1991: We see Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) frozen. He is then defrosted by HYDRA operatives and brainwashed (via certain words in a book) into performing an extraction mission and to provide no witnesses. We then see him crash a car and see that it is all Super Soldier serum.
Present Day, Lagos Nigeria: Avengers Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthonie Mackie) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) are all on a mission. They are gathering intel as a garbage truck suddenly rams inside the Center of Infectious Diseases, and the center is attacked. The Avengers there go in action... but Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) manages to get the bioweapon and escapes from the lab. The Avengers then track him to a market, where a fight occurs. When Steve manages to get Brock all to himself, though, he says that Bucky was his buyer. He then says that Bucky wanted to tell Rogers to get away from him before Brock suddenly decides to commit a suicide bombing. In a reflex move, Wanda contains the blast but sends it inside a building and killing multiple relief aid workers in Nigeria to her horror.
Massachusetts: We see Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) speaking at MIT. He is giving a speech about how he funded all the students' projects. When seeing Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, who does not appear in the film)'s name pop out on the teleprompter, however, he is taken aback and abruptly ends his speech. Near an elevator, a woman (Alfre Woodard) introduces herself as Miriam Sharpe. She gets mad at Stark for the attack on Sokovia (the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron) and how a building dropped on her son Charles Spencer. She then retorts "You guys are only fighting for yourself. Who's going to avenge my son, Stark?". Tony looks deep in thought after this.
Tony's Compound: A report on the Lagos attack is then shown which makes Wanda feels guilty. After the event, she has been stuck in Stark's compound guarded by Vision (Paul Bettany).
The Secretary of State Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) then summons the Avengers to a meeting. He calls the Avengers dangerous heroes who ignore sovereign borders and seem unconcerned by damage caused. He then says that while many people call them heroes, others call them merely vigilantes. Footage of The Avengers' escapades of destruction are then shown to them before Ross pulls out why he is there - the Government has had enough. Via the Sokovia Accords, 117 countries of the United Nations want to make the Avengers government owned. Should they refuse, they would be forced to retire.
Cleveland: Here, a man is in his home and then attacked by Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl). Zemo demands the man to report him the events of December 16, 1991, and when the man (revealed to be a member of Hydra) refuses, he is drowned.
Back to the Avengers, they are debating the Accords. Tony, still affected by his revelation over Charles Spencer, wants to accept it while Steve doesn't want to. Steve then gets a text that Agent Carter (Haley Atwell) has passed away in her sleep.
London: Agent Carter's funeral occurs, with Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) delivering a eulogy. The eulogy, which involves never backing down from what you believed was right, moves Steve to further reject the accords.
Vienna: In the United Nations, the Accords are about to be talked about. King T'Chaka of Wakanda then talks with Romanov and wonders where Rogers is. She then says that he isn't going, and she is introduced to his son T'Chalia/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). During the King's speech, however, a bombing is then executed, and the King is killed.
We then cut to Sharon and Steve talking about the attack. They find out that Bucky is allegedly responsible for the bombing. We then go back to Vienna and see Natasha talking to T'Chalia. He says that he wasn't his father, and he vows to bring Bucky in and kill him himself. Steve then calls Natasha after Black Panther storms off and she warns him not to go after Bucky. Sharon Carter then gives Rogers her info, and we see Zemo in a hotel room with a book of programmed words he uses to control Bucky, as well as a red device (important later).
Bucharest: Rogers eventually finds Bucky, who is in hiding. The two then fight after the authorities come in to arrest Bucky and then while Bucky is running away, Black Panther jumps and finds him. There is then a four-way chase between Bucky, Black Panther, Captain America, and Falcon. Everyone is then eventually caught and arrested by James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) who says: "Congrats Cap. You're a criminal."
Tony's Compound: Wanda is stuck there being protected by Legion (Paul Bettany), who prevents her from leaving.
Berlin: The captured people in Bucharest are being brought in, with Bucky being in a holding cage of his own. Tony then decides to talk to Rogers about small talk like Potts not being there, but it evolves into a full-on argument with the two about the Accords.
We then see Bucky being interrogated just as the red device seen in the hotel room arriving near a communications central. The interrogator then reveals himself to be Zemo just as the red device reveals itself to be an electromagnetic wave bomb that cuts off all power to the city. Zemo, with the book, then brainwashes Bucky into obeying him and demands a mission report for the date of 12/16/1991 like the man earlier. Rogers appears and tries to fight him, but he ends up being kicked inside an elevator shaft. While Rogers tries to get back up, the brainwashed Bucky attacks Stark/Carter/Romanov/Black Panther. Bucky though, somehow escapes and ends up on a helicopter. Rogers, however, is already there and pulls down the helicopter which ends up sending the two out of the building and into the pool below.
Bucky then awakens to find himself tied up and accompanied by Rogers/Wilson. Wilson asks Bucky what he knew, and Bucky says that he wasn't the only Winter Soldier.
