Film / Captain America: Civil War

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"Captain, while a great many people see you as a hero, there are some who would prefer the word 'vigilante'. You've operated with unlimited power and no supervision. That's something the world can no longer tolerate."
Secretary of State Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross

Captain America: Civil War is the 2016 sequel to both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, directed by Joseph and Anthony Russo. Civil War marks the 13th overall film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first film of the MCU's Phase 3. It is based on the Civil War limited series, albeit on a much smaller scale. The film also marks the beginning of a cross-company partnership between Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures with the inclusion of Spider-Man.

Following the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Winter Soldier, one of Tony Stark's creations going on a killing spree in Age of Ultron and Scarlet Witch's accidental destruction of a building while saving Captain America during a terrorist attack in Africa, the collective governments of the world ratify an accord to regulate the actions of "enhanced individuals". This polarizes The Avengers and other superheroes, who split into two factions. On one side is Steve Rogers/Captain America, who fears superhumans becoming political pawns after the events of Winter Soldier. On the other is Tony Stark/Iron Man, who becomes a major proponent of the Sokovia Accords as atonement for his actions in Age of Ultron. The former allies now find themselves facing other in a battle that will change their lives -- and the world -- forever.

The film will be followed by a number of movies continuing the overall narrative — most notably, Avengers: Infinity War, which will also be directed by the Russo brothers.

Previews: Trailer 1, Big Game Spot, Trailer 2


Captain America: Civil War provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to E 
  • 10-Minute Retirement: The events of the film cause both Iron Man and Hawkeye to come out of retirement to rejoin the Avengers. Tony even lampshades how brief Hawkeye's retirement was by calling it a "five minute retirement", and Clint himself quips that "I retired for, what, fifteen minutes, and it all goes to shit."
  • 13 Is Unlucky: As mentioned above, this marks the thirteenth MCU movie, and could not have been timed better.
  • The '90s: The opening prologue takes place in 1991.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Stan Lee's cameo character, delivering a package to "a mister Tony Stank".
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: They find a way to intersperse both simultaneously, when T'Challa confronts Zemo about his hand in the whole thing while Cap and Tony are tearing each other apart downstairs.
  • Action Prologue: After the credits, Cap and the Avengers are introduced while on a mission to stop Crossbones.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Miriam Sharpe. In the comics, her reasons for hating Tony were more justified (she felt he had inspired the reckless New Warriors who had inadvertantly caused a disaster that killed over 600 people, including her son, while trying to hunt down super-criminals on a reality show). This version blames Tony for the death of her son during the battle of Sokovia, ignoring the fact that he and the Avengers saved the world in doing so. And while the comics version ultimately forgave Tony, and gained a better attitude towards superheroes, this version simply vanishes after calling Tony out, no doubt still stewing in her hate.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The movie greatly simplifies the original Civil War event by focusing mostly on the intra-Avengers conflict, instead of its effects on the greater Marvel Universe. Furthermore, the movie borrows elements from Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Death of Captain America, Captain America: No Escape and The Trial of Captain America. It also opts for an interesting conclusion. In the comic, Steve is demoralized that he's making things worse and gives up during the final battle with Tony, leading to a Pro-Reg victory and the law sticking for the next several years. Here, Steve is resolute in his belief that the Accords are wrong, decisively defeating Tony and escaping to the underground. The Accords still go through, but Steve and his allies are fugitives and thus unbound by them. In a way, both sides get a win.
  • Adapted Out: The Civil War comic book event involved nearly every major and minor character in the Marvel Universe. The movie involves nearly every superhero introduced in the MCU movies, but none of the TV series characters appear in it, even though some of them (like Daredevil, the Punisher, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage) were part of the comic book version. Of the movie characters, Nick Fury and Wasp played a role in the comic book, but they're absent from the movie. (Neither Hulk nor Thor was involved in the comic book version, as Hulk wasn't on Earth and Thor was dead at the time.) And since there are numerous comic book characters who have not yet made their MCU debuts, obviously a lot of characters got left out.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Falcon calls Ant-Man "Tic-Tac".
    • Scarlet Witch calls Vision "Vizh".
    • Iron Man calls Spider-Man "Underoos".
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The theme song for the Japanese release is a rerecorded version of "Itsuka Kitto" by EXILE ATSUSHI.
  • And Starring: William Hurt gets the "with" credit in the closing sequence, while Daniel Bruhl receives the following "and" credit.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The second stinger shows Spider-Man looking at the Spider-Signal interface that Iron Man gave him with great excitement.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Spider-Man and Black Panther join Black Widow, Falcon, and Ant-Man in this regard. Amusingly, Falcon mocks both of the newcomers for their "gimmicks", yet is offended when his own supersuit is referred to as a "bird costume".
  • Answer Cut: Tony and Natasha realize they need help to bring in Cap and Bucky. Natasha's choice is T'Challa. When she asks Tony where his is, he smiles and it cuts to an establishing shot and the title card "Queens", home of Peter Parker.
  • Apologetic Attacker: The fight at the airport is in some parts a very polite and reluctant one, especially between Clint and Natasha.
    Black Widow: We're still friends, right?
    Hawkeye: Depends on how hard you hit me.
  • Armed with Canon: This movie may be interpreted as hand waving two of the more controversial parts of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Clint's family and the romance between Bruce and Natasha.
    • When asked why he joined the fight rather than stay with his family, Clint sarcastically responds that relaxation at home became dull. However, given his expressed disappointment earlier in not being able to spend time with his children, it may have just been dialog to distract Stark while Wanda prepared an attack.
    • When Tony suggests to Natasha that they try to contact the Hulk with a hinting look, Natasha merely scoffs at the idea that the Hulk would support the Accords or them. This may be a subtle hint at the finality of Natasha and Bruce's romantic relationship, even though it was merely hinted at in Age of Ultron rather than embraced by both.
  • Armored Coffins: War Machine's suit turns into this when he is accidentally shot down by Vision. We get a brief shot from his POV as he falls to the ground unable to do anything.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • When Secretary Ross informs the Avengers about the Sokovia Accords, Steve argues that the Avengers can still yield reliable results when going out in the field. Ross then asks him about Thor and Hulk's whereabouts, to which Steve has no answer. Ross then adds that if he himself lost two nuclear warheads, then of course there would be consequences.
    • When Zemo reveals the videotape of the brainwashed Bucky killing Tony's parents, Tony angrily asks Steve: "Did you know?"
    • Zemo's very last line:
    Everett Ross: So how does it feel? To spend all that time, all that effort, to see it fail so spectacularly?
    Helmut Zemo: Did it?
  • Arrow Catch: Black Panther catches two of Hawkeye's exploding arrows. When they go off, he's protected by his suit.
  • Artistic License: Due to international diplomatic protocol, accords are named after where they are signed rather than their content. Therefore the Sokovia Accords should be called the Vienna Accords.
  • Artistic License Physics:
    • Spider-Man is quick to point out that Cap's shield defies the laws of physics, what with his Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics when bouncing the shield off surfaces to come back to him all the time. Cap gets a Double Meaning shot in when he says that there's things going on that Spider-Man doesn't understand.
    • There is no way that a garbage truck used as a battering ram would flip over after hitting the concrete barricade in the road. While it could destroy the barricade, it would simply stop after that. This was likely left out as it would have created a bigger obstacle for Crossbones's team to get around, and it made for an awesome visual effect.
    • During the opening assassination, The Winter Soldier is able to shove a car off the road while riding a motorcycle. Regardless of how strong he is, the car should outmass him considerably, and given that he's pushing from above his center mass, he should at least rock a little. then again, the driver may simply have lost control because he got distracted the the Winter Soldier.
    • As in Ant-Man, Scott's Pym Particle powers seem to be able to arbitrarily alter not just his size but also his mass in completely impossible ways: his weight decreases when he shrinks, but his strength and density seem to increase in all other ways. Similarly, his giant form doesn't become so light a single punch can send him flying, implying he's clearly gaining even more mass out of nowhere, despite the massive increase in size.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Black Panther, who only had a minor role following the death of Black Goliath in the comics, has a major part here.
    • Black Widow, Falcon, Vision, and War Machine had more minor roles in the comics, but here they are major characters.
    • Since the movie adapts parts of Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes has a larger role than in the original Civil War event, in which he was only involved in its aftermath (in the comics he spends the entire conflict working for Nick Fury taking down HYDRA instead of getting involved). In fact, what to do with him is one of the main disputes between Captain America and Iron Man.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Vasily Karpov, in this continuity a HYDRA colonel, who gets drowned by Zemo early in the movie. His Famous Last Words: "Hail HYDRA!"
    • Later in the movie, the other five Winter Soldiers, who Zemo kills while they're still in cryo. It's explained during the reveal that unlike Bucky, they were loyal HYDRA agents as normals and were chosen for enhancement because they already had massive body counts.
  • The Atoner:
    • Iron Man is pro-Accords because he feels personally responsible for Ultron's rampage as well as the deaths in Sokovia.
    • In The Stinger, Black Panther helps hide Bucky because Panther hunted him throughout the movie.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • Bucky tries to tear the arc reactor out of Iron Man's chest, which would depower the suit and leave Tony helpless. Tony blows his robotic arm off for his trouble, but Cap eventually manages to smash the reactor with his shield.
    • By the same token, Rhodey plummets out of the sky when Vision blasts his arc reactor out by accident.
    • Iron Man advises Spider-Man to go for Captain America's legs, which allows Spider-Man to get the upper hand briefly. Cap adapts quickly and turns the tables, showing the effects of knowledge vs. experience.
    • Similarly, Spidey goes for Giant-Man's legs in the same way the Rebel pilots take down the Imperial Walker, and names it via Conversed Trope.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Ant-Man uses size-increasing on himself for the first time in this movie.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis:
    • One trait carried over from Comics Zemo to Movie Zemo. He realizes that when it's the villain vs. the heroes, the heroes will always come out on top. His solution? Turn the heroes on each other.
    • In the final fight scene, Iron Man gains the upper hand on Captain America by having F.R.I.D.A.Y. computer-analyze the latter's superior hand-to-hand combat moves and assist his own to compensate.
    • Spider-Man has shades of this, showcasing his vast intellect. In addition to specific advice from Tony, Spidey rapidly comes up with plans completely on the fly to hamper the various characters he fights, like webbing one of Falcon's jets and winding a web line around Ant-Man's legs.
  • Badass Boast:
    • After the freeway fight, Sam and Steve try to engage in some idle chatter with T'Challa about his suit. T'Challa responds by explaining the history of the Black Panther, then makes the following declaration:
      T'Challa: So I ask you, as warrior and king, how long do you think you can keep your friend safe from me?
    • When Steve mentions that if people find out T'Challa is hiding Bucky in Wakanda, the other nations of the world might attack, T'Challa gets another one in:
      T'Challa: Let them try.
  • Bad Boss: Crossbones manages to maneuver Black Widow into falling inside one of his group's transport trucks, with two guys inside. He then tosses a grenade in after her.
  • Badass Minds Think Alike: It's been 70 years and several levels in badass on Bucky's part since he and Cap last fought together, but even with zero planning they make a remarkably seamless team against the mooks trying to arrest him in Bucharest.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • Helmut Zemo said he wanted to watch an empire crumble. By that metric, his plan goes off flawlessly, a shocking example for the MCU. A former black ops operative, fueled by The Power of Hate, manages to cause a divide within the Avengers and cripple them, something that Loki attempted in the 2012 movie but failed to do. The Avengers are reduced to three members by the film's conclusion: Iron Man, Vision and the recovering War Machine, all of whom signed the accords. Captain America, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye are likely still on the run, along with Black Widow, who Tony said would also be hunted for stopping Black Panther at the airport. Not only that, he manages to do it without powers or unlimited resources, but with his own determination, intelligence, and cunning.
    • On the other hand, when it's stated that Zemo's ultimate goal was to have the Avengers slaughter each other, it's been made very clear by this point that this was an impossible goal from the start. Cap doesn't even consider killing Tony, even when Bucky is threatened, and he extends the olive branch to Tony and the other Avengers in the end. Prior to that, during the airport battle the opposing Avengers teams went out of their way to subdue rather than capture. And Tony, except in the case of Bucky, tries his best to do everything not to hurt anyone opposing him. Lastly, out-of-universe, Avengers: Infinity War is on the way. In the end, T'Challa thwarts Zemo's suicide attempt to make him face justice, and while the Avengers are battered and fractured, both physically and emotionally, they are all still alive, and Steve's final letter to Tony leaves hope for reassembling.
  • Bad Liar: Steve isn't that convincing when he claims he didn't know HYDRA/Bucky killed Tony's parents. When Tony doesn't buy it and asks again, he promptly admits he did know about the first part.
  • Bait and Switch: For most of the film, it's implied that Zemo's plan is to unleash the backup Winter Soldiers kept in cryogenesis at Siberia and that's why he's after the December 16th, 1991 report. It turns out that he has no interest whatsoever in his own supersoldier squad (which he quickly kills), but that he wants to show Tony Stark the security footage of his parents' deaths — revealing that the brainwashed Winter Soldier killed them — in order to destroy his trust in Captain America.
  • Batman Gambit: Zemo's plan relies on exploiting the Avengers' flaws (chiefly Tony Stark's guilt and Steve's fixation on saving his friend) and predicting what they will do in response, successfully using them to find Bucky by framing him for the UN attack and thus drawing the world's attention onto him.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: All of the male Avengers sans Vision have injuries ranging from the standard black eyes, cuts and contusions, all the way up to paraplegia (Rhodes); even Peter Parker, who's just a kid, doesn't get a pass on this. Natasha, Wanda, and Sharon? Not so much as a scratch, despite doing at least as much fighting as the guys. Justified for Wanda, though, since she mostly uses her powers to fight from a distance as opposed to getting physical with anyone. Sharon is also not involved in the bigger fight scenes in the movie (she's not involved in the Airport battle, for example), as she's not really a superhero and instead plays support for Captain America's side.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis:
    • The Pro-Reg side support government supervision to prevent collateral damage and yet one of their own, War Machine, gets crippled as a result of collateral damage from fellow Pro-Reg teammate Vision. Vision does it for the same reason Captain America didn't defuse Crossbones at the start: he was distracted by his own emotions. Not to mention, the Pro-Accords side causes quite a bit of collateral damage in pursuing Cap and his Anti-Accords heroes. Special note goes to Vision dropping an entire air traffic control tower in Cap and Bucky's way to try and contain them.
    • Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 refused to co-operate with the government or submit his technology to military use, citing individualism and civil liberties. Now he's working with the government on the side of law.
    • Conversely, Steve Rogers was never blindly trusting of authority, but he served dutifully all through World War II and believed in the country's leaders and their good intentions before getting suspicious during The Avengers and Winter Soldier.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Tony believes that Wanda doesn't want to leave the Avengers Headquarters because of its luxurious facilities and scolds Steve for "rescuing" her, when it was his idea to put her under house arrest without notifying her. When he confronts her about this, he claims he was protecting her, even though he calls her a weapon of mass destruction earlier, showing that he has the same opinion as Ross on Wanda.
  • Beta Outfit: As shown with videos found on the Net, Spider-Man had a makeshift superhero outfit with a red mask and goggles before being recruited by the Avengers. Tony Stark provides him with the iconic outfit, including some high-tech enhancements, like the eye shutters replacing the goggles.
  • Big Bad: Zemo takes the role, although the main conflict is one of Good Versus Good with Graying Morality rather than the standard Good Versus Evil kind of conflict the setting has been known for.
  • Big "NO!": Stark as Rhodey falls helplessly after the latter inadvertently takes a shot from Vision to his arc reactor, disabling his suit.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The inscription on the ATV used by Zemo in Siberia states (in badly mangled Russian) "Oymyakon Snow Vehicle Hire". Oymyakon is a small town in Yakutia, a republic of Russia, that boasts the lowest temperature ever recorded in a habitat center (making this an interesting case of both Shown Their Work and "Blind Idiot" Translation).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Splits the difference between this and Ray of Hope Ending. Zemo's threat is ended (for now) but his goal of dividing the Avengers (possibly beyond repair) has been realized; Steve, Natasha, Wanda, Clint, Sam, and possibly Scott are all fugitives (and in the case of Clint and Scott, likely cut off from their families); Bucky is still a war criminal, and if the government learns that he and Steve are hiding out in Wakanda, T'Challa will probably have a war on his hands; Rhodes is paralyzed and likely won't be able to walk again without the exosuit's assistance; and the rift between Steve and Tony is definitely nowhere near being mended anytime soon, although Steve's apology via letter and Tony putting Thunderbolt Ross on hold to read it in its entirety — and allow the currently-being-freed Avengers a head start — are signs of hope. Not to mention Tony is helping Spider-Man on his way to becoming a hero on par with the Avengers.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: How Cap is able to throw his shield around during combat and have it bounce right back to his arm. A lampshade is hung by science-minded Peter Parker:
    Spider-Man: That thing doesn't obey the laws of physics at all.
  • Blinded by the Light: Tony's wrist gauntlet has a flashbang option, which is used along with the Sonic Stunner to get him close enough to disarm Bucky.
  • Blunt "Yes": Steve eventually does this when Tony demands to know whether he knew that HYDRA/Bucky killed his parents.
  • Body Horror: Crossbones has a pretty messed-up face from that building falling on him, though he jokes that he got off light, all things considered.
  • Bookends:
    • The film opens with Bucky being brought out of cryogenic containment to perform a mission as the Winter Soldier. The Stinger has Bucky willingly go into cryogenic containment until the Winter Soldier persona can be removed from his psyche.
    • The Captain America movie trilogy begins with Steve getting in a fight for his principles, picking up a makeshift shield, and saying "I could do this all day," when he gets beaten down before being saved by Bucky. It ends with Steve fighting Stark for his principles, telling him "I can do this all day" when he can barely stand, getting saved by Bucky, and at the end abandoning his shield.
    • The Captain America trilogy begins with Steve being discovered in ice, being a man trying to deal with the future. It concludes with Bucky going into cryogenic status to redeem himself from his Dark and Troubled Past.
    • Here's a rather strange one: The Incredible Hulk establishes that the title character's accident was intended to recreate Captain America, thus Foreshadowing The First Avenger. In this movie, Thunderbolt Ross from The Incredible Hulk appears, thus linking TIH to the rest of the MCU.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • Tony believes that the Avengers need to be accountable for their actions, while Steve believes that the heroes themselves are the best ones to make judgement calls. Their experiences in previous films both lend credence to their points of view:
      • Tony's cavalier attitude towards his tech has led to horrible consequences, while Steve has encountered corrupt and incompetent government officials who've made situations worse.
      • What it comes down to is that while the heroes might not be the best ones to make a judgement call, how can they be sure that anyone they hand the responsibility to would be better?
    • On a more personal level, they make several questionable decisions in how they handle the conflict. They do, however, raise several valid points. From Iron Man:
      • He's hounded by the captured Anti-Accord team for arresting them and sending them to a Hellhole Prison. While they are indeed given very dubious treatment, Stark points out that he was just doing his duty (as he is under a lot of government pressure), and that the Anti-Accord side should have known what they risked when they aided a known felon.
      • Likewise, Cap tears into Tony for keeping Wanda under what is essentially house arrest without even telling her, and while Tony's motivations and right to make that call are left dubious, he is right when he says Wanda really isn't safe amongst the masses right now.
      • Lastly, while Tony was a complete jerk in goading Spider-Man into the conflict, he does order Peter to keep his distance and just web up his opponents, which Peter ignores. His first scene even depicts him being guilt-shamed by the mother of a Sokovian victim and he presents this to the Avengers as why he thinks they, himself included, need to be kept in check. Tony doesn't start acting irrational until Zemo's schemes ruin any chance of reconciliation between the two sides.invoked
    • From Captain America:
      • He seemingly takes the accusations of collateral damage very lightly, but he does make a valid point saying things would be much, much worse if the Avengers didn't do anything at all (specifically, the human race would've been conquered by Thanos or HYDRA, or driven extinct by Ultron, either of which is overwhelmingly worse than the collateral damage caused by the Avengers in stopping these from happening).
      • While he may be borderline unreasonable in his desire not to sign the accords (it should be noted that Steve was willing to compromise up until he heard about the situation with Wanda's house arrest), he points out those agreements would turn the Avengers into a bunch of glorified attack dogs, which would only allow him to help people selectively note .
      • Additionally, the way the government officials act throughout the film (sending a team after Bucky, who's only a suspect based on circumstantial evidence, with shoot-to-kill orders, refusing to adhere to Steve, Sam, and Bucky's right to legal representation after they're brought in, and refusing to release the captured Team Cap members and go after Zemo when it's definitively proven he was responsible for the bombing) shows that putting them in control of the Avengers would not be the best idea.
      • He also gets a lot of flak for dragging all the other Anti-Accord heroes in his quest to help Bucky, disregarding the fact that each and every one of them made the decision to help Cap themselves, with several of them having their own personal motivations for assisting Cap.
      • He recognizes that this is not the case with his decision to not tell Tony about the true nature of his parent's deaths; in the letter he sends Tony at the end of the movie, Steve concedes that he fooled himself into thinking he was sparing Tony the pain when it was in fact to spare himself the thought that Bucky might have killed Tony's parents and flat-out admits he was wrong.
    • It should be noted that Stark is ultimately forced to go behind the accords too, with he pointing out that he'd have to arrest himself.
  • Brainwash Residue: It turns out Cartesian Karma isn't the only reason Bucky had been in hiding since the previous movie — he also still has a Trigger Phrase even now that he's not being put through the full brainwashing process. The Big Bad manages to get his hands on it and uses it to send him on an involuntary rampage.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: The rift formed between the Avengers due to their differing opinions on the Sokovia Accords stays civil only until It's Personal for both sides' leaders: By implicating Bucky in two international incidents, Zemo tested Cap's loyalty to the team while forcing Tony to act on the Accords. Then, by revealing that Bucky killed Tony's parents, he caused Tony to oppose Cap's stance on Bucky's brainwashing. These conflicts cause the Avengers to disband.
  • Breaking Old Trends: Zemo becomes the first main villain of a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since Loki from the Thor movies to not be killed off at the end of the film.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Stark gives Ross access to his phone for the sheer joy of putting the latter on hold. He makes good on this by the end of the movie.
    • Ant-Man attempts to apologize to Falcon for their previous fight. Sam cuts him off, telling him that it'll never happen again. Ant-Man does end up using the strategy again, this time on Iron Man.
  • Bringing Running Shoes to a Car Chase: Steve, Bucky, and the Black Panther are all shown outrunning traffic on foot at various points in the underpass chase scene.
  • Broken Pedestal: Done rather subtly, but by the end of the movie Captain America is one from Tony's perspective. As Tony mentions early in the movie, his father used to sing the praises of Captain America all the time growing up. This is why Tony demands Steve give up the shield his father built for him, because Steve is defending his father's killer.
  • Bromance: Steve's friendships with both Bucky and Tony are the main core of the film.
  • Buffy Speak: Spider-Man's idea to take down Giant Ant-Man.
    Spider-Man: Hey guys! You ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back? ... You know that part? When they're on the snow planet? With the walking thingies?
    War Machine: I think the kid's onto something!
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: In the opening battle, Black Widow uses a mook to block off the impact of the explosion inside the truck.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Everett Ross takes the time to taunt both Bucky and Zemo while they're detained, safe in the knowledge that they can't retaliate.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday:
    • Averted with Bucky, who mentions that he remembers everyone he killed as the Winter Soldier including Tony Stark's parents, implying he is wracked by guilt.
    • Discussed by Zemo, who opines that after the events of Age of Ultron, the Avengers just went home to America like nothing had happened while he was left sitting in the rubble with his now dead father, wife and child.
  • Butt-Monkey: Bucky takes quite a bit of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse from multiple characters throughout the film.
  • Call-Back:
    • Crossbones mentions the falling building he was caught in at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which resulted in his current disfigurement, and how it motivates him to take revenge (beyond simply working for HYDRA) on Captain America and his friends.
    • When trying to underscore his point about the collateral damage caused by superheroes, Ross shows the Avengers footage from The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
    • The Vision discusses with Wanda the Infinity Stone imbedded in his forehead, that led to his creation and gave Scarlet Witch her powers, both events calling back to Age of Ultron. He also points out it was powering Loki's scepter beforehand, but that they still know very little about it.
    • Hawkeye says he chose to come out of retirement and rescue Wanda because he owes a debt. He's referencing how Quicksilver sacrificed his life to shield Hawkeye and a child from a barrage of bullets during the final battle in Age of Ultron.
    • In The Winter Soldier, Zola indicated that HYDRA had Howard and Maria Stark killed. In this film, it's revealed that Bucky personally killed them during his stint as the Winter Soldier because Howard had successfully recreated the Super Soldier serum. This, coupled with the fact that Steve knew of HYDRA's involvement in their deaths (if not Bucky's direct involvement), is what sets off the final fight between Steve, Bucky, and Tony.
    • Steve tests Bucky's memory by reminding him of when he rescued him from the Potomac as the Helicarriers crashed at the end of The Winter Soldier. About midway into this film, it is Steve who saves Bucky from drowning when another aircraft crashes in the middle of their fight.
  • The Cameo:
    • Jim Rash, playing a very Craig Pelton-like MIT board member.note 
    • Alfre Woodard appears briefly as Miriam Sharpe, a woman whose son died during The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  • Can't Stay Normal:
    • Hawkeye ended Avengers: Age of Ultron retiring from the Avengers to be with his family, but in this film he's forced out of retirement and ends the film as a fugitive from the law, presumably cut off from his family entirely.
    • Tony admits to Cap this is why he and Pepper are on a break; he destroyed all his suits and tried to be normal for her at the end of Iron Man 3, but built a new suit to help hunt down HYDRA and Loki's staff, and just couldn't stop after that.
  • Car Cushion: A mook falls and lands on top of a truck in the opening battle. Averted soon afterwards with Captain America who sharply misses the top of a car and falls to the ground.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Rhodey suffers a spinal injury at the end of the airport battle, which would likely end his career as both a soldier and a superhero, if his best friend didn't happen to be a genius billionaire with high-tech exoskeletons. He's in rehabilitation in the end, though walking and standing still isn't easy for him.
  • Car Fu:
    • Cap kicks a truck in order to hit a Mook standing on the other side.
    • Widow sends a motorcycle spinning along the ground to take down some mooks.
    • Ant-Man throws a shrunken tanker truck — and has Cap throw a growth disc — at War Machine. Stuff Blowing Up ensues.
      Ant-Man: ...Oh man, I thought it was a water truck!
    • Scarlet Witch, who uses dozens of cars from the airport parking lot as ammo to throw at various targets.
  • Cartesian Karma: Sure, Bucky was under mind-control from HYDRA for all of his villainous career as the Winter Soldier. This hardly means he's off the hook for decades of terrorism and assassinations, forcing him to stay in hiding from the authorities at the start of the movie. Despite his reassurance to Steve that he's no longer doing these kind of things, it's easy for Zemo to cast blame for bombing the U.N. building on Bucky just by wearing a scarf and a prosthetic mask. Only Captain America (and his followers) are willing to believe he's innocent. T'Challa doesn't accept the brainwashing argument as an excuse for the death of his father, and pursues Bucky as Black Panther to kill him. Neither does Tony Stark when he finally learns the Winter Soldier killed his parents. He goes ballistic, and none of Cap's words are enough to calm Iron Man in his attempt to vaporize Bucky.
  • Cast Speciation:
    • Averted. Iron Man and War Machine are part of the same team, as are Captain America and the similarly powered Winter Soldier.
    • Played straight with Ant-Man. The writers stated that one of the reasons The Wasp was removed from the screenplay (in addition to other factors like Evangeline Lilly being pregnant) was because they felt she'd make Ant-Man's abilities seem a little redundant.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Spider-Man never shuts up during the entire battle, even after Falcon explicitly tells him that one's not supposed to talk so much during a fight, and Iron Man is starting to wish he hadn't brought Peter along due to his excessive chatter.
    Spider-Man: [to Falcon] You have the right to remain silent!
  • Celebrity Paradox: This trope is Played With when Iron Man calls Spider-Man "Underoos". The actual Underoos brand was kick-started by the Spider-Man franchise (along with other major superhero franchises, including several Marvel and even DC characters), making the brand's origin within the Marvel Cinematic Universe surprisingly nebulous.
  • The Centerpiece Spectacular: The airport fight scene between Team Cap and Team Iron Man, which features seven minutes of action between a spectacular cast of superheroes.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • The Sokovia Accords take the thrilling, heroic battles of the previous MCU films, and then shows the human cost that we didn't see onscreen. For instance, a scene of the Hulk fighting the Chitauri in The Avengers reveals that Hulk accidentally dropped a ton of debris onto a crowd of fleeing civilians, the Helicarriers crashing into the Potomac River might have drowned several people with the resulting impact wave, and numerous buildings and falling rocks from the chunk of Sokovia that Ultron took into the sky fell onto various other buildings that were likely filled with people.
    • The circumstances of the death of Howard and Maria Stark is a Cerebus Retcon of a previous Cerebus Retcon. Iron Man reveals that they died in a car accident. In The Winter Soldier, we learn that the "accident" was caused by HYDRA. Civil War reveals that it wasn't the crash that killed them; the Winter Soldier personally beat Howard to death and strangled Maria.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Inside Zemo's hotel room, we see the EMP bomb that he will use later in the movie to take out the power plant.
    • Toward the beginning of the movie, Tony Stark announces to a roomful of college students that the Stark Foundation is approving all their grants. He later uses his grant program as a cover story when he recruits Peter Parker for his team.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome:
    • Steve tells Tony that "if I see a situation pointed south, I can't ignore it." This is exploited by Zemo, who knows he'll take off for Siberia as soon as he hears about the supposed plot to revive the other Winter Soldiers.
    • Tony himself isn't much better; after blowing up all his suits in Iron Man 3, he went right back to heroing for the following films, which cost him his relationship with Pepper. Despite trying to find a compromise, he admits that he likes being a hero.
    • Peter Parker sums up his "power and responsibility" beliefs when he tells Tony (in short) "when people with powers like me don't use our powers to do what good we can, any bad stuff that happens is on us" (pretty much implying the death of his Uncle Ben without making an explicit reference).
  • Cold Open: Before we even see the Marvel logo, we get a flashback to one of Bucky's missions for HYDRA back in 1991. (Given that the first shot's of the bleak, snowy Siberian tundra, it's a literal cold open...)
  • Collapsible Helmet: By the time of this movie, Stark's technology has become so advanced that Iron Man's Mark 46 armor (as well as War Machine's) have a helmet that completely retracts into the suit rather than just the face plate opening.
  • Colossus Climb:
    • Ant-Man first shrinks himself to take down Black Widow and puts her into a hammer lock by running across her back while holding one of her fingers. He later reduces himself to sneak into Iron Man's armor and do his usual shtick of sabotaging from the inside, disabling the repulsor on his left arm before he's flushed out.
    • Once Ant-Man grows to giant size, it's Spider-Man's turn to climb on the colossus, first acting as a nuisance before using his webbing to entangle his legs.
  • Combination Attack: During the Final Battle, Captain America and The Winter Soldier team up to fight Iron Man with united forces.
  • Comes Great Responsibility:
    • Iron Man's worldview in this film is that he believes superheroes should minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage, and they need oversight in order to do that.
      Tony: If we can't accept limitations, we're no better than the bad guys.
    • Steve certainly doesn't believe civilian casualties and collateral damage are totally fine, but he also doesn't believe it's right to simply hand the responsibility upwards, especially in a crisis. He gently explains to Wanda that there are situations where they won't save everyone, but failing to take action could lead to an outcome where they save no one.
    • Spidey himself — of course — has a variation in the film.
      Peter: When you can do the things that I can, but you don't... and then the bad things happen, they happen because of you.
    • Applies to Bucky as well. While Steve argues that he isn't to blame for what he did under HYDRA's control, Bucky knows that his brainwashing could be triggered at any time with the right words, and he feels he needs to make sure this cannot happen. He's already wracked with guilt over those he had killed as the Winter Soldier and decides that going back into cryogenic sleep until a way to undo his programming is found is the only way he can protect both friends and innocent civilians from himself.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames:
    • Brock Rumlow suits up as Crossbones (complete with his iconic mask and chest emblem), but he's never called by that name onscreen.
    • The name Black Panther is used once, when T'Challa refers to it as the protector of his people and that he is said protector. Other than that, since he doesn't have a secret identity, he's referred to as T'Challa.
    • Averted with Spider-Man, whose codename is used several times throughout the film. Peter even insists on being called Spider-Man rather than Spider-Boy.
    • "Ant-Man" is said aloud, but "Giant-Man" isn't.
    • Some of the Closed Caption subtitles avert this by referring to the heroes by their real names (when they're in civilian clothing) and their code names (when they're suited up). The captions mention all of the Avengers except Wanda and Clint, plus Crossbones. This is prominently true during the airport battle. The captions also use "Helmut Zemo" to refer to the villain. Possibly due to the reason mentioned below.
    • The end credits avert this by listing all of the code names of the characters next to their real names, including Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch.
    • Helmut Zemo is never called Baron Zemo. Turns out to be justified when it's revealed that unlike his comic counterpart, he isn't a wealthy German noble in this continuity.
    • Ant-Man expresses recognition of Wanda, but conspicuously stops short of identifying her by name. "Scarlet Witch" is used in the end credits, though.
  • Companion Cube: In this continuity, Redwing is a robotic drone part of the Falcon's arsenal rather than a living bird of prey. That doesn't stop Sam Wilson from naming it, calling it cool and asking Natasha to thank it by name when it performs a rescue.
    Sam Wilson: He's cute. Go on, pet him.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Black Widow ends up switching sides towards the end of the airport battle due to her inner conflict. Tony calls her out on this later, mentioning all the times she's been a double agent before.
  • Conlang: Averted; T'Challa and T'Chaka are speaking Xhosa when talking to each other. John Kani, T'Chaka's actor, really does speak Xhosa and taught Chadwick Boseman the language.
  • Continuity Nod: Has its own page.
  • Converse Error: Bucky says that he did not kill T'Chaka, and Black Panther retorts "Then why did you run?" It ignores the fact that the team sent to his safehouse were under orders to kill. This is actually in reference to Bucky's escape from the terrorism center. Bucky was brainwashed to do so, but Black Panther doesn't know that, so his logic is more valid but still factually incorrect.
  • Cool Plane: Black Panther's stealth jet, which allows him to tail Tony all the way to Siberia without Tony having any idea.
  • Counterpart Combat Coordination: Every hero has a counterpart on the other team that they share similar roles and abilities with, although the posters don't actually pair them correctly:
    • Although Steve and Tony aren't similar in powers and are polar opposites in personality, they are the leaders of both of their teams and are both fighting for what they think is right.
    • Natasha and Clint are Platonic Life Partners to each other and are both ultra-deadly black ops spies that used to be partners during their S.H.I.E.L.D. days. Both are even pulling their punches against each other in the airport battle.
    • Sam and Rhodes are both snarky African-American friends to their respective team leader, and both are USAF airmen with a suit that lets them fly.
    • Vision and Scarlet Witch:
      • They are each powered with (close to) magical abilities coming from the Mind Stone.
      • They spend most of the first half of the film with each other in the base headquarters and debate the best way to help Scarlet Witch and her abilities be accepted by the public. Vision claims that it's best for the Avengers to defer to the accords in part because it will force the world to lose its fears of Wanda's abilities, while Wanda feels like the public will be scared of her no matter what path she chooses and decides to go for the path that will allow her to ultimately be more in charge of her fate.
    • Spider-Man and Ant-Man:
      • They are both outsiders to the Avengers in general, with each having attained their powers relatively recently.
      • They also both have bug motifs and have been doing their hero work outside of the law for the duration of their careers.
      • Each are specifically recruited to action by a single Avenger (Tony Stark for Peter Parker, Sam Wilson for Scott Lang).
      • They are similarly star-struck when they meet the heroes for the first time and have to quickly acclimate to the seriousness of the situation.
      • They prove to be immensely capable in the airport battle, regularly turning the tide for their respective teams because they are extremely mobile and they carry abilities that take their opponents completely by surprise.
      • Ironically, they also end up taking each other out of the fight, when Spider-Man ties up Ant-Man's legs for him to be taken out by Iron Man and War Machine, but ends up slammed through a pile of crates for his trouble.
    • Black Panther and Bucky Barnes:
      • They aren't official Avengers and get drawn in as a direct result of the team's fight with the official villains. Crossbones's bomb ends up killing several Wakandans, leading to T'Challa and his father organizing the summit at which the Avengers plan on submitting to the accords. Zemo blows up the summit building while disguised as Bucky, killing T'Challa's father. As a result, Bucky is motivated to find out what is going on with Zemo's plot in order to clear his name while T'Challa becomes hell-bent on killing Bucky as revenge for his father.
      • Both Bucky and Black Panther are also the only Avengers present to witness Tony and Steve's final fight, with Bucky helping Steve to fight Tony before the latter incapacitates him while T'Challa ends up capturing Zemo.
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • Zemo is out to destroy the Avengers because his family was killed by collateral damage in the battle against Ultron in Sokovia.
    • At one point, Vision remarks how ever since Iron Man went public the number of superheroes and supervillains has increased, noting that while they aren't directly responsible, the very existence of superhuman beings spurs the creation of conflict.
    • Tony Stark for his part feels guilty about his involvement in the creation of Ultron, and the destruction that resulted from its wake, leading him to jump on the side of the Pro-Sokovia bandwagon.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Per Marvel usual. This film uses shadows to form shapes and symbols significant to the characters and the film.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Stan Lee makes his appearance as always. This time he plays a FedEx delivery man who appears near the end of the film, and gives a parcel to Tony, whose last name Lee mispronounces as "Stank".
    • Joe Russo, one of the directors, plays the psychiatrist Zemo kills and leaves in his hotel.
  • Crisis Crossover: The movie has not only most of the Avengers (both the new and old teams, with the only exceptions being Thor and the Hulk), the return of General Ross and Ant-Man (alongside other Captain America characters such as the Winter Soldier and Sharon Carter), as well as the introduction of Black Panther, Spider-Man, and several side characters. For comparison, Avengers: Age of Ultron had 11 superheroes/crack operatives appear in the film, while Civil War has at least 13.
