Downey joins Captain America 3, and brings Marvel’s Civil War with him
Robert Downey Jr. is reportedly in the final stages of negotiations to appear in Captain America 3, according to Variety. Downey’s appearance will herald the “Civil War” storyline from the comics that saw Iron Man and Captain America on opposite sides of a bloody conflict, and it will also kick off a new phase for Marvel Studios.
For those that missed the original comics event, it began when a team of attention seeking superheroes botched a mission in Stamford, CT., resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people, including dozens of children. The disaster – and strong public sentiment – the government instituted the Superhuman Registration Act, requiring all people with super powers to register themselves with the government. The legislation caused a split among the superhero population, with Iron Man leading the side in favor of the act, and Captain America going underground to stand against the act.
The event drew in the vast majority of Marvel superheroes, leading to several battles between the two sides and resulting in at least one death of a hero. In the end, Captain America surrendered himself to the authorities and was subsequently killed thanks to a plot put in motion by the Red Skull. This led to Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, taking on the mantle of Captain America (until the original Cap’s return in true comic book fashion).
Adapting the story to the established Marvel film universe will take some major rewrites. For one, Spider-Man plays a central part in the Civil War story. In the comics, Peter Parker joins tony Stark and reveals his identity to the world. He soon comes to regret his decision though, and heads underground to join Cap. There have been plenty of rumors floating around that Sony and Marvel were in talks regarding the character, and that it could lead to the appearance of Spider-Man in the Marvel films universe. If the plans for Civil War are true, then the rumors may take on more weight.
To further fuel those fires, Marvel recently announced that it is planning some sort of re-launch for the Civil War comics story, beginning Summer 2015, and it did so with an image of Iron Man and Captain America pulling at Spider-Man. It’s not clear exactly what form that relaunch will take, but the renewed emphasis is telling.
In order to bring Civil War to the big screen, the plot will need to be trimmed down to the main themes, and then slightly re-imagined. The Cap vs. Iron Man story could still be the centerpiece, but beyond that, everything else would need to change. It also wouldn’t be much of a “war,” as there would only be around a dozen heroes at most – including the heroes that Marvel will introduce before Cap 3 hits theaters. Still, Marvel has proven itself time and again, and if it wants Civil War, it will find a way.
Regardless of how it plays out, Downey will be a major part of the third film. According to Variety, Marvel initially wanted Downey to appear in a fairly minor capacity in the film, all of which would be completed in less than three weeks. Downey, however, wanted a larger role, which would also require a larger paycheck. Marvel Entertainment’s chief, Ike Perlmutter, was apparently incensed by this, and demanded that Downey be completely written out of the script. At that point, it seemed that Downey’s involvement was over. It may have also signaled the beginning of the end of Downey as Iron Man/Tony Stark altogether.
Still, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and Downey’s reps continued to talk, hoping to salvage the situation. Feige reportedly fought for Downey’s inclusion, not just to bring Iron Man back into the fold, but because he sees the Civil War storyline as a driving force for the next wave of new franchises and storylines for the next decade.
The report goes on to claim that the Civil War storyline would factor heavily into the fourth Avengers film, and help to usher in a new roster for the superhero team.
Downey is currently under contract for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the third Avengers film. After that, his contract expires, although he has stated that he would like to continue working with Marvel.
Downey earned $50 million for Avengers, and $75 million for Iron Man 3, including back end based on the box office results. The new deal will earn Downey around $40 million, plus backend participation. If Captain America 3 outperforms Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s $714 million worldwide total, Downey will receive an additional payout. No word if the contract will necessarily lead to further commitments from Downey, but it seems likely.
Captain America 3 will hit theaters on May 6, 2016. The film will be part of Phase Three, which begins with the premier of Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015. Next up will be Ant-Man, then Cap 3. Doctor Strange is tentatively scheduled for July 8, 2016, then Guardians of the Galaxy 2 presumably closes out the phase on July 28, 2017.