Captain America: Civil War is an American superhero film and is produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger and 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the thirteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, with a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and features an ensemble cast, including Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, and Daniel Brühl. In Captain America: Civil War, disagreement over international oversight of the Avengers fractures them into opposing factions—one led by Steve Rogers and the other by Tony Stark.
Development of Civil War began in late 2013 when Markus and McFeely began writing the screenplay, which borrows concepts from the 2006 comic book storyline Civil War, while also focusing on story and character elements from the previous Captain America films to conclude the trilogy. Following positive reactions to test screenings of The Winter Soldier, the Russo brothers were brought back to direct in early 2014. The film's title and premise were revealed in October 2014, along with Downey's casting; additional cast members joined in the following months. Principal photography began in April 2015 at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia, and continued in the Metro Atlanta area before concluding in Germany in August 2015, with the film being the first to use IMAX's digital 2D cameras (for the film's central "splash panel"-inspired fight sequence). Visual effects were provided by nearly 20 different studios during the post-production process.
Captain America: Civil War held its world premiere in Los Angeles on April 12, 2016, and was released in the United States on May 6, 2016, in 3D and IMAX 3D. The film became a critical and commercial success, grossing over $1.1 billion worldwide, making it, currently, the highest-grossing film of 2016 and the 12th highest-grossing film of all time.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
In 1991, the brainwashed super-soldier James "Bucky" Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron's defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up, hoping to kill Rogers. When Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.
U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the team. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because of his role in Ultron's creation and Sokovia's devastation, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of a government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T'Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T'Chaka's son, T'Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes' whereabouts and the authorities' intentions to kill him, Rogers intends to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from T'Challa and the authorities, but all four including T'Challa are apprehended.
Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes' old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes' brainwashing. Infiltrating the facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed "Winter Soldiers" are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross' permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T'Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark's team intercepts Rogers' team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers' team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff goes into exile.
Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and convinces Wilson to give him Rogers' destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware they were secretly followed by T'Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra's archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark's parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, dismembering Barnes' robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark's armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family's death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but is stopped by T'Challa and taken to the authorities.
In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, Barnes, granted asylum in Wakanda, chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget.
- Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
The leader of a faction of Avengers against regulation, and a World War II veteran who was enhanced to the peak of human physicality by an experimental serum and frozen in suspended animation before waking up in the modern world. Evans costume in the film received "subtle changes to all the details and cut" as well as its color, becoming a combination of the stealth suit from Winter Soldier and the Avengers: Age of Ultron suit. According to Joe Russo, Rogers does not become a disillusioned antihero stating, "his morality is part of his superpower," and adding, "...there’s an inspirational quality to his character. So it’s nice to have characters around him that he can inspire. Leadership is also a key component of his, and you can’t lead unless you have other characters around. But he's also got an expanding universe—Winter Soldier, Agent 13, the Falcon—so there’s already a universe that’s expanding around him." Describing his role in the plot, Evans said, "Tony [Stark] actually thinks we should be signing these accords and reporting to somebody and Cap, who's always been a company man and has always been a soldier, actually doesn't trust anymore. Given what happened in Cap 2, I think he kind of feels the safest hands are his own." Anthony Russo said Captain America's character arc in the film is taking "him from the most ra-ra company man" to someone who is "a somewhat willing propagandist, and by the end of the third film he’s an insurgent." Evans added, "It’s exciting to see a guy who’s as optimistic and as selfless as Steve be met with letdown, betrayal, frustration, and selfishness. There are events and people in his life that test him — that challenge him and force him to reevaluate who he is and what he wants out of life." On Rogers' romantic life, Joe Russo said, "we can only keep Cap romantically uninvolved for so long. At some point, something has to happen with that character, so we are very aware of his lack of romantic life. We want to keep dimensionalizing his character so maybe something interesting will happen."
- Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
The leader of a faction of Avengers in support of regulation, and self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with electromechanical suits of armor of his own invention. On how the character evolves in the film over previous portrayals of the character, Downey said, "[I]t’s natural to change your views. The main thing to me is... what sort of incident could occur and what sort of framework could we find Tony in? The clues are in [Avengers: Age of Ultron] about where we might find him next." Anthony Russo added that Stark's egomania allowed the writers "to bring him to a point in his life where he was willing to submit to an authority, where he felt it was the right thing to do." Joe Russo added that because of the visions Stark saw in Age of Ultron, he now has a "guilty complex" which "drives him to make very specific decisions," calling his emotional arc "very complicated". Marvel initially wanted Downey's part to be smaller, however "Downey wanted Stark to have a more substantial role in the film’s plot." Variety noted that Downey would receive $40 million plus backend for his participation, as well as an additional payout if the film outperforms The Winter Soldier, as Marvel would feel the success of this film would be attributed to Downey. Downey's personal trainer Eric Oram stated that the trick to pitting Rogers against Stark, "is to show Iron Man using the 'minimum force' necessary to win the fight, and not to look like he's trying to go wild and kill somebody."
- Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes
An enhanced brainwashed assassin allied with Rogers, and his best friend who reemerged after being thought killed in action during World War II. Stan stated that his character in Civil War is an amalgam of his experiences as Barnes and the Winter Soldier, saying, "You know, here’s the guy when you merge the two. This is what came out. To me, he’s never really going to be Bucky Barnes again. There’s going be recognizable things about him, but his path through the [experiences of] Winter Soldier is always going be there, haunting him. He recognizes his past, but at the same time he’s sort of a new character, too." Stan stated he had more lines in the film over his appearance in Winter Soldier, and how that applied to the development of the character, he said, "The look of the Winter Soldier is a very specific look. There was something very specific in how the guy looked and behaved and I felt like the more I stepped back and I just kind of let that do the work, the better it was gonna be. In a situation like that, you’re trying to guess where the guy’s at in his mind, and that certainly continues in the Civil War movie. You’re always trying to guess what side is he on or … because he can go both ways."
- Scarlett Johanson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
An Avenger allied with Stark, who formerly worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. as a highly trained spy. Anthony Russo noted her torn allegiances in the film, saying "her head is with Tony’s side of things, but her heart is with Cap in a lot of ways. It’s a really awesome spot for her as a character in the film." Johansson added in the film, Romanoff is "looking to strategize her position, putting herself in a place where she is able to let the powers that be fight it out or whatever amongst themselves" in order for her to "have a better perspective of what’s really going on." Describing her character's situation after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Johansson said, "I think that the Widow's past will always haunt her. She's trying to move forward, she's trying to pick up the pieces of her life. I think we'll see parts of that in Cap 3 when we find her. And certainly she has a greater purpose, and I think that greater purpose is charged by this need to escape her past. So, it's always kind of right there, kind of looming over her shoulders." She also said that Romanoff is at a point in her life where she can make choices herself, without having others have a hand in the decision process. On the continuation of the relationship between Romanoff and Rogers from The Winter Soldier, Joe Russo said that they wanted to "test it" by having Romanoff point out to Rogers the mistakes the team have made and convince him "that it might not be as black and white as he sees it" and that the Avengers must "find a way to work within the system so that [they] aren’t disbanded."
- Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / The Falcon
An Avenger allied with Rogers, and a former pararescueman trained by the military in aerial combat using a specially designed wing pack. Wilson is aided by a robotic drone named Redwing. Discussing the relationship between Wilson and Rogers, Mackie said, "With Falcon and Cap, what's so great is there's a mutual respect. There's a soldier respect. What's great about... [Captain America: Civil War] is you get to see their relationship grow," adding, "He respects and admires Cap because Cap earned his rank as opposed to sitting in an office and just delegating orders." Joe Russo stated that the inclusion of Barnes to Rogers' side forces Wilson to question the dynamic and relationship he has with Rogers going forward.
- Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine
An Avenger allied with Stark, and an officer in the U.S. Air Force who operates the War Machine armor. Cheadle called Rhodes' appearance in the film a "bit more intense and pivotal" compared to his previous appearances.
- Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye
A master archer allied with Rogers, who previously worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. On Barton's reasons for joining Rogers' side, Renner said, "Cap was the first guy who called. Let’s just get the job done so I can get home to the family." On how he and Barton fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Renner said, "I’m happy to be the ensemble. I’m not scratching or clawing to do a solo movie by any means...I think [Barton's] a utility guy that can bounce around into other people’s universes a little bit, especially like Cap 3."