  • Cruel Mercy: After his plan succeeds, Zemo attempts to kill himself so he can reunite with his family. T'Challa stops him, and tells him that he'll live to answer for his crimes.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Wakanda is a country in East Africa, but they speak a South African language and worship the Egyptian deities Bast and Sekhmet.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Crossbones's fight with Black Widow in the opening has him easily dominating her.
    • While escaping from the JCTC facility, Bucky easily demolishes Cap (out of suit and without shield), Sam (minus harness), Tony (minus armor), Sharon and Natasha when they try to stop him. T'Challa is the only one who manages to put up a good fight, forcing Bucky to retreat.
    • The CTTF troops, when they either try to capture Bucky or stop him from leaving, don't last as long as the aforementioned heroes against him.
    • Hawkeye's fight with Vision is one-sided. After breaking free of Hawkeye's trap meant to buy time for him and Wanda to flee, Vision No Sells all of Hawkeye's attacks, and proceeds to dominate Hawkeye in their fight.
    • In return, Wanda pretty much obliterates Vision with a few waves of her hands.
    • Hawkeye doesn't fare much better when he gets into a close-quarters fight with Black Panther. He is quickly knocked out as Panther moves on to catch Cap.
    • Spider-Man's fight with Bucky and Falcon is incredibly one-sided in the wall-crawler's favor, until Falcon summons Redwing.
    • When Panther gets an advantage over Bucky and prepares to kill him in the airport battle, Wanda steps in. Black Panther is out cold in less than 10 seconds.
  • Cycle of Revenge: This is the Central Theme of the story, and the main problem that drives the conflict. It reaches all the way back into Age of Ultron and further. Wanda poisoned Tony's mind with a vision for revenge against him and his company for the death of her parents, which led the fall of Sokovia and the death of Zemo's family, who then blew up the Sokovia Accords meeting which killed T'Challa's father. All of this is accidental collateral damage which the Sokovia Accords are meant to mitigate. Notably defied by Black Panther himself, who, upon realizing Zemo's whole motivation was revenge and what it wrought, refuses to continue the cycle and stands down. He even stops Zemo from committing suicide, insisting he answer for his crimes, and gives Cap and his team shelter in Wakanda at the end of the film.
  • Darker and Edgier: Although there's still some humorous banter to be had, the overall tone of the film is considerably darker and more intense than any of the previous movies in the series. Many have compared it to The Empire Strikes Back in this regard (including the directors). It's noted that Age of Ultron was supposed to be the really dark entry in the series, had been advertised as having almost no humor, yet still had more than its fair share. This movie has even less.
  • Deadly Dodging: When Cap and Bucky are escaping by plane, Iron Man and War Machine give pursuit with Falcon trying to intercept. War Machine asks Vision to disable his pursuer, but Falcon sees it coming and dodges. The errant blast slices across War Machine's chest armor, vaporizing his arc reactor and sending him plummeting to the ground.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man to give Cap and Bucky the needed time to escape. He does this knowing there was a chance that he would get torn apart trying it, and he'd only done it once before, in a lab, unsuccessfully.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: All across the board, as we know already for several of the heroes. It's only implied with Peter in regards to Uncle Ben; king T'Chaka dies mid-act 1, while Tony opens up to an audience that he never quite got over losing his parents, only to later get shown how they died most graphically.
  • Depending on the Artist: Odd example, but Black Widow's costume, hairstyle, and weaponry vary drastically depending on which promo art or pieces of merchandise you're looking at. Some depict her in her glowing TRON-style suit from Age of Ultron with her stun batons, while others have her in a new all-black outfit similar to the ones she wore in the first Avengers movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Her hairstyle is similarly inconsistent, with very few pieces actually depicting the actual length and style she sports in the movie.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • A Downplayed Trope. Spider-Man enters the plot of the film later than most of the other characters, and is able to serve as comic relief since he has little personal investment in the conflict surrounding the Sokovia Accords. This is in sharp contrast to the comic book, where Spider-Man was directly affected by the SHRA and was effectively one of the main characters. That being said, he still gets quite a bit of screen time in the second half of the film.
    • Also an Exaggerated Trope with Helmut Zemo's father, who in this version is only mentioned once (where he's confirmed to be dead) and does not appear to have been anyone significant. In the comics, Baron Heinrich Zemo was a Nazi supervillain.
    • Miriam Sharpe played a minor supporting role throughout the comics Civil War saga. Here, she's only around long enough to blame Tony for the death of her son, then vanishes completely.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Averted. Despite both sides having one female hero (Black Widow for the Pro Accords and Scarlet Witch for Anti Accords), the two spend most of their time fighting other people aside from Scarlet Witch saving Hawkeye from Black Widow one time.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Natasha takes down Crossbones' henchmen, then catches the vial of bioweapon one of them had been threatening to drop.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Besides his relationship with Pepper being on very rocky ground (if there was any ground at all), the grieving mother who confronts Tony after his MIT talk and blames him (in no uncertain terms) for her son's death is the primary reason for him being pro-Accords, which helps strain his relationship with Cap and causes a lot of conflict. Aside from one scene heavily featuring the dead son, she's not mentioned afterwards at all.
  • Deus Exit Machina:
    • Thor and the Hulk are both off the board in this fight (Thor on Asgardian businessnote , Hulk in hiding). Being the most powerful characters in the MCU, their presence could be seriously destabilizing; also, neither of them has any real stake in the fight. Even the staff of the movie acknowledged that having either of them in the conflict would make things too one-sided, even if both picked opposite sides. However, the fact that they are missing is used by General Ross as evidence of the need of oversight.
    • Downplayed by Vision in the airport battle; he is absent for the entire first half of the fight, while all eleven other combatants make themselves known at the very beginning. With the Hulk and Thor gone, he's the character present with the most destructive power, which is probably the only reason he was held back.
    • War Machine and Vision are absent from the opening fight scene. As the strongest and most invulnerable members of the current line, a fight with human special forces would hardly be a pothole. How It Should Have Ended has a field day on that one-this is justified by the team trying to keep a low profile-only Cap and Falcon are in costume, and War Machine and Vision are far less subtle in their powers and appearance.
  • Did Not Die That Way: Tony finds out in perhaps the worst possible way that his parents didn't die in a car accident, but were instead murdered by HYDRA and the Winter Soldier. And to top it off, Steve had withheld the truth from him for over two years despite knowing himself.
  • Divide and Conquer: Helmut Zemo tries to tear the Avengers apart by getting Captain America and Iron Man to fight each other.
  • Divided We Fall: Right there in the tagline. Even more so than in the Avengers movies, most of the conflict in the film is infighting between heroes.
  • Dramatic Drop: After the final battle is over, Tony shouts at Steve that he doesn't deserve the shield, made by Tony's father, since Steve just got through defending the man who killed Tony's father. Steve drops it as he walks out with Bucky.
  • Dramatic Unmask: T'Challa is initially introduced as a politician from Wakanda. The Avengers (and audiences who aren't familiar with the comics) don't learn he's the Black Panther until he removes his mask after the tunnel chase scene.
  • The Dreaded: The other five Winter Soldiers are described by Bucky as HYDRA's most elite death squad, with more kills than anyone in HYDRA history even before they received the Super Soldier Serum. According to Bucky, they could take down an entire country in one night if they were told to. As it turns out, it makes a good Red Herring by Zemo, to lure Captain America, Iron Man and Bucky to Siberia, where Zemo plays his last card.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Steve Rogers attends a funeral early in the film, for Peggy Carter, who died of Alzheimer's.
    • Stark pushing the pro-Accords is due to him being confronted by a very angry mother who blames him personally for her son's death in Sokovia, whose profile and bio he brings up during the team's argument.
  • Dumpster Dive: Tony recruits Peter as the latter returns from an afternoon of diving; the latter is extremely proud that he found a "perfectly good DVD player" in the trash. The few lines perfectly illustrate the light-years difference between the two heroes.
  • Dynamic Entry:
    • As Bucky and Sam are trying to escape the pro-Accords side during the airport battle, Spider-Man bursts through a glass pane and kicks Falcon offscreen.
    • Spider-Man's entrance into the film itself can count. While he is introduced in a very conversational scene with Tony, he is fully Peter Parker, out of costume and only having his webshooters on him. The proper entrance of Spider-Man himself is Tony declaring "Alright, I'm out of patience. UNDEROOS!" Cue Cap getting his shield yanked away, hands bound by webbing, and Spidey performing a perfect Three-Point Landing on top of a nearby truck, holding Cap's shield. Entries don't get more dynamic than that.
  • EMP: Zemo orders an EMP bomb to be delivered to the power plant alimenting the German prison where Bucky is detained. When the Electro-Magnetic Pulse goes off, it knocks out the power and turns off the prison's security system, giving Zemo just enough time to trigger the Winter Soldier's programming.
  • End of an Era:
    • Word of God has stated that Steve Rogers is no longer Captain America after this film, having to forfeit the identity.
    • The Avengers — in any incarnation no longer.
  • Entitled Bastard: General Ross. Despite insulting, looking down on, and threatening to throw the heroes in jail, he still expects Tony to assist him the second he asks.
  • Epilogue Letter: The last scene has Steve Rogers voicing out his reconciliation letter to Tony Stark, while we are shown scenes of all major characters in their present circumstances.
  • Evidence Dungeon: In the last part of the movie, Zemo makes a call to the hotel he was staying at so that the corpse of the psychiatrist he killed is discovered, as well as plenty of evidence that the Winter Soldier bombing the U.N. building was staged. This is to convince Tony Stark of Bucky's innocence at the exact right time for Iron Man to join him and Captain America at the Siberian HYDRA facility.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Helmut Zemo who has a vendetta against the Avengers, and HYDRA agent Vassily Karpov formerly the Winter Soldier's handler. Both of them are bad news, no matter who lives and who dies.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: A unique variation. Hawkeye invokes this against Iron Man, but the intentional miss seems to be more of a diversion than anything.
    Tony: Clearly retirement doesn't suit you. Got tired of shooting golf?
    Clint: Well, I played 18. Shot 18. Just can't seem to miss. [fires an arrow at Tony, who dodges it]
    Tony: First time for everything.
    Clint: Made ya look.
    [dozens of cars, controlled by Scarlet Witch's telekinesis, fall on Tony]
  • Exact Words:
    • This is how Black Widow justifies her stopping T'Challa during the airport battle. She only said she would help him find Bucky, but didn't say that she was going to help catch or kill him.
    • When Zemo reveals that Bucky killed Tony's parents as the Winter Soldier, Tony asks Steve if he knew. Steve tries to deflect by saying he didn't know it was Bucky, but Tony sees through it and forces Steve to admit that he knew HYDRA was originally behind the murder.
    • In the second stinger, Peter explains his injuries to Aunt May by telling her he got into a fight with a guy from Brooklyn named Steve and his "huge friend".
    • When Ant-Man holds the line to cover Captain America and Bucky's escape, he tells the Pro-Registration team they have to go through him to get to them. That's what Vision does next.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: How Sharon realizes that Bucky's capture was part of Zemo's plan. She talks about how Steve and Sam had so much trouble finding Bucky over two years because they were the only ones looking. If you blow up a U.N. building, everyone is going to look for you. Once he is found and captured, anyone else looking for him would know where to go.
  • Expressive Mask: The lenses on Spider-Man's mask can expand and retract to suit his expression. Justified since Tony made it that way to help Peter cope with his super-senses.

    Tropes F to K 
  • Fake Arm Disarm: Bucky's metal arm is blasted off in the final fight with Iron Man.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: In a flashback to his time as the Winter Soldier, Bucky rather graphically murders Tony's parents, specifically punching Howard in the face with his metal arm several times without any Gory Discretion Shot till he dies with half his face dented in from the trauma, before proceeding to break his wife's neck.
  • Famous Last Words: "Sergeant Barnes?" Howard Stark, shortly before he is beaten to death by the Winter Soldier in 1991. A particularly tragic example, as Stark recognized the Soldier as his old wartime friend, but due to the latter's programming, the sentiment was not reciprocated.
  • Fastball Special:
    • Hawkeye and Ant-Man have a variation with Scott riding one of Clint's arrows.
    • Falcon drops Cap out of the sky where he shield-slams a mook.
    • Scarlet Witch sends Cap through a window to take out a few mooks in a building.
  • Fighting from the Inside:
    • When Howard Stark calls out to the Winter Soldier, the latter briefly hesitates before killing Stark. This is a bit of Futureshadowing to the events of the previous film, where Cap breaks the Soldier's programming by reminding the latter of his past life as Bucky Barnes.
    • Bucky also desperately tries to resist a reprogramming attempt halfway in; he manages to hold out until the final trigger word when he is completely overcome.
  • Fighting the Lancer: The main conflict is between Captain America and Iron Man, who were The Leader and The Lancer in the original Avengers. They have different ideas on how best to be responsible.
  • Fighting Your Friend:
    • While Steve and Tony have been shown as having some bitterness towards each other, it's very clear that they see each other as friends and are somewhat reluctant to fight the other. This applies to the other Avengers fighting one another as well. It becomes particularly poignant after War Machine is accidentally shot by the Vision, who was trying to target Falcon. Both Falcon and Iron Man rush down to catch him and all of them are horrified by the aftermath.
    • Wanda and Vision; early in the film, they are shown with hints of their budding relationship from the comics. It's soon revealed Tony has ordered Vision to effectively keep Wanda under house arrest, and when Hawkeye comes to spring her, Wanda trounces Vision in rather brutal fashion. The two throw down again in the airport battle, and it's clear that their budding feelings for each other are getting in the way.
  • Final Battle: The climax of the movie, the final showdown is between Captain America, Bucky, and Iron Man.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Captain America, Bucky and Iron Man go inside the room where Zemo is with the five dormant Winter Soldiers. Iron Man searches for heat signatures to detect people: he reads only one. Then, it is revealed that Zemo did not wake up the Winter Soldiers, but rather killed them while they were sleeping.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Three characters were confirmed to survive the film before it was even out: Ant-Man, Black Panther, and Spider-Man (all of whom will appear in their own movies after this one).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early on, Tony is confronted by a grieving mother whose son was killed during the Avengers' battle in Sokovia and is apprehensive through the whole encounter, thinking she wants to harm him out of revenge. She makes it clear that she blames him solely for her son's death. Zemo, who is a Sokovian soldier, blames his family's death on all of the Avengers... and wants to harm them out of revenge. He succeeds.
    • Tony's very first scene involves him recreating the last time he saw his parents alive, mentioning his Parting Words Regret and showing how he never dealt with their deaths well. Zemo's plan is to exploit exactly that by revealing how they really died in order to turn Tony against Bucky.
    • The movie calls attention to the fact that grief over losing loved ones is Tony's Berserk Button. When Rhodey is almost killed, Tony immediately lashes at Falcon, blasting him mid-sentence (as the latter is apologizing, no less). Fittingly, Zemo's plan hinges on hitting that particular button.
    • When Bucky flashbacks to The creation of the other winter soldiers, we see the crash from the beginning of the movie again. The shot briefly changes from a normal view to a diegetic camera shot. Foreshadowing that there exist footage of whoever Bucky killed and its later importance.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • Scarlet Witch doesn't use the mind-altering powers she demonstrated in Age of Ultron. It's implied this is to avoid what happened in Age of Ultron, out of guilt, as Wanda doesn't use her powers while under house arrest and feeling responsible for the deaths of several people.
    • Ant-Man, during the airport fight, only uses his size-shifting powers and not his ability to communicate with ants, which wouldn't be as useful in an airport as they were in a caper.
  • Frame-Up: Zemo frames Bucky for the UN bombing using a face mask, in order to flush Bucky out of hiding.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: One of the trailers had a scene of Captain America fighting with Iron Man, and a big spoiler was lying in the background. Bucky is lying in the floor, unconcious or dead, stripped of his metal arm See details here.
  • Fugitive Arc: The entire film is this for Captain America and his fellow anti-Accords comrades because the Accords have been signed by one hundred and seventeen countries.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: The film unintentionally became this for Agent Carter when the latter wasn't renewed for a third season. It's revealed that Howard Stark was assassinated by the Winter Soldier in 1991, while Peggy Carter dies of old age in the present day.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Binarily Augmented Retro Framing, also known as B.A.R.F., is a prototype created for therapeutic purposes by Tony Stark. During a presentation at the MIT, he jokes that he should really think of a better name.
  • Gambit Roulette: Zemo's Evil Plan has a lot of places where it could have gone wrong. He had to blow up a building disguised as Bucky, hope that Bucky would be taken alive (despite the CTTF being ordered to shoot on sight), ensure Bucky would have to be taken to a specific secure facility, and Kill and Replace the on-duty psychologist without being exposed until it was too late. Then, he has to go to the Siberian HYDRA facility, hope that Captain America and the Winter Soldier would evade capture and make it there, leak the details of his plot at just the right time for Iron Man to change his mind and follow them, and have all three arrive in time for his final gambit to be put in to play. Some of this can be explained by his having taken the time to study his opponents and how they think, but it's still a lot that has to go exactly right. Notably, his first plan seems to be a lot more straightforward: he just wants to get the mission report from the HYDRA operative who used to be the Winter Soldier's handler. When that man chooses to die rather than give up the information Zemo wants, Zemo has to set a new plan in motion to get the intel from Bucky himself.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Crossbones's goons in the intro are using noxious gas as a weapon and wear gas masks to protect themselves.
  • Gilded Cage: After the incident in Nigeria has soured public opinion on her, Tony has Wanda quietly isolated in the Avengers compound and guarded by the Vision who is acting as if he were her butler. Tony tries to justify it as being for security measures as well as by pointing out that it is actually swell as far as containment goes, but nobody is buying it and Wanda eventually breaks out.
  • Global Ignorance: Zig-zagged, despite taking place in more locations than any previous Marvel film. It is averted as far as there are no embarrassingly bad attempts at pronouncing African nations that are pronounced just as spelled, and the movie itself doesn't refer to any one place as "Africa", unlike Age of Ultron. It's played straight where the actual limits of international law are glossed over.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Ant-Man resorts to this for the Berlin airport battle. Knowing that it could tear him apart, he still becomes Giant-Man to break the pro-Accords side's ranks.
  • Good Versus Good: Both sides in Civil War's conflict are filled with heroes, including members of both iterations of the Avengers.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The grey morality overlaps with Both Sides Have a Point. Tony Stark thinks that the Avengers should be held accountable for their actions since they had taken wide ranging action on their own authority such as Tony creating Ultron and Steve dissolving S.H.I.E.L.D. Steve Rogers worries that the politicians will turn the Avengers into political pawns. Steve is trying to save his friend Bucky, while Tony is trying to keep the Avengers together. Both go to more morally ambiguous lengths as film progresses, and each is driven by the actions of the other.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Bucky picks up Cap and throws the latter, shield-first, into a couple of SWAT team members on the other side of a window during an assault on his safehouse in Bucharest.
  • Grim Up North: As expected, Siberia is depicted as a frozen wasteland. However, it is more justified than usual, given that the action specifically takes place near a town with one of the coldest climates on the planet.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Black Widow opens the hostilities against Ant-Man with a knee applied to the groin.
