The rumor mill has been buzzing for the past 24 hours with news that Robert Downey Jr. will be reprising his role as Tony Stark (Iron Man) in Captain America 3. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, both had articles up that were widely linked to indicating that this was in the final round of negotiation or already a done deal.

So what does Downey in Captain America 3 mean? Lets take a closer look after the jump.

Civil War

Late in the day yesterday, Marvel sent out a teaser that Civil War was coming in 2015 with an image referencing the major Marvel storyline from 2006.

It seems that the series will either be rebooted or recollected/re-released for the comic buying public in 2015. Rumors of Downey in Captain America 3 indicate that, not only will Iron Man appear in the film, but it will kick off Phase 3 of Marvel’s cinematic universe pitting Downey’s Stark against Chris Evan’s Steve Rogers/Captain America.

Background on the Civil War Storyline

A catastrophic event happened in Stamford, CT, where a hero inadvertantly caused a villain to self-destruct in a massive explosion that took a large section of the town with it. Mass hysteria and media scrutiny forces the government to enact the Superhuman Registration Act, requiring all super powered individuals to reveal their identity and register with the Government. In return, the super humans receive training and become part of a Government sponsored super-powered police force.

The lines are drawn with Iron Man, Reed Richards and Hank Pym coming out in support of the act. Captain America and many others including Daredevil, Luke Cage, Sue Storm, etc come out against the act citing its violation of civil liberties. Other heroes and villains are caught in between including Spider-Man.

There is a lot of moral ambiguity in the storyline. From Wikipedia (Original source no longer available):

According to a scholarly analysis presented at the 2007 Comic-Con International, this story’s conflict is a natural outgrowth of what psychologist Erich Fromm called the basic human dilemma, the conflicting desires for both security and freedom, and “character motivations on both sides arise from positive human qualities because Fromm’s image of human nature is ultimately optimistic, holding that people on either side are struggling to find what is best for all.”

How Civil War fits with what we know

  • Rumor has it that Ultron will come into being in Avengers: Age of Ultron as a direct result of Tony Stark’s activities. Guilt and doubt following those events may cause him to favor superhuman registration.
  • Steve Rogers has already shown himself to be a free thinker and supporter of personal freedoms. Even if that puts him on the opposite side of the playing field as his employers or government.
  • Avengers 3 has been rumored to feature Iron Man leading a team of lesser heroes while those from the previous movies will not be as prominently featured.
  • The Hollywood Reporter article was wise to point out that the forthcoming Netflix shows (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jennifer Jones) all feature characters that supported Steve Rogers and followed him underground.
  • What is not mentioned is that SHIELD was an influential supporter of the Superhuman Registration Act, actively hunting down heroes and villains alike and jailing them. There just so happens to be an Agents of SHIELD tv series airing on ABC.
  • Ant-Man and Doctor Strange will be forthcoming major films for Marvel. Hank Pym, the old Ant-Man, was one of Tony Stark’s primary collaborators supporting the registration. While Doctor Strange largely sat out for Civil War, he was highly sympathetic to the anti-registration faction.

What we are starting to see is not just a minor plot line that will be featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe like the Infinity Stones, but instead, we are seeing a major story that will develop, not just across a movie, but multiple movies, tv shows and who knows what else. This story will not just be told, it will be told from a dozen different points of view. We have a chance to see the impact of a story on a level we have not yet experienced. Not to mention all the fallout for all these characters in the years to come after the events of Civil War.

I hope you are as excited about Phase 3 as I am because it looks like things are going to get crazy and we haven’t even touched upon any Infinity Stones.