While it brings its title character’s solo trilogy to a close, Captain America: Civil War is the premier film of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film serves as a critical juncture in the Avengers’ narrative, and its events would be the basis for a handful of MCU installments that would follow.
Perhaps more than any other film in its franchise, Civil War is heavily impacted by its characters. One of the most extraordinary feats of the MCU is that it creates characters with individual storylines that all intersect and alter each other in unforeseeable and unprecedented ways. Civil War, in a way, represents the peak of this phenomenon. All the events of the movie are a direct result of its characters’ decisions, each of which are a result of their experiences prior to the film. Here are the Civil War characters who spent the most time on screen.
10 War Machine (James Rhodes): 7 Min. 15 Sec.
Arguing in favor of the Sokovia Accords from the time it was first presented to the Avengers, Rhodey makes the less-than-surprising decision to sign the Accords and do his part to promote the regulation of enhanced heroes. He fights as Iron Man’s most devoted ally, the two having been close since the beginning of the MCU, against Captain America.
The showdown between the Avengers at the airport sees War Machine seriously wounded, and he is later declared paralyzed, an injury that is almost never apparent during the rest of his time in the MCU after he undergoes physical therapy and receives leg braces from Tony.
9 Spider-Man (Peter Parker): 8 Min. 30 Sec.
One of the many pivotal MCU moments that take place in Civil War is the debut of Spider-Man, who would go on to not only play a big role throughout the rest of the Infinity Saga. This includes his first solo film that immediately followed, and he is also likely to step into the role of one of the more prominent Avengers in Phase 4.
After Tony, feeling he needs more allies and heroes on his team, scouts the high schooler by way of a video on the internet, he plucks Peter from his Queens apartment and recruits him to join his side of the battle. Armed with a new, high-tech suit, Peter proves to be a helpful ally to Stark and a worthy opponent against Captain America’s team, at one point, even getting his hands on the shield itself!
8 The Falcon (Sam Wilson): 10 Min. 15 Sec.
For the first time since his own debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Civil War sees the Falcon back in action, flying onto the Lagos battlefield among his fellow Avengers to provide some much-needed air support.
When confronted with the Sokovia Accords, Wilson is among the first of them to object, arguing that its restrictions put the team at risk of imprisonment if they acted outside of orders, even if the orders were wrong. His loyalty to Steve was only one of the reasons Sam was an easy fit into the Captain’s team.
7 Helmut Zemo: 10 Min. 30 Sec.
Although he was a driving force of the film’s plot and how the Avengers dissembled in the wake of the Sokovia Accords, the main conflict was presented as the Accords themselves. As a result, Zemo is sometimes overlooked in discussions of MCU villains.
He has all the makings of a classic Marvel villain, though, with a family tragedy-fueled revenge. He also has the persistence to recreate the Winter Soldier formula, the intelligence to foresee the chaos his actions would trigger, and a striking motivation to complete his mission. All of this proves that he deserves more recognition as an antagonist.
6 Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff): 10 Min. 45 Sec.
With her misstep in Lagos killing several and triggering the proposition of the Accords, Wanda provided an element critical to the film’s premise. As one of the most powerful members of the team, she was also a major player in the fight.
Of all the Avengers involved in the war, Wanda’s decision was one of the most unexpected. It’s clear she wanted to make up for her part in the incident in Lagos. She decided that the best way to go about it was not by fighting for regulation but rather for the freedom to make things right on her own. This, as well as the allegiance she felt she owed to fellow Accords opponent Clint Barton, caused her to fight against the side fans deem the one she should’ve chosen instead.
5 Black Panther (T’Challa): 11 Min. 30 Sec.
Alongside Spider-Man, the film also provides an avenue for the introduction of another subject of an immediately following solo film and Phase-4-and-beyond contender: Black Panther. His nation of Wakanda was first mentioned as the reservoir of the strongest metal on Earth in Avengers: Age of Ultron, then Wakanda’s citizens were among those killed by the poison gas in Lagos.
Civil War introduces fans to Prince T’Challa and King T’Chaka. When his father is killed, T’Challa sets out to get revenge on Bucky Barnes, inadvertently aligning himself with Iron Man’s side of the war. In the end, he is the one to capture and subdue Helmut Zemo, whom he discovers is responsible for T’Chaka’s death.
4 Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff): 12 Min.
Black Widow seems to be one of the most conflicted of the Avengers when the Accords are first presented to them. Agreeing to sign the Accords at first, contrary to the choice her teammates seemed to think she would have made, she lends her expertise to the team, making crucial decisions alongside Tony to determine the actions they would take against their former allies.
When she finds herself unable to pull the trigger on her best friend, she makes the drastic, game-changing decision to switch to the Captain’s side of the war. Her role in this film would not only alter the fate of the Avengers but would also lead to her solo film, Black Widow.
3 The Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes): 22 Min.
The Bucky Barnes who emerged after becoming the Winter Soldier was almost completely a mystery at the beginning of the film, save that he had been brainwashed and was under HYDRA’s control until and during the events of The Winter Soldier.
Still piecing together who he was before his mind was manipulated, on the run from the authorities and the remnants of HYDRA, he discovers he has become a wanted man, his name attached to the recent UN bombing. When Steve finds Bucky, he is protected by the Captain’s assembly of Avengers, who keep him from the grasp of the law and from Helmut Zemo.
2 Iron Man (Tony Stark): 37 Min. 15 Sec.
Civil War may be a Captain America movie, but Iron Man has a strong presence in the film as well, with a minute less screen time than the title character. It’s unsurprising, considering the film plays like an unofficial Avengers 2 1/2 crossover film.
In fact, if you look at it in a certain light, Tony can even be considered the film’s villain. After the hand he played in the events of Age of Ultron, he surprises everyone by choosing to sign the Accords and leads the team of Avengers who made the same decision against the Captain’s team.
1 Captain America (Steve Rogers): 38 Min. 15 Sec.
Despite Civil War being the longest installment of the Captain America trilogy, Steve spends less time on screen in this film than in either of its predecessors (57 and 59 minutes, respectively). This is due to the sheer number of major MCU characters who are featured in the film. In fact, none of the Captain’s “standalone” films have truly featured him alone and apart from his fellow Avengers, since The First Avenger.
His main contribution to the Avengers is his leadership. Even though Civil War was a solo film, fans got to see Steve Rogers in his element, commanding a team. It also saw him fighting for his freedom and the freedom of his friends, even in the face of unfavorable odds and worse consequences.
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About The AuthorAmelia Rayne Kim started her writing endeavors in the glamorous world of fanfic. Since then, she has dreamed of a career as a writer in any creative capacity. She recently had a non-fiction short story published. An English major with a minor in Women’s Studies, her one dream in life is to see powerful women on screen, behind the camera, and in the writers’ room, and to contribute to the ever-growing number of perspectives being represented and stories being told. And to pay off her student loans.
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