[Warning: Spoilers from Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Civil War comics, and potentially Captain America: Civil War]
About a month and a half ago, I devised a theory on what the "controversy" regarding Civil War may entail. Just as my view on how the infinity stones may fit into Civil War has changed, so has my view on the plot of Civil War given the more recent trailers.
This theory is probably not anything new or huge, but I wanted to get it put down on paper since I haven't seen anyone publicizing this theory anywhere else. I'm also aware that some people have had the opportunity to see an early screening. So for those of you that have seen the film, please refrain from spoilers in the form of confirming or disproving this little theory. Instead, feel free to enjoy my speculation even if it's dead wrong!
Now, this theory is quite simple: There is a Bucky clone.
People have pointed out that in a different angle of this same seen, you can see Bucky standing in the background. So . . . why are there two of him? There are a lot of different snippets from the trailers that don't add up:
- The 9/11-esque attack
- Bucky having no memory of the attack
- Bucky shooting down War Machine
- Bucky trying to shoot Iron Man in the face
- Bucky being interrogated by Cap
- Bucky being in this tube
The terror attack is put on Bucky for some as yet unknown reason. However, he's clearly no longer under the control of Arnim Zola and Hydra. Add to it, he very clearly states that "that's not me anymore. [sic]" So, why would he commit such a deadly attack? He then goes on to try to kill Iron Man and War Machine. If he's supposed to be helping Cap and he's not the same person he was, wouldn't that imply that he's not going to try to kill people anymore? Finally, if Bucky is in this tube, presumably on what is the MCU equivalent of the S.H.I.E.L.D. base the R.A.F.T., why would Cap break him out of the facility and interrogate him in an abandoned building? Cap has spent roughly two years trying to track him down and if he was in a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, that wouldn't have been nearly as difficult to figure out. Now for a more distinct explanation:
Hydra Creates a Bucky Clone
As we know from Captain America: Winter Soldier, Hydra infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. from the beginning and collapsed the organization in one fell swoop. At the time, the only thing Hydra was interested in was the use of helicarriers. However, the corruption extended throughout the entire organization which presumably means they gained access to many of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s facilities. It's possible that Hydra still has enough influence to be able to set up a new "S.H.I.E.L.D." base or even take control of an existing one.
A skin-grafting machine was introduced in Age of Ultron and this would be the best way to create a Bucky clone to be manipulated in the same way that the original was. Given that this technology created Vision, it's extremely plausible that it could create a fully human being let alone a synthetic human. In the same way, this clone, or clones in the case that the prototype is incinerated by the 9/11 attack, could be programmed to target War Machine and Iron Man. The fact that Bucky attempts to rip the arc reactor out of Iron Man's chest seems to be more animalistic than a planned response. Cap presumably explained to him that the suit is powered by the reactor, but his heart is fine. We know Bucky to be an intelligent person, so this along with attempting to shoot Tony in the face seem to be extremely uncharacteristic.
The New Ragnarok?
In the Civil War story, Tony Stark decides to create a Thor clone to better help him bring in heroes as per the Superhuman Registration Act. This, among other horrid actions taken by Stark, makes him into the villain of the Civil War story. That doesn't work in the context of the MCU what with the #teamironman stuff going around, so it would make more sense for Hydra to be the common enemy with Baron Zemo emerging as the new "head" of Hydra after the death of Stryker. It's also a Captain America movie and if Hydra's not involved, it just wouldn't have the same feel to it as the previous two films. Hydra is to Captain America as Loki is to Thor, essentially. This idea is only further emphasized by the Captain America: Steve Rogers run that the All-New, All-Different Marvel has started, but that's a different matter entirely.
Anyway, this allows the story to take on a form somewhat similar to the Civil War comics while making use of previously established concepts - something the MCU has been leaning towards. The fate of said Bucky clone is hard to pinpoint as of now. It's very likely this Bucky will go the way of previous Marvel villains: Forgotten, killed, or otherwise ambiguously removed without any concrete conclusion on their whereabouts. However, I would certainly be interested in seeing this Bucky go the way of Ragnarok given Sebastian Stan still has several films left on his contract and he's expressed interest in remaining Bucky. In allowing two Buckys to exist, with hopefully some sort of distinction between the two, Stan gets more time to flesh out different aspects of the character and Marvel gets to make full use of his contract. Not to mention the fans get to see more of him!
A Potential Solution
Switching to a short, post-Civil War tangent here, the creation of a Bucky clone as the new Ragnarok could set up the Dark Avengers quite nicely as a Phase 4 antagonist. I say short tangent because I already have an idea of how Phases 4-6 could play out (note: same link as infinity stones above).
For those of you who do not know who these people are, the Dark Avengers are a team of villains assembled by Norman Osborn in the wake of the "Dark Reign" story. That event was set in motion by the events of "Secret Invasion" after which Osborn finds himself in a position of immense power. Essentially, this is Osborn's time to be the center of attention given Dr. Doom is usually the main man behind huge events. Anyway, Osborn decides to have several villains dress as Avengers, thus the name "Dark Avengers." Osborn takes the Iron Patriot armor, Venom takes the form of Spider-man, Moonstone dresses as Captain Marvel, and Ragnarok poses as Thor just to name a few examples. This would make for an interesting narrative to see the Dark Avengers out "saving" the world for Avengers 4 only to have the "antagonists" be the current Avengers. But that's an idea I will flesh out more fully in a different article.
The idea of a Bucky clone makes sense not only for the reasons I listed above, but it also fits the promotion its been getting from the cast and directors. The film is meant to be "emotionally charged" and the ending is supposed to be just as if not more devastating than Winter Soldier, so it would make sense to have that kind of a reveal. On top of fighting Iron Man and dealing with Crossbones, Cap will have to find a way to distinguish between which Bucky he's actually fighting alongside. Cap already has a distrust for the U.S. government, but if he can't even trust the people standing next to him, you've got an extreme level of internal conflict brewing.
This explains Bucky's primal attacks on Iron Man and could make the fight scene where Bucky and Cap team up to repeatedly hammer Iron Man with the shield that much more powerful. As soon as Cap is done beating his former friend into submission, he turns to find that his best friend, the man he would die for in a heartbeat, is not actually the man he thinks he is. In the Civil War comics, everyone involved with the creation and implementation of Ragnarok were extremely conflicted with the morality behind essentially playing God and creating one for the sole purpose of helping a government implement laws. Whedon definitely tried to touch on this with the creation of Ultron, and by extension Vision, in Age of Ultron and I would expect this to carry over into future films so long as Vision is around as a constant reminder of Iron Man's decision to create life, much to the disdain of most of his teammates.
Those are my (updated) thoughts on how Civil War will turn out. As noted in that tangent in the middle, I'll be having an updated to Theory B of that long article I've linked in here twice. I'll link that here when it's up or you can find a link to it at the bottom of the original article! As always, any thoughts you have to add to this theory will be added and credited accordingly.