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The sequel to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War is the 13th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first film of Phase 3.

Opening a few months after Ultron, the Avengers' increasing collateral damage has resulted in poor PR polling leading the UN to pass the Super Registration Act as a way of keeping the peace. The Avengers discuss this and end up divided into two factions, one led by Iron Man (followed by the Vision, Black Widow, War Machine, Black Panther Spider Man) and the other by Cap (plus Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Winter Soldier) debate how to approach this law... Steve's old friend, the aforementioned Winter Soldier finds himself caught in the midst, due to the actions he committed while Brainwashed and Crazy.

One of, if not the, most important films in the MCU, Civil War would have long-lasting consequences that carried all the way into Avengers: Endgame and possibly beyond.

Tropes used in Captain America: Civil War include:
  • Adaptation Species Change: Redwing is now a drone instead of a falcon.
  • Adaptational Heroism: For a given value than heroism, but Zemo has no ties to HYDRA, openly expressing disgust towards them.
    • In the original comic story, Tony essentially became a tyrant, gleefully supporting a draconian act, and not blinking at looking up his teammates. Here he supports the Accords primarily out of his guilt for Ultron's actions and is horrified to see his friends locked up.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In Civil War, Steve Rogers' primary concern was the rights of the whole superhuman community. And while he starts out with the same fears as his comic counterpart, it quickly decays into "hold onto Bucky at all costs", no matter how many law enforcement personnel he has to beat up to achieve that goal.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Zemo lacks his fighting prowess, outright saying that he could never fight the Avengers physically.
      • Adaptational Badass: But he does manage to divide the Avengers. Something he could never do in the comics.
    • In the comics, both Cap and Bucky can match Iron Man's strength. In the climax, even with Worf Had the Flu and Iron Man holding back, the two only beat him by the skin of their teeth.
  • Adapted Out: Quite a lot of characters.
    • Maria Hill. As she'd already undergone Adaptational Heroism, most of her role is given to Secretary Ross.
    • Kate Bishop. Clint Barton is Hawkeye here.
    • All the characters with Netflix shows and Thor (well a cyborg copy of him).
    • All the characters whom Marvel Studios didn't own the rights to at the time, most notably the Fantastic Four.
    • And those who hadn't been introduced yet, such as Doctor Strange.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Bucky tries his hand at attacking Iron Man's chest reactor. He loses that hand seconds later. Steve has more success.
  • Artistic License Law: Very little about the Sokovia Accords, and indeed the United Nations, would fly in the real world.
    • Even their name is an offender. Being ratified in Vienna, they should be called the Vienna Accords.
  • The Atoner: At least in part, Tony is motivated to sign the Sokovia Accords because of the guilt he feels for Ultron's actions.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: FRIDAY can do this, mapping out the entirety of Steve's fight pattern. It takes her four seconds.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: To emphasize how ridiculous this is, Iron Man, the guy in Powered Armor, ends the film with a black eye while Natasha doesn't get even a single scratch.
  • Big Bad: Zemo.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Secretary Ross may have political power but it's clear that the real threat is Zemo's international terrorism. Even Steve Rogers' own insubordination amounts to a bigger threat than Ross.
  • Bigger Bad: Ultron. His attack pushed the UN to make the Sokovia Accords, hence the name, and started Zemo's feud against the Avengers.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: On the Pro-Reg side, the Avengers's PR numbers are in free-fall and signing the Super Registration Act would go a long way towards dissuading the public's fears about them. On the Anti-Reg side, government intervention is likely to hamper their response time.
  • Cast Speciation: Averted. The creative team answered who would be on which side based on what they thought each character would choose, rather than trying to balance the skillset of both factions of the Avengers.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: It's rather funny to watch Clint try to hurt Vision.
  • Decomposite Character: In the comics, whoever holds the title of Black Panther is the king of Wakanda. Here, the Black Panther is the protector of Wakanda, not necessarily its king.
