While promoting his new feature The Judge, Hollywood's highest paid actor Robert Downey Jr. has been generating a storm of headlines for Marvel movie fans over the last few weeks. Teasing the possibility of Iron Man 4, shooting that idea down and then revealing he's in negotiations for an extended role in other future Marvel movies, an announcement regarding RDJ's future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was imminent. Today, that story broke.
Get ready for the Marvel Civil War.
A massive crossover story in Marvel Comics, the Civil War brought together most Marvel Comics series for a major event beginning in 2006 which pit Captain America against Iron Man over the rights of superheroes to keep secret identities and to be heroic without regulation. It ended, leading towards the "death" of Steve Rogers where The Winter Soldier later picked up his shield and star-spangled suit. It was a massive story and one that earned mainstream media attention for Marvel Comics long before Iron Man hit cinemas. It was also a story that Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige has expressed interest in adapting over the years. But would such a massive event story work in the MCU?
We're going to find out in May 2016, not long after The Avengers: Age of Ultron tears apart Earth's Mightiest heroes next year and after Ant-Man introduces a new hero to moviegoers. The big news today, as teased by Robert Downey Jr., is that Captain America 3 will feature Robert Downey Jr. in a major role and begin the movie universe's equivalent of the Civil War - no doubt building off the events of Age of Ultron. Look at what Marvel Comics is relaunching next year:
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) October 13, 2014
Captain America 3 was dated with Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo slated to return before the first sequel even hit theaters. According to Variety, the plan for a long while was to include Robert Downey Jr. in a guest role, one that would only require a few weeks of work. Getting RDJ to re-sign for another picture (he's only signed for The Avengers 3 at the moment after next summer's Age of Ultron) was a bit of a challenge but producer and Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige helped make it happen and now the star's role is even bigger.
When we spoke with the Russos on the Screen Rant Underground podcast a few weeks back I asked them if there's room for more than one Avengers team and we may get some semblance of that beginning in Captain America 3. We always knew the three-quel would involve Cap leading at least a few characters, but it might be a lot bigger than that. It also will change the landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe much like the Russos did earlier this year by tearing apart S.H.I.E.L.D.. And then, the Russos may move on to directing The Avengers 3 & 4 according to Badass Digest. Their sources indicate that they're already in talks for both, meaning Marvel is looking to lockdown their future plans. This could be why we've yet to hear official confirmations on the pile of unannounced Marvel Studios releases scheduled from 2016-19.
Both Badass and Variety namedropped The Avengers 4 as something RDJ could also return for, but given the other recent rumors about The Avengers 3 possibly not including some of the main stars and saving them for a followup event movie - there are plenty of possibilities. The Avengers 4 may be titled something else entirely and could be the big feature that brings everyone together, including the Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe that's when big bad alien Thanos comes knocking and what brings the Marvel heroes back together?
All signs point towards writer and director Joss Whedon stepping away from The Avengers once Age of Ultron hits theaters next summer. His contract is up after the sequel, his family's TV series in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is already live on ABC and in its second season, and it seems he may want to pursue other projects. Much like Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, the Russos are part of the Marvel family and may be in for the long haul, potentially all working together the eventually bridge these properties together.
After Captain America: The Winter Soldier, do you think the Russos can lead the next few flagship Marvel Studios releases?
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019.
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