There are rumors that Avengers 4 will involve a five-year time jump, which, if accurate, means we'll never actually see Captain America and Iron Man reunite on the big screen, and there'll never really be any payoff for the core conflict of Captain America: Civil War.
The tentpole Avengers movies have always struggled to incorporate all the elements from previous films. Thor, for example, ended with the destruction of the Rainbow Bridge, meaning the God of Thunder should have been unable to get to Earth, a problem Joss Whedon dismissed with a throwaway mention of "dark magic" in The Avengers. Iron Man 3 came to a head with Tony Stark destroying all his previous armors and settling down for life with Pepper - but again, Whedon chose to ignore that in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Even Avengers: Infinity War struggled with the same problem. There's a strange discontinuity between the end of Thor: Ragnarok and the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. Reportedly the script for Infinity War's opening scene was being worked on before Marvel had even decided how Thor: Ragnarok would end.
The fundamental problem is that these Avengers films have so many different characters and ideas in play at once. Avengers: Infinity War had the biggest cast yet, and somehow had to balance giving all the heroes screentime against focusing on the story of Thanos and the Infinity Stones. The stakes are even higher in Avengers 4, and reports of a time jump suggest a major character arc will go unresolved.
- This Page: The Climax of Civil War Has Yet To Be Resolved
- Page 2: What the Rumored Time Jump Means for Steve and Tony
The Climax of Civil War Has Yet To Be Resolved
Marvel's first Phase 3 film, Captain America: Civil War, transformed the landscape of the MCU. A philosophical dispute over superhero registration led to a schism among the Avengers, with James Rhodes badly injured due to friendly fire. By the end of the film, though, the divide had become far more personal. Tony Stark learned that the Winter Soldier was responsible for his parents' deaths, and that Steve Rogers had known about it. The two even came to blows, with each barely managing to stop short of killing the other.
In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers and his closest friends - Falcon, Black Widow, and of course Bucky - wound up becoming illegal vigilantes, fugitives from justice. Iron Man briefly attempted to reform the Avengers, but eventually gave up on that idea simply because not enough people were interested in working with him. He was given a burner phone with which he could contact Steve Rogers should he ever need help; but, although Stark kept that phone with him, he never used it.
Marvel originally intended to resolve this arc in Avengers: Infinity War. The plan was for Rogers and Stark to come face-to-face partway through the film, and be forced to work through their past hurts. Unfortunately, as Infinity War co-writer Stephen McFeely noted, every time they tried that in a draft it brought the movie's plot screeching to a halt. As he explained:
"[It] meant that you’re slowing down your Thanos [Infinity] Stones [quest] to deal with other threats from other movies. And that became, as much as we wanted to do, and as many times as we wrote those scenes, it became clear that this movie needed to be propulsive and be about Thanos and what he represented to the Avengers."
It was undoubtedly the right decision in terms of the film's overarching story. But it does mean that a major plot thread is yet to be resolved.
Page 2 of 2: What the Rumored Time Jump Means for Steve and Tony
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019