- Chadwick Bosemanas as T'Challa / Black Panther
The prince of the African nation of Wakanda allied with Stark. On including the character in the film, Feige said, "The reason we introduced him in Civil War is because we needed a third party. We needed fresh eyes who wasn’t embedded with the Avengers and who has a very different point of view than either Tony or Steve. We said, ‘We need somebody like Black Panther… why don’t we just use Black Panther?’" Feige also said that T'Challa would be in the "beginning phases of taking on" the Black Panther mantle. He also added that his appearance in Civil War is more than a cameo, giving him a full arc and character journey with "his own conflict and his own people that he's looking out for." Joe Russo said that T'Challa is "there for a very different reason which brings him into conflict with Cap and his team." Executive producer Nate Moore added that T'Challa is "the undecided voter", whose agenda does not exactly align with either Rogers' or Stark's. The Black Panther costume is a combination of a practical costume and visual effects, featuring a vibranium mesh weave similar to chainmail. On landing the role, Boseman said, "It wasn’t really an audition process. It was more of a discussion about what they wanted to do and how I saw it and what I wanted to do. It was more of a feeling out process". Describing T'Challa, Boseman said, "You never quite know where he stands. There’s always a bit of concealing and mystery." He added that T'Challa is torn between needing to live up to traditions, his father and nation of Wakanda's legacy and the way things were done in the past and how things need to happen in the present. Boseman has a five picture deal with Marvel.
- Paul Bettany as the Vision
An android and Avenger allied with Stark, that was created using the artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S. and the Mind Stone. As the Vision has the ability to create a projected disguise, he chooses to dress similarly to Howard Stark's attache, Edwin Jarvis. Describing his preparation for the role, Bettany said, "I was given comics. I also was looking to think about what could be edifying for me to learn. I took the opportunity - you see my character get born... He must be both omnipotent and yet totally naive at the same time. And experiencing the world in real time and his place in it. Is he going to be a force of good or a force of evil? It was really interesting, fun to play with, because he’s dangerous, you don’t know if he’s going to go one way or another. I’m continuing that theme in Captain America 3." Bettany also said he was interested in exploring "what it means to be human and what love is" with the character, as "The only way one can guarantee one's loyalty is love."
- Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlett Witch
An Avenger allied with Rogers, who can harness magic and engage in hypnosis and telekinesis. Describing Maximoff's role in the film, Olsen said, "She’s doing alright. She’s confused, she’s conflicted. She’s found some people she thinks she connects with, but she’s doing alright. They released images of Team Cap and Team Iron Man. She wasn’t there. She’s always the wild card. I like being the wild card." According to Olsen, the character is "coming into her own and starting to understand and have conflict with how she wants to use her abilities. It’s a dramatic conflict within her and obviously there’s conflict within the [Avengers] as well." When asked about the relationship between her character and the Vision compared to the comics, Olsen said, "You learn a little bit more about what connects [Scarlet and Vision] in this film. And I think there's some really sweet moments between Paul and I, and it's more about how they relate to one another and their similarities just based on their superpowers."
- Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man / Giant Ant
A former petty criminal allied with Rogers, who acquired a suit that allows him to shrink or grow in scale, while also increasing in strength. Rudd's suit "is streamlined and more high-tech" from the one seen in Ant-Man. Ant-Man director Peyton Reed revealed that he had discussed the character and the way that the Ant-Man production had shot certain sequences with the Russo brothers, saying, "As we were doing the movie and we were in post and they were getting ready to head out to Atlanta to do Civil War, we had a lot of conversations. And I actually wanted those guys to come in and look at our stuff, because there’s gotta be a lot of sort of crossover. I found myself getting extremely protective over the character of Scott Lang and talking to the guys, the writers, the Russo’s [sic] about, 'He wouldn't do that.' It’s important because there’s this continuity that has to happen in this universe."
- Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter / Agent 13
A former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a CIA agent allied with Rogers. VanCamp stated that her character sides with Rogers because they both have "similar moral compasses". On a potential relationship between Rogers and Carter as in the comics, Evans said, "he's certainly open to it. Sharon is obviously relevant, but ... we don’t have to tie it up in one movie. So they have time." VanCamp added, "We get to explore... I can't say we are going to that extent of it, but they are certainly getting to know each other."
- Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
A teenager allied with Stark, who received spider-like abilities after being bitten by a genetically altered spider. Feige said that Parker would be torn between superhero ideologies, saying, "Does he want to be like these other characters? Does he want nothing to do with these other characters? How does that impact his experience, being this grounded but super powerful hero? Those are all the things that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko played with in the first 10 years of his comics, and that now we can play with for the first time in a movie." On aligning with Stark, Anthony Russo said that, despite entering the conflict after the two factions have formed and not having much political investment, Parker's choice comes from "a very personal relationship" he develops with Stark. The Russos hoped "to take a very logical and realistic and naturalistic approach to the character" compared to the previous film portrayals. Anthony Russo added that the character's introduction had to fit "that specific tonal stylistic world" of the MCU, as well as the tone established by the directors in Winter Soldier, saying, "It's a little more grounded and a little more hard-core contemporary." That was "coloring our choices a lot" with Parker. On the Spider-Man suit, Joe Russo described it as "a slightly more traditional, Steve Ditko influenced suit," and that the film would explore the way the suit operates, particularly the mechanical eyes. Holland chose not to read the whole Civil War script in order to avoid potentially leaking plot information publicly. He is signed on for at least three films, not including his Civil War appearance.
- Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow / Crossbones:
Former commander of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s counter-terrorism S.T.R.I.K.E. team, who was revealed to be an agent of Hydra. On returning to the character, Grillo said "He’s a badass. He is just vicious. I like the idea that it’s no holds barred. I was 15 pounds bigger when I did Cap 2, and I'll put another 15 pounds on to do Cap 3. I love the physicality. It changes the way you look; it changes the way you feel." However, he cautioned that "This movie is such a big movie with a lot of people in it, so you don't get as much of the time that you'd like to have. But, it's all good. We'll see what happens." On if Rumlow would kill Captain America in the film, as he does in the comic "Civil War" storyline, Grillo said, "The thing with Marvel is they don't always follow to the tee what the character did in the comic books... we're probably not gonna see that happen. I'm not gonna kill him yet." Grillo also stated that Rumlow's main objective in the film is to seek revenge adding, "Whatever Rumlow was feeling as far as being torn between which side he should be on, which I think he was, is gone now."
- William Hurt as Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross:
The United States Secretary of State and former U.S. Army general dedicated to capturing the Hulk. Hurt, on returning to the MCU, said, "I don’t think it’s a reprise, I think it’s a new iteration completely," adding, "what [the writers have] done is they've taken a character who was the Ross from [The Incredible Hulk] and made a new version... a more modernized style." Joe Russo added that Ross was the perfect character to use because he has "a fanatical anti-superhero point of view" and has "become much savvier and more political and has put himself in a position of power, not unlike a Colin Powell. He’s cornering the Avengers politically now, he’s out-maneuvering them." Joe also added that Ross was included because the Russos felt it was important to make The Incredible Hulk "relevant again within the [MCU]" since it "may have been forgotten about a little bit".
- Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo:
Zemo, who goes by multiple names in the film, does not wear his signature mask from the comics. Brühl said the version appearing in the film is "loosely connected" to the character from the comics and that was a reason he liked Marvel, as "some of the characters and things they're dealing with always reference to current events so my character is from a different area than you would think." Joe Russo added that the character in the film would be a "fresh and exciting" take on the character not tied to the mythology from the comic books. Feige described the character as "very much a product of the [Marvel] Cinematic Universe and all that has occurred within that universe up to this point." Brühl, who was cast due to his German accent, did not feel the role was a stereotype, saying, "It's not a guy who's mean and sinister, but he's actually very clever - a very smart guy who does everything out of a very understandable reason and motivation." Brühl also stated that Zemo may also appear in future MCU films, with Moore adding that, while Zemo has a purpose in this film, it is more to set up a future film.
Additionally, Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Pepper Potts from previous MCU films, and Martin Freeman is introduced as Everett Ross, a member of the Joint Counter Terrorism Center, and a character associated with Black Panther in the comics. Freeman described Ross as someone who "works for the American government...[and] works in conjunction with the superheroes, and certain agencies that help to tame the superheroes' power". In terms of whether Ross would side with Stark or Rogers in the film, Freeman said that Ross is "ambiguous" and "you don't know whether he's good or bad" so "you’re not quite sure which side he's on. It looks a little bit like he's playing one game when actually he's playing another." Feige added that Ross would appear briefly in the film, with the intent being to expand on the character's role in future films. Alfre Woodard, who portrays Mariah Dillard in the MCU TV series Luke Cage, appears in the film as Miriam Sharpe, the mother of an American citizen killed in the battle of Sokovia. Woodard was suggested for the role by Downey, before Marvel Studios learned of her casting in Luke Cage. Marisa Tomei appears as May Parker, Peter Parker's aunt, while Jim Rash is cast in an undisclosed role. Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance.