It’s always difficult to straddle the line of what is or isn’t a “spoiler” in the weeks before a highly-anticipated film is released, with surprise casting being a hard-to-pin down element of what fans do or do not want to know ahead of time. But Wednesday early reviews for Captain America: Civil War have turned up news of an actor in the cast in an unannounced role.
Spoilers from here on in if you don’t want to know.
American Crime and Wayward Pines actress Hope Davis is reportedly in the cast (according to The Hollywood Reporter), and she appears to be playing Tony Stark’s deceased mother, Maria Stark.
Although Howard Stark has been played by three different actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Maria Stark has never appeared on-screen before.
As to what Davis’ almost certain turn as Maria Stark involves, those who follow Marvel Cinematic Universe movies can probably extrapolate many more significant spoilers about the film and the MCU from the reviews.
Hope and John Slattery (one of those three Howard Starks) reportedly appear together during an early flashback scene which is also the previously-revealed scene in which Robert Downey Jr. appears digitally de-aged as a much younger Tony Stark. The scene reportedly involves Stark using technology “to revisit a traumatic moment.”
And in a separate review from Variety, it is revealed/spoiled that in a “set-opening flashback” Winter Soldier (as briefly seen in the trailer) is “sprung” and activated from cryogenic deep-freeze by Russian soldiers… in the year 1991.
True MCU fans will immediately recognize the significance of that year. As Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Agent Carter have all established, it is the year Howard and Maria Stark were killed in what is thought to be a car accident (December 17, 1991 to be exact, see below).
Putting 2-and-2 together, the implications are pretty clear. As hinted in Winter Soldier but not outright revealed, Bucky-as-the-Winter Soldier is almost certainly the assassin who killed the Starks, and the "de-aged" scene seems almost certain to revisit their death in some way, perhaps (and this moving more into the realm of speculation) revealing Tony was even in the car at the time of the accident.
A new revelation like that would provide some added nuance to the self-imposed burden Stark clearly carries, his impetuous drive to always anticipate and solve problems before they occur, and his experience with post-traumatic stress in Iron Man 3.
The THR review further cites a "revelation that adds extra oomph" to the "de-aged" scene, "a well-earned twist that revolves around Stark, past and present converge in wrenching ways.”
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters nationwide on May 6.