One of the biggest critiques of Avengers: Age of Ultron was the difficulty it had fitting all the superheroes together in a way that worked effectively. Indeed, with an ensemble cast made up of distinctive characters in their own right, it can sometimes be hard to strike the right balance. As Marvel continues to increase the scope of its cinematic universe with new superheroes joining the fun in each subsequent film, that problem is not going to get any easier.
When it was first revealed that the next Captain America film would be titled Captain America: Civil War and would feature Iron Man in a prominent role, many took that to mean that it would be more like a redux of Age of Ultron rather than an actual Captain America movie. Not only are many of the Avengers co-starring, but several new heroes will make their MCU debut as well; namely, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland).
However, as Sebastian Stan explained to Collider, while promoting his upcoming film The Martian, fans should reconsider calling Civil War an Avengers sequel, or Avengers 2.5 as it has been nicknamed. Instead, Stan claims that it will still be a Captain America movie, and will also play off some of what was set-up in The Winter Soldier:
"I mean, I know everybody’s treating it like there are all these Avengers in it, like it’s Avengers 2.5 or something, and there’s an element of that, but it’s still at the end of the day very much a Captain America film. It’s different from The Avengers, it’s definitely its own entity, totally connects to the last Winter Soldier film, and the Russos’ stamp is all over it."
While a large number of other heroes will also be featured, the main focus of the film will still be centered on Captain America. As we have already seen through various set images, it seems Stan's own Winter Soldier will also have a prominent role, which is perhaps what he meant when speaking about the connection to The Winter Soldier.
Stan also said he was given more dialogue this time around, while adding questions regarding his character's allegiance:
"They gave me a lot more dialogue, and I thought, “Oh my god, it was so much better when I didn’t have to say things! “The look of the Winter Soldier is a very specific look. There was something very specific in how the guy looked and behaved and I felt like the more I stepped back and I just kind of let that do the work, the better it was gonna be. In a situation like that, you’re trying to guess where the guy’s at in his mind, and that certainly continues in the Civil War movie. You’re always trying to guess what side is he on or … because he can go both ways."
His flip-flopping when it comes to good and evil is a part of what makes the Winter Soldier such an interesting character. While it seemed he was starting to realize his former identity of Bucky when we last saw him, perhaps his loyalty isn't as clear-cut as it seems. Stan makes a point of saying his character's loyalty "can go both ways," which is just part of the fun.
While staying on the subject of Captain America and Marvel movies, Stan responded to the comments recently made by Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder. Those comments suggested a lack of important heroes defending the MCU, which Stan assures is not the case in terms of what the Russos are doing with Civil War:
"Yeah, I’m sitting here and I’m listening to you and I’m thinking, “Do I want to fire some shots at DC right now, at Zack Snyder?” I read some of those comments where he said something about Batman and Superman, I can’t remember where I read that, somewhere… Something about, “It’s not going to be your flavor-of-the-week Ant-Man.” And I was like, “Oh thanks, Zack. That’s great. Way to do something original.” But I would say we’re still making something very original in our own way. I mean, the Russos are coming in and taking something people are used to and they’re shaping it up and changing it in a very different way. They’re not trying to mimic a better Christopher Nolan movie or something like that.”
As with any franchise, it's important to continue making things fresh in each installment. Otherwise, audiences may resent seeing practically the same film over and over again. With a large franchise like the MCU especially - one that produces multiple films a year - it's essential to bring a different approach to each movie. While Ant-Man may not be the most iconic of superheroes, like Batman or Superman, Marvel managed to make an exciting adventure that balanced its characters and big action-pieces. As long as they continue to do so, it won't be hard for Marvel to keep their audience entertained.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man– 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.