Remember when Robert Downey Jr. said Marvel had some surprises that would surface soon? He was telling the truth, and you didn’t see it coming. Downey Jr. will co-star in “Captain America 3,” according to a Variety report this evening. And the storyline? Marvel is going to borrow from its popular Civil Wars comic book narrative.
Downey Jr. is currently in negotiations to play Tony Stark (who else?) in the third, still officially untitled “Captain America” film due in theaters May 6, 2016. Yep, these are additional negotiations, as RDJ was not signed on to any Marvel movies beyond “Avengers 3.” So he wasn’t lying when he said earlier this week that Marvel had no current plans for an “Iron Man 4,” but had something else in the works.
“Captain America 3″ would ostensibly turn Stark into a villain —at least eventually— as the storyline of Civil Wars pits the billionaire against Evans’ Steve Rogers as “they feud over the Superhero Registration Act, which forces anyone with superhuman abilities to reveal their identities to the U.S. government and agree to act as a police force for the authorities.”
Apparently the deal almost fell through — there was serious drama around the negotiations. One has to wonder if Downey Jr.’s recent “super hero movies are getting old” barbs were intended to affect the deal’s outcome. The studio evidently nearly wrote his character out of the movie altogether, but clearly a deal was reached. This film will mark a new phase for Marvel, with heroes pitted against one another in a moral condudrum that will lead to “The Avengers 4.”
Variety writes “the fallout from the government and Stark’s actions would factor into a new ‘Avengers 4’ film, and beyond that will assemble new characters being introduced like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange, among others, in their own movies.”
So as you’ve been expecting (these contracts can’t extend forever), the Avengers will gain new members, and it seems like these events will set up the fourth picture (gee, what the hell happens in “Avengers 3”?). It’s an incredibly bold move, one indicating that Marvel will continue to take risks in order to say one step ahead of the many many studios enacting their own shared universe franchises. What’s exciting is that this third ‘Captain America’ film sounds like more of an integral overarching Marvel universe movie than a Captain America solo film, and it’s once again an example of Marvel reinventing their films while expanding their storytelling canvas. Picture it: “Avengers 3” could just be the natural progression or “sequel” to ‘Cap 3.’ This would be daring, and the entire announcement sounds about as game changing as superhero movies can get these days.
Update: The Russo Brothers, who directed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and will direct ‘Cap 3,’ are rumored to be the frontrunners to direct ‘Avengers 3 & 4,’ according to Badass Digest (the site warns that story is very spoiler-heavy if the additional plot elements are true).