What Robert Downey Jr’s Casting in Captain America 3 Could Mean for the MCU

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Of all the beloved stories in Marvel’s catalogue, there are none fans have wanted to see brought to the big screen more than their 2006 crossover event Civil War. Even in this post-Avengers world we now find ourselves in, it always seemed like too ambitious a project to faithfully adapt. Well it looks like Marvel Studios just may be going for it, with the news that Captain America 3 will star Robert Downey Jr. and kick off the story.

Variety have reported that RDJ is very close to signing on for Captain America 3 for his next non-Avengers appearance as Tony Stark. Currently, Downey is only contracted to appear in the next two Avengers films and has been going back and forth on whether or not he would be appearing in another solo Iron Man film. Now it seems like this may have been what was on his plate, thus clearing up Marvel’s slate for their many other emerging properties.

While the possibility of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) becoming a lot more interconnected — and having these characters interact outside of the core Avengers films — is exciting enough, it’s Variety’s assertion that this is kicking off the Civil War story that really gets the blood pumping.

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For those not in the know, the hit comic crossover centered on the introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act, requiring anyone considered to be a superhuman (whether it was because they had powers, knew magic or had access to certain kinds of tech) to register with the government, revealing their secret identities and being brought into the fold of a government-controlled superhero initiative. The law caused a schism in the superhero community that lead to a war between those who saw it as a necessity for public safety and those fighting for their rights to freedom and privacy, lead by Iron Man and Captain America respectively. The story was largely an allegory for the privacy vs. security argument raging in America over the controversial Patriot Act, used to intercept pending threats of terrorism.

One of the big arguments against seeing Civil War getting adapted was that there wasn’t nearly as many super-powered characters in Marvel’s movies as there was in the comics, making any war between them much smaller in scale. But with Marvel introducing a slew of new heroes in their upcoming movies and TV shows, with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introducing super-powered characters with much more regularity this season, the MCU is slowly becoming populated with enough characters to make this work. This is especially true if rumours are to be believed that Marvel, having given away X-Men’s cinematic rights to Fox, are replacing the role mutants have in their comics with the Inhumans (decedents of a race of people genetically altered by aliens to gain various powers once exposed to a certain chemical, hinted at in the post-credit sequence of Winter Soldier). This would mean they could start popping out powers without explanation or introduction, which will easily fill the ranks needed for a superhero civil war.

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Though this is all still yet to be confirmed, it does coincide with statements made by Winter Soldier co-director Joe Russo that the title for Captain America 3 was something Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige had in his head for years and has a “very, very big idea” at its center. Such a big concept may also explain why the folks at Marvel were so confidently playing their game of chicken against Batman v Superman earlier this year.

The one ingredient that is missing is of course Spider-Man, who played a major role in the original story but whose cinematic rights are in the possession of Sony. But even this could be possible with rumours of Marvel and Sony (who have a much less strenuous relationship than Marvel and Fox) discussing the possibility of refocusing their fledgling franchise and having it connect with the Marvel-owned films in some very interesting ways. While Sony would likely want to keep Peter Parker in their own cinematic world, perhaps one of the other characters to wear the Spider-Man mantle could show up in Marvel’s roster, though likely not in his own film.

Marvel are yet to comment, and it’s likely they will want to keep their plans under wraps to keep people guessing, at least until Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out and no doubt lays waste to the current status quo. Still, Variety is generally a pretty reliable source and this seems to fit very neatly into the direction Feige has been heading in.

Wishful thinking, or the start of the greatest superhero slugfest we’ll likely ever see? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


  • Great.. Now I,m going to have to stay alive long enough to see this one … Oh and secret invasion and of course the whole dark avengers thing after that