[SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War ahead]
Marvel Studios’ Phase 3 has officially begun now that Captain America: Civil War has been released. The third Captain America movie has two of the franchise’s biggest heroes face off against each other: Captain America and Iron Man. Although the movie takes some elements from Mark Millar’s crossover series Civil War, there were many details that were changed or erased completely during the jump from the pages to the big screen.
Among the most memorable moments from the comics is the finale, where several civilians held Captain America back as he was about to deliver the finishing blow to a beat up Iron Man. Captain America surrenders, and is killed by Crossbones (under the command of the Red Skull) and Sharon Carter, who had been brainwashed by Doctor Faustus. However, this tragic ending didn’t make it to the movie, as directors Anthony and Joe Russo wanted a much different conclusion to the battle.
In an interview with Empire, Anthony and Joe Russo explained why they went for a different ending that didn’t involve Captain America dying, and it had to do in large part with how the audience perceives the genre. Anthony Russo explains:
“We were saying to ourselves, the genre – and perhaps the MCU – has gotten to a point where the audience are sensing the patterns in the genre. Joe and I have always been about: how do we subvert genre?”
At the end of the movie, both Iron Man and Captain America live, but the relationship – not only between them but with the rest of the Avengers – remains fractured, leaving a somewhat open ending as it remains to be seen how the Avengers team will go on. Joe Russo explained killing Captain America was never planned for the movie, as it “just seemed like an easy ending” and instead went for a “more complicated ending” to “see the ramifications of that moving forward. Killing Cap ends that conceptually. There would be guilt on Tony’s part”. Anthony Russo sees the conflict as a “family fight”, adding that “the more difficult and more interesting place to leave a family fight is: can these important relationships ever be repaired? Is this family broken permanently?”
Another important moment in the conclusion of the movie was when Captain America left his shield with Iron Man, as Tony tells him the vibranium shield doesn’t belong to him. This is how Steve shows that he is no longer Captain America – as Anthony Russo puts it, “dropping the shield is a rejection of the Captain America identity and a choice to embrace the Steve Rogers identity.” Joe Russo adds that Steve is now a “full-blown insurgent,” and taking him from a patriot (as seen in the first Captain America movie) to an insurgent in the third movie is “the most interesting thing you can do.”
In the end, the Avengers team is pretty much dissolved, leaving Tony Stark with an under-aged superhero (Spider-Man), a hero with severe physical injury (War Machine), and a disaffected android (the Vision). With two Avengers sequels coming up that will require a bigger roster than the one from Civil War, this leaves the heroes in a very difficult position, which is what the Russos and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige wanted. Feige explains:
“We were all in sync on the notion of ending it… not perfectly. Things don’t get resolved easily. We believe very strongly that that would destroy the entire movie. Thankfully, Joe and Anthony were very vocal.”
Before the heroes reunite to fight against a bigger menace in the two-part sequel Avengers: Infinity War, we will meet some new superheroes (such as Doctor Strange) and others will be back for their solo movies (Black Panther, Ant-Man, Thor, and the Guardians of the galaxy). Hopefully, these movies will provide some hints at the current status of the team before they come together once more in a bigger and more dangerous battle.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters now. Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2– May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.