Warning: Spoilers for Captain America: Civil War follow…
With Captain America: Civil War in theaters, audiences have had the opportunity to see the film and, for weirdos like us, zero in on the minute details.
There is one element in particular that struck me as more significant than may initially meet the eye.
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Tony Stark introduces a piece of technology early in the film that taps into the amygdala to access painful memories, ushering the user into a virtual reality realm where they can relive traumatic experiences and find closure by making the choices they wish they would have at the time.
In terms of Civil War, the tech serves to A) Remind us that Tony lost his parents and was left with great damage as a result. Which of course plays a key role in the larger conflict between Tony and Bucky, who as the Winter Soldier, slaughtered the Starks. And B) Show off a much younger Robert Downey Jr..
It's possible that Marvel introduced the technology simply to push the Civil War plot forward, but that's not very Marvel-like, frankly. So how might this tech be used in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
There are a couple of possibilities that present themselves.
Save The Winter Soldier:
When last we saw him, Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. The Winter Soldier, was tucked safely away back on ice in Wakanda. The very man who has the ability to assist him to recover and heal his memories is the last one who'd ever volunteer to help: Tony Stark.
This can't be the end for Bucky, though. With Infinity War 1 & 2 on the horizon Earth's going to need all of the heroes it can get, including The Winter Soldier. The Avengers can't, however, take the risk that one simple command may turn Bucky, once again, into a mindless killing machine. These circumstances may inspire Tony to use his tech to heal the very man who — by his murderous actions — inspired him to create it.
Robert Downey Jr. is set to appear in Tom Holland's first solo Spider-Man outing and the going rumor is that the villain will be Vulture. I'll be writing about a theory I have about how that all may play out in a separate post. For now I will point out that (as my friend Eric Eisenberg reminded me recently) Vulture, who is traditionally quite old, is obsessed with youth. Tony's device can, as a side benefit, bring one back into their youth.
Might it be that Vulture, otherwise known as the engineer Adrian Toomes, may aim to tweak this technology for his own nefarious gain? With the intent to somehow utilize it to rob Peter Parker of his youth by combining its virtual capabilities with physical applications?
What About Vision?:
“What is this?” The Vision asks as he points to the Mind Gem lodged in his forehead. The mysterious stone that gives him life. Like most of us, Vision isn't exactly sure what makes him him. What we know, as the audience, is that Thanos headed for him and is going to be wanting that Gem…As well as the death of of all things, but that's another story.
Is it possible that Tony's tech may work to create an artificial Mind Gem to give Vision life even after he's lost the real thing? It seems like a bit of a stretch, but hey, comics. And they're both to do with manipulating the mind. So, stranger things…
End of Days Scenario:
As my colleague Donna Dickens points out, it's also possible that someone else will steal the Stark technology to “mind rape an entire city” causing all of Earth to yell, “Damnit, Tony! Stop making things that ruin everything!”
Time will tell.
In the interim, Roth Cornet and Donna Dickens talk about Iron Man's new tech in Captain America: Civil War and how it may play a role in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe in the video above or below.
Take a look and let us know what you think here or on Twitter.