    • She does that to Bucky as well. However, since Bucky is a Super Soldier, it doesn't work.
    • Hawkeye tries to pull one off against the Vision, but he phases through the attack.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • Wanda ended Avengers: Age of Ultron finally finding a home and family, as well as a chance to do good in the world. By the end of this film she's now feared worldwide for her destructive powers and a fugitive from the law, with her budding relationship with Vision severed.
    • Ant-Man ended with Scott having his name fully cleared, regaining respect from his ex-wife and her new husband — who also becomes his Friend on the Force — and finally living up to be the hero his daughter worships him as. Here, he's likely also now a fugitive so trying to contact Maggie or Cassie would be the worst thing that he could do at this point, and assuming Paxton doesn't simply revert to going Inspector Javert on him, there's probably no strings that he could pull or favors he could call in to clear Scott's name this time around.
    • Tony and Pepper became an Official Couple at the end of Iron Man 2 and were last seen quite happy together at the end of Iron Man 3. However, at some point after Avengers: Age of Ultron, they suffered an Offscreen Breakup. Tony insists it's just "taking a break" but his mood says otherwise.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: No-one on Team Iron Man seems to take Scott Lang's size-change powers seriously when the fight starts. Before the fight is over he overpowers Black Widow, nearly disables Tony's suit, and lets Cap and Bucky escape and forcing Team Iron Man to focus all their efforts on him.
    Spider-Man: [upon seeing Giant-Man] Holy shit!
  • Hero Antagonist: Technically, all of the main characters qualify, since they're all heroes in opposition to each other.
  • Hero Insurance: Averted. The collateral damage from the Avengers' earlier fights, plus one early in this movie, are the catalyst for the Super Registration Act.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Bucky steals a motorcycle right out from under its rider while fleeing the police.
  • Hold the Line: When it becomes clear that Team Iron Man is too powerful to take down with enough time left to go after Zemo in Siberia, Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man/Giant-Man choose to stay behind and hold them off long enough for Cap and Bucky to escape in the Quinjet.
  • Hollywood Law: The Sokovia Accords can only exist if Constitutional law doesn't exist. The gross civil rights violations are reason enough for Steve to go rogue.
    • The Sokovia Accords are an agreement between 117 countries to have an unelected panel at the United Nations approve what missions the Avengers can go on. Super-heroes who refused to sign the accords that continue to take the law in their own hands will be prosecuted without a trial and imprisoned on the submersible Raft. While there are significant legal issues with super-heroes entering foreign countries without any legal authority, violating civil rights is not the sane answer to the problem.
    • An accord is not the same thing as a law, treaty, or Constitutional Amendment. The United States cannot enact a law to willfully violate the rights of United States citizens. Sure, it can pass a law, but it will be unconstitutional.
    • The Sokovia Accords appear to have elements of conscription if not outright impressment, with punishments ranging from internment to imprisonment without the Writ of Habeas Corpus. None of these "legal" safeguards on super-hero activity include any form of due process.
    • The Sokovia Accords have all the charm of forcing US citizens into self-imposed exile to avoid internment or imprisonment. This should alert Senators to do their Constitutional duty to offer advice and consent on approving the Sokovia Accords, as they are very different from any other treaty entered by the United States.
    • Sam Wilson, Clint Barton, Scott Lang, and Wanda Maximoff are all imprisoned on the Raft after the fight at the German airport. This is extremely troubling, as none of them are afforded their right to counsel, taken before a magistrate after being arrested, or even given a trial. The US government is imprisoning US citizens on a submarine prison, and depriving them of A) the writ of habeas corpus (which requires a person in custody to be brought before a Court), the 4th Amendment (which protects people from arbitrary arrests), the 5th Amendment (which protects people from being deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law), the 6th Amendment (right to counsel), and the 8th Amendment (prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment).
  • Hope Spot:
    • In Berlin, after the skirmish between Black Panther, Captain America and the Winter Soldier, Tony tries his damnedest to convince Steve to sign the Sokovia Accords; Steve starts to consider it until Tony mentions that he's been keeping Wanda under house-arrest with the Vision's help, since the world sees her as a public menace after the operation gone wrong in Nigeria. This upsets Steve so much that he refuses to sign the Accords.
    • After the airport battle, Tony manages to find the evidence that Zemo really is behind everything, and that Bucky was framed. When Ross won't listen, Tony goes charging off to the HYDRA base to save Cap and Bucky from the other Winter Soldiers, and despite everything, it looks like things might end well, since both sides' leaders are cooperating again. Then it turns out that Zemo wasn't planning to use the other Winter Soldiers, and they've all walked into a trap to turn them against each other.
  • Hourglass Plot:
    • Within MCU in general, as explained by the writers in this interview. Tony started as a self-confident rebel, but after the Age of Ultron sees government oversight as the lesser evil. Steve used to have total faith in his government, but after The Winter Solider knows it could be corrupted within and does not trust it.
    • Within the movie itself, the plots of Tony and T'Challa mirror each other pretty closely. Tony starts off the movie having come to grips with the fact that no matter what, he will never be able to bring his dead parent, in his case his mother, back and is on the friendly side with Captain America while T'Challa starts his plot wanting vengeance on the Winter Soldier for the death of his father and is willing to fight anyone who gets in his way. By the end of the story, both feel very differently. Tony wants Bucky dead for killing his parents and is willing to fight Steve just to get to him, while T'Challa realizes that vengeance will not bring his father back and offers his protection to Steve and Bucky.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: When Vision accidentally shoots War Machine out of the sky, he mentions to Tony that he had become distracted, something that shouldn't be able to happen to a robot like him. This bothers both of them.
  • Human Popsicle: Bucky's time on ice as the Winter Soldier is revisited. Then a big twist partway through is the revelation that there are more Winter Soldiers hibernating in Siberia. At the end of the movie, Bucky voluntarily goes back in the freezer until a way can be found to remove his brainwashing, since he doesn't want anyone else to be able to use him as a weapon the way Zemo did.
  • I Can Still Fight!: After the battle at the airport, Spider-Man tells Iron Man he can still fight despite having been injured, but Iron Man sends him home to recuperate.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight:
    • While Bucky is under Zemo's control and fighting his way through the heroes, Cap tries to get him to snap out of it.
    • Black Widow also says "You could at least recognize me" as she and Bucky fight, either referencing their run-ins from The Winter Soldier or a potential Easter egg that their shared pasts from the comics might be explored eventually.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Hawkeye takes pride in his shots never being off the mark. This makes golf incredibly boring for him.
    Hawkeye: Played 18. Shot 18. Just can't seem to miss.
  • In-Name-Only:
    • In the comics, Helmut Zemo is a costumed villain known as Baron Zemo. He's a wealthy German noble, is the son of one of Captain America's greatest foes, and wears a mask to hide his hideously disfigured face. In the movie, his name, [["You Killed My Father" vendetta against Captain America]] and keen strategic mind are the only things kept. Here, he's a soldier from the nation of Sokovia instead of a wealthy baron and his dad wasn't a super villain. Also, he's not deformed, doesn't wear a mask or costume, and has a rather sympathetic backstory involving the deaths of his wife and son.
    • Much like Age of Ultron, this film has almost nothing in common with the original Civil War story, other than the title, and the basic premise of heroes fighting each other, with the teams being lead by Iron Man and Captain America, because they don't agree about whether they should comply with the government.
  • Internal Reveal: In the climax, it's revealed to Tony that his parents' deaths were caused by HYDRA's interference, and that it was Bucky who personally executed them. Audiences had first become aware at the very least of HYDRA's involvement after Arnim Zola's confession in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Black Panther stops Zemo from eating a bullet.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • As Captain America goes to ever-greater lengths to protect Bucky, Black Widow notes at several points that "He's not gonna stop." When Tony flies into a rage after learning Bucky killed his parents as the Winter Soldier, Cap repeats this line when he realizes that he isn't going to talk Tony down.
    • Early in the film, Sharon Carter gives an emotive speech, which ends saying "Compromise where you can. Where you can't, don't. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, 'No, you move'." At later points in the film, both Black Panther and Iron Man tell him to "move".
  • I Warned You: It is zigzagged at least twice during the film.
    • When the team first discusses the Sokovia Accords, Vision explains that their power invites conflict, creating a cycle when they inevitably win, and that collaboration with the government might help to ease that cycle. After the airport battle has left a fantastic mess, he reminds Wanda of that warning, though in a somber way. However, Vision ends up causing the most damage when he attempts to shoot Falcon and ends up crippling War Machine instead.
    • When Bucky is suspected of bombing the UN. Black Widow warns Steve not to get involved because he'll only make things worse. When he does get involved and causes a destructive chase, she reminds him of her previous warning. He shoots back by telling her at least Bucky is still alive since the forces being sent after him were attempting to kill him, and Black Panther would have probably finished the job if Steve hadn't interfered.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: General Ross points out (in regards to Cap claiming that they are in control) that none of them knows where Hulk and Thor are. Ross points out that he couldn't lose two nuclear warheads without facing some sort of punishment. This is made somewhat more meaningful by the fact that he had indeed lost Banner previously.
  • Just in Time: Inverted. When Zemo attempts to turn Bucky into the Winter Soldier with his trigger phrase, Bucky desperately tries to break out of his prison cell to stop him. It becomes a race, with Bucky trying to break out and Zemo trying to finish the trigger phrase. Bucky manages to get out, but he's a split second too late, and he tears down the wall of the cell just as Zemo finishes.
  • Juxtaposed Halves Shot: A promotional poster uses a juxtaposition of Steve Rogers on the left and Tony Stark on the right, while asking the memetic question "Whose side are you on?" For added symbolism, Steve's side is tinted blue and Tony's side is tinted red.
  • Kill and Replace: Zemo kills the psychiatrist who would have taken Bucky's case and impersonates him, allowing him to get close enough to use the Trigger Phrase.

    Tropes L to P 
  • Launcher Move:
    • Scarlet Witch hurls a mook into the air so that Falcon can finish him off.
    • When special ops enter Bucky's apartment and attack him and Cap, he shoves Steve forward, forcing him to bop one soldier on the head with his shield. Steve is not entirely willing, however.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • From the end of the second trailer, Spider-Man's "Hey, everyone," is a whimsical hello to both the other protagonists and the audience — largely composed of overexcited fans freaking out at his sudden appearance.
    • Tony is surprised that Aunt May isn't an elderly woman, and continually brings this up during his following conversation with Peter.
    • Peter saying the Spider-Man footage gathered by Tony Stark must have been altered with special effects. Yeah, we know it is, just not within the movie's context...
  • Leitmotif:
    • An interesting use: as Zemo says the Winter Soldier's trigger phrase, the Soldier's distinctive electronic theme from the previous film joins the soundtrack and grows gradually more noticeable. As Bucky reverts to the Winter Soldier persona, the theme is complete and more ominous than ever.
    • Zemo himself has one, heard here. An ominous, mysterious theme, used throughout the film as he searches for the evidence of Bucky killing Stark's parents.
    • T'Challa also has his own, "Ancestral Call". A subdued, exotic theme that reflects the Black Panther's endeavors in the film are done for Wakanda and its legacy.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: The film loosely adapts the Crisis Crossover storyline Civil War. It also draws influence from the Captain America story arcs Captain America: Winter Soldier and The Death of Captain America by including the characters of Winter Soldier, Crossbones, and Zemo, whose comic alter egos all played prominent roles in the aforementioned storylines.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are more superheroes in this movie than in Avengers: Age of Ultron, including two introduced in the movie, and that's not even getting into the supporting cast.
  • MacGuffin: You can hardly get more guffin-y than the unidentified bioweapon vial that gets stolen at the beginning of the movie. No details about it are given and, once the scene featuring it is over, it never comes up again.
  • Made of Iron: That random CTTF operative who gets his head shoved into a concrete wall by Bucky's metal arm and is still fighting. Even with a helmet that ought to hurt a lot.
  • Manly Tears: Steve breaks down when he finds out that Peggy has passed away.
  • Marquee Alter Ego:
    • Zemo does not wear a purple mask like he does in the comics.
    • Individual character posters were released for all the heroes except Spider-Man. Of them, Captain America is the only one to keep his mask on, and that's only because his mask shows off a lot of his face to begin with. Black Panther, Iron Man, War Machine, and Ant-Man all have their masks or helmets off.
    • The final theatrical poster has Iron Man and War Machine without their masks, though Black Panther still has his.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • One done that happened as a result of a Retcon — Tony's "Nice job, kid!" hearkens back to the same statement he made toward Peter in Iron Man 2 when he distracted the Hammer drone.
    • During Tony and Steve's last fight which would effectively end their friendship, Tony starts gaining the upper hand and gives Steve a final warning to back down. Steve responds with the line "I can do this all day." The same line he said twice in Captain America: The First Avenger. First when he was being beaten by a bully, pre-serum, and again when facing off against the Red Skull.
  • Mle Trois: The scene where the special forces are fighting Bucky, with Captain America trying to make him surrender while preventing him from being killed at the same time. Then Black Panther shows up trying to kill Bucky and becomes another target.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Most of the Avengers sport new, upgraded tech.
    • Iron Man sports armor that looks similar to the comics' Bleeding Edge suit, and comes with all sorts of new goodies. The helmet now completely retracts into the suit rather than the face plate simply rising up and down. The weapons systems have been beefed up too, with new shoulder missiles, electric stun rounds, and it can even shoot off a set of large handcuffs to restrain individuals. Also, in case he doesn't have his suit, Tony now has a watch that can unfold into a fingerless Iron Man glove, with its own sonic pulse and flashbang weapons.
    • War Machine has a brand new suit of armor with a sinister-looking stun baton that can be pulled out from a compartment on his right shoulder. He also has sonic pulse weapons on the backs of his gloves that he can use to incapacitate opponents from a distance, as well as new missile and artillery compartments all over his suit.
    • Black Widow has extendable tonfas and her gauntlets can now fire electric stun rounds.
    • Falcon has a new flight suit with a mini-drone named "Redwing" and miniature missiles that can be launched from his pack and gauntlets. He also now uses his wings as armor (wrapping them around himself or folding them into a shield) when going against opponents with guns. Redwing itself is no slouch, either, coming with its own guns and a grappling hook.
    • Hawkeye has a new high-tech bow that can transform into a staff for melee combat, new non-lethal arrows, as well as a small baton in case his bow is taken.
    • Ant-Man has a significantly upgraded suit, with the regulator being controlled by a wrist-mounted computer rather than a dial on his belt buckle. He's also been experimenting with growing rather than shrinking and reverses the suit's normal process to become Giant-Man despite there being significant risk.
    • Spider-Man goes from a goofy-looking homemade costume to a skintight bodysuit with mechanical irises on the eyepieces to help manage and focus his enhanced sensory input. The costume is likely reinforced as we see him going through panes of glass without any rips.
    • Captain America himself comes with his own new gadget, a small handheld grappling line (similar to the one Black Widow used in The Winter Soldier) he keeps on his belt. It proves handy in briefly restraining Tony by the neck during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Bucky. Also inverted in that he goes from using electromagnets for his shield in Age of Ultron to, once again, using simple leather straps in this movie.
  • Military Salute: Just after having stolen his shield, Spider-Man gives a left-handed salute to Captain America while saying he's a big fan, to Iron Man's slight exasperation. Fans who really know Spidey will realize that this is a common thing for him. He doesn't know which hand to properly salute with and will often go for the left hand, as opposed to the correct right hand.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot:
    • The teaser poster pits Iron Man and Captain America against each other on opposite sides of the poster. The official poster is basically the same, adding the members of each team facing off against each other on opposite sides.
    • The promotional poster used for theater merchandise has both teams standing against each other on opposite sides.
  • Misplaced Retribution:
    • Zemo is trying to destroy the Avengers because his family was killed in Sokovia. He doesn't acknowledge the fact that the whole debacle was Ultron's fault (granted, Ultron was created by Tony Stark, but still). Similarly, the woman who's the catalyst for Tony's extreme guilt (and, as a result, pushing the Sokovia Accords) tells Tony she solely blames him for her son's death.
    • The incidents that Thunderbolt Ross cites as the justification for the Sokovia Accords are all the fault of someone other than the Avengers, and the Avengers were the only reason the death toll wasn't far higher: New York was Loki, Sokovia was Ultron (which admittedly is at least partly Stark's responsibility), Lagos was Crossbones, and Washington was HYDRA pretending to be S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • T'Challa tries to kill Bucky because he believes Bucky killed his father. This is despite the fact that the evidence against Bucky is a single grainy photograph. As with Secretary Ross's accusations, it also ignores Bucky's brainwashing. He realizes that this was stupid of him by the end of the film, and tells Zemo as much.
    • Tony is furious at Vision and holds him accountable for Rhodey's accident, but it really was just that. Vision was aiming for Falcon, but he managed to dodge it, and it struck Rhodey before Vision could stop firing.
    • Additionally, he blasts Falcon for dodging Vision's attack, which led to Rhodey's fall. Both Falcon and Iron Man tried and failed to save War Machine from that fall, and Sam was surrendering and apologizing.
    • Tony falls into a rage after it is revealed that Bucky killed his parents, ignoring that he was brainwashed by HYDRA to do so.
  • Missing Mom: While the death of Tony's father was revealed in The Winter Soldier and his mother was also said to be deceased in Iron Man, this film reveals that both of them died in the "car accident" arranged by HYDRA. When Tony learns they used Bucky to do it, he puts greater emphasis on the death of his mother, to whom he was closer.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Hawkeye's bow folds back into a standard Simple Staff, which he uses to fight Black Panther once he gets in close.
  • Mood Whiplash: One moment, Steve Rogers is discussing the Accords with the other super heroes. The next, he is attending the funeral of Peggy Carter.
  • Moral Myopia: Helmut Zemo. His scheme is to tear apart the Avengers as revenge for the loss of his family, but he causes several deaths along the way, with all the people he killed no doubt having family of their own.
  • More Dakka: After Scott reverses his regulator to become Giant-Man, Rhodey lets loose with every weapon in his arsenal, showing that this iteration of the War Machine suit is much more heavily armed than any previous version.
  • Motive Misidentification: Steve Rogers and the rest of Team Captain America, and later Tony Stark once he gets aware that the evidences against Bucky Barnes were faked, believe that Helmut Zemo is looking for the remnants of the Winter Soldier program to revive it and use the five remaining Super Soldiers for some nefarious plot. In truth Zemo never cared for the Winter Soldiers except as bait, and the first thing he does on finding them is killing them all in cryosleep. What he wants all along is to bring a wedge between the Avengers so that they'd fight and destroy each other, and for this he needs the report of Bucky's involvement with the murder of the Starks that is hidden in the Siberian HYDRA facility.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black:
    • Falcon gets hit with this trope once again, though his new costume has some red and silver as a visual reference to the comic outfit.
    • Once again, Cap wears an updated version of his World War II costume, very similar to his Avengers: Age of Ultron look.
    • Averted with Spider-Man. While his costume has patches of black not seen in the comics, the red and blue are as vibrant as they ever were on the page.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Both sides of this exchange are delivered in the coldest, most badass tone of voice humanly possible:
    [while crammed inside a 1960's VW Beetle]
    Bucky: Can you move your seat up?
