If you’re like me, then you’ve had some issues with picking your jaw up off the floor after seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier earlier this year. And then Kevin Feige goes and blows our collective mind with a follow up announcement for Civil War!
Granted, I did say I thought Civil War both didn’t make sense and was not the best direction to go, but as it turns out I was wrong on at least one of those fronts. Likely it was on both.
At this point, it’s hard not to be excited about this movie and we barely know anything about it! By “barely” I mean we haven’t seen how things wind up in Avengers: Age of Ultron yet, and that’s likely where the major story thread for Civil War will take shape. We’ve seen a tease of it in a “leaked” scene featuring Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) chopping wood and arguing over preemptive vs. reactive strikes against enemies, which is a much more fitting narrative to go with since secret identities aren’t a thing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (more on that in a bit).
And everybody knows how big a hit The Winter Soldier was. It blew away expectations and made Captain America a much more popular member of The Avengers. Seriously, if it hadn’t been for Guardians of the Galaxy becoming such a smash hit, Cap would have been this year’s biggest Halloween costume smash since the first Iron Man film hit.
So what’s next for Cap and what kind of success does he really need to have? Let’s unpack all this and speculate!
$tar$ and $tripe$ Forever?
Marvel Studios probably wasn’t expecting a huge amount of box office money from the first Captain America film (2011’s The First Avenger). On a budget of around $140 million, it took in just over $370 million worldwide. Not bad, but not anything to get overly excited over, either. Then The Avengers happened and all bets were off.
The Winter Soldier had to perform and it more than lived up to the pressure. If Cap were to have a successful (see also, continuing) franchise, TWS needed to make serious bank off of its $170 million budget. It climbed past the $700 million mark worldwide. How about that for some Yankee Doodle Dandy?
Civil War’s numbers aren’t yet known, but with Robert Downey Jr. now officially in the mix and Chadwick Boseman making his first appearance as Black Panther (along with likely returns for Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie and probably others) and a bigger-than-ever story to tell, look for a budget north of $200 million this time around. With that level of star power and built-in hype on the name alone, it shouldn’t be hard to make that back within the first month of opening. This being the third (and possibly final) Captain America film starring Evans, it really isn’t up against any huge amount of franchise pressure. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is well-established and Cap’s place in it is assured. This movie still needs to hit the $800 million mark worldwide if a fourth film is to proceed (even if Evans isn’t wielding the shield anymore, more in a minute).
How likely is this movie to hit that mark? I’m calling it likely, if not certain. The Winter Soldier is one of the best superhero films ever made (and my favorite of 2014, bar none) and with Anthony and Joe Russo back at the writing/directing helm, I expect Civil War to equal or surpass what has come before.
On the off-chance it doesn’t make that goal, a fourth film may be in question, but given some recent comments from Joss Whedon, I don’t think anybody should be worried about the long-term plans for the MCU.
Who will wield the S.H.I.E.L.D.?
As most people know by now, S.H.I.E.L.D. was decimated during the events of The Winter Soldier. While the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has shown us the group is slowly reforming, it will likely still be on the outs by the time this film rolls around. So where does that leave things with the story?
Without Age of Ultron’s effects to go on, it’s hard to speculate fully what may or may not happen. But there are some hints to the future. We have the tense scene between Tony and Steve that leaked earlier, we know from the Phase 3 announcement that Black Panther will factor into the story somehow and we know that Bucky (The Winter Soldier) has some of his memories back and is still roaming around out there. With Cap on a personal mission to find his old friend, could that be a factor in what splits the two main players in the Avengers?
We comic fans also remember how Civil War ended and it wasn’t so great for Cap. Though it didn’t last, he was assassinated shortly after the story ended and Bucky took up the mantle of Captain America. With Sebastian Stan signing a nine-picture deal with Marvel Studios, it looks like he’ll be taking up the shield at some point or another. Him being able to catch it and use it throughout TWS (in some of the most badass scenes ever!) seemed to be foreshadowing the eventual passing of the torch, too. But will it happen at the end of this movie? It’s possible, but not likely. Evans still has Infinity War to go and it’s more likely he’ll keep the shield until then, at least.
Bucky is probably going to come back and become a hero by the end of Civil War, but don’t expect him to go full-Cap just yet. Or for Iron Man to be too thrilled about his presence. If they’re following the storyline that reveals Bucky is responsible for Howard Stark’s death, expect to see a much angrier side of Iron Man.
There’s also the ascension of Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon. He’s currently Captain America in the comic world, so could Marvel Studios be setting up for an eventual Cap run for him? It’s entirely possible. In fact, it might be more possible than people think and would be a perfect curve ball to throw fans who think they know where all of this is going. Of course, some of that probably depends on how well All-New Captain America (issue #1 on sale at finer comic book stores and online now!) does with readers.
When do we start? We just did!
It’s amazing how many rumors have been cleared up already for this one. It could be that Marvel Studios has decided most of the information is going to come out before they really want anyway, so why not just lay a bunch of things on the table to give people what they seem to want?
Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re giving up everything. So far, they’ve been very good at keeping enough under wraps to make their movies surprising and fun, regardless of what’s been revealed early. And there should be no doubt Civil War will be as good as it gets for the grounded side of Marvel’s superhero film franchises.
There’s no reason to suspect this movie will do any less business than its predecessors and could even break new ground for the future of the franchise. In fact, it almost certainly has to do that if a Captain America 4 is to be expected. Box office take is probably not that much of a concern at this point. Just get to opening day and you’ll be able to hear the collective ringing of cash registers from sea to shining sea. Sounds like freedom. ‘Murica!
Opens May 6, 2016. Subject to change, of course.
Come back next week for a breakdown of Doctor Strange!