(Please see important updates below). In a surprising announcement yesterday, Variety reported that Marvel has been in negotiations with Robert Downey Jr. to co-star alongside Chris Evans in Captain America 3, now rumored to have the subtitle Fallen Son. Not only that, but the film is rumored to be the jumping off point for the rest of Marvel’s films going into Phase 3 of the cinematic universe. The film will supposedly introduce Civil War, the 2006 storyline written by Mark Millar that pitted Marvel’s most iconic heroes against one another.
The original Civil War story had the United States government implementing the Superhero Registration Act, which forced all people with superhuman abilities to reveal their identities to the federal government and act as a police force on the behest of the United States. Stark supports the new law, but Cap is vehemently against it, believing it threatens civil liberties and endangers the lives of superheroes and their families. The two are at odds and eventually Cap and those who support his views are forced to go underground to avoid arrest and possible execution.
According to sources, Downey was initially going to be hired for a small appearance in the film, which required only three weeks of filming. However, Downey wanted Stark to have significantly more screen time, and insisted on having a much larger role in Captain America 3. This supposedly angered Marvel Entertainment Chief Ike Perlmutter, who balked at Downey’s demands, which also included a $40 million paycheck and additional earnings from the box office gross. He ordered that Iron Man be completely written out of the films, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige insisted that he remain, and play an integral part of the film.
Should all of these rumors prove to be true, I’m left with a few questions: Is Downey’s elevated role in Captain America 3 necessary at this point, and what does it mean for Evans and the rest of the supporting cast introduced in Captain America: The Winter Solider?
Arguably one of Marvel’s best films, Winter Solder showed just how likable and charismatic a character like Steve Rogers could be. It was the film that not only showcased the appeal of Cap, but it also provided much needed characterization for Black Widow and Nick Fury. Plus, the introduction to Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, and the re-introduction of Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, now known as the Winter Soldier, left audiences wanting to see more of these characters. What happens to all of that when Downey saunters onto set? Will Falcon, Black Widow and the Winter Solider all step to the side to just to give Downey more time to chew scenery? Maybe it’s too early to say, but looking back at past Marvel films, the possibility seems more likely than not.
I’m probably going to get hate for saying this, but one of the problems I had with Avengers was Joss Whedon’s decision to give Downey so much screen time. As fun as the movie was, it occasionally felt like an Iron Man sequel that guest starred the Avengers. Also, Iron Man’s constant derision of Cap and his abilities often left me feeling cold every time they interacted with one another. Is this type of dynamic that audiences can expect to see in Captain America: Fallen Son?
Even with my concerns about Downey’s rumored role in Captain America 3, they pale in comparison to my concern about the speculation that the film will introduce Millar’s Civil War storyline.
Personally, I found Marvel’s Civil War to be one of the worst things the company had done in decades. From the deplorable character assassinations of Tony Stark, Mr. Fantastic and Spider-Man, to the strange and incredibly off-putting right-wing slant, Civil War single handedly destroyed everything I cared about in the Marvel Universe in seven issues. The event had such a profound impact on the Marvel Universe, that I stopped reading Marvel comics for years. Heroes made choices that were completely out of character. Who could forget Iron Man’s decision to use “reformed” super villains such as Venom, Bullseye and the Green Goblin to hunt down and horribly maim heroes that didn’t fall in line with his way of thinking? What about that time Captain America’s decided to work alongside the Punisher? That could never backfire, right? There was also that insane Thor cyborg/clone that Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic created that went out of control and had that little murder spree. Oh, those were some fun times.
Possibly the most insulting image of the comic was the one where Captain America, the goddamn leader of the Avengers, was being tackled to the ground by a mob of policeman, firemen and first aid responders. To me, that image encapsulated everything wrong with Marvel at that time. It showed a company that wanted to stir up controversy, no matter how illogical it was, to increase sales. It worked, and the fallout of Civil War is still felt to this day.
In case anyone needs a reminder, Civil War was the precursor to the infamous One More Day/Brand New Day storylines, which involved Peter Parker making a deal with the Devil to save Aunt May. You know, it’s the story that erased 25 years of Spider-Man’s history and his marriage to Mary Jane. Yeah, I wasn’t the biggest fan of that either.
So, we might see Captain America fight Iron Man, and see this hero fight that hero. It sounds cool at first, but there is an incredible risk that it will all just devolve into the mindless violence and stupidity that Millar’s work all too often becomes at the end. Perhaps Captain America 3 will manage to tell a better story than Millar attempted to do with Civil War, but with Downey supposedly forcing himself into the production and possibly taking away screen time from the guy whose name is in the title, I’m not holding my breath.
What about you reader? Does Downey’s casting in Iron Man 4, err…Captain America: Fallen Son excite you? Is Civil War a storyline you want to see adapted? Let us know in the comments below.