We told you to stay tuned. The news that Robert Downey Jr. would appear in Captain America 3 has just been upgraded from news to earth-shattering news. Not only will Iron Man make an appearance in the upcoming sequel – due in theaters on May 6, 2016 – but he’s also the villain, at least from Cap’s point of view.
The best-selling comic book crossover event Civil War has just been revealed as the plot of Captain America 3, and it could be a real game changer for the studio.
Civil War told the story of a Marvel Universe divided after a devastating supervillain attack in which a team of heroes failed to save the day, resulting in enormous civilian casualties. The American government responded by enacting legislation which required every superpowered individual to register their identities with the government. Captain America led a group of heroes who rejected the mandate as a violation of their civil liberties. Iron Man led a team of heroes who agreed with the Registration Act. Hero turned against hero.
The Civil War storyline and its fallout will extend into multiple films, including the Avengers movies after next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, according to Variety. Overall the impact of Civil War could last as long as seven years, well into The Avengers 4, and help spawn new characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.
So it is incredibly important that Marvel Studios gets it just right.
It must be said that in some ways a Civil War storyline makes perfect sense in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but in others it makes very little. On the one hand, not trusting the government is fitting for Captain American after the events of The Winter Soldier, and embracing responsibility to an almost irresponsible degree makes perfect sense for Iron Man after the events of The Avengers and Iron Man 3. It also might stand to reason that the events of Age of Ultron could very well kickstart the Civil War storyline, since the devastation of Ultron might leave the citizens of Earth in a tailspin and looking to solve the superhero problem by any means necessary.
Then again, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has far fewer superpowered characters in it than the comic book universe, and the identity of the vast majority of those characters are already known to the government, as we’ve seen in Avengers and “Agents of SHIELD.” So it would seem, unless they alter the Civil War storyline somewhat, that rebelling against it might be a bit of a moot point.
But presumably Marvel Studios, which has made almost exclusively good, if not great movies to date, has a plan in mind to make this whole Civil War business work. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. is still getting their team of heroes together for the very first time. Their competitors have already moved on to pitting their already established heroes against each other in an all-out brawl.
The Civil War storyline was controversial amongst fans of the comics, some of whom sided with Iron Man, some of whom sided with Captain America, and some of whom found the entire concept a little on-the-nose. The parallels with the real-life Patriot Act were obvious, and the details of the comic book conflict were a little tricky and caused some heroes to, at least arguably, act out of character in order to continue the plot. Spider-Man revealed his secret identity to the world (and then made a pact with the devil to make the world forget about it), and Captain America briefly died afterwards. This may also be a plot point Marvel Studios will want to consider, since Chris Evans has expressed interest in retiring from acting in order to focus on directing films instead.