The latest news on the future of ‘Iron Man’ is that rather than getting ‘Iron Man 4’, Robert Downey Jr. is “on the verge” of joining the cast of ‘Captain America 3’… but not as an ally to Cap, rather as “a villain of sorts”.
Variety reports, “Tony Stark’s Iron Man [is] set to play a key role in bringing the Civil War storyline from Marvel’s comicbooks to the bigscreen,” adding “the plot will pit Stark against Captain America’s alter-ego Steve Rogers”.
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What does this mean for the future of the Marvel films? Is Tony Stark about to turn to the dark side? Not quite. Allow us to explain.
What is ‘Civil War’?
Ever since Marvel introduced the concept that all their characters exist in the same universe, the comic company has regularly cross-pollenated their books with characters cropping up in other superheroes’ adventures, as allies or occasionally foes.
Fans lapped up these connected tales and so Marvel began to plan annual “Crossover Events”, stories that would impact all of their characters’ individual comics.
‘Civil War’, written by ‘Kick-Ass’ creator Mark Millar, was a hugely popular event across 2006-2007, and it saw all of Earth’s heroes divided by the Super-human Registration Act.
The law forced superheroes to declare their real identities and agree to work for the authorities as a sort of global police force. Captain America was in the “against” camp (he thought registration was anti-freedom, therefore anti-American), while Iron Man/Tony Stark was all for it (Why should superheroes be anonymous? He wasn’t.).
Sides were picked and Steve Rogers and his team of rebels had to go on the run. There were several confrontations between the opposing factions and some of the rivalries took years to be resolved. The series would eventually lead to the death of Captain America and the unmasking of Spider-Man, twists that would be reversed later down the line, as is often the case in the comic book world.
How will this work in the films?
If what we’ve heard about ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ so far is true, this story direction makes total sense. It’s been rumoured that the film will see Tony Stark creating the Iron Legion, an army of robot droids designed to save the Avengers from doing all the dirty work against their opponents. Somehow this plan goes awry and Ultron is created, taking control of the Iron Legion for himself.
He wants all superheroes to pull in the same direction, so registration is a logical solution.
Stark is bankrolling the Avengers following the events of ‘Captain America 2’, while Captain America (played by Chris Evans) is in charge of the team operationally. This will inevitably lead to friction between the two, with the seeds being sown for their rivalry as far back as the first ‘Avengers’, setting up things nicely for fireworks in ‘Captain America 3’.
If Robert Downey Jr. IS getting the $40m plus a share of the profits for ‘Captain America 3’ it’s going to need to be something pretty spectacular, and ‘Civil War’ sounds like it could be just the ticket to sell the tickets.
Recent rumours of Marvel talking to Sony about getting Spider-Man back seem to make a lot more sense if this is the route Marvel is planning for its future movies.
But what does this mean for ‘Avengers 3’?
Forget what you think you know about ‘The Avengers 3’.
By the looks of it, if ‘Captain America 3’ does set up the movie ‘Civil War’, then we probably won’t see the core team of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye taking on Thanos as we’d long assumed.
With Earth’s mightiest heroes at war, ‘Avengers 3’ could see some of the new characters joining forces in all-new line up. Marvel is introducing Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange between now and ‘Avengers 3’, so who’s to say that the third big crossover film might not just use them instead of the main cast? Throw in War Machine, Falcon, and the Guardians of the Galaxy and you’ve got one heck of line-up.
Recent rumours about key cast-members missing ‘Avengers 3’ also seem much more likely now in this new light.
Most of the main line-up are coming to the end of their Marvel contracts now, so the studio could look to extend their time with them by only bringing them back for ‘Avengers 4’ when we’ll finally get to see all of Marvel’s heroes united against Thanos.
It could also be a way for Chris Evans to finally bow out of the role that he feels has hindered his Hollywood acting career.
And what does this mean for Tony Stark?
So if Tony Stark is going to be a “villain of sorts” in ‘Cap 3’ does that mean he’ll become a bad guy?
Not quite. In ‘Civil War’ Tony believes he’s doing the right thing, and depending on your perspective, he could be. It’s an ideological divide between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark that causes them to butt heads, rather than a true case of good and evil.
If ‘Civil War’ is the future for the MCU, it would be quite a journey for Tony Stark. From billionaire warmonger to leader of the Avengers, to a government advocate for superhero controls, at war with Captain America. It could just be the juicy storyline to keep Robert Downey Jr. on Marvel’s books for the forseeable future.
With ‘Cap 3’, ‘Guardians 2’, and two new ‘Avengers’ instalments each sounding more ambitious than the last, it seems the sky is no longer the limit for Marvel’s multiplex-conquering plans.
Image credits: Rex/Marvel/Giphy