The Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

When it comes to the fate of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, 'Captain America: Civil War' sets the stakes pretty high.

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Complex Original

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Marvel launches into Phase 3 of their Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War, the third film in the Captain America series that simultaneously builds upon the fallout of both Avengers films. It’s set to be the foundation for not only this third phase of the universe they’ve been building since 2008, but will lay the groundwork for where Marvel plans to be in 2019, which is the last year of currently scheduled film properties from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.  

Civil War is set to be the last film that has a bunch of “Avengers” in it until Avengers: Infinity War - Part I, which isn’t out until May of 2018, and it will need to transition the older guard out while still maintaining the level of quality that Marvel’s built over the last eight years with their competition gunning for them full force.

Captain America: Civil War takes its story from the 2006 Marvel crossover event that found Captain America and Iron Man butting heads on the Superhero Registration Act, which was enacted to essentially regulate the super-powered community, with superheroes being required to register with the government. Why? Mostly to try and quell the disastrous effects of proper superhero-ing. “The Incident” from 2012’s Avengers film—a.k.a. that time when the Avengers saved the world turning sections of New York City into piles of rubble—is one example, while 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron showed us what happened when the Hulk and Iron Man (in his Hulkbuster armor) would do battle in Africa. Oh, and they did all kinds of damage to Sokovia.

Essentially, when the Avengers are in town, you can expect property to be damaged and, more importantly, civilian lives to be lost. The government isn’t feeling that and wants to regulate how these Avengers operate. Tony Stark’s all for it, having been the key to unlocking Ultron’s destruction on the world, but Captain America is against it. Their conflict turns into super-powered sides being drawn and Civil War being declared.

Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, who has a film due out in 2018, is getting his first proper introduction into the cinema space, and with the acclaimed Chadwick Boseman becoming the Wakandan King in a film that’s now being directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, the hopes are that the man behind Creed and Fruitvale Station can add his Midas touch to the Black Panther story.

If you take a glance at Marvel’s scheduled films, one thing you’ll notice is that they’re transitioning out of the current tentpole characters (Captain America and Iron Man) when it comes to solo films; this appears to be the last Captain America film. As it was alluded to toward the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America was working on training the next batch of Avengers (bringing Falcon and Scarlet Witch into the fold), and judging by #TeamCap, he has an affinity to newcomer Ant-Man as well. While Captain America: Civil War is tied to the idea of a break in the Avengers Initiative at a moral level, one has to believe that from the ashes a new, unified team will rise...or at least we’ll catch a glimpse of a future Avengers team, with Spider-Man and Black Panther hopefully playing some part in the next squad.

The big question is not even what does Captain America fighting Iron Man mean, but what will be the ramifications of their battle after the fact? We know that there’s an Avengers: Infinity War on the way in the next few years, with all hands needing to be on deck for the big bad Thanos battle. Will there even be an Avenger to help stop the threat after the end of Civil War? Even with the Marvel Cinematic Universe effectively scheduled out for the next three years, Civil War is a crucial mega-event that will no-doubt send ripples throughout Phase 3...and beyond.

There could be anchors from Civil War that’ll blend into this story...or not. One also has to wonder what, if any, impact Civil War could have on Thor and the Hulk. Both are absent from Civil War, primarily because of their actions. Thor caught some crazy visions that compelled him to return to Asgard, while Hulk felt that he needed to remove himself from everything because of how destructive he can be when enraged and let loose. Truth be told, the Superhero Registration Act could benefit keeping track of the Hulk, right?

Ultimately, Captain America: Civil War should be seen as the actual wars we’ve had in the history of the world; it’s a huge source of conflict that, no matter what the outcome, will have threads that resonate throughout the future of civilization. While the North won the Civil War and changed the landscape of America, Marvel’s Civil War will be a glimpse into how the landscape of the next three years of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe will appear. Marvel can’t lose (and as early fan word seems to say, it won’t), but the stakes inside and outside of the MCU have never been bigger.

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