Why Pepper Potts isn’t in ‘Captain America: Civil War’

Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “Captain America: Civil War.”

“Captain America: Civil War” juggled over a dozen superheroes on screen and introduced plenty of new characters. However, one of the most noticeable absences of the movie is that of Tony Stark’s former flame, Pepper Potts.

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While delivering a speech at MIT, the audience learns that Stark and Potts apparently went through an off-screen breakup. It was a bit of a bummer for those hoping to see Gwyneth Paltrow on screen again with Robert Downey Jr. Fans hadn’t seen the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2013’s “Iron Man 3” when Tony promised Pepper he would no longer dabble in the robot-making game. (That promise didn’t go over so well.)

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Sorry, Pepper. The man loves the machine too much. Marvel screencap

The “Civil War” crew explain on the “Captain America: Civil War” commentary there’s a logical reason Ms. Potts doesn’t physically appear in the film (and no, it’s not just that Paltrow had a three-film contract with Marvel).

Her presence would have never enabled Stark to take the direction they needed in “Civil War.”

“This is the beginning of a more mature, darker Tony Stark,” explained screenwriter Stephen McFeely.

Co-director Joe Russo went into detail explaining how they needed a catalyst to help drive Tony to want to go after the Winter Soldier in a menacing manner without anyone to bring him back from the edge.

Remember, near the end of “Captain America: Civil War” Stark learns that Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier is responsible for the death of his parents.

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It’s also news to Tony that Steve Rodgers/Captain America knew and decided to withhold that detail. He doesn’t take that news so well.

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“The intent in this movie, because we knew where we were going with the character, [was] that we had to motivate Tony to want to kill Bucky Barnes in the third act in order for the third act to work correctly, that Tony would have to be off-balance,” explains Russo.

“The way that we thought we could make him off-balance was by pulling things out of his life, making him emotionally vulnerable. Really emotionally vulnerable,” he continues. “So, Pepper is out of his life. It clearly is an issue for him, as you can see, by Robert’s performance here.”

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Tony’s pretty sad, upset, and at odds with himself and the Avengers throughout ‘Civil War.’ Marvel

Immediately after we learn something is amiss with Pepper and Tony, Stark is confronted by the mother of a boy who died because of the damage that took place at the end of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Since Tony was responsible for the creation of Ultron, Russo adds that he feels a lot of guilt.

“He’s being attacked emotionally on a lot of different fronts. And it puts the character in a precarious position,” says Russo. “So, as the movie progresses, if there is a touchstone or something cathartic were to happen to him, it could potentially push him over the edge, which is what happens at the end of the film.”

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If Pepper Potts was still in Stark’s world, she would bring him back down to Earth and talk some sense into him, preventing him from going after the Winter Soldier.

“Civil War” screenwriter Christopher Markus also points out that for Stark, his story arc has really come full circle from the first movie.

“His most recognisable action in the first movie is to stop making weapons because, ‘The things I make are hurting people,'” Markus explains. “And he gets all the way to this movie and realises, ‘The things I make are still hurting people.'”

What a realisation.

“Captain America: Civil War” is currently available on HD digital and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD September 13.

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