearing in The Avengers in 2012, Thanos has been pulling the strings behind the scenes of many Marvel movies.
Thanos finally got a starring role in Guardians of the Galaxy as the main antagonist, and Josh Brolin's performance as the notorious, egotistical supervillain really helped to build up hype for Infinity War.
We're used to seeing little hints about Thanos's quest to find the Infinity Stones in almost every Marvel movie... and yet, Civil War won't continue this trend, according to writer Christopher Markus.
"Because we've got so much cosmic-ness waiting, we are more than happy to keep it waiting. Civil War is such a grounded argument, that you don't want to go, [whispers] 'Actually, that's not very important because there's a space man coming.' We all know there's a space man coming, but it's going to blow this argument out of the water if you bring it up."
This actually makes a lot of sense. Everything we've seen so far about Civil War sets this film as very down to Earth: although the Avengers are larger than life heroes, this conflict is ultimately driven by personal motivations. Reminding the viewer that a bigger battle is about to occur would only undermine their emotional investment in Civil War.
Having said that, Civil War will build up to Infinity War in a big way...
Setting The Stage
The Russos have spoken a lot about how they're intending to tie Civil War and Infinity War together, and here's what they have planned for the films.
"We wanted Winter Soldier, Civil War, and the Infinity War films to have a strong through line. We look at this movie as setting the stage for Infinity War, how it starts and what condition everybody is in."
So will Infinity War begin with a fractured team, as the threat of Thanos forces the Avengers to work together again? Or will Civil War resolve the confrontation by the end of the film? We're just going to wait until May to find out, but it's good to know that the Russos have meticulously planned exactly how Civil War will build up to Infinity War... even if Thanos isn't part of that plan.