    Sam: No.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Wanda is horrified when she accidentally blows up a building filled with civilians.
    • Vision is likewise horrified when he accidentally shoots War Machine out of the sky, paralyzing Rhodey.
    • And finally, Tony has this reaction when he sees that Ross has placed the captured members of Team Cap in incredibly spartan jail cells in a brutally remote facility, apparently indefinitely. They even have Wanda in a straitjacket and shock collar.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • How the people of Wakanda see the destruction of Sokovia, as it was achieved through the use of their stolen Vibranium. Even though they had no part in those events, their desire to make amends for the catastrophe is the catalyst for them breaking their isolation.
    • Tony Stark is primarily motivated by remorse over those who died in the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which he considers his fault since he created Ultron in the first place.
    • Wanda greatly blames herself for accidentally causing several people to die in an explosion early in the film — understandable, since "accidentally getting caught in someone else's explosion" was what killed her family.
    • Peter's talk with Tony implies something happened which led him to becoming a hero. We can all guess what that was.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The speech Sharon gives at Peggy's funeral has lines from Cap's (originally Mark Twain's) famous "No, you move," speech in the comics.
    Sharon Carter: Compromise where you can. And where you can't, don't. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right, even if the whole world is telling you to move. It is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say, "No. You move."
    • The film has Captain America and Black Panther meeting during a plot involving Sharon Carter and a character named Zemo, just like the original Tales of Suspense arc that kicked off Cap's Silver Age solo series.
    • Tony Stark's latest armor is a full version of the "Bleeding Edge" suit from the 2010 Invincible Iron Man comics, after his Age of Ultron suits began to evolve towards that comic design.
    • Hawkeye's new costume recalls his House of M look, as well as his short-lived Heroic Age costume.
    • Scarlet Witch's new costume recalls her X-Men: Evolution look, particularly the red trench coat.
    • Spider-Man is 15 years old, just like he was when he was introduced in the comics for the very first time. The costume itself is heavily inspired by Ditko's early Spider-Man art, although the simplified mask design and smaller chest insignia come directly from John Romita's version. As well, the spider insignia resembles that of the version used by Todd McFarlane.
    • Spider-Man mentions that if people with great power do nothing when they could have done something, then what happens next is on them. This alludes to his Uncle Ben dying after he failed to use his powers to stop a criminal in the comics.
    • In his first scene, Peter Parker is seen wearing a shirt with a pizza on it, a nod to how his original movie counterpart worked as a pizza delivery boy at the beginning of Spider-Man 2. There's even a slice of the pizza missing, referencing the scene where a random bystander is able to get his hands on a single slice before Spidey steals it back.
    • The promo art showing Black Panther fighting Captain America is an Homage Shot to Mike Zeck's iconic Captain America Annual #8 cover, but with the Panther subbing in for Wolverine.
    • Hawkeye fires off an arrow with Ant-Man atop it, much like the iconic scene from Avengers #223.
    • The drone Falcon uses in the film is named Redwing; in the comics, Redwing is a flesh-and-blood falcon Sam Wilson has a telepathic bond with. In the movie, Sam asks Black Widow to thank Redwing as if it were real, much to her chagrin.
    • Tony using his armor to directly analyze Captain America's fight patterns, and counter/pre-empt his moves actually comes from a specific series of panels in the original comic series. The difference is that unlike the film adaptation, the comic-book version of Tony uses this technique to basically ambush Captain America, essentially not acting out of desperation.
    • The shot of Cap and Iron Man fighting, with Steve ramming his shield into Tony's repulsor rays, is lifted straight from the comics cover.
    • Tony mentions that he always pictured F.R.I.D.A.Y. as a redhead. In the comics, she's got a hologram and, sure enough, she's a sexy redhead.
    • Once again, Spider-Man can't keep his mask on.
    • Tony gives Peter a new, more techy Spider-Man outfit, although it's not the Iron Spider armor.
    • The plot point about Zemo killing a psychiatrist and stealing his identity comes from Ed Brubaker's Captain America run, though in that case it was Doctor Faustus who killed and replaced the doctor.
    • Zemo's goal of dismantling the heroes from infighting even at his own personal and physical loss (including false-flag bombings and luring the heroes to a location from their past) comes from Brubaker's Captain America: No Escape arc where Zemo exposes Bucky's identity as the Winter Soldier to the public, while Bucky is serving as Captain America.
    • Rhodey ending up crippled is a nod to Greg Pak's War Machine run.
    • Steve's arguments about the UN sending the Avengers someplace they feel they shouldn't go or preventing them from going where they need to go is taken from the Avengers/X-Men storyline "Bloodties" where the UN orders the Avengers to stay out of the Genoshan conflict. Clint is the one who points out why the Avengers shouldn't answer to the UN using the arguments that Steve uses here.
    • The other Winter Soldiers being treated with a super soldier serum that makes them more powerful than Steve or Bucky but mentally unbalanced is a shout out to '50s' Cap who was brought back during Brubaker's run. The other Winter Soldiers come from Ed Brubaker's solo Winter Soldier series, set after his Captain America run. However, those Winter Soldiers in the comics are not Bucky's superiors in combat skills, and like the comic book Bucky, lack the Super Soldier Serum.
    • Bucky gets his Soviet-era arm blasted off by a Uni-Beam from Tony after reuniting with Steve. In the Red Menace arc in comics, he got it blasted off by one of the Red Skull's giant robots in his first reunion with Steve after getting his memory back. He got a replacement (with a different star and no cable on the arm) from Nick Fury.
    • Also from the Brubaker's Captain America run, Bucky having a trigger phrase is used. However, in the comics it just knocked him out. In the film it allows him to be mind-controlled.
    • Before going into Siberia, Bucky grabs a light machine gun from Black Widow's storage locker on the quinjet. Earlier she says "You could at least recognize me." In the comics, Bucky was Black Widow's main trainer and her secret lover. Once he got his memories back they picked up their relationship, leading to the solo Spy Couple Winter Soldier comic.
    • The final fight between Captain America and Iron Man with Iron Man on the ground and Cap beating the shit out of him before raising his shield to finish him mirrors their final fight in the Civil War series. Additionally, Cap giving up his shield and ending up allied with Black Panther were lifted from the post-Armor Wars relationship between Rogers and Stark.
    • Spider-Man having a projectable Spider-signal comes from the original Stan Lee run.
    • Vasily Karpov is introduced as the Winter Soldier's handler at the end of the Cold War. In the comics Karpov is the Soviet commander who rescues an injured Bucky and turns him into the Winter Soldier at the start of the Cold War.
    • Spider-Man's awkward reference to "that really old movie" The Empire Strikes Back and clumsy attempts at describing the Battle of Hoth could be a nod to how the Spider-Man of the comics never liked Star Wars anyways.
    • Like in the original comic, a grieving woman blames Tony and Tony alone for the death of her son in a superhero-related disaster.
    • Captain America once again steals a car.
    • At one point a female bodyguard of T'Challa threatens Black Widow to move out of the way and T'Challa remarks that a fight between them would be interesting to see. During Civil War T'Challa had two female bodyguards of his fight Black Widow to get her off his tail.
    • During Tony's visit to the Raft, Hawkeye mockingly calls him a futurist, a term Tony has often used to describe himself in other continuities. In the Civil War comics, a major reason for Tony Stark supporting the registration act was his attempts to predict future developments indicating that if the act was not followed, something much worse would result from it.
    • At the end of the film, Tony angrily shouts to Steve that the shield doesn't belong to him, to which he responds by dropping it and walking away. In The Stinger, Steve is shown breaking into the Raft in civilian clothes, showing that he has possibly given up the persona of Captain America completely. This is reminiscent of a prominent comics storyline in the '80s where the U.S. government pointed out that they technically own the shield and the image of Captain America, and therefore demanded that Steve Rogers should either directly work for the government or retire as Captain America. He chose the latter.
    • A deleted scene shows Steve, Bucky, and Sam handling the shield.
  • The Needs of the Many: As himself, Bucky wonders to Steve if his one life is worth all the trouble that Steve and his allies are facing trying to protect him. Naturally, Steve rebuffs this.
  • Neutral No Longer: After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wakanda has decided to break its isolation and begin humanitarian efforts, since it was their vibranium that enabled Ultron to build his weapon. They are understandably pissed when one such delegation is killed by collateral damage from the Avengers stopping a terrorist attack.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • A Downplayed Trope. The second trailer's battle shot is slightly altered to omit Spider-Man's appearance (as he is seen running toward Ant-Man in the film itself). However, this was only done for the purpose of making his reveal at the very end more surprising.
    • Spider-Man's "Hey everyone" line isn't said right after he lands, which explains why he sounds so unusually casual.
    • Ross shows the Avengers a series of news footage clips showing the destruction caused during their battles in various cities, during which Wanda looks away in distress and Steve tells Ross firmly, "That's enough." The trailer shows she was upset by the footage of Sokovia, which was her home and where she lost her brother during the battle; in the movie, however, it's the footage from Lagos that upsets her, since it was an accident on her part that caused the civilian deaths there.
    • In the trailers, when Steve says, "He's my friend" and Tony replies, "So was I," Tony's facial expression and tone of voice are full of disappointment and hurt. A different take is used in the film: he says it angrily, coldly, immediately before shooting at Steve. Also, the trailers suggest that Captain America was about to attack Iron Man on Bucky's behalf, when that scene was actually Iron Man just about to attack Captain America.
    • Many of Tony's other lines from the trailers aren't in the final film at all, like "You just started a war!", "You chose the wrong side" and "I was wrong about you. The whole world was wrong about you."
    • Tony's line "Sometimes I wanna punch you in your perfect teeth," is used in a different context in the film than in the trailer. In the trailer, it makes it look like he and Steve are arguing and that Tony's deliberately antagonizing him. In the actual film, he's actually admitting that he's still worried that Steve could end up incarcerated and is worriedly trying to convince him to sign the Super Registration Act.
    • In the trailers, Crossbones tell Steve "You know, he remembered you. Your pal, your buddy, your Bucky." The trailers slow this line down, as if he's saying it seriously. In the film, Crossbones says it quicker, mockingly.
    • A really clever one, but the second trailer has a scene of what looks like Bucky blasting War Machine out of the sky, when in reality, it's taken from two completely different scenes. The shot of Bucky raising his rifle and firing is from the HYDRA base near the end of the movie, while Rhodey is shot down much earlier at the airport, and by Vision of all people.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Ant-Man becoming Giant-Man is a blatant example of this. However, because the new powers are a logical extension of the established ones, because the comic-book version has had them for decades, and because there's a good reason for not using them until it's urgently necessary, it works within the film's context.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: Part of the driving force behind the Super Registration Act is that the Avengers have become this. S.H.I.E.L.D. and the governing council are gone, and the Avengers are led by Rogers and funded by Stark with no oversight or authority. The world's governments are trying to bring things back under control.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Captain America's New Avengers end up blowing up part of an office building when Wanda redirects a bomb away from the ground-level crowds but angles it too close to the building. This proves to be the last straw for the international community after the events of the previous films, leading to the Sokovia Accords. The fact that a Wakandan delegation just happened to be in the building doesn't help matters.
    • Remember Black Widow leaking HYDRA's information online in The Winter Soldier? Helmut Zemo decrypts some of it and finds out about the red HYDRA book containing a set of words used as a Trigger Phrase to control The Winter Soldier, which he proceeds to take advantage of in order to pit the Avengers against each other.
    • Captain America's efforts to save Bucky despite the already hostile international climate end up driving the conflict of the film. He acknowledges as much just before he gets started, but refuses to back down.
    • On the other side, Tony's well-meaning but heavy-handed attempts to do damage control only end up pushing Captain America further away. Any chance of a compromise is lost completely when he admits he's been keeping Wanda under house arrest with the Vision's help since her recent mistake has made her extremely unpopular.
    • Vision's somewhat careless attempt to shoot down Falcon leads to Rhodey suffering spinal damage when the shot misses and fries his armor, leading to a nasty crash.
    • Steve found out in Winter Soldier that Howard and Maria Stark were murdered by HYDRA. Even leaving aside the question of whether he was aware specifically that Bucky was the murder weapon, the fact is that Steve knew that Tony's parents were actually murdered for about two years and never told him. Just as they're beginning to reconcile at the film's end, Tony learns the truth in the worst way possible, goes ballistic, and tries to murder Bucky right there and then, which demolishes their friendship seemingly beyond repair. If Steve had just told Tony about it at an earlier time, the whole confrontation likely could've been avoided.
    • Bucky is believed to be running missions again and so is captured to prevent him from doing more damage. Turns out, he was actually framed for his supposed attack, but his capture gave Zemo the perfect opportunity to trigger him for real.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In the final act, Zemo admits to framing Bucky while Black Panther is secretly listening in, thereby convincing Black Panther to let go of his vengeance. As a result, he shelters Team Cap after everything's said and done, giving Cap a chance to mend fences with Tony and lay the seeds for a possible reconciliation.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Subverted via Revision. In the original films, there is no indication that innocents were hurt by the Avengers themselves (only by hostile forces) during the Battle of New York or Project INSIGHT. However, this is shown not to be true by new footage of the battles, demonstrating that yes, there were innocents hurt, but we were innocently unaware due to Rule of Perception.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The final fight is a series of these back and forth. Whenever the antagonist has one of the protagonists by themselves, they get thrashed. On the other hand, the protagonists together are almost enough to beat the antagonist outright. Later, one of the protagonists delivers one to the antagonist pinned against a wall before the antagonist invokes Awesome by Analysis and very nearly kills the remaining protagonist in retaliation. The fight only ends when the protagonist breaks Iron Man's arc reactor in one last beating.
  • No Man Should Have This Power:
    • Runs both ways in a fashion. Tony feels that the Avengers and other super-powered beings are too dangerous to be left unchecked and should be government-regulated for the greater good while Steve thinks that such regulation gives the government too much power and infringes on civil rights/liberties, and has seen how well "oversight" worked before with HYDRA's corruption of S.H.I.E.L.D. The fact that they both have a point hurts matters.
    • This is the reason why Zemo kills the other five Winter Soldiers without even waking them up, instead of making use of them. He says explicitly that he doesn't want more people like Steve or Bucky.
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: Despite there being some truly brutal fights, the Avengers are purposefully avoiding trying to kill one another.
    • Bucky avoids killing the police at his apartment and the other Avengers. In the former case, however, he does deliberately put them in life-threatening situations to distract Steve, who unfailingly rescues them.
    • Hawkeye has switched to using special arrows that can incapacitate his targets without killing them.
    • Black Widow uses regular tonfa sticks as opposed to her electric batons.
    • War Machine pulls a zappy club to use on Captain America, stating that it won't kill him "but it's not gonna tickle, either." A few minutes later, he uses a much heavier version of the same sonic weapon Tony used on Bucky. And a few seconds after that, Giant-Man swings a jetway at War Machine, and the latter uncorks the bottle and basically vaporizes it in about two seconds.
    • At one point, Black Widow reminds Tony he ordered them to "go easy" on Cap's team.
    • Scarlet Witch chides Hawkeye on pulling his punches while fighting Black Widow.
    • Spider-Man's attacks mostly consist of him using his webbing to disarm and bind the other heroes.
    • Ant-Man attempts this but isn't quite so good at it, nearly blowing Black Widow, War Machine and Black Panther up because he tosses a fuel tanker at them (he thought it was a water truck).
    • Vision also shows he isn't quite good at it, either. The attack that took down War Machine was meant for Falcon, and while one might charitably claim that only Falcon's flight pack would have been hit, it was far more powerful than necessary to do the job (War Machine told him to merely knock out Falcon's thruster). The fact that a simple dodge was enough to make Vision miss shows he clearly didn't think it through properly.
    • Iron Man's new armor is capable of firing a set of handcuffs at enemies' legs or arms, in case he needs to restrain someone quickly and non-lethally, like Steve, for example, so he can finish off Bucky without any interruption.
  • Noodle Incident: The audience should know by now that Peter Parker got his powers from being bitten by a radioactive (and/or genetically engineered) spider, but In-Universe, Peter simply tells Tony "it's a long story".
  • No-Sell:
    • Crossbones has his mercs launch noxious gas into the building he's raiding. Captain America goes right in with no mask and is unaffected, even yanking off one mook's mask to disable him.
    • Black Widow tries to tase Crossbones, but he essentially laughs it off and overpowers her.
    • A helicopter shoots at Black Panther, who wears a vibranium-laced suit and thus doesn't even flinch.
    • Hawkeye's attempts to physically attack Vision are just as useful as you'd expect. Vision just phases through his attacks, before he stops doing it just to demonstrate that Hawkeye's blows can't even budge him.
    • Hawkeye doesn't fare any better against Black Panther, who shrugs off two of his explosive arrows without flinching.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Both sides do a poor job of convincing the other of why their side is in the right, mostly because each side just keeps validating the other's worries:
    • Pro-Accord:
      • A team is sent after Bucky, only a suspect at this point, with shoot to kill orders. This is a massive misstep for a manhunt and barely justifiable by Bucky legitimately being that dangerous. When Steve asks if Bucky will at least get a lawyer, Everett Ross laughs in his face.
      • Steve's worries about government obstruction are proven when T'Challa interferes with the above manhunt and gets away with it because of his status as Wakanda's ruler. He also essentially says to Steve's face that he is going to kill Bucky regardless of what gets in his way after the latter's capture, implying that he's willing to break laws that his country is openly pushing for just to get revenge on the person who might be responsible for his father's death.
      • Ross outright ignores evidence that Bucky was framed, implying that the UN is more concerned with appearing efficient than with doing what it's supposed to be doing.
      • Most of the collateral damage during the airport battle is caused by the Pro-Accord side going to increasingly drastic lengths to stop the others.
      • Tony basically puts Wanda under house arrest and doesn't even tell her about it until after the decision was made, which leads to her breaking out with Hawkeye.
    • Anti-Accord:
      • While Steve and Sam were protecting Bucky from being executed, Tony points out the ensuing property damage is something of a "PR fire".
      • This trope is Played for Laughs when Steve gives Bucky a brief disapproving look after he almost knocks a SWAT officer over a railing.
      • Concerns about collateral damage aren't disproved as necessary losses when Ant-Man mistakes a fuel truck for a water one and uses it as a weapon during the battle.
      • Steve protests against Wanda's house arrest, but Tony points out that due to both the scale of her powers, and her direct involvement with two major superhuman disasters, she's considered a huge risk. This position isn't entirely unfounded, given that she once freely worked with both HYDRA and Ultron, freely admits that she doesn't understand her own powers, and was indirectly responsible for the events that led to Ultron nearly destroying the world.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The movie definitely shakes things up, as promised by the directors. By the end:
    • The only remaining active residents in the Avengers compound are Tony and the Vision.
    • The other resident, Rhodey, is critically injured and might never be able to walk properly again without his exoskeleton's help.
    • Steve, Wanda, Sam, Scott and Clint are presumably still a team, but are now fugitives with likely very limited resources. In the cases of Scott and Clint, with few options to contact their families.
    • Natasha is also a fugitive and it is unknown whether she's contacted the others.
