Age of Ultron leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a period of transition, changing up the roster and, similar to Man of Steel, kicking the ramifications from its world-shattering climax down the road, ultimately to be addressed in a sequel. What about some actual collateral damage from superhero fights? That heavy lifting will be performed by Captain America: Civil War, which is looking more and more like an Avengers movie in every way but name. Here’s everything you need to know about it right now:
Age of Ultron spoilers await you. Proceed accordingly.
1. It comes out a year from now, May 6, 2016.
That’s in the US/Canada. Similar to most Marvel Studios movies, it will actually premiere overseas a week earlier.
2. It has the same directors and writers as Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Infinity War
Arrested Development/Community helmers Joe and Anthony Russo made their big budget directing debut with Winter Soldier, and they have since become the heirs apparent to Joss Whedon, lined up to not only direct Civil War but also both parts of Avengers: Infinity War. They’ll be joined every step of the way by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who previously wrote The First Avenger and Winter Soldier and contributed to Thor: The Dark World.
3. According to Marvel, Civil War has just now officially begun production in Atlanta, Georgia
That’s vaguely surprising considering how much post-production is usually required for films like this. For example, Avengers: Age of Ultron started filming nearly a year and half before its release date. However, there’s no telling how much Civil War pre-viz work they’ve already finished during pre-production, and it seems doubtful that they’ll be anywhere as CGI-heavy as Age of Ultron, which featured at least two completely CGI main characters, Hulk and Ultron. I previously wrote about comic book movie production schedules in relation to Ant-Man, which didn’t go in front of cameras until 11 months before its release date. I pointed to the X-Men franchise for examples of when a rushed production really shows (X-Men: The Last Stand only had 10 months to finish filming and post-production) and times when you don’t notice quite as much (X-Men: First Class only had 9 months).
4. It will feature every Avenger character other than Thor and The Hulk
Winter Soldier is often jokingly referred to as Avengers 1.5, and understandably so. However, it is still very much a Captain America movie. He only has to share the screen with one other Avenger, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, and they make for an interesting work-wife, work-husband pairing. It remains to be seen if Captain America: Civil War will manage to still feel like a Captain America movie instead of an unofficial Avengers sequel because, wow, just look at this cast (personally, I can’t wait to see The Vision and Scarlet Witch again):
- Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
- Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
- Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
- Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier
- Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
- Paul Bettany as The Vision
- Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
- Don Cheadle as Jim Rhodes/War Machine
- Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
- Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
- Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther (making his MCU debut)
- Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter/Agent 13
- Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones
- William Hurt as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
The two real surprises in the bunch are Paul Rudd and William Hurt, Rudd because to this point Ant-Man has been treated like it’s the MCU’s ugly stepchild and Hurt because he hasn’t been seen since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, a movie Marvel has mostly ignored ever since. The two real surprises missing from the bunch are Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill.
Furthermore, The Winter Soldier ends with Black Widow giving Cap an extra push to finally move on from Peggy and ask out Emily VanCamp’s Agent 13, who we know to actually be Peggy’s niece Sharon Carter in the comics. The films have only identified her as “Sharon.” Going forward with her as Steve’s new girlfriend who happens to be a relative of his old girlfriend might be too complicated and borderline creepy, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll even go that far. VanCamp isn’t really in Winter Soldier that much, but you leave that movie expecting to see more of her. Now, given the cast list for Civil War it’s unclear if Sharon will be any more significant this time around. I assume she’ll be around at the New Avengers facility, possibly working with the new Avengers the way Maria Hill has in the past. It’ll almost be funny if nothing quite happens between her and Steve because it would continue the running gag of interviewers asking Chris Evans if he thinks Steve Rogers is still a virgin.
5. It may have a cameo from the new Spider-Man if they cast him in time
We’ve heard for months that Marvel wanted to hammer out a Spider-Man deal with Sony in time to introduce a new version of the webslinger in a small role in Civil War. At one point, the rumor mill argued negotiations had dragged on too long, and they’d missed their window for a Civil War cameo. That’s exactly the type of thing that prevented Joss Whedon from including Spider-Man in the lineup of New Avengers at the end of Age of Ultron. However, while a new Spider-Man has yet to be officially announced and is thus not in the official cast for Civil War the expectation is that Marvel will get something done in time to give us a glimpse of the new Spider-Man in Civil War before his new solo movie, due out July 28, 2017. They are reportedly debating between casting Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) or Tom Holland (In The Heart of the Sea).
