By now, some fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe know that the plan for the third Captain America film wasn't always Captain America: Civil War. It wasn't until star Robert Downey, Jr. came on board that the angle became a reality, allowing the filmmakers an opportunity to adapt the classic comic book storyline. Ever since then, #TeamCap vs. #TeamIronMan has become a global debate and a key part of the film's marketing. And given all that's transpired in the MCU up to this point, it's difficult to envision a different narrative taking place.
Civil War is the second massive blockbuster this year to examine the theme of superhero accountability, pitting so-called "good guys" against each other in philosophical and physical battles of wills. The first, of course, was Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman, which served as the true launching point for the DC Extended Universe. Though reaction to the finished product was mixed, there's no denying that it explored some interesting concepts within the genre, some that even caught the attention of Marvel boss Kevin Feige, paving the way for Civil War to reach theaters.
While speaking with THR, Cap 3 directors Joe and Anthony Russo discussed how the Civil War film came about, expressing their desire to craft a deconstruction of the MCU. Claiming that a majority of the films released so far all share a "fairly traditional structure," they wanted to mix it up and offer viewers something different, feeling that's what the audience craved. Feige ultimately agreed with them, especially after Warner Bros. green lit the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world:
For our part, when we finished Winter Soldier two years ago and we were thinking about doing the next one, the only thing that seemed interesting to us was to deconstruct the Marvel Universe — because where else can we go at this point? There have been 11 or 12 movies so far, all with a fairly traditional structure. Our pitch to them was: People will tell you they love chocolate ice cream — until you give it to them five days a week. It's time to give them some rainbow sherbet. Kevin [Feige] is a maverick and he's very sensitive to how people are responding to his content. He said he thought we might be right. And after they announced Batman v. Superman, he said, 'you guys are absolutely right.' We needed to do something challenging with the material or we were going to start to lose the audience.
Though fans of Marvel and DC enjoy engaging in flame wars to determine which one is "better," the argument can be made that the two franchises need each other to continue to thrive. As the old saying goes, competition breeds success, and having a direct "rival" to measure up against can only help in the long run. This is a perfect example of that belief. Feige and the Russos may have been leaning towards Civil War for the third Captain America film, but the existence of Batman V Superman (which was announced nearly a year before Captain America: The Winter Soldier premiered), gave them the final push in that direction. The premise of a superhero fighting another superhero (with no clear protagonist and antagonist) certainly breaks the mold of the traditional comic book movie, providing viewers with a fresh spin on classic material. Weighing the pros and cons of each side can lead to fascinating conversations and force moviegoers to consider things that never crossed their mind before.
Oddly enough, a creative spark provided by WB may have given Marvel one of their biggest hits yet. The early reviews for Civil War are universally positive, with many pundits praising the Russo's handling of an emotional story and introduction of new characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther. This has lead to box office projections going through the roof, setting the stage for another wildly successful Disney film in 2016. For fans of all superhero movies, it's nice to see the two main studios influence each other, and hopefully that will continue over the next handful of years, continuously innovating the genre.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – 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 Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.