On May 2nd, 2008, cinematic history was changed forever when a little movie called Iron Man took the world by storm. Not only was it one of the first movies to usher in the next wave of modern superhero movies, it kicked off one of the most successful film franchises of all time.
Over the past eight years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced many more characters than just Iron Man. Over the course of a dozen movies, we've met the Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and of course, Captain America.
Both Iron Man and Captain America have been pioneering the Marvel movies for almost a decade now, and in the thirteenth film in the franchise, those two are planning on changing the entire Cinematic Universe forever with [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409). Instead of banding together to defeat a common threat, Captain America and Iron Man now stand opposed to one other over ideological differences.
When the U.S. government tries to get the Avengers to register themselves under their control and support the Sokovia Accord, Cap rebels, claiming that the safest hands are still that of the Avengers themselves. Stark agrees with the government, realizing that uncontrolled, the heroes can cause just as much damage as the villains. The disagreement turns violent as heroes rally to both sides, causing the all-out titular Civil War.
Both Cap and Iron Man both believe that they are doing the right thing, and after years of amazing movies, the Marvel Universe has set up the battle of opposing ideologies.
Iron Man (2008)
The first moment to mold Tony Stark's path took place long before he donned his signature suit. It actually took place at the very beginning of the first Iron Man film. Right before a missile explodes near Stark and launches shrapnel into his chest, he reads the side, where "Stark Industries" is clearly printed.
This is where Tony feels the impact of the destruction his technology has wrought firsthand. Of course as a weapons manufacturer, Stark realized that his work was meant for destruction, but this was the first time he witnessed some of his weaponry in the hands of his enemies, and he paid dearly for it. This is a theme that continues throughout the first movie and the rest of his films.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
In the first Iron Man movie, Tony Stark saw firsthand how his business in military contracting had been used for evil, used to wage war all across the world. In Iron Man 2, Tony took his newfound resolve to no longer create weapons of mass destruction and instead, use his genius to create systems meant to protect, not kill.
But even though he tried to do right and refused to sell his patents to the government for military use, Tony saw firsthand just how easy it was to infiltrate his systems and corrupt them. The very robots he had created to protect people were now turned against them, with the potential to wreak ultimate havoc and death upon people - all because he had no oversight. He was so busy doing what he could, he never stopped to ask himself if he should.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Like Tony, Steve Rogers began his journey before he ever strapped on a costume and started calling himself a hero. At the beginning of The First Avenger, we see Steve getting beat-up in an alley way before he is saved by his best friend James "Bucky" Barnes. This is the first time we see the camaraderie between the two, which is a long-running theme for the Captain America movies.
Cap has never been afraid of picking a fight with the big guys, as evidenced through his initial brawl in the alleyway. Later, we see his courage and desire to defend and protect others during his boot camp: When a dummy grenade is thrown into the middle of his troop, Steve is the only one to jump on it and attempt to sacrifice himself while everyone else runs away. As long as he's doing what he truly feels is noble and right, he lets his heart guide him.
The Avengers (2012)
The Avengers marks the first meeting between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, and it wasn't exactly the friendliest of meetings, as you can tell from the above clip.
"The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on the wire and let the other guy crawl over you."
That quote from Steve perfectly portrays the dynamic relationship between the two. Steve was trained in a military environment, where brother fought alongside brother and everyone was ready to sacrifice themselves for everyone else. With Tony's penchant for cutting corners and working for his own best interest, Steve developed quick animosity towards him.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
In Iron Man 3, Tony is haunted by the events of The Avengers and sets out to create more Mark suits, a new army to protect those he cares about. But soon, he makes an enemy when he refuses to sell his tech to Aldrich Killian, founder of AIM. After Killian's Extremis tech grows out of control and turns those being experimented upon into human bombs, Tony once again sees the dangers that too much power can present if left unchecked.
By the end of the movie, he's had enough of it all. He effectively retires as Iron Man, destroying all his Mark suits with the "Clean Slate Protocol." He explains how even the best of intentions go astray when no one is there to keep a man like him in balance: "We start with something pure, something exciting. Then come the mistakes, the compromises. We create our own demons."
Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)
In the first Avengers movie, Steve and Tony clashing wasn't the only major stepping stone. As a soldier, Steve has always been one for following authority. However, when he discovered that S.H.I.E.L.D. was hiding Hydra weaponry, he finally begun to question it. This story line was really fleshed out in Winter Soldier where he confronted two major recurring themes: betrayal of authority, and his longtime friendship with Bucky Barnes.
Steve's trust in the government was broken when Nick Fury reveals to him their plans for "Project Insight," a massive project that will eliminate threats before they even act, something that Steve can't morally cope with. To him, the punishment should come after the crime, not before it, and the civil liberties being trampled don't sit right with him.
The final straw is when he learned that Bucky was alive but had been brainwashed by Hydra, who has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. He realized that the organization he works for is run by his greatest enemy, and the government is not to be trusted.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Once again, Tony does the wrong thing for the right reasons in Age of Ultron. Without consulting the rest of the Avengers, Tony experimented with a dangerous A.I. program that resulted in the birth of Ultron, an android he could not control. Tony's creation of Ultron was his attempt to protect the world; instead, his creation ran amok and almost destroyed it. It is then that he truly realizes that he needs to be controlled, that all heroes need to be controlled, because in the end, their power is too great to go unchecked.
Of course, not all of the Avengers, including Steve Rogers, agreed. He believed that Tony should have come to them - it's a decision that should have been made through a democracy, not by one man. Power, to Steve, should not be limited to a few elite or in the hands of an infallible minority.
When it comes down to Team Captain America and Team Iron Man, it's not about which side is right or wrong. Cap and Stark have been through so much over the past couple of years, and they've learned much from their successes and failures. Both teams think that they're right, and both teams are out for blood.
But as you can see throughout the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel has slowly planted the seeds since the very first Iron Man. They've built a road map that's led us from a group of disparate beings with powers, to a group of bickering individuals just learning how to be a team, to a well-oiled machine, to the battle of ideologies that will ultimately tear them apart. From the start, it's all been leading to Civil War.