    • Bucky is the sole Winter Soldier in the comics. Here, he's one of six.
    • As said under Demoted to Extra, Spider-Man has very little to do in the film. Most of his role from the comic is given to Black Widow.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Super Registration Act was the driving force of the plot in the comic. Bucky is the driving force here. By the climax, the Accords are a distant memory.
    • Spider-Man was a major player in the story, but here he's just doing an extended cameo.
  • Destructive Saviour: The Avengers. In the opening scene, the citizens of Lagos are trying to get away from Natasha just as much as they're trying to get away from Crossbones.
  • Didn't Think This Through: As Tony lampshades, Clint willfully chose to become an international criminal. Where did he expect to end up but prison?
  • Exact Words:
    • After a Noodle Incident, Wanda told Vision that he can only come into her room when the door is open. It didn't occur to Vision that this meant "Use the open door to come in."
    • Natasha notes to T'Challa that she'd help him find Steve not capture him. Pretty much everyone is unimpressed by this and she quickly goes on the run for attacking the leader of a sovereign nation.
    • Peter tells Aunt May that he got beat up by some guy from Brooklyn named Steve and "his huge friend".
  • Failed a Spot Check: 117 countries agreed to and signed the Sokovia Accords. The Avengers somehow only learn of them three days before they were due to be ratified.
  • Five-Man Band: Both Team Cap and Team Iron Man. They each even have a Sixth Ranger, though their members don't neatly slide into all the roles of this trope.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Wanda's telepathy, which drove the plot of Age of Ultron, is forgotten about here. It could have been very useful in proving Bucky's innocence.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Remember Quicksilver? The film certainly doesn't.
  • Glass Cannon: Team Cap is a mixture of this and Squishy Wizard. They can dish it out, but unlike Team Iron Man, they very much cannot take it. When Falcon stands still, one non-lethal shot from Tony downs him. Even Wanda, arguably their heaviest hitter, is downed by a sonic pulse.
  • Gambit Roulette: Zemo's plan is quite simple. Get proof that Bucky killed Howard and Maria Stark and use that to have Iron Man turn on Cap. In practice, there are several ways it could have gone wrong:
    • Tony's mental state was so frayed, not only because of the Accords, but because of his breakup with Pepper, things Zemo had no control over.
    • Had Cap not been able to escape with Bucky, or had his team been captured at the airport, no one would have come to Siberia.
    • If Black Panther had killed Bucky, the plan would have fallen apart.
    • Had Tony been just five or so minutes late in coming to Siberia, then it's very possible that Bucky and Cap could have captured Zemo.
    • If anyone else had come with Iron Man to Siberia, they'd likely have been able to peacefully talk him down. Or if only Iron Man, not Cap or Bucky had come, Tony would have likely taken the news a lot better. And all that assumes that Iron Man figured out where they were going at all.
    • Or if Steve had told Tony about Bucky killing Howard and Maria Stark.
  • Happy Ending Override:
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The Avengers as a result of everyone getting tired of their Destructive Saviour tendencies. At least one of Team Iron Man arguments for signing is that making themselves accountable would go a ways in correcting this.
  • Hypocrite: Falcon looks down on Black Panther and Spider-Man for invoking Animal-Themed Superbeing.
    • Zemo expresses distaste for the Avengers causing so much collateral damage. Doesn't stop him from creating more in his quest for revenge.
    • Captain America spent the last film giving Tony hell for keeping Ultron's creation a secret. The climax reveals that Cap, for the past two years, has been hiding that Bucky killed Howard and Maria Stark. Tony is, unsurprisingly and understandably, pissed.
  • Informed Attribute: Promotional material suggested that Falcon would be the closest thing the Avengers have to a mediator. In practice, he, while certainly a Friendly Enemy to Team Iron Man, is the staunchest Team Cap supporter. Which is understandable, considering that they're close friends, but still. If anything, Vision is the closest thing that the Avengers have to a mediator.
