Civil War has finally arrived, and the MCU will never be the same. But just how will the events as they stand at the end of the movie impact the wider Marvel movie-verse? Our own Evan Narcisse, Germain Lussier, and James Whitbrook sat down to discuss.
James: Now that Civil War’s opening weekend is behind us, I think the status quo of the MCU breaks down into three key points: 1) The Sokovia Accords regulating superheroic action are pretty much in effect officially. 2) Steve Rogers has broken Falcon, Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye out of the Raft, and they—and even maybe Black Widow—are on the run. 3) Wakanda is not only known to the rest of the world, but is the home of the Black Panther (and newly crowned King), and the frozen body of one Bucky Barnes.
What does this all mean for the future of the MCU? Discuss!
Evan: To me, the most interesting thing about Civil War is the way that it highlights the internal tension of the whole Marvel movie-making enterprise at this point. This was a movie that still managed to feel like it was grounded in character development, rather than a bullet point in a cosmic marketing scheme for the Infinity Stones.
Germain: I agree, Evan. I think it’s kind of fascinating that this story takes the two biggest characters in the MCU, and pushes them to the opposite sides of the spectrum, not just from each other, but from where they each were when we met them in The First Avenger and Iron Man. Tony has become Steve, Steve has become Tony, and that kind of character development is so rich.
James: Indeed. And I think, in the end, they did a great job with giving a sense of ambiguity to their relationship by the time the film came to a close. Steve leaves Tony the option to reconcile with the phone and the letter, and while Tony chooses to ignore Ross’s call about the raft break out, it’s clear that nothing can be the same between them going forward.
Evan: Civil War also expands the provenance of where superheroes comes from, too. Peter Parker’s already been Spider-Man and T’Challa has his whole Black Panther persona ready to go. Things are happening outside of the main Avengers stem of the fiction, which makes the whole idea of an MCU more exciting. Boundaries are expanding.
Germain: But I feel like that’s the by-product of 12 movies of preamble. Marvel has gotten to a point where we don’t need origins of everything. These people can just be people.
James: It does say a lot about this world going forward now, though. It makes it feel like a bigger place, because we don’t have to have seen the starting points for these characters. Not everything has to be a branch of the main Avengers tree anymore, which is exciting.
Germain: Here was my biggest question after the film. Is Steve Rogers no longer Captain America? Is there a Captain America now? Who is he without that shield? ‘Cos Tony Stark “gave up” Iron Man after Iron Man 3… and, well, that didn’t last.
James: Ha! To me, that last shot of him seemed to imply it was almost like the time he gave up the title and became Nomad in the comics—Steve Rogers is still a hero, but he might not be Captain America, and he’ll still lead that group of heroes to try and help save the day whenever he can. What do you think, Evan?
Evan: Yeah, there’s a precedent here. Steve Rogers has stopped being Cap a bunch of times in the comics to become Nomad, the Captain, CapWolf. Okay, maybe not that last one.
James: CapWolf better be in Infinity War.
Evan: But I think it might be too jarring to have Chris Evans not be wielding the shield in whatever comes next. We’ll probably see him get it back in, like, the second act of Infinity War. Though those scenes of Sam Wilson using his wings as a shield may be foreshadowing him taking on the mantle.
Germain: I think Marvel has a lot of options, but like a lot of things, I think they may tease it, then go back to what works.
James: It’s almost a shame that we likely won’t see him until that duology. I’d love to see what Cap and his fellow escapees are up to before they have to deal with Thanos.
Germain: There really isn’t much room for them to show up before then—which is why I think it’s cool the Avengers are such a tangential concept at the end of Civil War. Tony has a piece meal team that’s working under the accords and then there’s Cap’s team, which is a total mystery.
James: As a huge Black Panther fan, Evan, I’m intrigued to see what you think about the post-credit scene, and if it’s something his movie will follow up on. There’s something very combative about it, with Steve telling T’Challa that he’s a target now because of Bucky. And T’Challa is just like, “BRING IT.”
Evan: Moving forward, the truest test of balls on Marvel’s part will be how many white folks will be in the solo Black Panther movie. Everett K. Ross, wearer of the Devil’s Pants, is allowed. But if the Panther movie is a team-up with Cap or Bucky, I will not be happy. It needs to be blackity-black.
To me, the Panther movie needs be about Wakanda and present an alternative, parallel iteration of the superhero idea that stretches back centuries. It needs to at least hint at that latter part.
Germain: That’s a great point. Black Panther has existed long before Iron Man, so that film is a chance to tell a story that predates everything else we’ve seen in the MCU.
James: We’ve got three movies before the first part of Infinity War: Doctor Strange, Guardians Volume 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. We can probably rule Guardians out as it’s all out in the Marvel cosmos, but do we think this new situation with the Sokovia accords will affect Spider-Man and Doctor Strange all that much?
Evan: I will say that after watching Civil War, the Netflix corner of the MCU doesn’t feel so disconnected anymore. Maybe it was the idea that Spider-Man was out there doing his thing unnoticed. But I hope Doctor Strange manages to make similar thematic connections. I’m not saying Stephen Strange’s car accident should be him hitting Luke Cage with a car. But being able to scale the proceedings up and down makes the whole enterprise feel more alive.
