Marvel Studios recently finished up Phase 2 of its cinematic universe with the release of this summer's Ant-Man and Phase 3 is set to kick off next year. Marvel has two films planned to premiere in 2016: the third entry to Anthony and Joe Russo's Captain America trilogy, Captain America: Civil War, followed by Doctor Strange, with Benedict Cumberbatch set to play the titular Stephen Strange.
Since the studio is owned by Disney, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige attended the D23 Expo this weekend to offer attendees some first glimpses at next year's releases. Cumberbatch introduced exclusive concept art for Doctor Strange while Civil War costars Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America) took the stage to debut the first footage from the film, and afterward spoke to the press about what to expect from Captain America's third titled entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While talking to IGN, Evans and Mackie discussed what's new in Civil War, explaining that their uniforms will be different and the action sequences are executed in a "broader capacity." Additionally, Evans said that Marvel films like Civil War are "really effective" in progressing character dynamics, such as those between Captain America, Bucky Barnes a.k.a. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Falcon.
It's those character dynamics, Evans and Mackie explained, that helps viewers relate to the characters in Captain America: Civil War. The actors went on to compare the dispute in Civil War between the Cap and Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) to arguments with family or close friends:
Anthony Mackie: We definitely have gloves on, but it's more of a family dispute. That's what's so great about this movie and the characters and how they work together. It's more so when you have a sibling rivalry. The reason people can relate to these characters so much is because they can relate to what they're going through; everybody's fought with one of their siblings or one of their friends, wanted to make up with them, but couldn't figure out the best way to do it and that's kind of how Civil War works.
Chris Evans: I feel like families... you have more struggles with the people you love because you care about them. You can't leave them, you have to make this work. It just feels like when you have a family dynamic of people that you may not get along with, but you can't just cut them out of your life, that's what makes the stakes so high.
Evans and Mackie spoke more with MTV News about how Bucky will fit into the partnership between Falcon and Cap that was established in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Mackie said Falcon helps Cap find Bucky because of their friendship but the dynamic between all three is "more so of an understanding and respect than it is three guys chumming around having a good time." Evans went on to explain that Falcon is the person Cap trusts the most, so Civil War will continue to explore their friendship, picking up where The Winter Soldier left off.
As for the broader narrative of Civil War, Evans was asked if it felt more like another Avengers film rather than a third entry to the Captain America series: "I don't know if it feels like an Avengers movie having been on an Avengers movie where you have to really balance a lot of storylines. They do a pretty good job of understanding the arc of what the story needs." Though Civil War will include many characters established earlier in the MCU, like those from The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, while also introducing fans to Black Panther and Spider-Man, the story arc will be more simple than the Avengers films have been.
Given Evans and Mackie's comments about the characters of Civil War being the heart of the story, and the footage from D23 highlighting character moments in addition to action beats, it seems the third Captain America feature will be more grounded in character development than previous Marvel films may have been. Since the dispute in Civil War will be rooted in the tension between Cap and Tony over regulating superhuman activity, the film certainly lends itself toward more grounded character drama as Evans and Mackie suggested.
Of course, Captain America: Civil War is still a Marvel movie, so fans looking for exciting action sequences will likely not be disappointed, especially if the action scenes from The Winter Soldier are any indication of what to expect from Civil War. However, if the story is more grounded in the relationships between the characters - especially fan-favorites such as Cap, Falcon, the Winter Soldier and Tony - then that may give Civil War a depth that other Marvel films may have lacked, which can only provide a more compelling moviegoing experience for diehard and casual fans alike.
Ant-Man is currently in theaters; Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and Inhumans – July 12, 2019.