Five Reasons To Stop talking about an MCU Civil War

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Boy, rumors and fan speculation are fun, aren’t they? Every time we get a few small morsels of information from those making a comic book film, we as a fan base take it to stratospheric levels of speculation. One recent bout of this has come in the form of a fake Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3 layout showing what some fans believes will be the next slate of films. Included in that list is an adaptation of the popular and controversial Marvel Comics story, Civil War.

Civil War divided the heroes of the Marvel Universe into two factions, led respectively by Iron Man and Captain America. Iron Man’s side was for a controversial law passed by the United States that required all Meta Humans to register their names and powers with the U.S. Government. This is somewhat similar to how mutant registration once made the rounds. Captain America and a group of other heroes opposed this, and it led to a big blowout amongst the heroes. While there are many fans who’ve expressed interest in seeing this happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s not likely to happen and here’s why…

No...just no.
No…just no.

5. Too many other plot threads have already been established. We’ve seen a lot of different plots in The Avengers and the solo films of the MCU, but other than a few dustups in Joss Whedon’s film, there’s nothing to suggest that Civil War is the direction these films are heading. The Avengers blatantly shows us that the trilogy is heading toward the Infinity Gauntlet story featuring Thanos prominently as its main villain. Thanos was even shown in the post-credits scene of The Avengers and in two pivotal scenes in this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s too much investment in a major Marvel villain to not play that to its full potential. And we still haven’t been introduced to some other key players or had any female-lead superhero films in this universe yet, so jumping to Civil War as soon as the third Avengers film would make no sense and feel extremely rushed. Black Widow and Hawkeye have yet to be fully fleshed out as characters and if they’re not getting individual solo films, that means they get developed in a different context. None of this has moved in a way that suggests pitting heroes against one another. Not to mention that Captain America’s story is largely focusing on the reappearance of his long-thought-dead partner, Bucky, now called The Winter Soldier. That’s a big story with loads of potential to keep the Captain America franchise healthy outside of The Avengers for a good long while. Speaking of which…

4. The Russo brothers don’t think it’s going to happen. Anthony and Joe Russo are the directors responsible for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and are slated to be the directors of the third Captain America film. In a recent interview with DesdeHollywood, Joe addressed the Civil War rumor in a way all fans should take note of: “It’s complex. There are a lot of characters. Marvel doesn’t have ownership of some of the key players in that. […] I don’t run Marvel so I can’t say that it won’t happen, but I would say that it is highly unlikely.” Seeing as Captain America would be a central figure in that story line, you would think the directors of his current and future films would be kept appraised of such a direction for the film universe, if it were the case. Seeing that they don’t have anything on the books to move Cap in that way, that should all but close the book on the rumor. But this is Five Reasons To, so we’ve got three to go. One of the biggest ones happens to be…

Think they'll ever get tired of asking the same question over and over?
Think they’ll ever get tired of asking the same question over and over?

3. There are no secret identities in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the biggest reasons Civil War was such a big deal was because it meant outing several superheroes whose identities were still secret from the larger public. The most notable: Spider-Man. Peter Parker reveals his identity to the public, first throwing his lot in with Tony Stark before changing his mind after it was too late to undo the damage of revealing his identity. As you should know by now, Spider-Man is not part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe because the film rights to that character are firmly in the hands of Sony Pictures, not Marvel Studios/Disney. But who’s in The Avengers lineup? Captain America/Steve Rogers, Iron Man/Tony Stark, Hulk/Bruce Banner, Black Widow/Natasha Romanov, Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Thor…and even if you add in Black Panther and Doctor Strange along with all of the Guardians of the Galaxy, nobody in that group has a secret identity in the movie universe. Two of them are former SHIELD agents, one came out at the end of his first film, another is/was a wanted fugitive, one’s an interdimensional demigod…do you get it yet? The whole reason Civil War happened in the first place isn’t even a viable plot point for the MCU. There might be a way to rewrite it, but then it wouldn’t be the same story and would only serve to be an extension of fights that were virtually resolved in an earlier film. Besides, Tony and Steve not getting along and Hulk punching Thor are not new concepts and certainly not worth basing a whole movie around because…

2. Superhero fights are a boring, done-to-death trope. It’s bad enough that the first-ever live action team up Superman and Batman has to have a stupid ‘v’ in the title, but what can you do right? Fans have clamored for something that smacked of a superhero beat-down between these two for nearly 30 years and even though the title is likely to be a bait-and-switch, it’ll put butts in seats. What we don’t need is Marvel Studios or even the future DC Cinematic Universe buying into this well-worn plot device. You know the story: superheroes meet for the first time, confuse each other for villains, fight, realize they’re not the bad guys, team up to take on actual villains. That about cover it? Good, then let’s not do it ever again. Having heroes fight each other to take up time in your movie only serves to show that you lack the ability to craft a compelling and/or threatening villain or story. Civil War, for all its wonder and splendor, was a grandiose exercise in unsatisfying fan service. A movie version of that would only be able to achieve something along the same lines. It’d be big, loud, obnoxious and ultimately everything would just wind up back to where it started. Notice how Iron Man and Captain America are back to being on speaking and working terms with each other in the time since Civil War? Yeah, so what was the point? You can do that in a comic book since your characters never actually seem to age or stay dead, but in the movies you have actors who do in fact age and eventually decide that it’s time to either move on and/or retire which means…

Because 2-and-a-half hours of this is what everyone wants...
Because 2-and-a-half hours of this is what everyone wants…

1. Setting it up would take too long to actually be worth it. Robert Downey Jr. has only two films left in his contract with Marvel Studios and those are Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers 3. Chris Evans, though likely to sign a new contract, is scheduled for one more Captain America film and the two upcoming Avengers movies. Avengers 3, if it follows the same pattern Age of Ultron has, will be out sometime in 2018, barring any setbacks, of course. RDJ isn’t likely to sign a new contract and all signs at the moment point toward Avengers 3 being his last time out as Iron Man. Given the box office performance of Iron Man 3, Marvel Studios could back up a truckload…make that three truck loads of money to his house just to get him in the suit one more time, but that’s unlikely to happen for one obvious reason: he’s getting too old to keep this up. Iron Man, though easy inside the suit, still requires a lot of heavy lifting on the actor’s part. Remember when he hurt himself while filming Iron Man 3? Production was delayed for a while so he could recover. That’s not a viable thing for the studio and winds up costing a lot of money. Injuries become more and more of a hazard the older these actors get and the bigger the set pieces become. Ben Affleck is in his 40s and probably in the best shape of his life for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but he still managed to hurt himself on set very early into production, even with help from stunt performers. It’s reality, no matter how you slice it, that sooner or later these actors have to be put in potentially dangerous situations, and they can easily get hurt doing it. And what about all the other new films we’ve got in the next couple of years? There’s Doctor Strange and a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, not to mention a likely Black Panther film. And what if Black Widow or Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) suddenly wind up with solo films or Nova spins out of Guardians of the Galaxy? All of that has already been introduced and shown to be viable for the studio. Civil War has so many moving parts it’s practically unwieldy in the face off these other things. While some may want to see it happen, after considering all of that, it’s just not in the cards.

Author: Russell Sellers

Comic book geek extraordinaire, Russell Sellers enjoys enthusiastic conversations about all things geek. He also traffics in ill-timed puns and random obscure Ghostbusters quotes. Send Russell an email