If you are going to see Captain America: Civil War this weekend, or if you’re trying to figure out a few Civil War moments after seeing the film, and you haven’t memorized all the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films like myself; this catch-up will help you better understand the film’s many character threads and relationships!
This time it’s all #TeamIronMan (Read #TeamCap Guide HERE); those that alley with Tony Stark or share his viewpoints about the Sokovia Accords. Why is Tony Stark so guilty? Haven’t we seen William Hurt in these films before? What’s Vision’s deal again, Age of Ultron was so confusing!?!
Never fear! I’m here for you with a guide to all the returning players in Captain America: Civil War, from Iron Man to Thunderbolt Ross (Yes, William Hurt is a returning actor!). NO SPOILERS for Civil War. Many Spoilers for any earlier MCU film including the character we’re discussing.
Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)Movies He’s In: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Powers: Super Intelligence allowing him to design weaponized suits allowing him flight, super-strength, and a wealth of weapons.
His Story So Far: Tony Stark has a lot to feel guilty for. As he admits to in the opening of Iron Man 3, he creates his own demons. He was the 1st Avenger made public in the modern age. He feels like he started it all, as he says in Age of Ultron.
Going into 2008’s Iron Man, Stark Industries was mainly a weapons manufacturer; that is until Tony Stark found himself wounded by one of the weapons his company produced. With shrapnel headed toward his heart, Stark invents a small version of the Arc Reactor, which keeps the shrapnel from reaching his heart. Not content with this, Tony utilizes the power of the Arc Reactor to power his Iron Man suits, of which he’s had over 45 since the 1st film. He also scrapped the weapons program at Stark Industries due to guilt over the death of American soldiers, killed with the very weapons he created.
All of Stark’s enemies seem to be a creation of his actions, from those responding to his tech, to those challenging his power, or even those he screwed over in the past. We’re talking his old mentor Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger (Iron Man), Ivan Vanko/Whiplash & Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2), and Aldrich Killian (Iron Man 3). And that’s before we even get to Ultron!
Stark has experienced a lot since he announced to the world he was Iron Man, including great trauma following the Battle of New York in which he had to fly a nuclear bomb through an alien wormhole to save Earth (the one problem he didn’t create). He’s guilty over Stark Industries weapons, those he’s screwed who have become enemies (like Aldrich Killian), and most importantly, his creation of Ultron; an artificial intelligence that attempts to destroy the world by using the European City of Sokovia as a meteor. His guilt runs even deeper than that, based on the vision Scarlet Witch shows him in Age of Ultron, he’s convinced he will fail the Avengers, leading to their deaths and the impending invasion of Earth (Thanos is out there, ya’ll).
Such guilt leads to stupid decisions like creating Ultron, who ended up destroying Sokovia with countless civilian lives lost. By the end of Age of Ultron, Tony “retires” again, hoping to live a quiet life with his girlfriend and head of Stark Industries, Pepper Potts. This after destroying all his suits in Iron Man 3 and having the Arc Reactor removed from his chest as a sign of good faith towards Pepper.
Finally, it is worth noting Tony has had a rocky relationship with his father, Howard Stark, who served along with Captain America during WWII and founded S.H.I.E.L.D. with Peggy Carter.
War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle)Movies He’s In: Iron Man (played by Terrance Howard), Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3 (as Iron Patriot), Avengers: Age of Ultron
Powers: Not a scientific genius, but a well trained soldier in a suit with just as many weapons (if not more) as Iron Man.
His Story So Far: James Rhodes is a Colonel in the US Airforce and a long time friend of Tony Stark (long before Stark became Iron Man). Rhodes eventually got an Iron Man suit of his own when he stole one of Tony’s in Iron Man 2, only to have it retrofitted with more weapons by Justin Hammer. Since then, he’s also been Iron Patriot, assisting Stark in defeating supervillains in both Iron Man 2 & 3, no matter his suit’s name. Unlike Stark, he starts as an officially sanctioned Military Weapon flying hundreds of missions for the US Government: he’s a soldier at heart, like Steve Rogers (albeit, with different outlooks on modern day governing bodies). He was even given the opportunity to help the Avengers at the Battle of Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, becoming a full fledged member of Captain America’s New Avengers by the end of the film.
Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson) Movies She’s In: Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Powers: Perhaps S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most lethal agent, she is extremely skilled in hand to hand combat. Also has “Stingers,” weapons that literally shock the enemy.
Her Story So Far: Black Widow is always the double Agent. Guilty over her past as an assassin, she has defected to S.H.I.E.L.D. after S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Clint Barton/Hawkeye recruited her instead of killing her on a mission. She has shown loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and after its collapse, Steve Rogers/Captain America. She was on the run with him after he was made a wanted man in The Winter Soldier, and she helped bring down the Hydra infected S.H.I.E.L.D. by dumping all its secrets onto the internet (“It’s trending.”).
