Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off this May with the release of Captain America: Civil War. The thirteenth movie to take place in Marvel's ever-expanding film continuity, Civil War will approach themes of superhero accountability while delivering a massive suspense thriller featuring some of the MCU's biggest heroes. The film will also have the privilege of introducing some new characters to the universe, including Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), while also setting the stage for the events leading up to The Avengers: Infinity War in 2018.
Though the film is still a few months away, Disney's marketing team is already hard at work promoting Civil War. Prior to Super Bowl 50, a new TV spot was released for the film, priming viewers to choose a side. This was later followed by a Coca-Cola commercial featuring the Hulk and Ant-Man, kicking off a scavenger hunt for special edition Coke Mini cans. Marvel continued their push the day after the Super Bowl by launching special Civil War emojis and opening a new Twitter contest for a chance to win a non-speaking role in the upcoming Infinity War.
The Civil War promotion continues with the upcoming issue of Empire, which sports an exclusive cover image (below). The cover depicts Captain America and Iron Man locked in an epic struggle, both evenly matched amidst a shower of sparks. Fans of the comics will recognize the iconic image from Marvel Comics' 2006-2007 Civil War event series. The exclusive cover is specifically a recreation of the cover of Civil War #7, the final issue of the event, drawn by Steve McNiven.
The original cover for Civil War #7 was a wraparound cover, featuring Iron Man and Captain America fighting among the fallen heroes of both sides. It served to illustrate the severity of the conflict and the extent of the damage it was causing, making the climax of the series all the more impactful. The Empire cover has only adapted the focal point, promising the one-on-one showdown fans will expect in the final act of the film. Even without the other heroes, it makes for a striking image that will stay on readers' minds in the last few months before the film's premiere.
Though the film draws inspiration from the original Civil War limited series, those interested in the story should know that Marvel Comics is releasing a follow-up event titled Civil War II. Though the new event is not technically a sequel, it will explore a similar idea of superheroes divided over a (currently unknown) issue, with neither side being portrayed as the right side. Speaking with NY Daily News earlier this year, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada indicated that fans who want a glimpse into the future of the MCU would do well to check out Marvel's current slate of comics. Considering that the cover for Civil War II #1 prominently features a number of upcoming and current MCU heroes (including Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Sam Wilson, Spider-Man and Star-Lord), it seems like a good place to start.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.