Captain America: Civil War is a 2016 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Captain America, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, co-starring Chris Evans as Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.
It the first part of "Phase Three" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
December 16, 1991. The Winter Soldier attacks a car, kills its passengers, steals Super Soldier Serum samples, and destroys a security camera that had recorded the assasination.
In the present day, after the Avengers cause another incident with civilian deaths mainly from the country of Wakanda, the world is becoming increasingly afraid of their destructive power, as a result the UN create the Sokovia Accords; a set of international laws designed to heavily restrict the freedom of the Avengers and other superpowered individuals and only allow them to act under strict permission.
Steve Rogers, having become disillusioned of authorities after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. is firmly against the accords while Tony Stark, feeling guilty over the Ultron incident, actively supports them. Half of the team takes Steve's side while the other half takes Tony's side. In the middle of the arguments, Peg Carter dies and Rogers gets news about the Winter Soldier a.k.a. his old friend Bucky Barnes. This further sets him into rejecting the idea of the accords only for Tony to push for them more, dividing the team even more. Meanwhile, a scientist named Helmut Zemo is investigating the incident of December 1991 and the downfall of HYDRA. Zemo finds a notebook with a set of keywords involving the Winter Soldier protocol.
The day the Sokovia Accords are to be signed, the pro-accord Avengers meet Wakandan King T'Chaka and his son Prince T'Challa. During the conference, T'Challa notices someone planting a bomb right next to the building and tries to warn everyone but he's too late, and the explosion kills T'Chaka. After the News state that The Winter Soldier was responsible for the bombing T'Challa takes the throne of Wakanda swears revenge against Barnes.
Rogers, who also heard the news, tracks down Barnes who insists he was framed and is ready to escape. Barnes flees just as a SWAT squad appears but is suddenly attacked by a man wearing a Panther themed Vibranium suit. Captain America and Falcon chase Barnes and the Black Panther down the street only to be caught and arrested by War Machine, who declares that Captain America is now a criminal. The Black Panther reveals himself to be T'Challa; it is a tradition in Wakanda for the king to wear the Black Panther armor and be the country's protector.
Barnes is taken into custody for interrogation, during which power suddenly goes out and the psychologist interrogating him turns out to be Helmut Zemo. Zemo uses the keywords to reactivate the Winter Soldier brainwashing program and lets Barnes go on a rampage, other superheroes try to subdue Winter Soldier in vain, during the fight Bucky attempts to shoot Tony. Captain America finds Zemo, who claims he'll destroy an empire right before fleeing. Steve and Falcon manage to capture Barnes and snap him out of the brainwashing. Bucky explains that HYDRA used the Super Soldier Serum samples he stole in 1991 to make five more Winter Soldiers but they were frozen in a siberian HYDRA facility because they were too unstable and violent. He also assures them that Helmut Zemo is the one who framed him for the bombing and is planning to take control of the other Winter Soldiers with the same brainwash code. If those Winter Soldiers are awakened, Zemo could potentially overthrow any country he wants with little trouble.
Knowing that Tony won't help them, Steve gathers all the Anti-Accords superheroes and forms a new Avengers team, with Falcon, Winter Solder, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, and Scarlet Witch. Tony on the other hand also forms his own team of Pro-Accords Avengers with Black Widow, War Machine, Vision, and Black Panther. He also visits teenager Peter Parker, who just recently had become the "Spider-Man" and recruits him into his team in exchange of improved Spider-Man equipment.
As Captain America's Avengers reach an airport to go after Zemo, Tony's team confront them. Steve tries to convince Tony to listen to no avail so the two teams fight each other. During the battle Ant-Man reveals his "Giant Man" trick, Winter Soldier tries to convince Black Panther that he's innocent, Spider-Man battles Captain America, and Black Widow betrays her team to let Steve and Bucky escape in a jet. War Machine tries to chase the Jet, but a misfired shot from Vision knocks him out of the air and he violently crashes into the ground. Rhodes survives but is left paralyzed from the waist down. The rest of Steve's Avengers team is arrested and imprisoned in the raft jail.
Tony finds evidence that Zemo is indeed the one who framed Bucky and decides to go help Captain America after all, with Black Panther following him secretly. Once Tony arrives at the Siberia facility he offers a truce with Steve and Bucky which they agree to. When the three find Zemo he reveals that the Winter Soldiers were already dead and shows them his real plan: he obtained footage of the December 16, 1991 incident and plays it for them. T'Challa overhears the conversation and realizes that Zemo is the one who murdered his father.
Tony immediately recognizes the date and car on the footage. To his horror, the footage shows the Winter Soldier murdering Howard and Maria Stark. Bucky Barnes was the one who killed Tony's parents. Tony is shocked by this revelation, Steve tries to calm down Tony but Tony simply asks if Steve already knew the truth, to which Steve says he found out years ago when HYDRA took over S.H.I.E.L.D. Hearing this, Tony snaps, violently attacks Rogers, and attempts to kill Bucky. Steve is forced to fight Tony to protect Barnes.
