In the lead up to Captain America: Civil War, speculation continued that the ending of the film would leave one or multiple Avengers in the ground. The reasoning for this was the way that the comic story for which the movie was named played out, killing multiple heroes along the way. The biggest one of them all is Captain America himself dying (well, technically he faked his death) after turning himself over to the government. Even though no heroes did die in the movie, the conflict effectively killed the version of the Avengers that audiences had grown accustomed to seeing.
Steve Rogers, who is no longer Captain America, is currently in hiding along with Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, and Falcon, while Bucky is on ice in Wakanda. Black Widow is on the run after betraying Team Iron Man, and only Stark, Vision, and a crippled Rhodey remain in the new Avengers facility. With everyone making it out alive, Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo brothers (along with MCU head Kevin Feige) have now revealed why they made the decision to go that route.
At a recent Marvel event in Hollywood, those in attendance were allowed to ask the Russos and Feige about the MCU as a whole. HitFix was one of the media outlets that were there and got an explanation for the trio's thought process on whether or not to kill any major characters in Civil War. According to the Russos and Feige, it was never about killing people (even though they considered it), but more so fracturing the team in anticipation of Avengers: Infinity War:
Anthony Russo: We never talked about killing Cap in this one, right? no.
Joe Russo: We did for a beat. We talk about everything.
Anthony Russo: I think the thing to remember is, we do talk about every possible scenario over and over and over again for months and months and months. We talked about it. But it never made its way into a realistic outline.
Feige: Well, the ending was always more about fracturing the team completely before getting into Infinity War.
Joe Russo: We talked about lots of potential characters dying at the end of the movie. And we thought that it would undercut what is really the rich tension of the movie, which is this is Kramer vs Kramer. It’s about a divorce. If somebody dies, it would create empathy, which would change and allow for repair, and we didn’t want to do that.
Feige: In the amazing comic book story, which certainly the conceit of this movie is based on and some of the specifics — during their big battle, which has a hundred times as many characters, a character dies. And we talked about that for a while. And, ultimately, we thought what happened to Rhodey would be enough of a downer.
Anthony Russo: The tragedy is the family falls apart. Not that the family falls apart and then somebody dies.
While it certainly would have been a change of pace for Marvel to kill off a leading character, the trouble then becomes keeping them dead. Plenty of fans have criticized Marvel's inability to keep people dead or faking deaths before, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Quicksilver being the only big final death in the MCU thus far. Deciding not to "kill" Cap at the end of Civil War is likely the best outcome though, as few viewers (including, casual audiences members) would have believed that this was the end for Chris Evans' version of Steve Rogers.
As the MCU moves onto Infinity War and the fourth Avengers, the time will then come for Marvel to finish off mainstays of the universe. They are just beginning to usher in more characters that can carry the universe forward, such as Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Spider-Man and Captain Marvel. These characters should be the new faces of Phase 4 and beyond, which then allows Marvel to kill off other characters who have had their story told. Fans should be careful what they wish for however, because once some of these Avengers are gone, they won't be coming back.
Captain America: Civil War is currently available on Digital HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.
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 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.