Black Widow has always been a full fledged member of the Avengers, including in Age of Ultron, where she helped save the world,again, at the expense of Sokovia which was blown to smithereens. Black Widow has had close relationships with Hawkeye and Steve Rogers, but the only one she’s truly shown affection for was Bruce Banner, who disappeared after the events of Ultron.
Vision (Paul Bettany)Movies He’s In: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Powers: Like Scarlet Witch, his powers are hard to lock down. He’s a “Synthetic,” with elements of Jarvis and Ultron’s psyche, powered by the “life respecting” Mind Stone on his forehead. Can phase in and out of physical forms to pass through walls and people, and can shoot a laser of sorts from his Mind Gem. Oh… and he can fly/hover.
His Story So Far: Paul Bettany started by playing JARVIS in Iron Man 1, 2, & 3, The Avengers, and even the beginning of Age of Ultron. JARVIS is Tony Stark’s program (not quite artificial intelligence) that runs his lab and his suits, named after his father, Howard Stark’s Butler. He’s been comic relief and a sort of sidekick for Stark since Iron Man (2008), becoming a weird combo of JARVIS’ personality, Ultron’s intelligence, and the Mind Stone’s power in the form of a “Synthetic” (robot of sorts) super being that has the already mentioned abilities.
Vision’s powers come from the Mind Stone, which was originally cased in Loki’s staff, also used to give Scarlet With her abilities. Based on that and his rescue of Scarlet Witch in Age of Ultron, the two share a close kinship; neither sure of the origin of their powers or their limits. Though he’s the only being, besides Thor, “worthy” enough to lift that Hammer, showing his attentions are good, he struggles to fit in with his “human” counterparts and makes his decisions entirely based on the loss of life. He is even regretful when killing Ultron, only doing it because he believes in life, knowing Ultron wishes to extinguish it.
General Thunder Bolt Ross (William Hurt)Movies He’s In: The Incredible Hulk
Powers: Formally a General hellbent on stopping Bruce Banner/The Hulk, now he has the political powers that come with being the Secretary of State.
His Story So Far: Yes, Thunderbolt Ross is finally back; the 1st time since 2008’s Incredible Hulk. A General in that film, Ross is known for his hatred of The Hulk, especially since his daughter was dating Bruce Banner at the time of his “accident,” that turned Banner into a raging green monster.
While he doesn’t fight along #TeamIronMan, as you’ve seen in the trailers, Ross is now the Secretary of the State forcing the Sokovia Accords on The Avengers, who he sees as vigilantes now that S.H.I.E.L.D. and The World Security Council are gone.
Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) NO SPOILERS!Movies He’s In: 0!
Powers: Does whatever a spider can!
His Story So Far: This is a new Spider-Man! Don’t expect Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield! The MCU has a brand new Spider-Man, with none of the events in Sam Raimi’s three Spider-Man films or the two Amazing Spider-Mans having any impact on this Captain America: Civil War. We all know his backstory: bit by a radioactive Spider, letting Uncle Ben die by not taking action in a robbery… that’s all you need to know!
Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) NO SPOILERS!Movies He’s In: 0!
Powers: Wait and see!
His Story So Far: Nada! Zilch! This is a brand new character you’ve never seen on the screen before. So I won’t say anything here, except… be prepare for something amazing!
Pepper Pots (Gweneth Paltrow)Movies She’s In: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3.
Powers: None (anymore, she was kick-ass in Iron Man 3!). Tony Stark’s girlfriend and head of Stark Industries.
Her Story So Far: From Tony Stark’s Personal Assistant to head of Stark Industries, Pepper Potts has come a long way. While Iron Man avoided having the two hook up, in Iron Man 2 Tony and Pepper finally kissed… and the rest is history. In Iron Man 3, Potts was bothered by Tony Stark’s obsession with his suits, leading him to destroy them all at the end. But since then, he’s not only came out of retirement in Age of Ultron, he created a robot that tried to wipe out the human race… you fill in the blanks…
Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper, Jon Slattery)Movies He’s In: Iron Man 2 (Slattery), Captain America: The First Avenger (Cooper), Ant-Man (Slattery), Agent Carter (ABC TV Show – Cooper)
Powers: Smarter than his son? Creator of Captain America’s Vibranium Shield.
His Story So Far: Neither #TeamCap, nor #TeamIronMan, just an important character from each hero’s past. After helping Steve Rogers during WWII and becoming and alley to Peggy Carter even after Captain America was lost (for 70 years), Howard was a founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. And… he was kind of a dick to his son. In Iron Man 2 he is shown as a father that cared more about his work than his son, while in Ant-Man shows him as a S.H.I.E.L.D. leader who desperately wants the OG Ant-Man, Hank Pym, to join S.H.I.E.L.D./give up his technology. That’s why Hank Pym instills in new Ant-Man, Scott Lang, that you never trust a Stark!
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) & The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)Movie’s They’re In: Doesn’t matter! They’re MIA in Captain America: Civil War!
There you go, between this article and that about #TeamCap, you should know all you need to know about every returning character in Captain America: Civil War!