The writers of all three Captain America movies, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have been working on their next two Marvel Studios projects, Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 and 2 (which will be renamed) for quite some time. Even before Captain America: Civil War was completed they - and Captain America 2 & 3 directors Anthony and Joe Russo - were confirmed to be the creative team in charge of not just launching Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but concluding it as well.
Since we know Avengers 3 & 4 will primarily be about the big bad cosmic villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) - and his potential villainous allies - bringing an all-out assault to Earth's doorstep and assembling the six Infinity Stones into the almighty Infinity Gauntlet, why wasn't he teased in Civil War?
Here's what Markus and McFeely told Verge about why there was no inclusion or even a teaser/cameo of Thanos in Captain America 3 like there was in the previous two Avengers-focused movies (the Joss Whedon films).
Christopher Markus: Well, I mean, he’s going to have two movies…
Stephen McFeely: Seriously!
Markus: So we didn’t want to play him out and then have people be like, "Eh, more of this guy…"
McFeely: "Yet again, they gave me 45 seconds of Thanos!" That does nobody any good. TheCivil War story is about this group breaking up on their own accord, and they do not need to be helped by the guy from space.
Markus: We also wanted [Civil War] to be a very kind of boots-on-the-ground, grounded movie that set the stage for Infinity War, that sets all the Avengers apart from each other and at their weakest point. So that when this giant purple man does show up, they’re not ready for it.
There's virtually nothing cosmic about Captain America: Civil War by design in an effort to ground the story around the personal and political themes it's based upon. Cosmic villains wouldn't quite fit and with so many other movies coming out over the next several years preceding Avengers 3, there's little need to distract audiences with yet another reminder of something they're already waiting for. The next two films, Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will other-worldly enough in stark contrast to Civil War.
At least fans do get more of Paul Bettany's Vision in Cap 3 though, who's currently fueled by one of the six Infinity Stones (the mind gem), and there's one line of dialogue from about that very thing in the film, hinting that he wants to learn more about it, potentially even learning to control it. Who knows what will happen when he confronts Thanos because one way or another, that stone must be removed from his head and placed into the Infinity Gauntlet at some point...
The most exciting element here is that Thanos will get two full movies to be developed over after having been teased for so many years, and that's why Markus and McFeely are promising that the Mad titan will end Marvel's flat villain problem. Let's hope Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 is the Thanos movie.
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd and Frank Grillo, with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl.
Anthony & Joe Russo are directing with Kevin Feige producing. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee are the executive producers. The screenplay is by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.
Captain America: Civil War is now in theaters, and is followed by Doctor Strange – 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.