Germain: I think Doctor Strange is very much, like Guardians, setting up a new sliver of the MCU—the mystical. And anything that happens with Strange is probably going to happen very independently of everything else. Now, whether or not that has effects moving forward, is another story.
Evan: It’s weird to think of Dr. Strange as more street-level, but he’ll definitely be establishing the existence of a different plane of reality.
James: As funny as it would be to see someone slap cuffs on Stephen Strange the minute he’s done saving the day in Doctor Strange, I think ultimately you’re right Evan. They’ll treat this next set of movies almost like a break, in a way—pass it off as them being isolated, doing their own thing under the radar so they avoid the eye of someone like General Ross. They can go off and do their own thing without having someone knock on the door and ask them to sign up with the UN, which is easy to do for Doctor Strange—but what about Spider-Man? Especially now that we know Robert Downey Jr. will be in Homecoming.
Germain: Spider-Man, however, will definitely have to have some of that, and Spider-Man is team Stark. Maybe that’s why he’s in it? To give Peter permission, via the accords, to fight Vulture or whoever.
Evan: Tony’s sole role in Homecoming will be to creep on Marissa Tomei.
James: Haha. Of the two it’s more likely to be something addressed in Spidey than Doctor Strange—which leads to an interesting question I have for you guys.
I think there’s a good chance that, by the time Infinity War’s events come to a close, the Sokovia Accords will probably be either gone or at least in a very different shape—most likely gone as a “thank you” for the Avengers coming together again to stop Thanos and save Earth. If that’s the case... what do you think the point was of having them still in play at the end of Civil War? Does it matter that they could be brushed aside so easily?
Germain: I don’t think it matters. I feel like a lot of things are brushed aside pretty quickly in these movies—Civil War needed an inciting incident and the Accords are it. They served their purpose. Sure they could be a big thing moving ahead, but Marvel wants to make their movies fun. If there’s always this law hanging over everything, the fun quickly goes away. Evan?
Evan: Yeah, it’s going to be hard to frame them as anything other than a pretext for superheroes fighting in this particular movie. If the Accords show up as a plot point anywhere, it’ll likely be the Black Panther movie because it kind of begs for a more global framing.
Germain: That’s a good point too, they could be crucial to the events in the Panther movie, because Wakanda was such a vocal supporter in this film.
James: I hope it does come up elsewhere. We’ll probably see the emotional side of what’s left after Civil War concluded in Infinity War with Steve and Tony and their Avengers coming together, but it’d be a shame not to see more of what these Accords might mean for the world at large.
Germain: They can’t just ignore them. They will be dealt with. I just don’t think it’s going to be a major thing going forward. Like Crossbones, it feels like something that will get written away in a first act somwhere.
James: Who wants to see all this superhero action when they could be talking about the law for two hours! ...said no one.
Germain: I do think the whereabouts of Steve and his team for the next several... years? Who knows. It has to be dealt with in a big way—they’re now all fugitives.
James: I wonder if that’ll be the first half of Infinity War will deal with. Maybe we’ll get to see some Secret Avengers in action!
Let’s wrap this up with an open-ended question for you both: With Civil War behind us and the mark it’s left on the MCU, what are you most looking forward to seeing come out of it now? There’s so much coming, whether it’s the movies or on Netflix or on Agents of SHIELD, what do you want to see come out of the end-state of this movie the most? Whether it’s within the realm of the movies themselves, or with Marvel in general?
Germain: I’m looking forward to the cornucopia. A world where Iron Man and Star-Lord can face off. Where Gamora and Groot can hang with Ant-Man and the Wasp. Where Hulk can go into space and fight with Thor. Where Doctor Strange can open a portal making all of this possible. I just want things to get weird. Weird combinations, lots of different characters, scenarios, break away from the norm.
Evan: Going back to the meta-considerations for a bit, Marvel/Disney will have to start talking about Phase Four in detail at some point soon, and how they deal with some of the criticisms they’re getting with regard to being more inclusive is going to be an important moment for them. The gap between the print offerings and the movies is huge. Not that print matters as much financially, but one part of the company says “we get it” and the other appears not to.
Germain: Well, there’s Captain Marvel to start. Maybe even Black Widow now!
Evan: The key success for me with Civil War was that it felt “smaller” than Age of Ultron. I want that to be made manifest in movies that still feel connected. None of the films have managed the intensity of, say, Jessica Jones and, while the storytelling forms are different, that’s something to shoot for.
Germain: I do think that’s an important point. Not every movie, even if it’s in space, has to be so big. The stakes in Civil War weren’t Age of Ultron’s. They were a man mad that his parents were killed.
James: Agreed. If the Russos, McFeely, and Markus can bring some of the character intimacy they put in Civil War into the big mashup manic scale of Infinity War, that could be one of the best takeaways from this whole thing, regardless of the impact of the events of the film itself. And maybe, just maybe, a chance to see CapWolf on the big screen. That’d be nice.
What do you think about the state of the Marvel universe at the end of Civil War? As always, let us know in the comments.