    • T'Challa was never really a part of the team in the first place, but he's now hiding Steve and Bucky. If it becomes known that he's now hiding Bucky, he could be risking a war.
    • Bucky went back to cryosleep, at least until the Wakandan scientists can figure out a way to remove his brainwashing.
    • Peter, like T'Challa, was also not really a part of the team. Since he's, of course, a teenager, he merely went back to continue his life, though with a few extra gadgets to help his crime-fighting.
  • Nothing Left to Do but Die: At the end, after meeting his goals, Zemo tries to commit suicide.
  • Not His Sled:
    • Unlike the event it draws inspiration from, none of the heroes die, even Captain America, whose death changed Marvel Comics for a while. But that doesn't mean there still wasn't an enormous divide.
    • In the comic, Crossbones successfully kills Captain America during the final stretch. In the film, Crossbones dies at the end of the Action Prologue, while Cap, as mentioned earlier, lives to see the end of the film.
    • In the comics, Spider-Man switched sides in the Civil War arc. In the film, Black Widow is the only defector.
  • Not So Different:
    • Tony and Steve. They will do anything to protect their best friends — Rhodey and Bucky, respectively. They both also explicitly suffer from Chronic Hero Syndrome in the movie. It costs Tony his relationship and propels Steve's actions throughout.
    • Loss is a constant theme for both Steve and Tony in this film. Both men are no longer with the love of their lives, nearly lose their best friends, and are going to lose the closest thing they have to family (and each other) because they can't come to a compromise.
    • Steve and Peter. Both are shown to be regular guys from New York trying to do the right thing. In fact, Peter's explanation for why he's a hero mirrors Cap's. Both pretty much say that they can't/shouldn't ignore a situation where their abilities can help. The irony is that they're on opposite sides.
    • Zemo and T'Challa. Both are willing to go to the extreme in avenging their loved ones' deaths, but while T'Challa eventually has a Heel Realization and moves on from it, Zemo is too consumed by it, and his hatred causes The Avengers to be divided.
    • Vision deliberately invokes this with Wanda in an effort to sympathize with her. After Wanda talks about how she doesn't fully understand or control her powers and wonders if maybe she should be locked up to protect everyone else, Vision shares having similar feelings about the gem bonded to his forehead, as he knows very little about its true nature.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Like The Winter Soldier before it, the movie has sequences where the heroes operate without any costumes. Black Widow and Scarlet Witch are seen in civilian gear during the battle between the Avengers and Crossbones. Bucky is also not wearing his Winter Soldier costume since he's no longer a brainwashed HYDRA operative. Even Vision gets some scenes in civilian clothing.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: During the airport battle, Hawkeye is clearly played by Jeremy Renner's stunt double in several shots. It's also obvious that Ant-Man is mostly played by a double because (despite the full-face helmet) he doesn't demonstrate Paul Rudd's distinct running style.
  • Offscreen Breakup: It is revealed that Tony and Pepper are no longer together — or at least are having relationship difficulties — due to his continued desire to be Iron Man.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • How Peter, Rhodes and Tony react to Giant-Man.
      Spider-Man: Holy shit!
      War Machine: Okay, tiny dude is big now! He's big now!
      Iron Man: Does anyone else on the team have any sudden, fantastic powers they'd like to show? I am open to suggestions!
    • Beforehand, there is Steve's crew reacting to Vision entering the battlefield.
    • Steve gets a moment of this as well during the final battle. After Iron Man uni-beams Winter Soldier's metal arm off, Cap manages to close in and starts demolishing him. However, Tony has Awesomeness by Analysis built into his suit, and after a brief scan, pulls a Punch Catch that stops the fight dead for a solid three seconds. Cap looks like he has no idea what the hell just happened.
    • In a very dark one, Bucky has this reaction after he's taken prisoner by Iron Man's forces and the psychologist appointed by the UN to evaluate him — who is actually Helmut Zemo, the Big Bad of the film — begins using Bucky's Trigger Phrase to activate his Winter Soldier programming. Bucky panics and immediately begins trying to break out of his restraints and escape his cell before he can be fully triggered. He gets out, but not soon enough to stop Zemo from activating him.
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • The film opens with a flashback to 1991 and the Winter Soldier being sent on a mission to steal some Applied Phlebotinum and kill its owner. Several more flashbacks scattered through the movie add extra details: the second time reveals what the phlebotinum is for, and the last time reveals (or confirms for the audience members who guessed already) who the Winter Soldier killed to get it.
    • The phone call when Zemo is at the airport. It's from his wife, and the assumption is that he's neglecting his family to carry out his scheme. By the time we see him listening to it again near the end of the movie, we've learned that his family is all dead, and this is an old phone message he's kept as a Tragic Keepsake and a reminder of what he's fighting for.
    • The Stinger from Ant-Man reappears in full context, showing why Bucky's arm is in a vise and why Steve and Sam really need Scott.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Averted with James Barnes and James Rhodes both being characters in the movie; zig-zagged with them being known as Bucky and Rhodey, respectively.
    • Thunderbolt Ross and Everett Ross (no relation) are also supporting characters.
  • Only Like Can Cut Like: Since Black Panther's claws are made of Vibranium, he is able to leave scratches on Captain America's shield.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Tony is uncharacteristically quiet when being briefed on the Sokovia Accords. Black Widow remarks upon it, and Steve deduces it's because Tony's already made up his mind.
    • Tony has no snark or quips against Steve and Bucky in the final fight. Just unrelenting focus and Tranquil Fury.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Despite being trained agents, Sharon Carter and Black Widow aren't at the level of a super-soldier.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Zemo is shown to be putting his gun into his belt in his hotel room about 42 minutes into the movie.
  • Le Parkour:
    • Black Widow uses some standard freerunning techniques while chasing Crossbones's mercenaries through the Lagos market.
    • The scenes following Bucky's escape attempt leading to the underpass chase has plenty of these too.
  • Parting Words Regret: Tony's first appearance in the film is within a holographic reenactment of the last time he saw his parents alive. The hologram of his mother makes it eerily clear that the argument they're having is the last time Tony will speak to either of them, and he acknowledges the regret he's been living with for all these years at never having the chance to make amends.
  • The Password is Always "Swordfish": Averted, the code to activate the Winter Soldier is basically a series of random words in Russian, highly unlikely to be guessed.
  • Pastiche: Just as the first Captain America film was a pastiche of World War II films, and the second was a pastiche of '70s conspiracy movies, this one is a pastiche of late '90s/early '00s Euro-thrillers such as The Peacemaker and The Bourne Identity.
  • Pedestrian Crushes Car: A Downplayed example. Captain America dropkicks a military truck, sending its fender crashing into the face of a mercenary taking cover on its opposite side.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Played with in Tony's first scene. The audience is shown a flashback to Tony's last conversation with his parents before their deaths, at the end of which the adult Tony is visible watching from a doorway — then there's a Proscenium Reveal and it turns out that Tony is physically present in a holographic re-enactment based on his memories.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Ross invokes this while referring to Hulk and Thor as two missing nuclear warheads. Tony later does the same to Wanda, saying the U.S doesn't grant visas to weapons of mass destruction.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse:
    • Ant-Man, once again, gets to show off how dangerous he can be when shrunk down.
    • Spider-Man, despite looking physically slight, can hold his own in brute-strength fights against enhanced opponents. Best demonstrated when Bucky attempts to hit him with his concrete-breaking metal arm, and Spider-Man doesn't look like he puts any effort whatsoever into blocking it. He's only bested because the other side has much more practical combat experience than he does.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: The cell isn't strong enough to hold Bucky; he stays put as long as he does out of a desire to cooperate, and only tries to escape when Zemo begins reciting the Trigger Phrase. Downplayed in that the cell is designed to shock misbehaving occupants, and that feature goes out when the power to the building is disrupted.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Spider-Man and Ant-Man serve as comic relief for the otherwise serious film. Since neither of those two are as personally connected to the conflict as the Avengers or Black Panther, they're able to more easily joke about the situation and remain lighthearted. In an aversion of the usual tropes that follow such characters, they also end up being pivotal in their respective sides' efforts.
  • Point That Somewhere Else: After Wanda throws a big kitchen knife at Hawkeye with telekinesis and it stops an inch from his face, Clint casually pushes it aside with a finger.
  • Poke the Poodle: Sam refusing to move his car seat forward at Bucky's request, while both sit within a very cramped VW Bug.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Steve, Sharon, and Sam quickly work out that Bucky's being framed for the UN bombing, but they don't bother to tell anyone else. Justified as they believe nobody will believe them.
    • When Steve finds Bucky in Bucharest, Bucky tells him that he wasn't responsible for the bombing, and it seems he might be willing to turn himself in. However, Steve makes no attempt to communicate this to the police outside, and they both just stand there until the police break in and attack.
    • When Bucky is being held at the terrorism center, nobody brings up the fact that he was brainwashed by HYDRA and might not have been in control of his actions. At the very least, Black Panther wasn't told this, since he continues to believe that Bucky killed his father deliberately.
  • Power Fist: Crossbones's fists are covered with piston-like devices that allow him to punch Captain America hard enough to send him flying.
  • The Power of Hate: What's fuelling Zemo's crusade? His dead family after the devastation of Sokovia.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film completely upends its comic book namesake, changing the Superhero Registration Act into the Sokovia Accords, the reasoning for the accords (from a panicking Nitro setting off his expanded powers to kill The New Warriors and 600 others in Stanton to a suicide vest by Crossbones going off and killing bystanders in a botched Avengers mission), giving new reasoning between Captain America and Iron Man's disagreements (both the Accords and the possible innocence of the Winter Soldier) and increasing the importance of Black Panther, Black Widow and Scarlet Witch (who either had bit parts or weren't around in the comic story) while decreasing that of Spider-Man (who played a major part in the original comic).
    • The film scales down the Crisis Crossover elements of Civil War to focus on a (relatively) smaller conflict between various superheroes, along with the ideological conflict represented between Iron Man and Captain America.
    • Since there are next to no secret identities in the MCU, the Super Registration Act is instead about forcing heroes to work as agents of world governments.
    • Spider-Man does not publicly reveal his Secret Identity because of the change in the nature of the Super Registration Act and because he makes his debut in the MCU here — not to mention that he's still in high school when the movie occurs. He also does not change sides.
    • The New Warriors and Nitro (the original instigators) do not currently exist in the MCU. Instead, the catalyst for the Super Registration Act is an international incident involving the Avengers. Not to mention, the original catalyst — a bunch of teenage superheroes causing a catastrophe simply to get more viewers for their reality show — would sound a little too far-fetched for a live-action movie anyway. However, while Nitro isn't involved, the incident IS someone blowing himself up, just instead of Nitro, it's Crossbones.
    • Elements of Ed Brubaker's Winter Soldier story arc are incorporated to tie Civil War into the previous Cap film.
    • Characters who had only minor roles in the original comic book event (e.g. Black Panther, Black Widow, Hawkeye) have bigger roles due to the differences between the MCU in 2016 and the Marvel Universe circa 2006.
    • Rather than ask us to believe all these heroes would literally go to war simply over a political issue, the film has the more concrete issue of the Avengers not having Hero Insurance and what to do with Bucky as the catalysts for the fighting.
    • Most importantly, none of the Avengers die. In the comics, Bill "Goliath" Foster and Captain America (and a bunch of C-list heroes and villains nobody cares about) died. The most serious casualty in the movie is Rhodey, who is paralyzed but mobile thanks to Stark Tech. Cap also does not surrender at the end of the fight, and instead remains a fugitive.
    • Also, in the comic, S.H.I.E.L.D. attempted to arrest Captain America for simply saying he wouldn't personally enforce a law that hadn't been passed yet. Here, Cap isn't a target until he actually breaks the law to help Bucky and there is an earnest attempt to convince him to change his mind. Cap, for his part, doesn't break the law until he hears there's a kill-on-sight order out on Bucky — prior to that, he and Falcon were apparently just going to retire.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
    • Right before the showdown in the airport:
      Falcon: What do we do?
      Captain America: We fight.
    • Not to be outdone:
      Spider-Man: They're not stopping.
      Iron Man: Neither are we.
  • Precision F-Strike: Spider-Man's reaction to Ant-Man enlarging.
    Spider-Man: HOLY SHIT!
  • Product Placement:
    • Audi provided a large number of cars for the film.
    • Cap and Stark use Vivo smartphones, although Stark's is a fictional model with features that are nowhere close to being available in the real world.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • After Bucky reveals that there are more Winter Soldiers, Steve considers asking Tony for help, but he and Sam conclude that Tony likely wouldn't believe them or be allowed to help even if he did. Both of these turn out to be true, though the circumstances are of Steve's own making (Steve escaped with Bucky in the first place and Tony is under a deadline to catch him as a result). As such, Steve prepares for a confrontation ahead of time.
    • On the other side, after Sam and Steve have escaped with Bucky, Natasha and Tony both recruit backup in the likely event Steve won't stand down when they find him. Natasha invites Black Panther, while Tony gets Spider-Man.
    • Vasily Karpov barricaded himself in his own house in Cleveland after HYDRA fell and is paranoid of everyone that comes within the vicinity of the house. He even keeps the most valuable files (including the red journal with instructions to operate the Winter Soldier) buried deep inside the wall. Doesn't stop Zemo from successfully barging in, finding the files, and killing him in cold blood when he doesn't cooperate, anyway.
  • Punch Catch:
    • Captain America catches Bucky's fist with both hands at the Berlin prison after Bucky has been brainwashed to kill. It only works briefly before Bucky redoubles his efforts and pushes Cap into an elevator shaft.
    • Spider-Man catches Bucky's fist at the airport battle. He then takes a moment to tell him how awesome his metal arm is — while effortlessly turning it around to better examine it. The astonished face Bucky makes is priceless.
    • Iron Man catches Bucky's fist too at the start of their fight at the Siberian facility, before throwing it aside to grab Bucky's neck and fly off with him. He also blocks Steve's near the end of the fight, due to having Awesomeness by Analysis built into his suit.
  • Punched Across the Room:
    • In the Action Prologue, Crossbones uses his Power Fist to send Captain America flying through the marketplace.
    • Spider-Man kicks Falcon and sends him flying with his Dynamic Entry at the airport.
    • Giant-Man, just as he's losing balance from Spider-Man tying up his legs, backhands Spidey and sends him into a pile of crates, finally taking the webslinger out of the fight.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: After blocking Bucky's gunshot with his armored gauntlet, dismantling his pistol, and bludgeoning him in the face with it, Tony looks pretty pleased with himself... for about two seconds before he realizes that Bucky is completely unfazed and knocks him on his ass.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Thor does not appear in Civil War, as he has some business back at Asgard regarding the Infinity Stones and Ragnarok. Hulk is confirmed to be in the same boat as Thor, since his fate is similarly under wraps. Their absence is lampshaded, with Ross using the fact that nobody knows where they are as one of his arguments for why the Avengers need oversight, comparing it to losing track of a couple of nuclear missiles.
    • Nick Fury and Maria Hill also don't appear, though Kevin Feige has promised their whereabouts will be revealed soon in an upcoming movie.
    • President Ellis is also absent, so Secretary of State Ross is the main government functionary who interacts with the President.
    • None of the people shown working at the New Avengers Compound at the end of the last movie (Dr. Selvig, Helen Cho, etc.) are seen in the movie. It seems like the only people present there are the actual Avengers.
    • Pepper Potts is no longer dating Tony and it's unclear if she's even working with Stark Industries anymore.

    Tropes Q to S 
  • Race Lift: Miriam and her son are black instead of white like in the comics.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • A group whose members are friendly with each other and working towards a shared purpose can still fall apart if higher priorities conflict.
    • Even though Bucky regained his memories and is a good guy again, he still killed a lot of people while he was a Brainwashed and Crazy assassin, thus making him a wanted fugitive by the government. Even if they buy that he was Brainwashed and Crazy, the best case scenario is that he'll end up under close scrutiny from now on. This becomes a major Plot Point when we learn that two of those people were Howard and Maria Stark.
    • The Avengers have saved the world numerous times, but many people are growing tired of the amount of collateral damage the heroes leave in their wake, especially since becoming essentially an N.G.O. Superpower following the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the World Security Council.
    • The Russos have said they wanted to provide a more realistic depiction of the Perpetual Poverty Spider-Man and Aunt May often find themselves in. In a sharp departure from the comics and previous movies, it's revealed that the Parkers live in a small apartment rather than a decent-sized house, reflecting what a family with only one source of income would likely be able to afford in 2016.
    • Additionally, Spider-Man's Super Senses cause him Sensory Overload. He needs special lenses in his mask just to compensate when in "Spidey Mode". However, he seems able to mute them to function as Peter Parker everyday.
    • Related, but in the comics and the original movie from the Spider-Man Trilogy, Peter created his costume himself despite his lack of resourcesnote  or anything to indicate he's talented at sewing or design. Here, his homemade costume is low-rent and crappy-looking, and he doesn't get his iconic suit until the wealthy Tony Stark provides it for him.
    • As it turns out, spending all your time doing superheroics after you promised to retire really doesn't do wonders for your relationship, as Tony has learned regarding Pepper.
    • Peggy Carter, a veteran of World War II over seventy years ago, is not going to be around long in the 2010s. She dies of Alzheimer's in this film due to her very old age.
    • The falling debris from Sokovia seemed to have fallen harmlessly to the ground below in the film where it was destroyed. Apparently not so, as some of the debris fell on the remainder of the town below, killing Zemo's family among others.
    • In the same vein, when speaking to the Avengers about the Accords, Ross has them view videos from the Battle of New York and the events of Winter Soldier, which showcase people being hit by rubble as the Hulk slams into the side of a building and others being swept into the water of the river that the Helicarriers crashed into. Suddenly that woman who tried to kill Jessica Jones just for being gifted makes a bit more sense...
    • Both Cap and Bucky are shown to be significantly heavier than a normal human, as a result of their Super Strength. During Cap and Bucky's fight with the Bundespolizei/UN forces, Bucky bends steel railings just by falling onto them from a three stories above; in a later scene, Cap is able to ground a just-started helicopter by grabbing it.
    • When Scott goes into Giant-Man mode during the fight, he exerts more energy moving his larger body around and is significantly slower. When he goes back to normal, he is completely drained and asks for some orange slices.
    • Even though Bucky is proven not to have been behind the UN bombings, Team Cap is still imprisoned for hampering his arrest and when Steve breaks them out, they become fugitives.
    • When they bring Scott in to join the team (flying him from America to Germany to do so), Scott's jet-lagged to hell and sleeping it off in the back of Clint's van when they meet up with Steve (despite them getting him a coffee).
    • Scarlet Witch's legal status presents problems for the Avengers, as she's not an American citizen, and as Tony points out, the government doesn't just randomly grant visas to walking WMDs.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Peter doesn't seem to know a lot about Star Wars, despite being a really scientifically smart kid and probably a bit geeky. While there are fan theories (he's trying not to seem too geeky in front of the Avengers, it's a Mythology Gag to Spidey saying he hates Star Wars in the comics, etc.), the commentary for the movies notes that Peter was born more than a decade after The Empire Strikes Back (where the "ice planet" and "walking thingie" references come from). In addition, they state that Tom Holland had never seen Episode V in real life, so it seems somewhat justified that Peter isn't that familiar with the movie.
