Last week Robert Downey Jr had been teasing about his continual involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leading to speculation that his Tony Stark character would be headlining either an Iron Man 4 film or a rumored movie that would feature a number of Marvel’s superhero characters possibly coming on the heels of a third Avengers film.
But the Variety is confident that they have ascertained what Downey was referring to when he said that Marvel always “has plans” with the trade breaking the news that Downey is in final negotiations with the studio to appear in Captain America 3 opposite the franchise’s star Chris Evans and furthermore that film will be the first in a phase of movies that will play out the popular 2006 “Civil War” event storyline from the comics.
Captain America 3 is already slated for a May 6, 2016 release, placing it between May 2015’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron release and a surmised 2018 Avengers 3 release, for which Downey is already signed.
The deal is significant for the Marvel cinematic universe considering the plot will pit Stark against Captain America’s alter-ego Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, as they feud over the Superhero Registration Act, which forces anyone with superhuman abilities to reveal their identities to the U.S. government and agree to act as a police force for the authorities.
Stark supports the program, but Rogers does not, saying it threatens civil liberties, causing sides to be taken and Rogers, among others, to go on the run to avoid arrest. The moral question and battle with his Avengers teammate essentially makes Stark a villain of sorts in “Captain America 3,” providing Downey with a meaty role he could play out into future Marvel films, including a fourth “Avengers.”
This certainly does reveal what Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America 3 co-writer/co-director Joe Russo meant when he stated last month that the treequel will “alter the universe as a whole in some way.”
If Variety’s story is 100% accurate, it is probably safe to assume that it will play an important role through most of the remaining films of Marvel’s “Phase Three” which will culminate in Avengers 3. I say “most,” as 2017’s Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 will probably not be impacted by the storyline. This does seem to upend the long-held belief that Avengers 3 would focus on a resolution to the ongoing Thanos storyline that has been slowly spilling out through the last several Marvel films, from 2012’s The Avengers to this past summer’s Guardians Of The Galaxy.
Not to toot my own horn, but the possibility of Civil War playing out in Phase Three was something I speculated on back after the release of Captain America: The Winter Solder.
Previously, there had been rumors that Avengers 3 would feature a new lineup showcasing some of the newer heroes that Marvel would be introducing in the upcoming years including Ant-Man and Dr. Strange with perhaps a bigger film to follow showcasing all the various franchise heroes. This news does nothing to dispel those rumors.
Interestingly, one of the big players in the Civil War comics event was Spider-Man. The film rights to the character are in the hands of Sony which would normally preclude the character’s involvement here. But there have been recent rumors that Sony and Marvel have been talking about possibly sharing the character. With Marvel going forward with a “Civil War” storyline that would certainly lend credence to those rumors as well.
Personally, while I know that Civil War is a fan favorite event, I never much found the appeal in it. Perhaps, as a political junkie, I saw too many interesting storytelling opportunities passed over in favor of lots of punching. I also found that many heroes had their characterizations altered in order to give them a rational for joining one side or another. It was a move that felt driven more by editorial mandate than by anything organically coming from the characters themselves.