With Marvel Studios building an increasingly expansive and interconnected universe, events in one of the Marvel movies can have consequences for each one that comes after it. That will certainly be the case with Captain America: Civil War, in which the various heroes introduced throughout past movies will have to take sides in a fight that will determine the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to come.
Some of those heroes will be new to the MCU, such as Spider-Man and Black Panther, but their stories aren't the only ones that will be shaped by the events of Civil War. Co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo intend to break up the status quo with the movie rather than preserve it, and they promise some shocking developments to come.
Speaking to ComicBook.com before a New Orleans Wizard World appearance, the Russo brothers spoke not only about what will make the Spider-Man of their movie different from past Spider-Men, but also about how the stakes will be raised for both Civil War and the upcoming Avengers movies that they are also directing. Joe Russo explained:
"Now that we’re engaged in serialized storytelling, it starts with Winter Soldier and ends with the Infinity War movies. We feel it's very important that those four films, Civil War, and both Infinity War movies, have a very profound effect on the audience. I think a lot of shocking things are going to happen, which is really interesting because you haven't had this kind of... maybe other than Harry Potter, I guess you can count the Bond series… but the kind of investment over a period of time with this many characters behaving in a universe. I think our job is to send you on a very profound experience between now and 2019 and it starts with Civil War. I don't know if people will be prepared for what this movie is going to include."
According to Russo, this "seismic shift" began with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the plot of which will very much play into the events of Civil War. At the heart of those events is the Winter Soldier himself, a.k.a. Steve Rogers' childhood friend Bucky Barnes. Whereas the Civil War of the comic books began with an event triggered by the New Warriors, Fox's film rights to the X-Men meant they had to tweak the story a bit, making Barnes the catalyst instead.
Of course, not everyone is confident that all the upcoming changes to the MCU will be for the better. Despite Marvel's mostly stellar run of movies so far, not everyone was pleased with Avengers: Age of Ultron, and there are other ways the upcoming films may disappoint as well. The Civil War comic book series was used by some as an example of tie-ins and cross-overs going too far and making it difficult for casual fans to become invested, and the more complex the MCU becomes, the better the chance of that happening in the movies.
If the action-packed trailer is any indication, though, Civil War seems unlikely to disappoint. Fans will be able to make up their own minds when the film hits theaters later this year.
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 28, 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.