Outside the facility T'Challa confronts Zemo and learns that Zemo wanted revenge against he Avengers because they accidentally killed his family when Ultron destroyed Sokovia. Zemo knew that the only ones who could defeat the Avengers, where the Avengers themselves, so he planned to have them destroy each other and has succeeded at it. Seeing what revenge has done to Tony and Zemo, T'Challa chooses not to kill Zemo, stops him from commiting suicide, and arrests him. Back at the facility Tony overpowers Winter Soldier and blows up his mechanical arm but Rogers pins down Tony and savagely beats him up with his shield. Steve almost kills Tony but at the last moment he instead breaks the Arc Reactor powering the Iron Man suit, ending the fight. As Steve and Barnes leave, Tony exclaims that Steve doesn't deserve the vibranium shield and that Howard Stark made it. Steve stops for a moment and drops the shield, also abandoning his title of Captain America.
Tony calms down and decides to return to the Avengers facility, but with Rhodes paralyzed, Natasha on the run, Black Panther and Spider-Man returning home, the Anti-Accords Avengers imprisoned, and Steve still a fugitive, there isn't really an Avengers team anymore. Just then Tony gets a letter from Steve apologizing for hiding the truth about his parent's deaths and promising to one day return to reform the Avengers. As Tony reads the letter Steve breaks his team from prison and takes them to safety.
In the epilogue, Steve's team are now hiding in Wakanda and Bucky decides to freeze himself until his brainwashing can be cured. T'Challa agrees to keep them hidden to apologize for hunting them down. Meanwhile Peter Parker returns home to find Tony has made more upgrades to his Spider-Man equipment.
Why it Rocks
- This movie has the most amount of superheroes at time of release (second only to Avengers: Infinity War), with nearly every MCU superhero at the time (with the only exceptions being Thor, Hulk, and the Guardians of the Galaxy). The movie manages to not feel clogged and oversaturated. This was helped by the fact that Marvel has proven before that they can handle large crossover movies.
- It covers the general Civil War plot from the comics in a condensed form while still feeling like Captain America 3 as it continues the plot of Steve trying to find Bucky after learning that he's the Winter Soldier.
- The movie is entirely character driven. The motivations of every character in the movie and the side they take in the conflict all feel reasonable and non-forced because we've had over 12 movies to know all of them and see their respective character developments. Even the villain's motivation is understandable and reasonable (even sympathetic). Some notable character-driven moments include:
- Tony's decision to support the Sokovia Accords due to his guilt over Ultron.
- Steve rejecting the Accords due to his increasing distrust of authorities after HYDRA hijacked S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Tony snapping and trying to kill Winter Soldier after learning the truth about his parent's deaths while already being emotionally unstable and stressed over recent events.
- Chadwick Boseman's fantastic portrayal of Black Panther.
- It features the long awaited debut of Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years.
- Both Spider-Man and Black Panther were well introduced, and because they were introduced here their respective solo movies didn't to be origin stories and instead picked up from where they left after Civil War.
- Amazing fight scenes such as the epic Airport fight scene and Captain America vs Iron Man.
- A superhero movie that's not afraid to delve into serious subject matter in politics such as assassination, government regulation vs freedom, torture, terrorism, the deaths of civilians, career-ending injuries, family issues, betrayal of friendship, etc.
- Watching the Avengers fight each other is both awesome and horrifying.
- One of the few times in the MCU where the main antagonist succeeds at their goal. Even though Zemo was arrested and Tony and Steve didn't kill each other, he succeeded at turning the Avengers against each other, Tony and Steve's friendship was completely broken, and most Avengers are either wanted fugitives or out-of-comission. At the end of the movie, Iron Man and Vision are the only fully active members of the Avengers.
- On a rather meta move, the movie itself is a commentary on how modern Superhero movies, MCU included, tend to have very destructive fight scenes with lots of casualties and collateral damage, yet the heroes never face any consequences for said destruction.
- Captain America's Avengers and Iron Man's Avengers only faced each other once.
- The trailers strongly hinted that the Winter Soldier would kill War Machine, but actually it was Vision who injured Rhodes and he didn't die either.
- Sharon Carter is rather underutilized, it also doesn't help that she was in more marketing than Spider-Man.
Captain America: Civil War received critical acclaim both from fans and critics alike. It is considered to be one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie so far (next to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man: Homecoming), one of the best superhero movies ever, and is often said to be vastly superior to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which had been released around the same time and had a similar premise of two iconic superheroes fighting each over the destructive consequences of vigilantism.