Captain America: Winter Soldier turned the Marvel cinematic universe fandom upside down with new pairings and the fall of SHIELD. Will Civil War do the same?
In the run-up to Civil War’s release, the Marvel fandom has been throwing around “Civil War” memes and using tags #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. Will this movie makes us hate one side or the other and cause a massive fandom war? Will the fallout be similar to the comics run of the same name? Despite all the rhetoric the two camps have thrown at each other in the run up to this movie, the good news is that the film is very different from the comic’s canon and avoids a lot of its pitfalls. The motivation and reasoning behind Team Iron Man is clearly laid out which of course makes for a fantastic story. It’s heart wrenching because we know these characters and love them, and we understand both sides (even if we might only agree with one of them).
So we really don’t want to see them fight, but at the same time the action scenes are so fantastic and full of the usual Marvel humor that we also secretly want to watch them go at each other. The fight scenes are fantastic because we have the whole roster (or nearly the whole roster) fighting. Some new characters, such as Spiderman and Black Panther, are particularly great to watch because we haven’t seen how they fight yet in the MCU. Scarlet Witch and Vision are also relatively new, so it’s just as interesting to see them get into the thick of it.
Having such a large cast does come with a downside: Unlike Captain America: Winter Soldier, there simply isn’t enough time to delve deep into Captain America/Steve Roger’s storyline. This movie is very much Avengers 3. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great Avengers movie, and of course the storyline does revolve around specific events related to Captain America, e.g. Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes, but those events feel more like the movie’s premise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course—because it’s a hell of a lot of fun to have the whole team (or two teams in this case) on screen together. In many respects, this is a better movie than Age of Ultron which suffered from pacing problems.
From a fandom point of view, it’s almost inevitable that Team Cap will feel there should have been more focus on Steve. Because as fun as this film is, it doesn’t further explore Steve’s relationship to Bucky, Falcon/Sam Wilson or Agent 13/Sharon than what had already been shown in Captain America: Winter Soldier. It does slightly explore his relationship with Iron Man/Tony Stark and Black Widow/Natasha Romanov but still not as much as I would’ve liked. In that respect, Steve Roger’s character seems almost static. We don’t gain any greater insight into him as a person in this movie.
On that note: Before the release of the movie, the Russo brothers, who directed the movie, suggested they were going to have Steve grow as a character by giving him a love interest. Even regular cinema goers who are not in the fandom won’t be very impressed with that particular storyline as it was the weakest part of the movie. Fandom will undoubtedly follow suit in that assessment. It is unlikely that Steve’s canon love story will translate into an abundance of fanfic for the pairing which already has next to no stories on AO3.
The movie does, however, contain a second, far more compelling romantic subplot that really tugs at your heartstrings. It’s likely to cause a large number of fanfics to be written for it.
In the trailer, we already saw Tony Stark cradling War Machine/Rhodey in the aftermath of a battle. If you’re a Tony/Rhodey fan, this film is definitely for you, but more importantly it might convince many others to ship these two.
So, to return to my original question: Will this film turn the fandom upside down? Probably not, but there are some good shippy moments in it, and hopefully some great ships, like Tony/Rhodey, will gain more fans. If you want to prepare yourself for that, here’s a Tony/Rhodey fanfic rec: James Rhodes in 8C by what_alchemy (explicit, 5122 words), in which we learn about how Tony met Rhodey at MIT.