Marvel's latest epic battle isn't between heroes and villains, it's between the Avengers themselves. Civil War pits Iron Man and Captain America against one another as they differ on how to deal with Captain's best friend (and wanted criminal), Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. The Winter Soldier. There are a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new ones, as well as some new takes on older characters. So here's your (spoilery) guide to the characters in Civil War.
CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE AVENGERS
We've already been introduced to Cap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was a Super Soldier, he fought in World War II, he was frozen in a block of ice and revived in the present, we get it. Anyway, he and Tony Stark effectively run the Avengers. The lineup changes from film to film, as it does in the comics very often. During Civil War, the Avengers consist of Scarlet Witch, Vision, War Machine, Falcon, and Black Widow. Hawkeye is "retired," but Jeremy Renner fans can rejoice -- he doesn't stay retired for long.
THE SOKOVIA ACCORDS / SUPERHUMAN REGISTRATION ACT
In Civil War, the United Nations ratifies a legal document inspired by the events of The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, in which the Avengers fought Ultron and leveled the city of Sokovia. The document regulates the activity of the Avengers and prevents them from acting without the permission of the United Nations. Iron Man and Cap clash when the United Nations is blown up in a terrorist attack. Cap's best friend, Bucky Barnes, whom we remember as the man brainwashed into being the Winter Soldier (from, duh, The Winter Soldier), is believed to be the culprit, and Cap finds himself at odds with the government because he trusts that Bucky is innocent. This is inspired by the comic-book's version -- the Superhuman Registration Act, which was created in 2006 when Tony Stark pushed for legislation to register superheroes and mutants with the government before someone's actions accidentally led to the death of innocent lives. He was afraid the government would use a superhero as a scapegoat and wanted to be on the offensive. This put him at odds with Cap, who believed that you had to protect your private life as a superhero. This sparked a mini-series title, Civil War, which crossed several Marvel comic-book titles. Spider-Man famously revealed his secret identity during the event. And speaking of Spider-Man...
This is Spider-Man's first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thanks to a deal between Sony and Disney to produce the new Spider-Man film, Homecoming, set for July 2017. The character goes back to the roots of Peter Parker in the comics, making him cute, shy, and geekily overzealous once again. He's high school age this time around, and he actually looks young, unlike Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who were quickly aged out of high school and put into college in their respective films. His Aunt May has also been de-aged to a much younger and sexier Marisa Tomei. Which makes sense, anyway, because Aunt May and Uncle Ben looked ancient in the '60s comics, and if Ben was supposed to be the brother of Peter's father, they were always way too old in the first place.
In the film, Tony Stark gifts Spider-Man with his costume.
SECRETARY OF STATE THADDEUS ROSS / COLONEL "THUNDERBOLT" ROSS
Not seen in the MCU since The Incredible Hulk, Colonel Ross is the father of Bruce Banner's girlfriend, Betty Ross. Of course, we haven't seen Betty since Hulk showed up in The Avengers, but I digress. Ross hates Banner and the Hulk, but had to team up with him to stop the villain known as Abomination. Now Ross is the U.S. Secretary of State, who, naturally, is pro–Sovokia Accords. He wants to keep superheroes in check. Ironically enough, in the comic books, Colonel Ross becomes part of the Super Soldier program and turns into Red Hulk, a smarter version of our favorite green giant.
T'CHALLA, A.K.A. BLACK PANTHER
Let's be honest -- this is who we're all here for. Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Fever for Black Panther is so hot right now that there's even a new comic series being penned by author and Atlantic columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Black Panther itself is a titled passed down from generation to generation among Wakandan kings. In the film, an explosion at the signing of the Sokovia Accords kills T'Chaka, T'Challa's father. T'Challa takes on the role of Black Panther to hunt down and kill Bucky Barnes, whom he believes to be responsible. In the comics, T'Chaka was murdered by the villain Ulysses Klaw, who was stealing the powerful metal vibranium from Wakanda. Klaw does steal vibranium from Wakanda in the MCU — he appears in Age of Ultron — but he's not seen in Civil War. Maybe he'll go toe-to-toe with Black Panther in his solo film, bowing in February 2018.
Ant-Man, whose movie we've already seen, returns in Civil War to help Cap sneak Bucky out of the country. While fighting the Avengers that Iron Man has assembled, he grows in size instead of shrinking. Ant-Man debuted in 1962 in Tales to Astonish and was an inaugural member of the Avengers in 1963. Months later, he was able to grow instead of shrink, and he became Giant-Man. While it's Hank Pym who was the original Ant-Man in the comics, he plays mentor to Paul Rudd's Scott Lang in the MCU. In the films, it's Lang's Ant-Man who is the one to join the Avengers, and his sardonic sense of humor fits in perfectly with the rest of the team. Ant-Man might have introduced us to Lang, but he becomes a full-fledged hero here.
Brock Rumlow first appeared as a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative secretly working with HYDRA in The Winter Soldier. After Cap dropped a helicopter on him and burned his face, he donned a suit of armor and became the villain known as Crossbones. He attempts to steal a biological weapon before being thwarted by the Avengers. After that, he blows himself up in an attempt to kill Cap. In the comics, he often operates in tandem with the Red Skull, and successfully assassinated Cap in 2008. Cap was obviously brought back in the comics, because no one ever dies except Gwen Stacy. Haha, I'm kidding.
COLONEL HELMUT ZEMO / BARON HELMUT ZEMO
Baron Zemo is a longtime nemesis of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers who was a top scientist of the Nazis. In the film, however, Helmut is merely a Sokovian colonel who lost his family during the Avengers' fight in his home country. As revenge for the death of his family, he sought to create a way to pit the Avengers against one another -- using the fact that Bucky, as the Winter Soldier, killed Tony Stark's parents and Cap hid the secret.
In Civil War, Falcon has a drone he calls Red Wing that can be his eyes and ears in places he's not. In the comics … Falcon has a psychic link to an actual bird, Red Wing, thanks to the Cosmic Cube. The Cosmic Cube is … hmm, we don't have time for all that. It controls matter and energy! There.