Avengers: Age of Ultron is still a little over a month away from hitting theaters, and yet speculation is still running at an all-time high about Marvel Studios’ follow up film, Captain America: Civil War, which begins shooting in two weeks in Atlanta. Recently a plot synopsis for Civil War was leaked out with a casting notice, and it goes something like this:
“Following the events of Age of Ultron, the collective governments of the world pass an act designed to regulate all superhuman activity. This polarizes opinion amongst the Avengers, causing two factions to side with Iron Man or Captain America, which causes an epic battle between former allies.”
If you’ve read the original Civil War comic book series from Mark Millar, then it sounds like the premise is very much the same, although there’s no mention of the revealing your secret identity to the government bit, mostly because aside from the upcoming Daredevil series and almost certainly Spider-Man, none of the Avengers characters have secret ID’s. It also stresses world governments, and not just the United States government, as it was in the comics. So no running off to Canada or France for you, Cap.
So here’s were things get all complicated, with contradicting stories coming from various sources, all of whom are known to be well informed, painting a muddy (but interesting) picture of what not only Captain America: Civil War will be like, but what the landscape of the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe will look like for the next four years.
Needless to say, massive SPOILERS abound from here on out. You have been warned.
OK, still with us, brave souls? Earlier this week, Bleeding Cool ran a report that not only would Civil War have the already confirmed characters of Cap, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Black Panther, but also Hulk, Thor, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Wasp, and a fourteen year old Peter Parker, Spider-Man. WHOA. Suddenly, this Cap sequel sounds a lot like just a straight up Avengers movie. Actually, there would be more Avengers in this move than Age of Ultron. Something smelled rotten in Denmark.
So, the folks at BadAss Digest got on the case, and according to their sources, Hulk and Thor are definitely sitting Civil War out, because at the end of Age of Ultron, the original Avengers break up. Iron Man calls it quits, Cap starts his own team of Avengers, Thor goes home to Asgard to deal with whatever Thor: Ragnarok is about, and the Hulk goes missing (maybe in space? Planet Hulk anyone? Just putting it out there.) With two of the Avengers heaviest hitters out of the picture, as in not even on Earth, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll show up in Civil War at all, and it is also very likely that at least three of the four core Avengers won’t be Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 either.
Part of the reason for all this is the story, and the other part is contracts with the lead actors; Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth have six picture deals, and with Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok, that will bring their total movies to five. Meaning Marvel Studios would have to pay out their noses to get both of those actors back for both parts of Infinity War. Marvel had to pay what amount to the gross national product of a small nation to get Robert Downey Jr. back beyond what his original contract entails, and probably don’t want to have to do something similar with the two Chrises.
Which is why Infinity War: Part 1 will almost certainly feature a different team of Avengers than we’re used to, featuring mostly newer faces like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange, etc. This is just guessing, but they’ll all likely go up against Thanos and get their butts whooped, making Infinity War: Part 2 the reunion of the original Avengers audiences fell in love with in 2012 for one last hurrah, probably joined by Spider-Man (and if there is a God, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. OK, that’s just my wishful thinking at play, but recently my wishful thinking got Spidey in the MCU, so anything’s possible.)
Another reason to call the Bleeding Cool report into doubt is there is no mention of the Winter Soldier as part of the Civil War story, and he is all but guaranteed to play a major role in the proceedings. Captain America: Civil War is still very much a sequel to The Winter Soldier, and not just Avengers: Age of Ultron 2.1. I imagine with shooting imminent on Civil War, it’s going to be harder and harder to keep who is in and who is out a secret much longer.