Prior to Marvel hiring Joe and Anthony Russo to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the brothers would not have been most people's first choice to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only did they deliver a strong debut, but they were put in charge of kicking off Phase 3 with Captain America: Civil War. The movie met or exceeded most people's expectations, which helped to calm anyone's fears that they could not handle their next two projects: Avengers: Infinity War and Untitled Avengers (a.k.a. Avengers 4, formerly known as Infinity War - Part 2).
The Russo Brothers are currently in Atlanta to start prepping for a nine month shoot to cover the next two Avengers movies - but that does not mean they are too busy to promote the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD release of Civil War. Instead of talking about some of the special features that will be available to watch, they were able to tease how the project will tie in to future films.
While speaking to IGN, the directors were asked about the ways that Civil War sets up Infinity War and the fourth Avengers movie. Even though some may look upon Civil War antagonist Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and deem his plan a failure, he did achieve his goal of splitting up the Avengers team, most notably changing the relationship forever for Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Of course, if this is considered a success for Zemo, then he is also helping out Thanos (Josh Brolin) without even knowing it. Instead of the Avengers fighting in full force, they are now scattered, beaten, and unsure of themselves:
Joe Russo: Part of what excited us about how we could end Civil War, and the fact that there is this divide between Cap and Tony and their relationship that will be very, very difficult for them to ever repair, the fact that the Avengers are divided in two and half of them are now wanted by the law and the other fact are not too comfortable with their fate moving forward, and the fact that Thanos and the Infinity War are coming -- the greatest threat the universe has ever seen is going to come at the moment where the Avengers are arguably at their lowest, at their worst, at their least strong and most divided since they've been formed -- that for us was a very exciting place for us to be as storytellers because of the vulnerable nature of our heroes in that kind of a situation. For us, as we move forward into Infinity War, the condition of the Avengers is very much an important part of how that story starts and what dangers they face moving forward.
This is just the latest way that Marvel movies from varying franchises can change the future direction of the MCU as a whole. Even though Avengers: Age of Ultron certainly changed the group dynamic moving forward (with both Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) pushed out of the picture by the end - and left gearing up for their adventure in Thor: Ragnarok), Civil War split the Avengers down the middle and introduced new MCU superheroes, at the same time. This has been the way the Russo Brothers have wanted to operate since joining the MCU and is one of the reasons they love being a part of it:
Anthony Russo: From the point of view of Joe and I, we think about all of these movies as a continuity. The story that we told in Winter Soldier set the basis for the story we told in Civil War, and the story that we told in Civil War is again laying the groundwork for the story that we're going to tell in Avengers: Infinity War. For us, there's a narrative continuity between the movies, and each movie is in many ways setting the stage for the ones that follow. For us, we have a very specific through-line for all those films.
The directors are obviously highlighting Civil War as a building block for Infinity War, but by the time it rolls around, other films will also play a role in setting the events into motion. Doctor Strange will introduce a brand new, powerful superhero to the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 could push the Guardians themselves to Earth, and so forth. It is easy to focus on Civil War since it is the newest film in continuity, but there are sure to be more revelations as the movie draws closer.
Captain America: Civil War will be available on VOD September 2, 2016, and DVD/Blur-ray on September 13, 2016.
Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming– July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel– March 8, 2019; Untitled Avengers – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.