    • Although the Avengers are genuine heroes to us, viewers who've been following them for years or even decades, just like any real world personality they can be and are blamed by the media, the public, and the government for making the best choices in a bad situation, even if doing nothing would have been infinitely worse.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • The mother of the son who was killed in Sokovia certainly gives one to Tony at the start of the film.
      Miriam: You think you fight for us, but you only fight for yourself.
    • Ross gives a visual one to the Avengers by showing them the collateral damage from The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, and Age of Ultron.
    • Clint gives one to Tony when the latter visits the former and the other imprisoned Team Cap members.
  • Recognition Failure: The postman clearly has no idea who Tony is.
  • Recursive Ammo: Hawkeye is shown firing a single arrow that bursts into several more arrows mid-flight.
  • Redemption Demotion:
    • Scarlet Witch uses none of her mind-control / fear-inducing / vision-inducing powers that single-handedly took down all of the Avengers in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
    • Bucky, trying to make up for his assassin past, deliberately uses less-lethal force against his foes.
  • Red Herring:
    • The Avengers' differences in opinion on the Sokovia Accords is not the source of conflict in the movie. Helmut Zemo is.
    • Zemo's objective in the movie is not to gain control of the other five Winter Soldiers to enact his revenge, but to turn the Avengers against each other so that they will destroy themselves. He kills the five without even waking them up.
      Zemo: Did you really think I want five more of you?
    • Related to the above, the film suggests that the crucial detail of the opening flashback is Bucky stealing the Super Soldier serum. In reality, the crucial detail is the car crash, since it involves the death of Howard and Maria Stark.
    • Tony shows off glasses that can replay memories for others to view. You might think they'll be used to view Bucky's memories and prove he wasn't involved in the bombing. They never come up again. The actual point of that scene is showing how Tony hasn't gotten over his parents dying, and for him to meet the angry mother of someone who died in Sokovia.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Color scheme-wise and temperament-wise, it's Iron Man and Captain America, respectively. Tony is hot-headed and passionate, while Cap is cool and rational. In terms of stances, however, they are inverted. Cap argues that superheroes have civil liberties and should be allowed to operate without government supervision (Red), while Iron Man argues that superheroes need to restrained for the greater good (Blue).
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Like with past incarnations of Spider-Man, Peter Parker has invented a weird fluid that works like a super-glue. He uses it to pursue a costumed crime-fighting career. Here it seems to be justified, because Peter is currently still a kid and a new superhero who wants to maintain a secret identity. The one person who knows his identity is Tony Stark, so how this trope will play out has yet to be seen.
  • Relocating the Explosion: Subverted. Scarlet Witch ends up blowing up part of an office building when she redirects a bomb away from the ground-level crowds but angles it too close to the building.
  • Retcon: The film claims that 74 people died during Loki's invasion of New York City. However, the New York Bulletin front page in Ben Urich's office in Daredevil has claimed the death toll was in the hundreds. It could be explained as the Bulletin exaggerating the casualty count for sensationalism.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • Crossbones sticks behind to fight Captain America simply because he holds a grudge.
    • Tony is letting his emotions cloud his better judgement.
    • Ditto for T'Challa who, upon having a Heel Realisation, eventually accuses Zemo of this, too.
    • The woman who's the catalyst for Tony's slow breakdown in the beginning pins all the blame of her son's death on him... as does Zemo.
  • Rogue Protagonist: Captain America and his team go against the government throughout this film and by the end of it.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Wakandan royal family, as per the comics. T'Chaka is the one actually leading the initiative on the Sokovia Accords and his son and successor T'Challa is actually participating in the fights.
  • Running Gag:
    • Throughout all three Captain America movies, his friends are extremely invested in his love life. Bucky tries to take him to a double date in The First Avenger, Natasha attempts to set him up with various women during The Winter Soldier, and when he finally manages to share a Big Damn Kiss with Sharon Carter in Civil War, both Sam and Bucky express their enthusiastic approval.
    • MCU Phase 2 has a running gag of people having appendages dismembered. While this is a Phase 3 film, Tony blasts off Bucky's robotic arm during the climactic fight, while Bucky tries to remove his arc reactor by force. The limb still hasn't been replaced when he goes into cryogenics at the end of the film.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Clint sarcastically claps at the start of his "The Reason You Suck" Speech when Tony shows up to speak to the imprisoned members of Team Cap.
  • Say My Name: Tony yells out a horrified "Rhodes!" while attempting to rescue the spoilered character from falling to their seeming death.
  • The Scapegoat: The Secretary of Defense (and the world he represents) blame The Avengers for all the chaos that dogs their career, despite the fact that (with the exception of Ultron) each disaster was actually caused by someone else and would've escalated into a significantly worse situation had the team not intervened. Now, what the Avengers can be blamed for is being a team of mostly superhuman vigilantes who occasionally ignore international borders, but Ross's little power-play is so off-base and melodramatic that it's astonishing none of the Avengers stick up for themselves. (Tony is in full It's All My Fault mode and presumably still living in fear of off-world threats, hence his desire to keep the team intact at all costs).
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Averted hard. When Team Cap is imprisoned in the Raft, there's nothing Tony can do to get them out.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: As soon as Bucky gets involved in the plot, Steve goes from merely objecting to the Sokovia Accords to outright breaking the law to protect him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After giving Tony a verbal tongue thrashing, Black Widow leaves after Tony suggests she go into hiding.
  • Self-Serving Memory: The UN — and specifically the US, through Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross — tries to pin the blame on the Battles of New York, Washington DC, and Sokovia on the Avengers, even though only the last can be directly tied to them. Tony feels personally responsible for Sokovia (which he partially is), and this motivation drives him through most of the film. Ross at least admits that they would have been screwed without the Avengers, but it's mostly empty praise. Examined further:
    • Ross conveniently omits any footage of the battle between the Hulk and the Abomination that wrecked part of Harlem — a fight Ross is arguably responsible for, since he was the one who tasked Blonsky with going after the Hulk and then provided him with the Super Serum to even the odds.
    • New York happened because of S.H.I.E.L.D. experimenting with the Tesseract — on the orders of the World Security Council — which led to Loki appearing and kickstarting an invasion. The Avengers were formed specifically to stop it, and no mention is made of how the World Security Council would have nuked Manhattan otherwise, leading to far more lives lost than the Avengers are blamed for in total. Please note that the WSC member who demanded that New York be nuked was Gideon Malick — who was, along with Alexander Pierce and Wolfgang von Strucker, one of the reigning heads of HYDRA.
    • Washington DC was a result of HYDRA infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D., and would have led to the helicarriers murdering millions and HYDRA taking over the world if not for Captain America. Again, HYDRA.
    • The opening sequence in Nigeria is a terrorist attack triggered by Brock Rumlow, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/HYDRA mole turned mercenary and terrorist. And Rumlow had no-one who could secure his escape, treat his injuries, let alone arm and finance him besides HYDRA.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: While The Winter Soldier largely took place in the United States, Civil War takes place in several different countries, including Germany, the UK, Romania, Russia, Nigeria, Austria and the fictional state of Wakanda for the first post-credit scene.
  • Sequel Hook: Like Age of Ultron, there are several.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: The Avengers are shattered, leaving the perfect opportunity for Thanos to strike. However, Steve springs the captive members of Team Cap from the Raft, and tells Tony that if the world truly needs them, they'll be back.
    • Black Panther: T'Challa now has to rule Wakanda and deal with the political ramifications of what has happened. When Steve tells him that the governments of the world may come after him for sheltering Bucky, who is still a wanted fugitive, T'Challa simply says "Let them try."
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Peter is licking his wounds back in Queens, and begins fiddling around with the upgrades Tony made to his web-shooters. He discovers that they emit a Spider Signal.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • According to Vision, it's been 8 years since Tony Stark revealed to the world that he's Iron Man, which is clearly a reference to the fact the original Iron Man came out 8 years ago. However, Iron Man 2, Thor and The Incredible Hulk are set six months after the first movie and a year before The Avengers, which Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. confirms was set in 2012, so the events of Iron Man take place in 2010. Vision is two years off the mark.
    • General Ross mentions the Avengers have been operating for "four years" without supervision or oversight, another reference to the MCU release dates being in real time. However, the Avengers' fighting in the Battle of New York was fully sanctioned by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the United Nations, and it was their only mission prior to the disbanding of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2014. A line of dialogue by Tony Stark in Age of Ultron even mentions that he's taken on funding the Avengers in the absence of S.H.I.E.L.D., meaning at most it's been two years since they've been without oversight.
  • Setting Update: Wakanda's aesthetics are modernized in the film. They were mostly portrayed as "ancient" in both the comics and other adaptations.
  • Shield Bash: As usual for Captain America, this is a big part of his fighting style. He notably nails Spider-Man in the face during their fight, a blow that would have certainly concussed an ordinary human. The final battle ends with him using the shield to shatter Tony's arc reactor.
  • Shipper on Deck: When Steve and Sharon solve their Unresolved Sexual Tension with a Big Damn Kiss, Steve looks back at Sam and Bucky and sees them giving him the "grin of approval".
  • Ship Tease:
    • Vision and Wanda get this, with Vision wanting to cook Wanda dinner, and admits to being distracted by her.
    • Most of T'Challa's conversations with Natasha were subtly flirtatious.
    • There's an obvious Unresolved Sexual Tension between Steve and Sharon. They Do.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Scott, Clint, Sam, and Peter (who are mostly comedic characters here) are removed from the story before the big showdown between Steve, Tony, and Bucky. The first three are arrested and taken to a compound in the middle of the ocean, while Tony sends an injured Peter back home.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Notably averted by the team sent to take out Bucky. They use breaching shotgun rounds on the hinges of the door instead, as is a common real-life practice.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer:
    • Helmut Zemo, the Big Bad of the film, is entirely absent from the first trailer, as are Spider-Man, Sharon Carternote , the Vision, Crossbones and Ant-Man.
    • The big Super Bowl TV spot has both teams assembled and the latter three appear, but still no Zemo, Sharon, or Spider-Man. The Russo brothers have stated that since Spider-Man is basically being licensed into the MCU (as his film rights are still owned by Sony), there are legal difficulties that kept him off the marketing until the second full trailer. (Although that hasn't stopped them from frequently talking about the character's role in the film leading up to the film's release.)
    • While Spider-Man made an appearance in the second trailer, Zemo and Sharon Carter are still absent.
    • The final theatrical poster has all of the costumed heroes except Ant-Man and Spider-Man.
    • Individual character posters were released for all the costumed heroes except Spider-Man.
  • Sixth Ranger:
    • Spidey for Team Iron Man.
    • Ant-Man for Team Cap.
  • Sizeshifter: Ant-Man, of course. Here, in addition to all the shrinking he demonstrated in his intro movie, he also uses it to grow and turns into Giant-Man for the first time in the MCU.
  • Slave to PR: The main reason Black Widow sides with the Sokovia Accords. She sees it as a way to win public trust and at least give them some legroom to argue with governments and prevent something worse happening on them. This is also one of Tony's arguments and the main one she agrees with, which excites him and infuriates her.
  • Slow Electricity: During the power outage, we see the traffic lights go out one after the other.
  • The Smurfette Principle:
    • Natasha is the only woman on Team Iron Man and Wanda is the only woman on Team Cap. The Wasp was planned to appear as part of Team Cap early on, but due in part to Evangeline Lilly's pregnancy, was unfortunately removed from the script.
    • The secret Winter Soldiers consist of five men and a woman.
  • Soft Glass:
    • As usual, going through panes of glass is nothing for superheroes. Captain America just bashes through windows shield-first.
    • Spider-Man also swings through a glass bay at the airport; he's not only unharmed but barely slowed down. Considering his new costume is Stark Tech, it may provide him with a modicum of protection against glass shards.
  • Sonic Stunner:
    • Tony Stark's collapsible gauntlet includes a sonic weapon that he uses against Bucky, momentarily stunning him and allowing Tony to get close enough to disarm him.
    • War Machine has a more powerful, wrist-mounted version which he uses to knock out Scarlet Witch. It's far less effective against Ant-Man, though.
  • Soviet Superscience: The Soviet division of HYDRA had pretty advanced tech for 1991.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • T'Chaka is still alive while T'Challa is taking up the mantle of Black Panther. In the comics, T'Chaka died before he could see his son carry on the legacy, something that was also referenced by Ulysses Klaue appearing in Age of Ultron wearing a necklace with a claw attached to it, which seemingly implied that he has had an encounter with T'Chaka. He ends up getting killed at the U.N. explosion — but hey, at least Klaue didn't kill him this time.
    • Part of this film was adapted from The Death of Captain America. Suffice to say, Steve survives the film.
  • Spiritual Successor: To First Blood, due to both movies being an action blockbuster and a Psychological Thriller (which the Russo brothers has liken this movie to). They're both being adapted from literature, with this movie mostly from the Civil War comic arc and First Blood from the novel of the same name by David Morrell (who himself written a Captain America comic mini-series titled The Chosen). They share themes of Good Vs Good and the injustice towards America's heroes, sub-themes about revenge and the plot about war heroes who end up as fugitives from the law. Bucky Barnes here even channels John Rambo through his scruffy long hair and Perma-Stubble, being war veterans reduced to drifters walking on the face of earth to seek self-identities and peace in their lives. The fact Bucky still has the HYDRA brainwashing lingering in his brain mirrors that of Rambo being a Shell-Shocked Veteran suffering from PTSD; those mental traumas even cause both of them to break out and fight their way through to escape from federal custody.
  • Square/Cube Law: Giant-Man's movements are notably sluggish and predictable. This doesn't stop him from successfully distracting and hindering Team Iron Man. Scott also acknowledges that by going giant, he runs the risk of tearing himself apart.
  • Stab the Scorpion: At one point during the fight in Bucharest, it looks like Bucky's trying to punch Steve in the head. He's actually breaking the floorboards underneath him to retrieve a backpack before leaving, and says as he does so that he's not going to kill anyone.
  • State Sec: The Commission on Superhuman Affairs is meant to create an organization of government-mandated superheroes.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: While Steve is searching Bucky's apartment, Bucky is suddenly there behind him.
  • Stealth Sequel: The movie is as much a sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron as it is to its official predecessor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with almost all of the Super Team appearing. Marvel Studios was even rumored to have called the movie "Avengers 2.5" in-house, albeit one set very much from Steve's point of view and heavily involving his friends and allies.
  • Stepping Stones in the Sky: It's very quick, but when the big fight breaks out, Spider-Man jumps atop one of the cars that Wanda is flinging around with her telekinesis.
  • The Stinger:
    • Mid-credits stinger: In a laboratory in Wakanda, Bucky willingly lets himself be cryogenically frozen again until a permanent cure for his brainwashing is found. Steve and T'Challa discuss the possibility that world governments will seek Steve and Bucky, to which T'Challa replies with "Let them try."
    • Post-credits stinger: Back in Queens, Peter Parker is recovering from his battle wounds and telling half-truths about the fight to Aunt May. Suddenly, his new web shooter projects a symbol on his ceiling. It's the Spidey Signal.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Cap and Bucky are both Super Soldiers with enhanced abilities, but are otherwise human. In spite of that, they are able to fight against actually empowered characters such as Iron Man and War Machine. However, both Tony and War Machine were trying to be lenient (Tony even tried to hold back against Steve in the final battle) and despite the hits Bucky and Cap get against Tony, it did no real damage unless Bucky used his arm or Cap used his shield.
  • Stock Footage: Thunderbolt's lecture about the collateral damage the Avengers have been causing includes clips from the previous Avengers films and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • Superhero Origin: Oddly enough, the movie ends up telling Black Panther's entire origin story (aside from explaining how he received his powers) within the context of a movie that he is not the lead character in.
  • Superhero Registration Act:
    • Since the MCU has very few secret identities, the main conflict is instead over super-powered individuals being forced to register as agents of the world government, which will decide where and when the heroes will work so collateral damage and international incidents will be dwindled to a minimum.
    • Spider-Man and Ant-Man however, do have secret identities, and Bucky also faces a lot of pressure what with his being a brainwashed HYDRA agent. Kevin Feige said, "It's not about the secret identity thing, as much as it is about, overall, who reports to who, and who can agree to oversight committee. Because as of now, in Avengers 2, there is no more security council, there is no S.H.I.E.L.D., obviously. Stark is paying for it, Captain America is running it, and things occur that will make governments begin to question."
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham:
    • Averted for the first time in the MCU outside of an Avengers movie. The Avengers and several other superheroes come to the forefront as soon as the government steps in. Especially averted with Ant-Man; a reversal to the usual scene of "X hero would be helpful here but we can't get them now," Falcon actually tracks him down when they need his skills.
    • Thor is the big exception (the Hulk being MIA). He has other things to take care of during the Civil War, but more importantly, it's not really his fight.
    • The movie's ending shows why this will be a Justified Trope for much of Phase 3: between Captain America's team of Avengers (Ant-Man, Falcon, Hawkeye, and Scarlet Witch) being branded as fugitives and forced to remain in hiding, Winter Soldier being left in stasis under the supervision of Black Panther, Black Widow disappearing, War Machine being paralysed without an exoskeleton and most likely retired from superheroics, and Vision left in a state of depression after he accidentally shot War Machine, there's not a whole lot of room for the existing superheroes to interact. However, both Spider-Man and Iron Man remain active, which will be shown in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
  • Super Speed: Not to the extent of true speedsters like Quicksilver, but Steve, Bucky and T'Challa are all shown outrunning moving cars during a chase scene. Spider-Man also moves too fast for most other heroes to keep up.
  • Super Strength: A given for the super soldiers who have already been established in the franchise. However, newcomer Spider-Man easily demonstrates he's among the heavy hitters, with such feats as effortlessly stopping Bucky's fist, tossing around superheroes with his spiderwebs or lifting a collapsed passenger stairway above himself.
  • Super Window Jump:
    • Captain America's MCU iteration has a habit of jumping shield-first through closed windows, and it doesn't take long to see him do so in Civil War.
    • By swinging on two weblines, Spider-Man easily bursts through a glass pane to get the drop on Bucky and Falcon.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Tony's holographic reconstruction of his last memory of his parents begins with his mother singing "Try to Remember".

    Tropes T to Z 

  • Taking You with Me: Crossbones attempts this with Steve by setting off a bomb that will blow himself up and incinerate Steve and the others in their vicinity. Scarlet Witch manages to encase Crossbones in a bubble and lift him up in the air before he goes off, saving Steve and suppressing the explosion briefly, but the force of the blast ultimately proves too much for her to contain and the bomb ends up killing numerous civilians in a nearby building.
  • Talk to the Fist: When Falcon apologizes and tries to find out how badly Rhodey is injured, Iron Man knocks him off his feet with a repulsor blast. It's a small hint that he reacts irrationally when he sees someone he loves hurt, foreshadowing his reaction to seeing his parents' deaths later.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • Despite being on Cap's side when it comes to the Accords, Sam Wilson makes no bones about his distrust of Bucky, which worsens when they have to start working with each other. They can't even sit quietly in the same car without squabbling like two-year-olds.
    • Black Widow does not like the fact that she's on the same side as Tony as she's a closer friend of Steve's, while T'Challa is mostly on the team because he wants to kill Winter Soldier.