1991: This time, a captured guy gets turned into a soldier and like Bucky, he is ultraviolent. The new soldier then kills everyone. In the present day, Bucky says that these numerous winter soldiers are more or less a death squad that wants to see the world burn. Despite Falcon telling Rogers to tell Stark, he refuses as he said Stark wouldn't believe them.
Berlin: Stark and Romanov are being talked to be Secretary Ross. Stark/Romanov want to bring in Bucky and Steve in 72 hours all by themselves. Ross complies but reduces it to 36 for both Bucky, Steve, and Wilson. The two then strategise on assembling a team.
Queens: A teenager arrives at home and sees his aunt with Stark. He is Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland)! Inside Parker's room, Stark confronts him about his identity and tells him to help him in Germany.
Stark's Compound: Clive Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) secretly enters and gets Wanda to help Steve. He fights with Vision, and Wanda ultimately uses her magic to knock Vision unconscious by dropping him down multiple layers of the earth and goes with Hawkeye.
Berlin: Black Widow then recruits Black Panther.
Germany (Leipzig Airport): Sharon Carter then gives Steve some information and they kiss. Hawkeye then arrives, and he and Scarlet Witch are not alone... they brought Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) with them to help!
Both teams then face each other, and a GIANT FIGHT occurs. Both Team Cap and Team Iron Man fight each other. Eventually, during the fight, Falcon tells Steve and Bucky to take off and for the other members of Team Cap to continue fighting to make a distraction. Just as the latter are about to escape, though... Vision shows up for Team Iron Man. After a much longer fight (one of which includes Ant-Man getting giant!), Vision sinks air control towers, and Bucky/Steve make it in just in time. They are, however, met by Black Widow. Black Widow, however, stuns War Machine behind them and tells Steve/Bucky to "not make me regret this decision." When questioned, she replies: "I said I'd help you find them, not catch them." Iron Man, War Machine, and then Falcon fight and try to get to the aircraft of the two. Vision, however, accidentally shoots War Machine out of the sky and he falls straight down to the ground to Tony's horror.
Vienna: The interrogator (who was actually supposed to interview Bucky instead of Zemo) is shown dead in his hotel room.
On the plane, Steve wonders to Bucky if he made the right choice. On the ground, War Machine is now paralyzed, and Tony argues with Natasha and says that she should be imprisoned for not following the Accords. She then quips: "Are you incapable of letting your ego go for one goddamn second?" Tony then decides to take off all by himself on a helicopter. On the chopper, he finds out about Zemo and finds out about the deception in Vienna with the interrogator. Meanwhile, Zemo enters and finds numerous frozen soldiers.
Tony then arrives at a base and sees all the other members of Team Cap imprisoned. When talking to Falcon, Tony admits he was wrong and wants to find Rogers to help him. He then lies to Secretary Ross about just returning to the compound, but he's actually going to Rogers. Unbeknownst to Tony, however, Black Panther is following him.
At the place, Bucky and Steve find Tony and make up as now they know he knows about Zemo's deception. The three explore while Black Panther lurks amongst their shadows. When arriving in the chamber, however, all the soldiers are dead - killed by Zemo. Zemo then reveals his plan and plays the actual case file of December 16, 1991.... it was Tony's parents who were killed in the 1991 mission after Bucky crashes their car. In anger, Tony tries to kill Bucky and the trio get into a big fight.
Outside, Zemo reveals that he did the whole thing to ruin the Avengers. He had lost his entire family due to their damage in Sokovia and wanted revenge. Before trying to kill himself, however, he is stopped by Black Panther, who admits he no longer wants revenge and pities him, but still captures Zemo.
Inside, Captain America and Iron Man continue fighting with the latter trying to kill Bucky. Eventually, Cap gains the upper hand and stabs his shield inside Tony'core piece at his center.Tony then yells at him that his father made that shield and that he wasn't worthy. In response, Cap leaves his shield and walks away with Bucky.
Later... We then see Rhodes slowly going through physical therapy with Tony helping him (an exoskeleton allows the paralyzed Rhodes to move). A FedEx delivery man (Stan Lee's cameo) then appears and gives Tony a letter from Cap. In the letter, Cap says that the Avengers are Tony's and that he apologizes for not telling him the truth about his parents earlier. He then says that he wished they agreed with the accords, and no matter what, he needs them (The Avengers as one). We then see Team Cap broken out of their imprisonment.
Post-Credits 1: We see Bucky (who now lost his mechanical arm after Tony destroyed it). He decides to go back into freezing while Cap and Black Panther try to find a cure for his brainwashing. Black Panther then tells Cap that he wishes that the latter finds peace and we see that their base is in a very secluded and snowy area in Wakanda with a Black Panther statue outside.
Post-Credits 2: We see Spider-Man recovering from his injuries while being able to have a communication radar that flashes his mask.
The film then ends with the phrase [SPIDER-MAN WILL RETURN].
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