Captain America: Civil War is a bona fide hit! It made $179.1 Million opening weekend, Critics love it, and I love it! If you are going to see 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.
We’ll start with #TeamCap; those that alley with Steve Rogers or are tied to the Captain America films (like Brock Rumlow). Why did Ant-Man and Falcon have that exchange? Why is Bucky such a polarizing a figure? Who is that burned dude? Haven’t I seen that Blond Agent before? What’s Scarlet Witch’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 Captain America to Agent 13. NO SPOILERS for Civil War. Many Spoilers for any earlier MCU film including the character we’re discussing.
Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)Movies He’s In: Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World (sort of…), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Powers: Super strength, enhanced reflexes, fast metabolism/healing (the man can’t get drunk), leadership skills, superhuman morality (I say that counts), a Shield made of the strongest metal on Earth, Vibranium.
His Story So Far: Steve Rogers was too scrawny to serve with his life-long friend Bucky in WWII, so he underwent an experiment in which a “Super Soldier Serum” not only made him the beefiest Avenger, but taller (along with the powers listed above)! After rescuing Bucky from the hands of Hydra, the two proved their bond was just as strong on the battlefield as it was growing up. Now known as Captain America, Steve Rogers receives his Vibranium Shield from Tony Stark’s father, Howard, a friend of his during the Great War. During the events of The First Avenger, Steve Rogers watches Bucky plummet to his assumed death. Rogers defeats the head of Hydra, Red Skull, stopping his attempt to to conquer the planet. In the process, Captain America crashes into the Arctic and is frozen for 70 years.
Captain America is awakened in an age of superheros (or “the enhanced”) in which a man with a weaponized suit of armor, a giant green monster, and an Alien with God-like powers are all known to the world. Under the direction of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the four heroes are brought together with two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to form The Avengers, just in time to stop an alien invasion. Though the aliens are dead, New York is decimated by damage from the battle. Even in saving the world, Steve Rogers has reservations about organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D and the World Security Council which governs it.
Following the climatic Battle of New York in The Avengers, Steve Rogers finds himself as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., carrying out missions for Nick Fury and his bosses, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) and the World Security Council. While working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Rogers comes to blows with The Winter Soldier, a Hydra Agent who has been carrying out assassinations for the evil organization for years. Captain America learns that the Winter Soldier is actually Bucky, who survived the fall during WWII due to Hydra experimenting on him, was given a metal arm, brainwashed, and was frozen and then unfrozen for decades to carry out said assassinations. Cap also learns that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been Hydra all along (more or less), lead by Alexander Pierce who is himself controlling the Winter Soldier/Brain-Washed Bucky. With the help of allies including Black Widow, Sam Wilson/Falcon, Agent 13, and Nick Fury, Captain America destroys three automated Helicarriers that are targeting all of Hydra’s potential enemies. In the process, his team sends all three flying ships crashing into Washington DC below, with many casualties. Pierce is brought down, but not before killing the World Security Council and leading to the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the finale, The Winter Soldier and Steve Rogers fight, the latter refusing to kill his old friend in hopes he will remember him. In the end, Bucky does save Rogers from drowning, before disappearing without a trace. Let’s just say the whole process cemented Rogers’ concerns about government organizations and their control
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America fights alongside his old teammates to defeat the evil Artificial Intelligence, Ultron, created by Tony Stark and bent on destroying the human race. Rogers and The Avengers stop Ultron, but at the expense of a European City known as Sokovia. The death toll in Sokovia is higher than ever and by the end of the film Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Tony Stark/Iron Man leave the team in favor of Steve Rogers’ led “New Avegners,” made up of Black Widow, War Machine, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Vision.
The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan)Movies He’s In: Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Powers: Super strength, a metal arm that can even deflect bullets.
His Story So Far: Bucky Barnes grew up with Steve Rogers before he was Captain America, being the only one there for his friend when Steve lost his parents. Enlisting without his scrawny friend, Bucky’s unit is captured by Hydra. Captain America rescues his old friend, but not before Hydra’s best scientist, Dr. Armin Zola, experiments on poor Bucky. Bucky serves alongside Rogers in a unit known as The Howling Commandos, until he falls from a train-car into a canyon with a freezing river.
Bucky is rescued by Hydra, who experiment on him further, replacing a limb he lost in his fall with a metal arm. Now The Winter Solider, he is brainwashed and used by Hydra as an assassin for decades, kept in cryosleep between missions. Eventually, The Winter Soldier battles his old friend, Steve Rogers/Captain America, confused when he is called Bucky. The Winter Soldier is brainwashed again and sent to prevent Captain America and his allies from crippling Hydra’s Helicarriers. The two old friends fight, and with Steve Rogers refusing to kill his old friend, he is defeated and plunges into the water below. The Winter Soldier rescues Steve Rogers, and though at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we do not know what Buck remembers as we see him inspecting his own memorial in the Smithsonian’s Captain America Exhibit.
Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)Movies He’s In: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man
Powers: Special Flight Suit that resembles a Falcon, with wings that can act as a Shield, and googles which increase his eye sight.