  • Insane Troll Logic: When faced with the threat of the other Winter Soldiers, Falcon says that there's not even enough time to ask Iron Man for help. There is however, enough time to call Hawkeye in the American Midwest, have him get Wanda on the East Coast, then get Scott on the West Coast then come to Germany. For reference, Hawkeye's trip would have taken about a day.
  • Jerkass Ball: Much like the comic it's based on, the film's plot only works because everyone's fuse is now a millimeter long.
  • Just a Kid: Steve cites this about Wanda. WandaVision later reveals that she was 26/27 at the time of this film so it's a weird argument to make.
  • Living MacGuffin: Poor Bucky. Helmut Zemo needs HYDRA information out of the Soldier, Steve will go to any lengths to protect his Brainwashed and Crazy BFF and the JSOC wants to arrest the most wanted man in the world.
    • Wanda to a lesser degree. The world cares a lot less about her than it does about Bucky, but she is noted to have the worst PR numbers of all the Avengers with her temper and impulsiveness making her liable to make everything worse. Vision's attempt to keep her in the Compound is based on the belief that she will cause a catastrophe if she takes matters into her own hands.
  • Mythology Gag: When trying to figure out Peter's superhero codename, Tony guesses "Spider-Boy".
  • Necessarily Evil: How at least some of Team Iron Man views the Accords. Sure it's not an ideal situation but what's the other option? Wage war on the people they're meant to protect?
  • Never My Fault: Natasha point blank refuses to own up to shooting Black Panther and allowing Steve to escape, which ultimately resulted in Rhodes' injuries, putting the blame on Tony's ego.
    • Hawkeye takes offence to being labelled a criminal. Apparently breaking and entering, illegally crossing borders, attacking officers of the law, and blowing up an airport aren't criminal acts in his mind.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It it wasn't for Falcon, it's doubtful things would have gone so wrong. He encouraged Steve to undertake an unsanctioned mission to get Bucky away from the German police force, resulting in everyone being arrested by JSOC, talked him out of trusting Tony with the threat of the additional Winter Soldiers, ensuring the airport fight happened, and then made Tony promise to go to Siberia alone, ensuring that no trusted ally would be there to calm Tony down when Zemo drops his bombshell.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: The Winter Soldier was one the deadliest assassins in the world... when facing Muggles at any rate. Team Iron Man can overpower him with ease and the climax shows that Iron Man is completely out of his league.
  • Nothing Personal: Spider-Man says as much to Falcon and Bucky. He just wants to impress Tony and has no personal beef against them.
  • Oh Crap: Steve when Tony pulls a Punch Catch.
  • Poor Communication Kills: While everyone is guilty of this to an extent, Steve is the real offender. If he'd been more open about Bucky's brainwashing, it's very likely that the JSOC would have been more lenient, Black Panther might have stood down and the entire second half of the film could have been avoided.
  • Reality Ensues: Since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers have been a NGO Superpower acting with no oversight or accountability. While the people are grateful to have the world saved, they are getting a bit annoyed at all the collateral damage that's happening without so much as a "by your leave."
    • Bucky may have been Brainwashed and Crazy as well as Easily Forgiven by Steve, but he's still a dangerous assassin that the rest of the world wants to see locked up.
    • As Tony spells out to Steve, Wanda is not an American citizen and the government wouldn't be very eager to grant a visa to an ex-HYDRA agent.
    • In a more mundane example, Tony and Peter note that since Peter was a Sickly Neurotic Geek who couldn't play football before he got his powers, signing onto the football team now would raise a few eyebrows.
    • Steve chewed out Tony for keeping secrets in Age of Ultron. When Tony discovers that Steve has been doing the same, namely covering up that Bucky killed Howard and Maria Stark, after everything else that's happened in the film, it serves as the Rage Breaking Point for Tony.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: As the intensely personal climax nears, Spider-Man is sent home.
