Created by: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Directed by: Anthony & Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Other cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl
Release date: 6 May 2016
Premiere date: 12 April 2016
Genre: Comic book
Running time: 147 minutes
Political involvement in the Avengers’ affairs causes a rift between Captain America and Iron Man.
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,[N 1] 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, attempting to kill Rogers. Maximoff telekinetically diverts the explosion, accidentally killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers in a nearby building.
Thaddeus Ross, the U.S. Secretary of State, 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 Avengers are 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 politicians. Meanwhile, Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. 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 decides to try 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 by the Bucharest police and James Rhodes.
Impersonating a psychiatrist sent to interview Barnes, 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’s permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ group 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 that they were secretly followed by T’Challa. They find that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who then shows them footage that reveals that the automobile Barnes had intercepted in 1991 contained Stark’s parents, whom Barnes subsequently killed. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, leading to an intense fight, in which Stark destroys Barnes’ robotic arm, and Rogers disables Stark’s armor. He departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s deaths in Sokovia from the Avengers’ actions by successfully fracturing them, Zemo attempts suicide, but he 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 explores the features of the web shooters built for him by Stark.
In March 2014, Anthony and Joe Russo confirmed that they had signed on to return as directors for a third Captain America film, along with Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America, Kevin Feige as producer, and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely as screenwriters. Markus and McFeely had been working on the screenplay since late 2013, while the Russo brothers began prepping the film in February 2014. The re-hiring of the directors, which occurred three months before the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, came as a result of Marvel executives being impressed with the film’s test screenings.
In an April 2014 interview, Joe Russo described the project as a continuation of the story from The Winter Soldier. Later that month, Marvel announced a release date of 6 May 2016, and Trent Opaloch (who was the cinematographer on The Winter Soldier) said he would return for the sequel. In July, Markus and McFeely stated that they were midway through a first draft for the film, and principal photography was expected to begin in April 2015.
n August 2014, the Russos stated that the film would be set a couple years after The Winter Soldier, and would continue to focus on Steve Rogers’ relationship with Bucky Barnes, as well as the political themes related to Captain America. They also indicated that filming was scheduled to begin in Atlanta and described themselves as ecstatic with the first draft that had submitted by Markus and McFeely.
By October 2014, Robert Downey Jr. had entered final negotiations to reprise his role as Tony Stark / Iron Man in the film. Downey was added in order for the film to adapt the 2006–07 “Civil War” comic book storyline written by Mark Millar, which pitted Iron Man against Captain America. At the end of the month, it was confirmed that Sebastian Stan would return as Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier as well. A few days later, Marvel revealed that the film would be titled Captain America: Civil War, as well confirming Downey’s appearance and announcing that Chadwick Boseman would appear in the film as Black Panther ahead of his own solo film. Producer Kevin Feige also confirmed that the film would be the first in the MCU’s Phase Three slate of films.
Anthony Russo stated that adapting the “Civil War” storyline was not always the intended storyline and direction for the film when the brothers initially signed on to return as directors. The Russos later revealed that, had negotiations with Downey to appear in the film failed, they would have used the Madbomb storyline from the Captain America comics, which was eventually used as a plot point in the first season of the Agent Carter television series.
In November 2014, Daniel Brühl joined the cast in an unspecified role, while Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo were confirmed to return as Sam Wilson / Falcon and Brock Rumlow / Crossbones, respectively. Following the November 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures’ computers, e-mails between Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal and president Doug Belgrad were released stating that Marvel wanted to include Spider-Man (whose film rights are licensed to Sony) in the film, but talks between the studios concerning this were believed to have broken down. However, in February 2015, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios reached a licensing deal for the use of Spider-Man in an MCU film,[ and reports indicated that the character would indeed appear in Civil War. The Russos stated they had been lobbying for months to include the character in the film to introduce him into the MCU.
In January 2015, Mackie revealed that, in addition to Atlanta, filming locations would include Puerto Rico and Berlin, while the Russo brothers confirmed that Scarlett Johansson would return in the film as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow. Editor Jeffrey Ford, who worked on The Winter Soldier, also signed on for Civil War. In March 2015, Jeremy Renner was revealed to be reprising his role as Clint Barton / Hawkeye. The next month, it was revealed that the film would be converted to 3D in post-production, and that Brühl would be playing Helmut Zemo. Additionally, Elizabeth Olsen revealed she would reprise her role in the film as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch.
Under the fake title of Sputnik, principal photography began on 27 April 2015, in Fayette County, Georgia at the Pinewood Atlanta Studios. Other filming locations in the Atlanta metropolitan area included the Buckhead district of Atlanta; the Peachtree Christian Church in Midtown Atlanta; Downtown Atlanta (including an area near Philips Arena known as The Gulch); Norcross, Georgia; Porsche’s headquarters in Atlanta, which served as the Avengers’ headquarters in the film; and the Atlanta Civic Center, which served as the Institute for Infectious Diseases laboratory in Lagos.
