Yes, Captain America: Civil War is probably going to introduce a Steve/Sharon romance, but don’t let Sharon Carter be defined by her love interest.
We’re all looking forward to Captain America: Civil War, the third and final installment in Marvel’s Captain America trilogy.
The movie pits Cap (Chris Evans) against Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), dividing Avengers and auxiliary characters in a fight that, if the trailer is anything to go by, has more to do with the fate of the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) than the Superhero Registration Act from the Civil War arcs in the comics.
Marvel and the Russo Brothers aren’t completely changing the story, however. For one, they’re bringing back Agent 13, aka Sharon, aka Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)’s niece.
The character was first introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but without her signature last name. This led fans to wonder whether the MCU would leave out the family connection — but in this film, Emily Van Camp tells ET that, “she’s openly going to be Sharon Carter.”
Being Peggy Carter’s niece, Sharon is obviously awesome. But, being Peggy Carter’s niece, you might also imagine that sparks could potentially fly between her and Steve. After all, this is basically your Peter Pan archetype at work. And you’d be right: in the comics, the pair have a significant romance, and it would appear we can expect that relationship to surface in the MCU, too.
Van Camp says that in the movie, Sharon and Steve “get to sort of explore” the romance arc from the comic books. She adds, “I can’t say if we go to that extent of it, but they’re certainly getting to know each other and they know who each other are.”
Interestingly, the former Revenge star also notes that, “there are die-hard fans that want to see him with different people, all the different camps,” and admits, “I hope people will be happy” with what Civil War gives them.
We don’t blame her for being a little worried: however fans feel about Captain America and his more-or-less canon love interests, Sharon Carter has received more than her fair share of hate from various parts of the fandom. While there are many, extensive reasons why comic book fans don’t like Sharon, her MCU counterpart should for obvious reasons exist as a separate entity (none of the MCU characters are exact replicas of the comic heroes they’re based on) — but Van Camp is right: a lot of the hate for both the actress and her character seems to be less about her, and more about the relationships she could potentially interfere with.
Fans of the Stucky, Stony and Steggy relationships are all worried that she’ll overshadow Steve’s connections to Bucky, Tony and Peggy respectively, and of course that’s a legitimate concern (although, again based on the trailer, we don’t think the Stucky and Stony fans need to be too worried).
But, taking some editorial liberty here — we are “by fans, for fans,” after all — we think the hate towards Sharon is misplaced. Although it might not seem feasible for Civil War to make a Steve/Sharon romance believable, considering all the other characters and storylines we have to contend with, it is neither Sharon nor Emily Van Camp’s fault that a) her character is canonically Steve’s comic book love interest, and b) Civil War evidently means to pay homage to that relationship, in one way or another.
Really, the main problem with Sharon Carter isn’t whether or not she ends up with Steve — it’s whether or not she’s allowed to develop as a character in her own right, not framed by her feelings for a male character.
Because whether or not you’re a fan of the Steve/Sharon romance in the comic books, and whether or not you think there’s room for their relationship in Civil War, we’re sure almost all Marvel fans agree that the MCU desperately needs more female heroes who are not defined by their love interests.
Right now, the only female human in the MCU who has neither been a love interest nor a damsel in distress is Maria Hill — and potentially Scarlet Witch, depending on what happens with Vision — so we’re not going to lie: yes, we were hoping Emily Van Camp’s Sharon Carter would join the fledgling camp of independent women who haven’t had to trudge through an obligatory romance arc in order to earn their place in the narrative.
In our experience, Marvel movies don’t actually need romance to be good — in fact, we dare say that one of the reasons The Winter Soldier is considered the best Marvel film to date is because it left out romance altogether, leaving more time for action, suspense, and complex friendships.
The Winter Soldier is also a good example of how axing the perfunctory love story can improve the male/female power balance in an action film, allowing the female character (in this case Natasha) to exist as an independent entity, as opposed to being a vehicle for male character growth. Other good examples: MI: Rogue Nation; Mad Max: Fury Road, and of course Agent Carter. We’d hate for Sharon Carter to fall victim to the love interest trope that has claimed so many fierce females in the past (RIP Age of Ultron-era Black Widow).
But before we’re too quick to equate Sharon Carter with Steve’s love life, let’s not forget that Civil War already has a love story. It doesn’t matter if you believe the Bucky/Steve relationship is romantic, platonic or familial in nature; clearly, their bond is set up to be the focal point of the film (and indeed, the entire Captain America trilogy).
Believe it or not, this might actually be a good thing for Sharon’s character. There’s no reason to assume that, just because she might be Steve’s romantic interest, her arc will be all about romance. Steve’s certainly won’t be. Whatever Sharon comes to mean to Steve, she’ll never be the most important (or even second or third most important) person in his life. And, knowing what we know about the Carter ladies, and giving the Russo brothers the benefit of the doubt, we’re betting that Steve won’t be the most important person in Sharon’s life, either.
While Steve is off with Bucky and Tony, there’ll be plenty of time for Sharon to kick ass (we’re so stoked for the Natasha/Sharon showdown Van Camp has hinted at!) and fight for what she believes in. And whatever romance Steve and Sharon develop on the sidelines will probably (hopefully) be founded on mutual respect and attraction, as opposed to being some all-consuming, personality-erasing love connection. At least, that’s the dream.
Ultimately, we can’t control whether or not the Russos and Kevin Feige decide to include Steve and Sharon’s relationship in the movie (or perhaps leave the possibility open for future movies, if both characters survive). We can’t control whether or not that development feels organic or not, and we can’t control who Steve loves.
What we can control is whether or not we’ll choose to hate on one of the very few actively ass-kicking female characters in the MCU.
We shouldn’t hate on Sharon because she happens to have feelings for Steve, and we certainly shouldn’t blame her for whatever feelings Steve does or does not have for various other characters. Blame Marvel, blame Kevin Feige, blame heteronormativity if you must — but don’t blame Sharon Carter.
As Emily Van Camp said in the interview, “We’re all just kind of kicking ass in these movies.” She’ll be fighting the good fight, just like her Aunt Peggy, and hopefully she’ll be allowed to develop a personality not defined by Steve Rogers — just like her Aunt Peggy.
And who knows? Maybe there’s life for Sharon beyond Steve. We certainly wouldn’t want to dissuade Marvel from pursuing more projects featuring female protagonists.