[10.28.14 UPDATE] The next Captain America movie will be Captain America: Civil War.
Rumors have been flying recently regarding Robert Downey Jr.’s future involvement with Marvel Studios. But we may now have a hint as to what Iron Man will be up to after Avengers: Age of Ultron. Variety reported Monday night that Downey Jr. will star in Captain America 3, opening May 2016, to kick off a whole new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Civil War.
“Civil War” is a Marvel Comics story arc that pits heroes against each other upon the introduction of the Superhero Registration Act, a piece of legislature that requires superheroes to reveal their identities and register themselves as government agents. Iron Man unites heroes in favor of the act while Captain America surprisingly leads the opposition against it.
Robert Downey Jr.’s involvement in Captain America 3 has yet to be officially confirmed, but considering the Iron Man star’s reference to Marvel’s “very secretive” plans on Letterman last week, it’s not hard to believe an official statement is on its way.
What this means for Marvel
First of all, let’s establish that there’s a chance this may be true. Aside from Variety being a fairly credible source, Marvel also sent out this tweet on the same day Variety’s story went live. It looks like Marvel will be rebooting the Civil War story arc just in time for Ultron. Coincidence? Probably not.
If you know anything about the Civil War story arc, then you know this is huge news. Civil War is a massive event involving a ton of superheroes that has a ripple effect throughout all the Marvel Universe. The obvious question: How will Marvel Studios handle such an enormous event? The small amount of information we have now suggests that Ultron’s outcome will probably lead to the Superhero Registration Act, but everything after that remains a mystery. The way I see it, there are two possibilities as to where this could go.
Marvel Studios has adapted story arcs in the past. Iron Man 3 took on properties of the “Extremis” story arc and Avengers: Age of Ultron is based on the arc of the same title. However, both of these are incredibly loose adaptations. Marvel does not do page-to-screen adaptations like books do. The Civil War we see in the movies may play out in that same manner. If that’s the case, then there’s literally no way we can predict what Marvel has going on up their sleeve. Or . .
Marvel Studios is in the process of putting together an epic phase of movies that will change their Cinematic Universe forever. No one can say for sure what Marvel’s up to, but if they are looking to make a big deal out of this, here are a few ways they could do it.
-The X-Men Effect
The X-Men movies have received their fair share of criticism, but there’s no doubt that 20th Century Fox’s mutants have been generally well received. The X-Men universe works in a way that differs from most superhero movies. Each installment usually introduces three or four new heroes at a time, allowing the X-Men movies to boast the biggest roster of superpowers in town. Seeing as Cap and Iron Man both have a lot of heroes on their sides in “Civil War,” Marvel Studios could try to do things the way X-Men does them and introduce several characters per movie. Adding C and D-list heroes as supporting characters would be an easy way to form the story’s two major alliances. This method of recruitment could also lead to an astounding super-powered battle in the Phase 3 conclusion.
The Civil War gave a few heroes crucial roles in the story, allowing the reader to identify main characters in spite of the arc’s massive scope. Among these main characters stand the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man. This creates a bit of an issue because Marvel Studios doesn’t technically have the rights to any of these properties. But could they still work out a way to get them into the Civil War?
When it comes to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, the answer is probably no. Both of these properties belong to 20th Century Fox, and from the looks of it, Fox is no friend of Marvel. After the Fantastic Four were suspiciously excluded from Marvel’s 75th Anniversary celebrations, it was finally announced at the 2014 New York Comic Con that Marvel is ending the Fantastic Four comic book series in 2015. Because 20th Century Fox’s new Fantastic Four reboot is being released that same year, rumors are circulating that Marvel cancelled the series to deny Fox any sort of promotion.
Marvel was recently accused of trying to hinder Fox’s X-Men franchise as well. Chris Claremont, current writer of the Nightcrawler comic series, mentioned that Marvel will no longer write new mutants into their stories because “Why promote Fox material?” Could this feud between Marvel and 20th Century Fox be the result of failed movie negotiations? Maybe not. To say that they were without any sort of evidence would be grasping at straws.
Spider-Man, however, is a different story. I could easily see the X-Men excluded from a Civil War phase, and I suppose Ant Man could substitute Reed Richards in the story, but Spider-Man plays a much more significant role. I won’t say how he’s important because I’m very conscious of spoilers here at A New Dish, so let’s just say he’s a big deal.
Spider-Man belongs to Sony Pictures, which is much more friendly with Marvel Studios. If you remember, Sony and Marvel had worked out a deal that would allow the Oscorp building to appear in the final battle of the first Avengers movie. Plans fell through due to unknown reasons. Rumors about cooperation between Sony and Marvel have resurfaced in the past few weeks. HitFix says it can’t confirm sources, but that there are talks between Sony and Marvel to fit Spider-Man into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. If this is true, there could be a chance Marvel is trying to get the Webslinger to play his part in the Civil War storyline.
Nothing is 100% confirmed yet, but considering the waves this news is making, an official statement is likely to show up sooner rather than later.