After the reveal of the film’s full cast, many outlets and fans began referring to the film as “Avengers 2.5” owing to the variety and ensemble nature of the cast, which had previously been reserved for the Avengers films, as well as the fact that the film no longer felt like a Captain America-centric one.
At the end of May, the Russo brothers, Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal held a screen test alongside Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. in Atlanta for six teenage actors that were being eyed for the role of Peter Parker / Spider-Man for Civil War and upcoming Spider-Man films. Tom Holland was ultimately cast as the character the next month. The Russos stated they had been pushing to cast an actor close to the age of Peter Parker in the comics, in order to differentiate from the previous portrayals, and also praised Tom Holland’s dancing and gymnastics background. Tom’s involvement was later confirmed in July 2015, following a set visit by Entertainment Weekly.
Filming reached the halfway mark by the end of June, and the production moved to Germany in early August. Filming locations in Germany included the Olympic Stadium in Berlin and the Leipzig/Halle Airport in Schkeuditz. Additional filming also took place in Puerto Rico and Norway before principal photography wrapped on 22 August 2015.
The first footage of the film debuted in August 2015 at the D23 Expo, and additional footage was shown in September 2015 at the Asia Pop Comic Convention. The footage shown at the D23 Expo and 2015 Asia Pop Comic Convention received an overwhelmingly positive response from the audiences.
The first trailer for the film debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on 25 November 2015, and within hours had become the number one trending topic on Twitter. The trailer was viewed 61 million times in the first 24 hours of its release on YouTube, which far surpassed the 34 million views of Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s trailer in 2014.
Captain America: Civil War premiered at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on 12 April 2016, and was screened at CinemaCon 2016 on 13 April. The film’s Southeast Asia premiere was held on 21 April at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, while the European premiere took place at Vue Cinemas in Westfield London on 26 April. The film began international releases in 61 countries on 27 April 27, including the United Kingdom on 29 April. The North America release on 6 May took place in over 4,200 theaters (3,300 of which were in 3D), along with 378 IMAX theaters, 480 premium large-format, and 161 D-Box locations. Internationally, the film opened in 955 IMAX theaters, while South Korea saw Civil War open in an unprecedented 1,989 theatres. In September 2014, TNT acquired the cable broadcast rights for Captain America: Civil War to air it two years after its theatrical release.
Captain America: Civil War grossed $408.1 million in the U.S. and Canada and $745.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $1.153 billion. By 10 May 2016, the film had already grossed $737.8 million, surpassing the entire theatrical gross of its predecessor. It became the highest-grossing film of 2016, the fourth-highest-grossing superhero film of all time, and the third-highest-grossing film in the U.S. and Canada of 2016, behind Rogue One and Finding Dory. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $193.4 million and placed it eighth on their list of 2016’s “Most Valuable Blockbusters”.
Captain America: Civil War was released on digital download by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on 2 September 2016, with its Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD releases following on 13 September 2016. The digital and Blu-ray releases include behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and an exclusive preview of Doctor Strange. The digital release also comes with the exclusive “mockumentary” short film Team Thor, directed by Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, which was originally screened at San Diego Comic Con 2016 and showed what Thor was doing during the events of the film. Civil War was later released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on 23 April 2019.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 91% approval rating with an average score of 7.72/10, based on 413 reviews.
Captain America: Civil War was the first film to use IMAX’s digital 2D cameras, a customized version of the Arri Alexa 65 made in partnership with Arri.
Sebastian Stan revealed that the backpack that Bucky is seen wearing in the trailers contains journals that he has put together of his scattered memories.
T’Challa had a much smaller role in the earlier drafts and did not even appear in costume, as the writers intended to put more focus on Spider-Man, and save Black Panther’s origin for his own movie. However, when it looked like Marvel would not be getting permission to use Spider-Man, Black Panther’s role was beefed up significantly. By the time they did get to use Spider-Man, T’Challa had already become so integral to the plot that they decided to leave his role as it was, and give Spider-Man a smaller part.
Tony Stark remarks how attractive Aunt May is, an in-joke referencing their real-life romantic relationship from the early 1990s.
The film coincides with the 75th anniversary of Captain America, the 10th anniversary of the original Civil War comic book, and Black Panther’s 50th anniversary.
No CGI was used during the highway chase scene when Bucky commandeers a moving motorcycle from under its rider. The whole stunt was practical.
Tom Holland is the youngest person to portray Peter Parker / Spider-Man on-screen, being nineteen years old during the filming of his scenes.
This is the live-action debut of T’Challa / Black Panther, one of the first black superheroes in American comic books.
In the mid-credits scene, waterfalls are shown in the kingdom of Wakanda. These scenes were filmed at the Iguazú Falls in Misiones, Argentina.
Tom Holland made his audition tapes while filming Pilgrimage.
Spider-Man’s suit design is based on his original look in the comics when he debuted in 1962. The goggles change size to reflect Spider-Man’s expressive eyes in the comics, and also allow him to hone his senses and focus.
Tom Holland’s chatty, over-excited portrayal of Spider-Man in battle is closer to his comic counterpart than the previous iterations of the character.
Despite the animosity between their characters in the film, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are very close friends in real life.