  • There Was a Door: Vision phases through the wall of Wanda's room to talk to Captain America, who's trying to console her after the events of Nigeria. She chews him out for forgetting about the door. He admits that he thought it was okay because the door was already open, then sheepishly exits through the door properly.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Tony's antagonism towards Steve in the final fight is fueled by Zemo revealing that Bucky, under HYDRA's control, assassinated Tony's parents and that Steve knew that HYDRA was responsible and didn't tell him.
  • Three-Point Landing:
    • Falcon strikes this pose after taking out two grunts with a spinning, jetpack-powered kick in the opening battle.
      Cap: I make seven hostiles.
      Falcon: [swoops in and kicks ass] I make five.
    • Spider-Man does one when Iron Man brings him out, after flipping up and over the fighting teams, stealing Cap's shield, binding his wrists together and landing with the shield secured on his arm.
      Spider-Man: Hey, everyone.
    • Spider-Man makes another of his typical crouching landing when the two teams assemble before the face-off.
  • Throwing the Distraction: Hawkeye causes an explosion outside of the Avengers compound in order to distract Vision. While the android goes investigating, Clint sneaks inside to join with Wanda and set up a trap for Vision.
  • Title In: Several times throughout the movie, the name of the location by itself is displayed over the screen.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: In a sense, every hero is going through this. Iron Man believes them to be the same, while everyone else is more divided, with the ones on Team Iron Man picking the Lawful side, and the ones on Team Captain America going with the "Good" side.
  • Together in Death: Zemo tries to invoke this, but T'Challa stops him, noting that he has to stand trial for his crimes.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Charles Spencer, a college student who went to Sokovia to build houses for the poor and died during the battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Tony bitterly notes how he would have spent his summer in Vegas at that age.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Thanks to the conflict straining their friendships, the heroes' usual rational, impersonal approach is severely limited from the beginning. The more things pile up and they have to act on the spot, the worse it gets, even to the point that some of them are incapable of talking things out at points.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Trailers imply Rhodey will die.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Rhodey getting gravely wounded was heavily used for promotional footage. They don't, however, show that it's a Career-Ending Injury, or who (accidentally) shot him.
    • Bucky and Cap vs. Iron Man is a big scene in the trailers, but after the big fight at the airport the scene never appeared. It seems like it might be a Missing Trailer Scene, but then Bucky, Cap, and Iron Man all end up at the Winter Soldier base, and it's pretty obvious that scene is still on the table.invoked
    • A few of the TV spots show Ant-Man taking on his Giant-Man form during the airport battle.
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus of one of the trailers gave viewers a glimpse of Bucky prone and without his metal arm during the climactic battle.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • Zemo, during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge plan of dissolving the Avengers and framing Bucky. Even when he questions and tortures Vasily Karpov about the Winter Soldier, he never raises his voice but still conveys a seething rage.
    • Tony is terrifyingly quiet when he discovers that Bucky killed his parents.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • For Tony. It's revealed early on that Pepper broke up with him some time after the events of Iron Man 3 because of his ongoing hero life, as well as his misfire having created Ultron. At an academy lecture he meets a parent of a Sokovia victim who squarely blames him for the disaster. Wanda curses Tony for having her under lock and key before the accords managed to hash themselves out. Ross threatens to incarcerate Tony if he can't recover Steve within a limited amount of time and eventually blames him for the airport battle. Rhodey, his best friend, suffers a crippling blow during the battle (and it was accidentally caused by one of their allies, further rubbing salt in the wound). Steve's entire crew of now-incarcerated team members get downright nasty when Tony visits them to learn where Steve was headed to. What ultimately breaks him is not only the knowledge that Bucky, acting on behalf of HYDRA, killed his parents (complete with footage showing the brutality of it in action) but that Steve lied and hid that truth from Tony, despite the fact that Tony still believed in their friendship. Then a FedEx guy calls him "Tony Stank".
    • Steve got it pretty bad too. First Lagos happens, which was partially his fault because Crossbones played on his emotions concerning Bucky. Then the Accords, which threaten to split up the team because they can't find a compromise. Peggy, his First Love and one of his last ties to the past, dies, and he visibly breaks down as he's carrying her casket during the funeral. His best friend, who was brainwashed by HYDRA into an assassin for close to seventy years and whose initial "death" he felt responsible for, is framed for bombing the UN and hunted down by the authorities. Then said best friend's programming is reactivated while in custody, complicating the situation, which only worsens when it turns out there might be an international crisis involving five HYDRA Winter Soldiers and the government is hunting them and unwilling to listen. Then he has to leave his team behind sans Bucky, including his other best friend, to be imprisoned in order to stop the crisis. Then it turns out there is no crisis and this is all just a ploy to destroy the Avengers, by showing Tony footage of how HYDRA used Bucky to kill his friend Howard and his wife. His friendship with Tony is completely ruined, he and the rest of his team plus Natasha are all fugitives, and Bucky decides to go back under until his programming can be removed.
  • Trigger Phrase: As the Winter Soldier, Bucky was brainwashed to go into a compliant mental state when given a specific set of words and numbers that were contained in a notebook. Zemo finds the notebook and uses it to his advantage.
  • Trust Password: After waking up from his Trigger Phrase-induced rampage, Steve asks Bucky to prove that he's himself. Bucky recalls that Steve used to put newspapers in his shoes, which he couldn't have learned from the exhibit at the Smithsonian.
  • Turn Coat: Black Widow is this for Tony, as she lets Steve and Bucky escape the airport battle. She presumably goes into hiding after conversing with Tony in the aftermath.f
  • Two Decades Behind: Subverted. At one point, Falcon makes a rather brutal reference to disgraced LAPD detective Mark Furhman, which ends up being surprisingly timely thanks to the recent The People vs. O.J. Simpson TV mini-series.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: With Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While all three Captain America movies have their own interconnected story with lots of continuity, Civil War is a direct followup on Bucky's story as presented in The Winter Soldier. The latter two movies are also similar tonally due to having both been directed by the Russo brothers, unlike Captain America: The First Avenger, which had Joe Johnston in the director's chair and was a WWII-era Period Piece origin story rather than a political thriller.
  • Underwater Base: The Raft, a massive submersible prison overseen by Secretary Ross and used to imprison superheroes. Tony Stark is surprised and dismayed at the conditions in which people who have saved the world a few times are being kept.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Steve to Bucky, which is the main source of conflict after the Sokovia Accords. Steve will do anything to protect his best friend — even if he has to fight the other Avengers.
    • Rhodey is similarly loyal to Tony.
    • Sam Wilson, Hawkeye, Scott Lang, and Wanda don't hesitate to go through hell and jail for Captain America.
    • The former commander of the Winter Soldier Compound in Siberia has loyalty to the seemingly defunct HYDRA that is so strong that he would rather die than reveal the location of the base to Zemo.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Spider-Man's appearance was considered surprising due to his film rights being owned by another company. The deal to share the character was a shock, to say the least.
    • Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross being announced in the film also surprised many, since it's been eight years since his last MCU appearance.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: Ant-Man admits that he's never used his Sizeshifter tech to grow himself on the field, only testing it in the lab, and that's there's a risk of him exploding in half (or falling unconscious). He nonetheless turns into Giant-Man for the first time, making the battle take a sharp turn in favor of Team Cap.
  • Unknown Rival:
    • Helmut Zemo has a vendetta against the Avengers, but they have no idea who he is. Hell, he doesn't even meet most of the Avengers, much less fight them. Yet, he is by far the most effective foe the Avengers have met to date.
    • When Tony goes to visit the imprisoned Team Cap members, Scott bitterly tells him that Hank Pym was right about the Starks. Tony still has no idea who Scott is or what he's talking about.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Bucky and Sam treat seeing Peter crawling on the ceiling after them with mild derision.
    Bucky: What the hell is that!?
    Sam: Everyone's got a gimmick, now...
  • Up to Eleven: Peter Parker's exact description of his own senses after he became Spider-Man.
  • Vanilla Edition: In a first for Marvel Studios, the DVD contains no bonus features at all. However, the Blu-ray and Digital HD versions seem to have the largest platters of any Disney-distributed Marvel movie.note 
  • Vehicle Vanish: Bucky pulls this in the first trailer, disappearing in the time a truck takes to pass him.
  • Villain Opening Scene: Though not for this movie's villain — for HYDRA before the events of Winter Soldier. The pre-credits Action Prologue is of them sending the Soldier on a mission in 1991. (It eventually also turns out to be the linchpin of what Zemo is doing.)
  • Villainous Legacy:
    • HYDRA's. Although they've been all but destroyed after everything that happens between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., their shadow looms over the overarching story. Since Winter Soldier had been brainwashed into killing the Starks, the stage was set for Iron Man to go revenge-crazy and break his trust with Captain America. Furthermore, if it hadn't been for Baron Von Strucker, Ultron would have never been created, Sokovia's destruction would never happened, and Zemo wouldn't have sought to destroy the Avengers from within.
    • Ultron's. While he receives only a single name-drop in the film, his actions have a crucial effect on the story: his attack on Sokovia killed Zemo's family and thus motivated Zemo to take revenge on the Avengers. Likewise, the fact that he used vibranium to make himself nigh invulnerable and as the building material for his anti-gravity weapon caused Wakanda to abandon its long-term isolation, leading to T'Challa's involvement in the conflict. Finally, on a more minor note, it's stated his creation was one of the reasons for Tony and Pepper's break-up.
  • Villainous Underdog: Aside from his black ops training, Zemo isn't powered in any way — no cybernetics, magic, mutant superpowers, or genetic engineering. Yet he manages to outwit several governments into attacking the wrong person, murders several HYDRA personnel — including a leader — up to eliminating several Winter Soldiers (albeit in their sleep), and his plan to tear apart the Avengers goes off without a hitch, all by himself — the most hi-tech things he uses are an EMP bomb, as well as prosthesis and makeup to take disguises.
    Zemo: I have experience, and patience. A man can accomplish anything with these.
  • Villainous Valor: When Zemo ambushes Karpov and threatens him with extreme torture and death by drowning (after implying he's killed a great deal of HYDRA goons), the ex-commander's only response is "Hail HYDRA!"
  • Wake-Up Fighting: Spider-Man, just as he's regaining consciousness after the airport battle, accidentally starts fighting Iron Man.
  • Water Torture: Zemo has captured former HYDRA colonel Vasily Karpov and is preparing to torture him. He hangs him upside-down with the guy's head in a sink that is slowly filling up with water. If he talks, Zemo will pull his head above the water level, but otherwise will let Karpov struggle to stop himself from drowning. The trope is subverted before the torture can even begin, because Karpov yells a final "Hail HYDRA" and deliberately lets himself drown.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Tony initially comes off as this as he genuinely believes that keeping the Avengers in check will help reduce the collateral damage that happened from their involvement, even if it means keeping "dangerous" Avengers like Wanda at the Avengers Facility under house arrest. Even then, he's willing to make compromises by reinstating her and Steve into the Avengers again and sending Bucky to an asylum in the States instead of a Wakanda prison if they are willing to comply with the Sokovia Accords, and also uses violence as a last resort after it's apparent that Steve won't stand down no matter what. He loses this status completely when he tries to kill Bucky after discovering that HYDRA used him to kill his parents.
    • Steve is also one due to his strongly-held belief that the Avengers are capable of saving more people if operated independently outside of law, even if it means increasing the risk of potential collateral damage that, in some cases, could have been prevented if the Avengers do not get involved in the first place. His defense of Bucky falls on a similar extreme, as he's willing to defend Bucky's innocence at any cost, so much so that Bucky himself questions if he's worth the trouble.
    • Ross and the governments enforcing the Accords believed Bucky had bombed the UN and put out a shoot to kill order on him. Had merely apprehending him been the goal, Cap may well have not felt the need to get so involved and Bucky may well have been talked into turning himself in.
  • We Have Become Complacent: Works both ways. Without S.H.I.E.L.D. to back them, the Avengers really have taken for granted how much they need public opinion to operate. Two high-profile mishaps severely damage their reputation, and their seeming indifference to it doesn't help. On the other side, the general world population seems to have taken for granted how screwed they would be without the Avengers to stop even more destruction from happening.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    Captain America: Sorry, Tony. You know I wouldn't do this if I had any other choice. But he's my friend.
    Iron Man: So was I.
  • Wham Episode: By the end, Steve, Natasha, Wanda, Clint, Sam, and possibly Scott are all fugitives (and in the case of Clint and Scott, likely cut off from their families), Bucky is still a fugitive and decides to freeze himself until his brainwashing can be permanently fixed, Rhodey is paralyzed and likely won't be able to walk again without the exosuit's assistance, Tony nearly murders an innocent man, and Zemo becomes the first MCU antagonist to successfully destroy the Avengers.
    Anthony Russo: It's going to challenge the way you feel about Tony Stark. It's going to challenge the way you feel about Steve Rogers. And when you walk out of the theater, nothing is going to be the same.
  • Wham Line:
    • During Steve and Bucky's conversation about Helmut Zemo:
      Bucky: He wanted to know about Siberia. Where I was kept. He wanted to know exactly where.
      Steve: Why would he need to know that?
      Bucky: ... because I'm not the only Winter Soldier.
    • This gets subverted later on though, because it turns out Zemo doesn't care about the Winter Soldiers, and the real wham is the video of Bucky killing Tony's parents.
    • After most of the anti-Accords team has been incarcerated, Tony investigates the Vienna incident, of which Bucky adamantly claimed his innocence, despite being identified at the scene.
      F.R.I.D.A.Y.: Authorities also found a wig and facial prosthesis approximating the appearance of one James Buchanan Barnes.
      Tony: ... son of a bitch.
    • In-universe: during their conversation of whether or not to agree with the Sokovia Accords, Tony brought up a kid named Charlie Spencer. Talked a bit about him, about what he wanted to do with his life. And for the summer, he decided to build substantial housing for the poor in a foreign country. Which happens to be Sokovia, around the same time they fought Ultron.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The end of the second trailer, with Spider-Man making a surprise entrance, is a big shock for all fans of MCU and Marvel, whether they were aware or not he was going to be in this movie.
    • Near the end of the movie, Tony, Steve and Bucky find a video showing completely detailed footage of Bucky's assassination in the opening prologue. It reveals that Howard and Maria Stark were his targets.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Before getting his help, Captain America warned Scott Lang that if he helped him he would become a wanted fugitive. He simply ignored the idea, pointing that he has already been a fugitive before.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • By the end of the movie, Black Widow is the only Avenger whose whereabouts are unaccounted for.
    • We're not told what happened to Sharon Carter after she stole back Steve and Sam's equipment, in spite of she and Steve both acknowledging that it'll likely be quickly and easily traced back to her.
    • The mission in Lagos which kicks off the plot of the movie consists of the Avengers keeping Crossbones and his henchmen from escaping with a deadly toxin that they've just stolen. We never find out who hired Crossbones to steal the toxin, or what they wanted to do with it — nor what it even does in the first place.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Tony is both devastated and infuriated when he finds out that Steve knew HYDRA was responsible for his parents' murders and never told him about it. A two-year lie of omission makes it worse.
    • Tony gets this when he visits the Raft and sees the rather weak conditions in which the Avengers are being kept. Hawkeye mocks his self-righteousness and seeming lack of remorse at how his former friends are being treated, after all the good they did.
    • There is a lighthearted, but semi-serious example from Cap to Bucky when the two are escaping the SWAT teams. During the fight, Bucky knocks an officer over the railing of a stairwell, and Cap catches the officer before he can get hurt. Cap looks over at Bucky, whose name he is trying to clear of wrongdoing, and says, "Come on, man."
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted, as Zemo's original plan (get the location of the Winter Soldier program's Siberian base out of Vasily Karpov, its old commander, and use the evidence kept there of Bucky's role in the Starks' death to turn the Avengers against each other) is quite simple, straightforward, and likely to be very effective. It's only when that plan gets thwarted that he has to resort to the more complicated one that comprises the bulk of the movie.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Iron Man during the final battle. In the previous scene, he had a brace which implies he's injured his arm in some form. He also usually fights with ranged weaponry — the battle is in an enclosed area where he can't make full use of it — and he's also been going hand-to-hand for most of the movie because he's trying to fight non-lethally, and by the end is probably quite tired. Nevertheless, he proves to be Steve and Bucky's greatest challenge, beating both of them to a pulp even while holding back against Steve and actively trying to kill Bucky. Even with all that (plus the fact they're only trying to disarm him), they're only barely able to beat Tony.
  • World of Snark: Every single established character (even the ones without much screen time) gets in on some form of snark during the film. This includes the usually stoic Winter Soldier and Black Panther. The level of snark is especially turned up in the second half of the film. Even King T'Chaka leaves us with this gem:
    T'Challa: Two men in a room can accomplish more than a hundred.
    King T'Chaka: Unless you are trying to move a piano.
  • Would Not Harm A Child: Homecoming reveals that Tony partly got Peter involved because Team Cap holds this mentality, and would go easy on Spider-Man on account that he's a teenager.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Averted. Zemo's first plan to get the footage of the Stark assassination fails due to Karpov not cooperating. He then turns to Bucky as another source of that intel, though he obviously goes further than just gathering info and starts softening the Avengers up for the kill while he's at it.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Inverted; Spider-Man's usual wisecracks are absent because he's too busy gushing over how cool his opponents are.
  • You Have 48 Hours: General Ross gives Tony Stark 36 hours to bring back by himself the renegade team of Captain America, before armed forces get involved.
  • You Have to Believe Me:
    • After learning of the other Winter Soldiers, Captain America tries to get Iron Man on board just before the fight at the airport. Iron Man, already on a strict timetable and thoroughly annoyed with Cap making messes that he has to deal with, won't hear it.
    • During the airport fight, Captain America tries to talk Spider-Man down by claiming that he doesn't know the whole story. Unfortunately for Captain America, Iron Man warned Spidey that Cap would try this and Spidey isn't drawn in, forcing Cap to win the battle conventionally.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Bucky, under mind control, killed Howard and Maria Stark. Tony's exact words when he finds out about this are, "He killed my mom."
    • After the explosion in Vienna, Black Panther is under the impression Bucky killed his father and spends most of the film seeking revenge until he realizes Bucky was innocent and sees what revenge does to a person when he talks to Zemo.
    • As it turns out, Zemo's father was one of the dead during the Sokovia incident, along with Zemo's wife and child, which motivates his plan.
  • Younger and Hipper:
    • The MCU version of Peter Parker is a 15 year-old high school student being played by a 19 year-oldnote  Tom Holland. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who were 27 and 29, respectively, began playing the high school-age Spider-Man.
    • Marissa Tomei's Aunt May, while in her 50s, is significantly younger than the previous cinematic Aunt Mays. This, and the internet reaction, is heavily lampshaded in the movie.
      Tony: I can't believe she's someone's aunt.
      May: We come in all shapes and sizes, you know.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Natasha double-crosses her team; she stands between T'Challa, Steve, and Bucky, repeatedly stunning the former long enough for the latter to get away.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Wanda's off-duty clothes include a short skirt and black stockings leaving the upper part of her thighs bare.

"So, no matter what, I promise you, if you need us — if you need me — I'll be there."

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar