“But Megan,” you begin, “there is a third Captain America movie. It’s called Captain America: Civil War. I have literally heard you pontificate on it many times.”
Yes, you’re absolutely right. I love Civil War. In recent years it’s become one of my favourite Marvel movies. But my friend, hear me out – it’s not a real Captain America movie, and Steve Rogers deserved so much better. And do you know what? So did we.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier had an excellent ending, and a wonderful setup for what Steve Rogers and new buddy Sam Wilson were going to do next – hunt down Steve’s erstwhile and brainwashed best friend, Bucky Barnes. It was very clear that this was the next mission, something that was going to be a priority for Steve.
And then Avengers: Age of Ultron happened, and aside from a brief mention of Steve’s “missing person” by Sam, that was the end of that. Anthony and Joe Russo had lovingly set up this fantastic arc, only to have it be relegated to a moment of banter at a party at Avengers HQ.
I have a lot of feelings about Joss Whedon, and none of them are good. But that’s best saved for another time.
Obviously, I didn’t expect Age of Ultron to be all about Steve and his manpain in his search for Bucky. But both Joe Johnston (director of Captain America: The First Avenger) and the Russos established how deep Steve and Bucky’s ties ran. And to have it relegated to one line felt like giving the fans who were looking for some manner of payoff the middle finger. Every time Whedon followed with his hack job so-called “movies” little to no acknowledgement was given to Steve and Bucky’s relationship whatsoever. In The Avengers there is no mention of Bucky, or even Peggy – two of the most important people in Steve’s life – unless you count a deleted scene. And it involves him looking at Peggy’s file, seeing she’s alive, and looking forlornly at a phone.
Considering we’re unlikely to get another Cap film (at least with this iteration of Captain America, but who knows what the future holds for the mantle), the fact that the last film to feature him as the title character was Civil War leaves a particularly sour taste in my mouth. Tony Stark is a great character, and I love seeing him, but Marvel’s over reliance on him to pop up in other titles (I did love seeing him in Spider-Man: Homecoming though) has always felt like they don’t know how to do a movie without him.
Civil War was a great movie, but it wasn’t the Cap movie that I think anybody really wanted. And as I mentioned previously, it’s become one of my favourites, but I still think it would’ve been better served as an Avengers film. The movie is ultimately driven by Steve and his choices – his reluctance to sign the Accords, willing to throw everything away to help Bucky and keep him safe – but there’s far too much Tony Stark in it for me to enjoy it as a Captain America movie. He still feels like a secondary character in his own film.
Anytime I do a Captain America movie marathon, the jump between The Winter Soldier and Civil War always feels very jarring. It feels like there’s something missing, like we’ve been thrown into the deep end of the pool while fully clothed and drinking a craft beer. Worst. Pool party. Ever.
So, in a perfect world what would the third movie have looked like?
Well, first of all, Crossbones would’ve been the main villain. I am never going to be over the fact that he was killed in the first 15 minutes of Civil War. That being said, he’s had a building dropped on him before and survived. I’m sure he can survive being exploded. Crossbones’ history with Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes is long and storied, he would’ve been the perfect big bad, especially after all the setup done in The Winter Soldier.
Captain America: Skeleton Crew (this what I’m calling this imaginary film from now on) would borrow elements from Captain America #369, where a team led by Rumlow serves as Red Skull’s personal strike force. While I loved the Red Skull’s reveal in Infinity War, I think bringing him back for the third Cap move would’ve been a neat idea as well. Maybe reveal him in the second act, so up until that point we’re left wondering who Crossbones, along with Mother Night, the Voice, Minister Blood, and Machinesmith were getting their orders from.
The movie would’ve picked up a few months after The Winter Soldier left off – Steve is juggling double duty, serving as leader for the Avengers and working closely with Sam to locate Bucky, while simultaneously trying to defeat the Skeleton Crew. Our favourite brainwashed assassin would also feature prominently, searching for clues about himself, trying to tap into memories that he knows he has, while trying to stay off the grid and away from the prying eyes of the Skeleton Crew and those who would see him locked up.
Perhaps Steve and Sam would get close to locating Bucky, or even team up with him at some point. He’s clearly not ready to be found outright yet though, and as at the end of The Winter Soldier, still displays aggression and confusion when face to face with Steve. The film would end with him slipping away once more, ending up in Bucharest, where we find in him in Civil War.
Having this missing Captain America movie would also help build on one story line I thought was grossly mishandled in Civil War – Steve and Sharon’s relationship.
I love me some Steve Rogers/Sharon Carter, but I absolutely hated it in the movies. While I love Steve finding out that Sharon was Peggy’s niece at her funeral, the fact that he was locking lips with her days after putting the first love of his life in the ground feels, well, icky. I’m not some bananas Steve/Peggy shipper who decries Steve and Sharon getting together, I just don’t like how it was done in Civil War. It felt rushed, probably because it was.
Captain America and Falcon could enlist Agent 13’s help in bringing down the Skeleton Crew, giving Steve and Sharon the time needed to actually lay the groundwork for whatever it is constitutes a relationship in the MCU. Perhaps even then Steve doesn’t know that Sharon is Peggy’s niece, and the reveal in Civil War can essentially stay the same.
Steve and Sharon are one of Marvel’s most loved and longest enduring relationships. The fact that their romance seemed to be relegated to a footnote in a movie where so many things were shoehorned in does a disservice to all involved.
We and Steve deserved a better third Cap film, but Sharon deserved better from all of us.
See? You could easily add a proper third Captain America film between The Winter Soldier and Civil War without disrupting the majority of the narrative found in the latter film. Bucky is still framed and found in Bucharest, Steve and Sharon’s kiss doesn’t seem so forced, and Crossbones can be killed without feeling like a great antagonist was wasted.
I submit that to right this wrong that Marvel should drive a dump truck full of money up to my house and give me full creative license with this project. I promise that Steve and Bucky will only make out once, and even then only if Bucky’s brain isn’t on fire. He deserves agency and a nice day, damn it!
And Steve Rogers deserves a film where Tony Stark isn’t Tony Starking all over the place.