6. It will be a loose adaptation of the Civil War comic book
Spider-Man would seem like a crucial addition to any adaptation of Civil War since his public unmasking is a crucial turning point in that story of pro-registration superheroes versus anti-registration superheroes. The Civil War 2006/07 comic book series was a tale of clashing ideologies in reaction to the U.S. government enacting something called the Superhero Registration Act requiring “authorities to know the identities of (and, ultimately, oversee the activity of) superheroes inside the U.S” after a Stamford, CT school was destroyed as the result of a superhero fight. Sold with the tagline, “Which Side Are You On?”, the story featured Iron Man leading a group of heroes in favor of registration and Captain America leading the heroes opposed to registration. Not everyone survives, but I won’t spoil that part.
Here’s the official plot description for the Civil War movie:
Captain America: Civil War picks up where Avengers: Age of Ultron left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.
Marvel Studios is again taking a well known comic book story and running forward with the basic idea and spirit of it while also bending it to make sense in the MCU. For example, there is no “new and nefarious villain” in the Civil War comic book since the closest thing to a villain that story has is Iron Man. In general, much like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy most of the Marvel Studios films have been loose adaptations which merge story arcs from different sources with some original ideas, resulting in Iron Man 3 outright mocking the traditional Mandarin and seriously changing up the story beats of the “Extremis” story arc. Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier similarly re-purposed famous story arcs/characters to better fit their needs, and Age of Ultron outright (and self-admittedly) stole its title from a limited series it has nothing else in common with (other than Ultron being the villain). So, anyone hoping for a faithful adaptation of Civil War simply hasn’t been paying attention to Marvel Studios’ track record.
Beyond that, Civil War is entirely dependent upon revealing everyone’s secret identity, yet outside of Daredevil on Netflix none of Marvel’s cinematic superheroes really have secret identities, especially after Cap and pals unleashed all of SHIELD’s secrets in Winter Soldier. So, the issue of identity registration seems like a non-starter for the MCU. However, Iron Man 2 and Winter Soldier played with the notion of the government wishing to exert more oversight, with both Iron Man and Black Widow mouthing off to Congressional committees and walking away like rock stars living consequence-free lives. How do things look now that Iron Man is solely responsible for the destruction Ultron visited upon the world? Not just that, in the form of Don Cheadle’s War Machine the New Avengers actually features an active duty Colonel in the United States Air Force.
7. Baron Zemo will probably be the villain
That “new and nefarious villain” is most likely referring to Daniel Bruhl’s (Inglorious Bastards, Rush) Baron Zemo, a purple-masked baddie with a long history in Captain America’s rogues gallery. In the comics, he’s actually the one who killed Bucky, and during the Civil War story he’s part of the more unseemly group of anti-heroes/villains Tony Stark hires to help recruit others to his pro-registration cause. He’s not really a significant player in Civil War. Beyond “killing” Bucky, his most famous storyline followed the apparent death of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. Zemo came up with the idea to masquerade his team of super villains as super heroes (“The Thunderbolts”), to win over the trust of the public and governments of the world before turning on them. That might be a bit too much to work into Civil War, but the official cast does include a couple of other villains, specifically Winter Soldier’s returning Brock Rumlow/Crossbones (Frank Grillo) and The Incredible Hulk’s returning General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt).
8. Captain American and Iron Man will fight
9. Insiders keep swearing that, despite appearances, this will still be a Captain America movie, and the fallout with the Winter Soldier will be a major component
Robert Downey, Jr. told Empire:
“Ultimately it’s Steve’s story; it doesn’t say ‘Iron Man 4: Civil War’. I think that’s great too. I think Chris [Evans] has been hungry to bring even more of an underside and some shadow to that. I remember the comics – on the surface you got the sense that Cap was baseball and apple pie, but underneath there was all this churning stuff of being a man out of time. Now we know he’s made his peace with that. What’s the bigger issue? It can have a little something to do with the past, but it can be about someone becoming more modernized in their own conflict.”
According to BirthMoviesDeath:
“My sources close to Civil War have assured me, again and again, that this is truly a Captain America movie. While Winter Soldier was very much an ensemble piece it still felt like a Cap film, and that is going to be the case here. It will also deal with the fallout of The WInter Soldier – Bucky isn’t being left to hang in the wind just because Spider-Man is showing up.”