  • Shout-Out: Peter's plan to bring down Giant Man is inspired by Luke bringing down the AT-AT in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Stacy's Mom: Half of Tony's dialogue in the Parker apartment is how unbelievably hot Aunt May is.
  • Super Registration Act: The Sokovia Accords.
  • Superhero Paradox: Vision's main argument for signing the Sokovia Accords. He notes that a powerful group of unaccountable demagogues invites challenge. Oversight might change that. To hammer home how right he is, the Big Bad's feud against the Avengers is driven by the fact that there existed no one to hold them accountable after Avengers: Age of Ultron, causing him to seek his own brand of justice.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Falcon clearly does not like working Bucky.
  • Took a Level In Badass: The opening in Lagos shows that Falcon has gotten quite a few upgrades to his tech.
    • Inverted with Cap. His suit in Avengers: Age of Ultron had magnets to summon his shield back to him and could tank meant-to-kill hits from Ultron's repulsors. In this film, he's lost the magnets and a non-lethal shot from Iron Man has him convulsing for two minutes.
  • Trigger Phrase: With nine words "Longing. Rusted. Seventeen. Daybreak. Furnace. Nine. Benign. Homecoming. One.", Bucky turns back into the Winter Soldier.
  • Unknown Rival: Tony Stark to Scott Lang "Who are you?"
    • Zemo to the Avengers. Most have no idea who he is or that he even exists but he manages to use this anonymity to fracture the Avengers. For a time anyway.
    • Secretary Ross and Captain America function as an odd version of this to each other. Both know who the other is and their goals but vastly overestimate their own importance in the other's agenda. To Steve, Ross is every Corrupt Politician who wants to kill Bucky. In practice, Ross barely seems to care about Bucky and is only interested in Cap because he's proving Ross' point about Enhanced needing regulation. To Ross, Cap is trying to subvert the Sokovia Accords and keep the Avengers an NGO Superpower. In practice, Cap doesn't know enough about politics to understand what any of that means and is more focused on preventing the other five Winter Soldiers from being released.
  • Unskilled but Strong: Spider-Man. He's leagues above Cap, Falcon and the Winter Soldier physically but he's very inexperienced and hasn't fully mastered his powers.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Played with with regards to Zemo. On the one hand, by dividing the Avengers, he's left the world more vulnerable for when Thanos comes for the Mind Stone. On the other, as four out of six Infinity Stones (Space, Power, Reality, and Soul) were off Earth, Thanos would have gotten them, and likely still pulled off his Badass Finger-Snap, with or without the Accords dividing the Avengers. Especially since the Time Stone's safety had next to nothing to do with the Avengers.
  • We Have Become Complacent: On both sides. The Avengers seem to have forgotten that they need public support, and the public that the Avengers are the ones constantly saving the world.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Both Sharon and Natasha just vanish halfway through the film.
  • Willfully Weak: Barring T'Challa, everyone in the airport fight.
    • Tony himself in the climax. As the directors note, if Tony had wanted to kill Cap and Bucky, he would have done so in a moment and neither Super Soldier could have stopped him. But he simply wanted to hurt them and settled for fisticuffs.
  • Worf Had the Flu: The final fight traps Tony in an enclosed area that limits how freely he can use his missiles and laser, forcing him to use his repulsors and fists.
    • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony claims that Steve was pulling his punches against Peter, and would have trounced Peter in a fair fight.
  • You Killed My Father: In 1991, the Brainwashed and Crazy Bucky killed Howard and Maria Stark. His nerves already frayed by having to deal with the fallout of Cap's actions, Tony loses it BIG TIME and goes ballistic against Bucky and Cap.
    • T'Challa desires to kill Bucky because Zemo framed the Winter Soldier as being the one who bombed the UN and claimed his beloved father T'Chaka's life.
  • You're Nothing Without Your Phlebotinum: Not nothing, but Cap really does need his shield to fight at his peak. Without it, he only holds Tony down for about five seconds before Iron Man turns the tide.
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