His Story So Far: In The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson is a Veteran who meets Steve Rogers, and the pair quickly become friends. When Captain America learns S.H.I.E.L.D. is actually Hydra, he seeks out Wilson as his number of allies are limited. Falcon more than pulls his weight, taking down one of the Helicarriers, before having his wing ripped off and being thrown from a Helicarrier by the Winter Soldier. Falcon survives the fall and fights Hydra Agent Brock Rumlow in the S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ building, winning only when the building collapses and he escapes!
In Age of Ultron, Sam Wilson is carrying on the search for Bucky following the events of The Winter Soldier. At the end of the film though, Falcon is revealed to be one of Captain America’s New Avengers. Finally, in Ant-Man, Falcon is beaten by Scott Lang/Ant-Man while trying to defend the New Avengers Compound. Wilson takes note of the tiny Superhero, in case he is ever needed to assist the Avengers.
Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner)Movies He’s In: Thor, The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Superpowers: Best character with a bow and arrow in the history of cinema (suck it, Legolas and Katniss!). Also has a variety of arrows for many uses.
His Story So Far: Hawkeye is a former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent who served with the Avengers in both the 1st film and Age of Ultron. In Ultron, he is saved by Scarlet Witch’s brother, Quicksilver at the cost of Quicksilver’s life. For this reason and the pep talk he gave Scarlet Witch during the battle that destroyed Sokovia, he has become closer to her than perhaps anyone but Vision. Clint Barton has a secret family kept even off S.H.I.E.L.D.’s books which he retires to at the end of Age of Ultron.
Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen)Movies She’s In: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (post-credits scene), Avengers: Age of Ultron
Powers: The true limits of Scarlet Witch’s powers are unknown. She is able to move objects with her mind, create telekinetic shields, and induce crippling images of your worst nightmare.
Her Story So Far: Wanda Maximoff and her brother volunteered to be experimented on by Hydra after a bomb made by Stark Industries kills her parents. Using Loki’s Staff from The Avengers, she and her brother are the only survivors of Hydra’s experiment, endowed with extraordinary powers making them the newest “Enhanced.” Due to their hate for Stark, “The Twins” team with Ultron until Scarlet Witch realizes his goal is to destroy the world. Siding with The Avengers, she helps defeat Ultron, but at the cost of her brother’s life and her entire city, Sokovia.
Wanda shares a special relationship with Vision because their powers both come from the same place; Loki’s Staff revealed to be the Mind Stone. She also sees Hawkeye as a sort of mentor after his speech to her during the Battle of Sokovia. By the end of Age of Ultron, Scarlet Witch is a member of the New Avengers.
Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd)Movies He’s In: Ant-Man
Powers: The ability to shrink and return to normal size instantly at the push of a button, with extreme super-strength and speed when tiny. Can also “control”Ants with his helmet.
His Story So Far: Scott Lang is a known felon, recruited by the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, to take up his mantle and save the world. Ant-Man fights Falcon and wins, when he is sent to the Avengers compound to steal some Stark Tech. Taught by Hank Pym never to trust a Stark, Lang still hears through the grapevine at the end of the film that there may be an Avenger interested in recruiting him.
Agent 13/Sharon (Emily VanCamp)Movies She’s In: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Powers: None, but a former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent with incredible fighting skill.
Her Story So Far: Sharon aka Agent 13, was the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Nick Fury put in charge of watching Captain America prior to the fall of Hydra. Living across the hall from Rogers, posing as a nurse, Agent 13 is the 1st to respond when Nick Fury is shot by the Winter Soldier in Steve Rogers’ apartment. After Hydra was revealed to be S.H.I.E.L.D. she was one of the primary Agents that sided with Captain America in order to take down the Hydra Agents and prevent the launch of Hydra’s lethal Helicarriers. Though there was some sexual tension between her and Rogers, and Black Widow recommended to Steve that he ask her out, the pair have never even kissed.
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)Movies She’s In: Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Agent Carter (MCU Short), Agent Carter (ABC TV Series)
Superpowers: None, strong WWII Agent and Founder of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Her Story So Far: Peggy Carter was partially responsible for selecting scrawny Steve Rogers for the Super Soldier Program. She served with Rogers and Howard Stark during WWII, the latter two being S.H.I.E.L.D.’s founding members. Peggy was in love with Steve, but she never got that dance she was promised when Steve Rogers plunged that plane into the Arctic, saving the world. She was an important Agent during the Cold War as well, being an important decision maker at S.H.I.E.L.D. through the 80’s. When Steve Rogers finally catches up with her after he is unfrozen in The Winter Soldier, she is an old woman in a hospital bed, suffering from extreme dementia. At least these two have kissed (when she was young, you sicko!).
Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo)Movies He’s In: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Powers: None, just a well trained special forces Hydra Agent who worked with Captain America long enough to know his moves and what makes him tick.
His Story So Far: This one isn’t #TeamCap at all, but a villain from the Captain America film franchise. Brock Rumlow was Captain America’s right hand man as leader of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team STRIKE. He ran countless missions with Steve Rogers and was the first one sent to take in Captain America when Rogers started having doubts about S.H.I.E.L.D. When Hydra was revealed, he fought to defend it, coming to blows with Sam Wilson before having S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ dropped on him. Though badly burned, at the end of Winter Soldier, we see that Rumlow has survived.
That’s really all you need to know about all the characters that make up #TeamCap (more or less)! Read our Leyman’s Guide to #TeamIronMan NOW!