WARNING: This article contains Spoilers! Proceed with caution.
It wouldn't be Captain America: Civil War without a major character death. But while the majority of Civil War's plot was refreshingly unpredictable, most of us saw this particular death coming. What we didn't expect, however, was how beautifully it was handled, as well as that neat twist on the comic book story.
Unlike in the Civil War comic, wherein several superheroes die (and Cap himself dies in a subsequent comic as a consequence of the war), the movie adaptation kept the actual death toll to a minimum. That's not to say there wasn't collateral damage. Pretty much every single character has a tragic end, with half of the Avengers on the run and half of them dealing with the aftermath of the battle (from guilt to exile to paralysis).
But although that big character death was one we expected, that didn't make it any less painful. So without further ado, let's talk about how Peggy Carter managed to inspire Steve to fight and still be relevant to the plot, despite having finally passed away.
'No, You Move'
Close to the beginning of the film, the fraught discussion between the Avengers about the Sokovia Accords is interrupted by the tragic news.
We actually caught a glimpse of this funeral scene in one of the Civil War TV spots, and many fans correctly deduced that this service was for Peggy Carter. It makes sense for the narrative of the Captain America trilogy to conclude in Civil War by tying up plot threads. As we come to the trilogy's end, Peggy's brief appearance in the film reminded us of how Steve's story started.
The Winter Soldier saw Cap reunite with Peggy in a truly heartbreaking scene. And now this funeral is a beautiful send-off for one of Marvel's most influential characters, because she still managed to inspire Cap to do what's right, just as she had throughout their relationship.
In a beautiful eulogy, Sharon Carter described the impact of her aunt's life, both for her family and for S.H.I.E.L.D. As part of the speech, Sharon paraphrased one of the most iconic lines from the Civil War comic, reporting what Peggy herself had often said:
"When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — 'No, you move.'"
This is such a beautifully poignant moment, as the camera cuts to Steve taking in Peggy's words. Until this point, he hasn't said much against the accords. Clearly, he feels that they're wrong but is at a turning point, unsure as to whether he should act on what he believes is right.
Of course there are many other factors that spur Cap into action. As soon as he learns that Tony has confined Wanda to the Avengers compound, Steve goes from measured to angry. And naturally it's the threat to Bucky's freedom that causes Steve to don his uniform and take action in defiance of the accords.
But even before these events take place, it's hearing Peggy's words that help Steve to realize he has to take a stand against the Sokovia Accords, whatever that means for his own future. And honestly, that's the best send-off the Russo brothers could have given Agent Peggy Carter.
Peggy is unique in being the only supporting character to subsequently lead her own TV show and appear in several other films (including Ant-Man, which was very much outside her connection to Captain America). But even above this, Peggy transcended her role as a love interest to become one of the most important characters in the MCU. Her story, expanded and explored by Agent Carter, connects the history of the MCU with the present day as Peggy kicks butt throughout the decades.
With Agent Carter giving us a better insight into how Peggy continued Cap's legacy and forged her own, thus becoming a hero in her own right, this funeral scene in Civil War is all the more heartbreaking. Rest in peace, you glorious badass woman. You will be missed.