captain america civil war ending

Nobody is better at talking about their movies than the actors and filmmakers inhabiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They know they have their audience in the palm of their hand and anything that comes out their mouth becomes a headline. Sometimes, it’s as simple as Anthony Mackie saying insane things like how Captain America: Civil War will be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Other times, there’s a little more meat on the bone, something worthy of a little dissection.

Today’s headline is the latter. While Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo saying that their new film will have a “controversial” ending isn’t very much on its own, it takes on a greater meaning if you combine it with some basic Marvel comic book knowledge. For those willing to speculate, this statement could very well confirm something very big in the latest Steve Rogers adventure.

This particular quote comes from the latest issue of Empire (via Comic Book Movie), who put Marvel’s upcoming superhero throwdown on their cover. First, Joe Russo did that thing where he promised that Captain America: Civil War will have wide-ranging implications for the entire MCU while also doing that thing where he explains how the new movie borrows from another genre to add some spice to the comic book movie template:

The consequences of Civil War will have an even more significant impact [than The Winter Soldier]. In Civil War, we’re going to change the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Psychology, and it’s an extreme shift … Winter Soldier was a political thriller; this is a psychological thriller.

Then Anthony Russo promises a…

…very dramatic ending that will be controversial for a lot of people.

And aside from a tidbit about Gwyneth Paltrow returning as Pepper Potts in Civil War (seemingly added during reshoots, so it’s probably a very small part), that’s where the real news begins and ends. If you know your comics or don’t care about potential spoilers, follow me to the next paragraph to explore what could be controversial here. Otherwise, turn back now. You can go look at some new images from the film or re-watch the latest trailer.

Seriously, some potential MAJOR SPOILERS lurk ahead if the film aligns with its comic counterpart.

Still with me?

Although Captain America: Civil War has only borrowed the basic set-up of the Civil War comic book storyline (Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have a difference of opinions and openly clash, tearing the Marvel universe in two), it certainly sounds like the film version could end on a similar note. In the comics, Steve decides that his battle with Tony has shed enough blood and led to to enough destruction, so he surrenders and is taken into custody…only to be assassinated while being escorted to the courthouse for his arraignment. Naturally, Steve Rogers eventually returned, but it took some time. In his absence, Bucky Barnes (a.k.a. the Winter Solider) took up the Captain America mantle and fought in place of his best friend.

It’s easy to imagine that being pretty controversial for normal audiences who aren’t familiar with the Death of Captain America storyline, especially since it’s a total bummer of an ending. Even if the final shot finds Bucky putting on the uniform and picking up the shield, the whole thing is deeply melancholic. Plus, this aligns perfectly with what we know about some behind-the-scenes contract business: Chris Evans is only officially on board for one more movie and Sebastian Stan is practically signed on for life. If Evans isn’t going to return (or if he’s going to get resurrected in Avengers: Infinity War Part II, as many suspect), this would be an easy, story-driven way to maneuver another actor into the role for now.

Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6, 2016.

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