Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for Captain America: Civil War.
Captain America: Civil War is almost here! In fact, many countries have already seen it as their release date was a bit earlier. In the U.S. and other countries, however, we still have to wait for Civil War to arrive.
Leading up to the movie, you may wonder if you need to re-watch all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, or just the Captain America franchise. While watching all 12 of the previous MCU movies won't hurt, it is not entirely necessary as only a little information from a few of those movies is used in Civil War. Instead, use this list to help refresh your memory of what you need to know instead of watching all 12 Marvel movies for the next week.
1. General / Senator Ross does NOT like Superheroes
During his only previous appearance in The Incredible Hulk, General Ross clearly displayed his mistrust of 'superheroes.' He is a common antagonist for the Hulk who wants to try to control the green beast, claiming him as government property. He does not like superheroes at all and deems them all as tools to be used rather than actual people.
In Civil War, his distrust in superheroes is apparent yet again. Now the Secretary of State, Ross shows he has a bit more power up his sleeve. Using all of his distrust in heroes, he poses himself a heavy antagonist for Captain America and his team, trying to control them just like he tried to control Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk.
2. HYDRA has been mostly wiped out
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America made the shocking discovery that HYDRA, the sect of Nazis he defeated back in World War II, was secretly thriving inside of S.H.I.E.L.D. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we witnessed the Avengers defeating HYDRA's top dog, Baron Strucker. Having taken most of HYDRA's bases, the heroes were convinced that the Nazis were finally wiped out.
HYDRA plays a minor role in Captain America: Civil War. Shockingly enough, the villain Zemo, who was a HYDRA leader in the comics, is not affiliated with the Nazi group. However, there are some brief interactions with HYDRA, such as fighting Crossbones, another HYDRA leader, at the beginning of the movie. It soon becomes apparent that HYDRA is finally dying out, but is still present in the course of the film.
3. Tony promised Pepper he would stop being Iron Man
Throughout all of the Iron Man franchise, Pepper Potts showed an extreme dislike for Tony Stark's superhero antics. Seeing his actions as dangerous and pointless, Pepper would beg Tony to stop on multiple occasions. It wasn't until the end of Iron Man 3 that Tony finally told Pepper, the love of his life, that he would listen to her. He blew up all of his suits, and promised her that he was done being a superhero.
He quickly broke this promise, as we all know, in Avengers: Age of Ultron when he returned as Iron Man with a brand new suit and a brand new Iron Legion to replace the ones he blew up for Pepper. At the end of Age of Ultron, he once again said he was done as a superhero, before returning as Iron Man yet again in Civil War. Without going into too much detail, I will tell you that this betrayal to Pepper does have its consequences in Tony's life, and the effects are very apparent throughout the course of the film.
4. The only people left of Steve's past life are Peggy and Bucky
Having been encased in ice for nearly 70 years, it's not a surprise that Steve Rogers would awake to find most of his friends and family dead. There are only two people from Cap's old life that are still alive: his old girlfriend Peggy Carter, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease in her old age, and his old best friend Bucky Barnes, who was brainwashed and controlled by HYDRA.
In Civil War, we witness Steve's old life clash with his new life with the Avengers. We see a lot more of Steve's struggle to hold onto both lives and see the pain he goes through after being frozen for 70 years. Not only is his love for Bucky a struggle for Cap, but there's an even more heartbreaking scene that Cap goes through dealing directly with his past.
5. Hawkeye is retired with his family
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we discovered a shocking truth about the lovable bowman of the Avengers. Hawkeye had a family, and his third child was on the way. Seeing this lighter side to Clint Barton really helped us love Hawkeye even more, but also meant one thing for the archer - retirement.
At the end of Age of Ultron, Clint retired with his family. He said it was permanent, but was it really? The fact that Hawkeye appears in Civil War says otherwise. Hawkeye does return from retirement to fight alongside Captain America, and the way he returns was enough to get my theater to applaud.
6. Scarlet Witch and Vision are both crazy powerful, but don't know the extent of their powers yet
Avengers: Age of Ultron introduced to new characters to us: Vision, an insanely powerful cyborg, and Scarlet Witch, an insanely powerful girl from Sokovia. In Age of Ultron, both of these characters struggled to find the extent of their abilities and neither knew how crazy powerful they really were.
Civil War actually gives these two characters quite a bit of focus as they learn to use their abilities, and actually connect together over their similarities. Scarlet Witch's lack of confidence in her abilities is apparent throughout Civil War, just as it was in Age of Ultron, and Vision's fear of his own abilities is also apparent. There is an Infinity Stone in his head, but even he does not know what it does.
7. HYDRA killed Howard and Maria Stark
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there was a scene where Cap and Black Widow are shown numerous newspaper headlines by the computerized Arnim Zola. One of these headlines shows the death of Howard and Maria Stark, the parents of Tony Stark. Zola shows this to Cap and Black Widow, in addition to the other clips, to show that it was caused directly by HYDRA.
Without spoiling anything, expect this shocking discovery to unfold even more throughout the course of Captain America: Civil War. Tony Stark sorely misses his parents, and his discovery that Cap knew about his parents' deaths for two years does not end well for either hero.
Those are all the necessities you'll need to know before seeing Captain America: Civil War. Of course, it won't hurt to at least re-watch the previous Captain America or Avengers movies just in case, but you will not need to re-watch everything.
All-in-all, you are in for a treat with Captain America: Civil War. This enormous Marvel event ties in numerous Marvel characters and tells each of their stories without losing focus of the main plot. It is made phenomenally well, and you are sure to enjoy it - as long as you know the facts.