In 2016's battle of superheroes vs. superheroes, Captain America: Civil War was the undisputed champion, outperforming its competitors — Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice and X-Men: Apocalypse — in terms of box office, critical reviews, and audience reception. The Inaugural film of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe deftly juggled two dozen superpowered characters with the continuation of the Winter Soldier storyline, the introduction of the divisive Sokovia Accords, and the big screen debuts of two new heroes, Spider-Man and Black Panther. However, if there was one common complaint to be made about the movie, it was the surprising lack of casualties. But apparently there was a good reason nobody died in Civil War , according to directors Joe & Anthony Russo and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
Many fans understandably assumed that Steve Rogers would be shuffling off his mortal coil at the end of the film; not only because it was the last entry in his trilogy, but also because the character died at the end of the 2006 comic book crossover event that Civil War was based on, gunned down by Crossbones and a brainwashed Agent 13 — both of whom were confirmed to appear in the film. The months leading up to the premiere of Civil War were rife with speculation over whether or not the studio would actually kill off Captain America and, if not, which other hero (or heroes) might kick the bucket instead.
As we all know now, none of our heroes died in the course of the movie — the closest anyone came was Rhodes, who was accidentally shot down by Vision and subsequently paralyzed from the waist down — making for an oddly bloodless "civil war." So when the Russos and Feige stopped by a "For Your Consideration" screening of Civil War in Hollywood last week for a little Q&A, an audience member didn't hesitate to ask about their thought process behind that decision.
Although the directors revealed that they had talked about killing Cap, Anthony Russo revealed that, "it never made its way into a realistic outline," as reported by HitFix. "We talked about lots of potential characters dying at the end of the movie," his brother Joe continued. "And we thought that it would undercut what is really the rich tension of the movie, which is this is Kramer vs Kramer. It’s about a divorce. If somebody dies, it would create empathy, which would change and allow for repair, and we didn’t want to do that." Feige agreed, saying that, "Ultimately, we thought what happened to Rhodey would be enough of a downer."
But just because the directors decided that Civil War wasn't the right time to kill off a beloved character, don't go getting a false sense of security that all your favorite heroes are safe forever. The MCU gets a lot of flak for resurrecting characters (Bucky, Fury, Loki, Groot, just to name a few), but the studio has dropped the proverbial axe on an Avenger before — RIP, Quicksilver — and will undoubtedly do so again when the long-brewing conflict with Thanos reaches its climax in Avengers: Infinity War and the untitled fourth Avengers film.
Nobody knows what Phase 4 of the MCU will look like yet, but Avengers 4 will undoubtedly be the end of an era. After a certain point, actors like Robert Downey, Jr. — who recently hit his fifties — and Chris Evans — who has previously expressed a desire to take a break from acting — will have to hang up their tights. Some of the heroes might get a chance to retire in peace… while others will undoubtedly be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in the upcoming battle against Thanos.
If Civil War was the Kramer vs. Kramer of comic book movies, then Infinity War might just be shaping up to be the Saving Private Ryan. Enjoy your favorite Marvel heroes while they last, because all bets are off once the Infinity Gauntlet has been thrown.
Images: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2)