Marvel's next movie, Captain America: Civil War, is almost here. The film that will see Captain America and Iron Man go head to head is the third movie in the Captain America series, the fifth movie in which Cap plays a major role, and the thirteenth Marvel movie overall. So obviously, a lot has happened to lead up to this point. But don't worry if you can't remember every little detail, because I'm here to recap the Captain America movies and show how they lead into Civil War.
I'm only going to be talking about the four prior movies in which Captain America plays a major role. So even though characters like Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Scarlet Witch are in Civil War, their individual backstories aren't as important to the proceedings as the backstory of Cap and his BFF, Bucky. Cap makes his first appearance in the Marvel cinematic universe in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, and follows that up directly with 2012's The Avengers. After that, he stars in his second solo outing, 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, before returning for the 2015 Avengers sequel, Age of Ultron. So those are the four movies starring Cap that lead up to Civil War, and here's what you need to know about them.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Cap's first appearance acts as both a period piece and an origin story for the character. Steve Rogers was a 98 pound weakling desperate to fight for the U.S. in World War II. Then he underwent an experimental procedure and became the super soldier, Captain America. In the film, he and his best friend since childhood, Bucky Barnes, go up against the villainous Red Skull and Hydra. Unfortunately, during the battle, Bucky falls hundreds of feet off a moving train, landing in a frozen lake, and is presumed dead. Cap continues the fight, and after defeating the Red Skull on a plane, he crash lands in the arctic, entering a state of suspended animation. He is found nearly 70 years later, and awoken by S.H.I.E.L.D. in modern times.
Picking up right where The First Avenger leaves off, Cap is now a man out of time, still distraught over the loss of Bucky and the fact that everyone he ever knew is either dead or elderly. Nick Fury is eventually able to convince Cap to join the superhero team he's putting together, The Avengers, and Cap does so, meeting the other Marvel heroes and immediately forming a testy relationship with Tony Stark. Cap becomes the group's de-facto leader during the Battle of New York, when they repel an army of invading aliens led by the Asgardian, Loki.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Cap, with the help of Black Widow and new ally Falcon, unravels a conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D., learning that the organization has been infiltrated by his old enemies Hydra at the highest levels. Even more disturbing to Cap, he also learns that Bucky never died. He's been operating for close to 70 years as the notorious assassin known as the Winter Soldier. As the Winter Soldier, Bucky is brainwashed and has no memory of Cap, but by the end of the film he rescues Cap from drowning before disappearing, signaling that he may remember him after all.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Bucky is absent from this film, but the tensions between Cap and Stark continue to grow. Stark creates Ultron, an artificial intelligence that sets out to destroy humanity. Cap and the rest of the Avengers battle Ultron and his army of robots in the Eastern European nation of Sokovia, home to Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, and a large part of the nation is decimated during the battle.
The events of these films lead directly into Captain America: Civil War in three major ways. One, the ever-increasing tension between Stark and Cap finally reaches a boiling point in the new film, and all they need is something to set them off. That something comes in two forms. The first is the Sokovia Accords, a document that would put the Avengers under U.N. jurisdiction following the travesty that occurred in the country for which they are named. Stark is in favor of the Accords, while Cap opposes them. However, this disagreement alone isn't enough to get them to fight. The Winter Soldier resurfaces, and is blamed for a new terrorist attack. Stark wants to arrest him, but Cap wants to find out if he's still the Bucky he knew, and is willing to go against the law — and Iron Man — to do so.
So it's easy to see why you would want to watch Cap's other movies before watching Civil War, but after reading this recap, you probably won't have to. Let's be real though, you still totally should. Because they're awesome.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures; giphy.com