The 2015 big-screen entries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man - have now been released, closing the door on one phase of the MCU and opening the door to the next one. The end credits scene of Ant-Man helps bridge the events of that film with the next wave of changes on the horizon, starting with 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
The film, directed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo, will deal with the aftermath of Age of Ultron, pitting Captain America and Iron Man against each other and introducing new characters and elements into the MCU. One intriguing casting choice was revealed a few months ago, with Sherlock star Martin Freeman joining the film in an unidentified role.
At one point, Freeman was rumored to be playing Black Panther comic book character Everett Ross, a government expert on Wakanda. While that was never confirmed or denied, Freeman has now opened up a bit on his role. In an interview with Italian website BadTaste.it (via Cinema Blend), Freeman shed some light on the nature of his character, saying:
"He works for the American government. He works in conjunction with the superheroes, and certain agencies that help to tame the superheroes’ power, I suppose. So you’re not quite sure which side he’s on. It looks a little bit like he’s playing one game when actually he’s playing another. It’s the kind of character I like because it’s ambiguous and because you don’t know whether he’s good or bad. I like that area that isn’t black or white, I like the grays, because I think there’s just more fun to be had in not playing one obvious line."
There's been plenty of speculation about Freeman's role, with the Everett Ross character being one possibility, although some concluded back in June that he would be playing the English Prime Minister, Edward Chase (a character who has not been confirmed to be in Civil War). The Cinema Blend article contends that Freeman is actually playing Henry Peter Gyrich, introduced as the first U.S. government liason to the Avengers, and is second only to the President of the United States in the amount of influence to be had on Earth's Mightiest.
One problem with the Gyrich theory is that a character named Henry Gyrich appeared in Bryan Singer's original X-Men film in a small role as an aide to anti-mutant Senator Robert Kelly. Fox may not have retained the rights to such a relatively minor character, but there is no reason Marvel Studios could not invent a new role based on Gyrich to serve the same function in Civil War: a government operative who leverages the conflict between Iron Man and Captain America to further his own designs.
The morally gray area occupied by Freeman's character fits some of the actors recent roles, such as the normal guy-turned-killer of FX's Fargo, the later stage of his character in Edgar Wright's The World's End, and the deep steel under the mild surface of his version of Dr. John Watson in Sherlock. The notion of the fan-favorite Martin Freeman taking on such a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is intriguing, and keeping the identity of his character a secret could be a hint that he may end up playing a large role down the line.
Captain America: Civil War releases 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; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.
Source: Cinema Blend