5 Ways Civil War is Like Empire Strikes Back

WARNING: Spoilers for Captain America: Civil War are in this post so reader beware!

Captain America: Civil War is The Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just as Empire proved to be a pivotal point for Star Wars, this film looks to be of equal importance to the MCU.  If you don’t believe me, check out these 5 ways Captain America: Civil War is like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Yoda lifting up the ship out of the Dagobah swamp in Empire
Yoda lifting up the ship out of the Dagobah swamp in Empire

New Important CharactersEmpire had Lando Calrissian, Yoda, and Boba Fett, Civil War brings in Spider-Man and Black Panther. Lando, Yoda, and Boba Fett quickly became fan favorites and since their appearance in Empire have gone on to appear all over the Star Wars universe – books, TV, merchandise.  Boba Fett is even getting his own movie (slated for a 2020 release)!  Likewise, Civil War sees the reveal of Spider-Man in the MCU along with Black Panther – both of whom are also getting their own feature films.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War..L to R: Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and War Machine/James Rhodey (Don Cheadle)...Photo Credit: Film Frame..© Marvel 2016
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War..L to R: Black Panther/T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and War Machine/James Rhodey (Don Cheadle)…Photo Credit: Film Frame..© Marvel 2016

Strong Character Development – Both Empire and Civil War are heavy on character development.  Despite the Battle on Hoth, the escape from the asteroid field, and the confrontation with Vader, there was still time to move Leia and Han’s relationship from adversarial to romantic and to watch Luke dedicate himself to the Jedi way.  In the same way, despite the pulse-pounding action and excitement, Spider-Man and Black Panther’s backgrounds are established, we see Falcon develop into as skilled a fighter as Cap (potential foreshadowing?), and a romantic touch is initiated into Scarlet Witch and Vision’s relationship.

Action-Packed But Filled With Humor – “Laugh it up fuzzball.”  Who could forget that classic one-liner from Empire? Or Han’s response to Leia, “Who are you calling scruffy-looking?”  Or better still, Leia’s retort in the asteroid field, “I am NOT a committee!”  Humor is an important component of Empire, lightening up an otherwise very serious and grim movie.  Finding that balance makes for a great film. In much the same way, Civil War has those elements also.  There were lots of funny lines, but I think I loved Spider-Man’s one-liners the best.  Especially in the middle of a conflict.

Han frozen in carbonite being loaded into Boba Fett's ship, Slave I
Han frozen in carbonite being loaded into Boba Fett’s ship, Slave I

The Deep Freeze – Both Empire and Civil War have a key character being placed into a deep freeze.  Han gets iced by Boba Fett and Darth Vader and Bucky goes under voluntarily, but both are major characters who are sacrificed at the end of each movie.  We all know Han’s escape is the central focus of the beginning of the next movie, so when will we see Bucky come out?  Will there be a way to clear him from the programming he’s victim to?

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War..L to R: Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..copyright Marvel 2016
Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War..L to R: Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) battling against each other after Tony finds out a shocking secret..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..copyright Marvel 2016

Shocking Revelations – Perhaps the biggest and most important similarity between the two is each has a shocking revelation. Who can forget, “Luke…I am your father.” Perhaps the most marquee line in all of film history.  While Civil War doesn’t have anything quite as iconic, the reveal that Tony’s father and mother were brutally murdered by The Winter Soldier is the final straw between the heroes and all out battle ensues.  Wow.

Captain America: Civil War is an important film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Whether or not it serves the same focal point in the MCU as Empire did for Star Wars has yet to be seen, but it certainly has the depth to do so.

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