Marvel Studios has done a really good job of throwing us curveballs and not being shy about mixing things up. Looks like they’re getting ready to do that again as Robert Downey Jr. Has just joined the cast of Captain America 3 and that film will reportedly kick off the Civil War storyline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Variety has the scoop and it basically shakes out like this. Robert Downey Jr. has been in negotiations with Marvel for another film for a while now, a thing I didn’t both blogging because I prefer to talk about news than rumours. We all through he was negotiating for Iron Man 4 but it turns out it’s for this.
Why is this a huge deal (other than the $40 million plus bonus if Cap 3 does well, which it will, they’re paying Downey)? They’re starting the Civil War storyline.
For those of you who don’t know Civil War was a eeries in the mid 2000s in which the Marvel universe was divided. An incident sparked a Superhuman Registration Act by the government and all the heroes of the universe came down on different sides. Tony Stark was the leader of the pro-registration camp and Captain America the leader of the anti-registration camp. Registration required any super humans or those with access to magic or special tech or whatever to come forward, reveal their identity, and receive training to use their powers better.
Now, there aren’t any secret identities to reveal in the MCU (which is a big sticking point in the comics as Captain America sees forcing people to reveal their identities as a violation of their civil rights) but Marvel has been really good about picking and choosing what they want to include and how.
We know that Tony Stark will be involved in the creation of Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron (last synopsis I read had him jump starting an old project, will be cool if they make the original work done by Hank Pym as a nod to that character creating Ultron in the comics). In the comics Civil War starts with a battle between a minor hero and a minor villain that results in the deaths of 600 people, including a school full of kids. It’s entirely possible that whatever destruction is caused by the team in defeating Ultron (along with recognizing his own hubris) is what causes Tony to start thinking that maybe the super powered need some oversight.
In the comics Spider-Man was a central character in the Civil War conflict, starting out on the pro-registration side but eventually switching. Spider-Man is still owned by Sony so I don’t think that will happen (yes, there is a rumour that Sony is open to a cross over, but I kind doubt that Marvel will go for that), I think that they will use an existing character if they go that way. One great idea I saw but can’t find a link to: Bucky. The Russo’s have said that they will continue the Bucky story in Cap 3, so what if Iron Man decides he needs to be stopped while Captain America is trying to save him? That could easily be the central character dynamic in this bigger story. Alternately, Marvel still owns Spider Woman as far as I know (she isn’t related to Spider-Man and is an Avenger), perhaps she could fill that spot. It’ll totally be Bucky though.
All this lends itself to the idea that Marvel isn’t billing several franchises here. They’re building one big Marvel franchise instead. The current rumours also have some of the established Avengers not appearing in Avengers 3, including Captain America. Cap 3 ends with Cap in hiding and the heroes we know and love divided. Avengers 3 features the new characters introduced in the phase 3 films (Ant-Man and whoever else they do) potentially being led by Iron Man and dealing with another threat to earth, and then all of this is followed up by a movie that brings Iron Man’s pro registration heroes, Captain America’s Secret Avengers (Anti-registration heroes), and the Guardians of the Galaxy together to deal with the Infinity gauntlet stuff they’ve been building towards since the introduction of the tesseract.
Regardless of all that speculation it’s clear that Captain America 3 is going to upend the Marvel Universe even more than Captain America: The Winter Soldier did and they clearly have far more ambitious plans than we knew. That’s saying something too because to date their plans have seemed pretty fucking ambitious.
There’s a lot to process here but we’ll keep you informed as we learn more. There will undoubtedly be an official announcement when the news is.. uh.. official detailing Downey’s addition to the cast and a title for the film so stay tuned for that.