Has it finally happened? Has the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially gotten so big and unwieldy that it’s become the Marvel Comics Universe? According to Variety (with additional details from Badass Digest), Captain America 3 (and whichever films/TV it spills into) will be a loose adaptation of the popular, but awful Civil War storyline. This would be a feat made possible by a very generous renegotiation of Robert Downey Jr.’s contract.
In order for this news to make any sense at all, first we have to go back a few weeks. Rumors started floating around that Avengers 3 would be split into two films, but legally this wouldn’t be possible thanks to the actors’ contracts. They’d signed on for a set number of films, including one more Avengers film; shooting 3 and 4 as one would still mean they made two, which they hadn’t agreed to do.
Then it came out that maybe the Avengers we know and love wouldn’t appear in Part 3. Captain America would recruit a bunch of new Avengers at the end of Age of Ultron (the crew from Winter Soldier and the Phase 3 heroes) and they’d join up for Avengers 3, with everyone (the old pros, the new kids and the Guardians of the Galaxy) getting together in Avengers 4 to finally take on Thanos.
Now it seems that might be close, but not entirely the case.
The word now is that RDJ will show up in Cap 3 in a major role, and that the film will kick off a version of Civil War. After the destruction of Age of Ultron, Tony Stark sees the rationale behind a superhero registration law (which, holy crap, is going to have to be Man of Steel huge to top Avengers 1). Captain America is against this, thinking that the government keeping track of a certain set of people is wrong, because World War 2. The comic culminated in the assassination of Steve Rogers with Bucky Barnes taking up the mantle, something long suspected would happen in the film universe, given Chris Evans’ soon-to-end contract.
What’s strange about all this is that, via SHIELD, all super-powered individuals are essentially already registered with the government (and anyone can access that list on the internet, as per the end of Cap 2). It’s also a complete 180 of Stark’s views in Iron Man 2, where the plot largely hinged on his refusal to give up his armor technology to the government. And what of Thanos? Is Marvel going to build him up as a universe-threatening villain over the course of multiple franchises only to dispatch him in, say, Guardians 2?
So maybe, just maybe, we should take this whole thing with a gigantic grain of salt. I’m not saying none of this will happen. RDJ’s comments recently have certainly pointed to something beyond his original contract (though not Iron Man 4). But a lot of this just doesn’t jibe with what’s already been put into motion in the MCU and what has been specifically announced regarding the future of the films.
On the other hand, the Civil War comic arc was started when a battle with Speedball, a fairly obscure hero, got a bit out of hand and hundreds of civilians died. It got out recently that the character will appear of Agents of SHIELD played by Whedon-regular Fran Kranz.
So who the hell really knows?