So with the other individual movies (Thor, Iron Man, The first two Cap' films), individual Avengers may play cameos or supporting roles. In the Avengers films, it has been a collaborative effort with no individual getting a significantly larger amount of screen time than the others.

In Civil War, Tony Stark gets at least as much screen time as Steve Rogers, and some of the others (Natasha Romanoff, Vision, Wanda Maximoff) come pretty close to getting a "co-star" level of screen time as opposed to "supporting cast".

Given all of that, what executive and marketing decisions lead to Civil War being billed a Captain America movie?

  • 1
    Related SFF question: Why is Civil War a “Captain America” movie?
    – Möoz
    May 10, 2016 at 21:14
  • 3
    On a somewhat meta point, I think they reserve the 'Avengers' title for movies that involves potential destruction of the entire world/solar system/galaxy/universe, that also have a large cast. GotG had the peril, but not the cast, CW had the cast, but not the peril.
    – SGR
    May 11, 2016 at 7:31
  • @SGR That is a reasonable viewpoint that might even be worth being fleshed out into an answer of its own.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 11, 2016 at 11:20

2 Answers 2


You are certainly right that this film seems to be chock full of Avengers. However, it is still a rather personal Captain America movie through and through. You could as well ask that question about Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It's about more than just screen time.

While there is a larger conflict between the two parties in the Avengers arising due to the UN act on limiting their individuality, the thing that makes it escalate is actually Steve's friendship to Bucky, the Winter Soldier, and his tries to help him and handle the matter personally, against his fellow Avengers and the new established laws. Captain America is the primary driver behind the opposition in that film and he only is because of his personal matters. While Captain America refused to sign the UN law, he was still smart enough to not go downright postal against the law enforcement and his Avengers colleagues, not until he has a personal reason for doing so. If it weren't for his friend Bucky, he'd just sit around abiding the new UN law, even if under protest.

This is still a rather personal Steve-story embedded into the admittedly larger conflict about responsibility that touches all the MCU heroes. Even Tony, who turns out to be quite personally involved in the matter himself is not so much until the very end.

While marginally referencing the larger events at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron and employing characters introduced therein, the movie is primarily a direct (and thematic) continuation of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, concentrating on the eponymous character introduced in that, and his friendship to Steve Rogers introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, together with a variety of other minor characters only known from the previous movie, like Sharon Carter or Brock Rumlow (Crossbones).

  • 11
    Why wasn't Age of Ultron an Iron Man movie?
    – Random832
    May 10, 2016 at 16:20
  • 7
    Geez, why aren't they all Iron Man movies then?
    – user25738
    May 10, 2016 at 16:57
  • 2
    "If it weren't for his friend Bucky, he'd just sit still abiding the new UN law." Really? May 10, 2016 at 20:28
  • 1
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit Yeah, probably.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 10, 2016 at 22:03
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    There is a difference, though, between being opposed to the law and merely refusing to sign it and going on a downright rampage fighting against the enforcement. No matter if he agrees with the law or not, he's not stupid enough to directly fight against it in those difficult times, at least not unless it's about his best friend.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 11, 2016 at 1:16

As expained in this excellent answer by @phantom42 on SF/F, Kevin Feige (the head of Marvel's film studio division) discussed this point last year, when talking about the number of characters in the movie. The basic explanation is that, while many of the Avengers are in Civil War, only a few characters get a real story-arc, and all of those are related to Steve Rogers development as a character:

"There were a lot of characters in The Winter Soldier, but it felt like a very singular and relatively simple thriller. Civil War follows in that same way," Feige said. "I think that's something [directors Joe and Anthony Russo] pride themselves on, and our screenwriters Chris Markus and Steve McFeely are excellent at giving each character just enough. They're not full arcs for everybody; it's just enough that their presence is felt and important, but that the very clear single story that is being told is being served at all times."

In addition, the central plot of the movie is not the Avengers fighting against a bad guy to save the world. The movie is about Captain America fighting to prove his friend innocent. The other characters are minor, guest, or even cameo appearances, which serve to tie the movie into the larger Cinematic Universe, but they aren't integral to the plot.

In particular, note that

in the final act, where the climactic battle and resolution happens, it's down to just Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Tony Stark.

  • I just got stuck in something and forgot submitting the answer, anyways +1
    – Ankit Sharma
    May 10, 2016 at 17:27

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