Thursday, February 25, 2016

Marvel's Civil War: The Movie Tie-In Possibilities

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Two weeks ago, I made the case that Captain America: Civil War needs to have far-reaching implications for the MCU in Phase 3—it can’t be wrapped up in a bow after a single movie.  There needs to be some major tie-in between Captain America: Civil War and the rest of Marvel’s offerings over the next several years.  Last week I offered a template of what “major tie-in” looked like with the previous Captain America movie, when The Winter Soldier shook things up for the entire Marvel Universe—especially by completely redefining Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

For the next two week I will be answering the question:  What would a good Captain America: Civil War tie-in look like?

To answer this question I will be looking at everything Marvel which we know is coming out in the next few years.  This includes the Phase 3 movies, the network TV shows (specifically Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Most Wanted, and Damage Control), and the Netflix shows.  That’s a lot of media to cover, so I’m going to break it up into 2 articles.  Next week I’ll talk about TV and Netflix, but this week I will start with the movies.

Articles in this Series:
Marvel’s Civil War Interconnectivity:  A Case Study from the Hydra Uprising”

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Captain America: Civil War

First up, the most obvious place to start is with Captain America: Civil War itself.  Regardless of whether or not a greater threat presents itself during the movie, this movie really should not end with everyone back to being pals—for all the reasons I laid out two weeks ago.  Steve and Tony may cooperate against a greater threat, but at the end of the day too much will have happened for them to shrug it off.  This will be all the more true if there are casualties in the conflict on one or both sides.

By the end of the movie, I expect the two teams to be pretty firmly entrenched on opposite sides.  Captain America’s team (I’ll call them the “Secret Avengers,” using one of the comic book iterations of the Avengers) will have gone into hiding to escape from Iron Man’s team (I’ll call them the “Mighty Avengers,” using another of the comic book iterations of the Avengers) and track down Baron Zemo.  Meanwhile, Iron Man’s “Mighty Avengers” will have come out as working officially for the U.S. government (or the U.N.) to track down the “Secret Avengers” and recruit new heroes to work for the government.  This will set into motion the consequences seen in the rest of Phase 3.

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Back when it was first announced that Tom Holland had been cast as Spider-Man and would make his debut in Captain America: Civil War, it was also reported that the Spider-Man solo film would pick up some of the threads from Civil War and that Iron Man might be appearing in the movie.  In this movie, we could see what the superhero world looks like when the heroes are in conflict with each other.  Might both sides attempt to recruit Spider-Man to join them?  Could he be pressured by Stark into revealing his secret identity in order to receive a gift like the Iron Spider armor?  Either of these options would make it abundantly clear that this is a world in which the superheroes are competing with each other just as much as they are fighting the villains.  If Marvel and Sony were to go this route with Spider-Man, it could essentially turn into the indirect sequel of Civil War!

Even more than direct tie-in potential, Spider-Man would be an opportunity to see how the environment of New York City has been altered by the Sokovia Accords.  Considering that New York is home both to most of the world’s superheroes—or at least the ones we know about—and to the United Nations’ headquarters, it would not be out of place for New York to have either been improved or hurt by the Accords.  Perhaps less covert heroes will be active in New York City (in the shadow of the U.N.), preferring to spread out to other areas.  Perhaps the police will be hunting Spider-Man and other unregistered heroes down as criminal because they are not conforming to the Accords.  Perhaps Spider-Man will be asked by the police to help them track down unregistered heroes.

There are dozens of different ways that Spider-Man can pick up where Civil War left off and further the story, ranging from a specific storyline to simply working within that environment.

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Black Panther

The next potential tie-in movie is 2018’s Black Panther, whose title character will also be introduced in Captain America: Civil War.  Black Panther is a character who represents a third option in the Civil War, as he is both the official hero and the leader of his nation.  He may choose one side or the other in the movie, but in the end he will remain out for his own interests and perhaps try to bring the two sides together.

Black Panther also represents the international aspect of the conflict, as he is not based in America at all—unlike Scarlet Witch, the other non-American hero.  How will the Sokovia Accords play out internationally?  This is the question which I expect to see answered in Black Panther.

The aftermath of Civil War will probably not factor too heavily into Black Panther, but the decisions which T’Challa makes in this movie should be influenced by the wider events in which he has participated, particularly the use of vibranium at Sokovia and his participation in the Civil War.  Of course, Marvel could certainly surprise us; Black Panther’s role in Civil War could make this movie another perfect indirect sequel to Civil War!

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Avengers: Infinity War

I see the two parts of Avengers: Infinity War serving the role of reuniting the heroes of Earth.  In the first part, I expect one of the Avengers teams will face off against Thanos to defend the Earth, but they will get soundly defeated.  I would lean more toward the “Mighty Avengers” fighting Thanos first (and doing so very publicly to show the world the “strength” of the registered heroes).  However, it might make even more sense for the “Secret Avengers” to face off against Thanos while Iron Man desperately tries to make the U.N. see reason and allow the “Mighty Avengers” to fight him as well.  Whichever way it happens, the heroes who face Thanos will be defeated very badly, and Thanos will conquer the Earth and complete the Infinity Gauntlet.

The second part of Infinity War will see the final resolution of the Civil War as the two sides realize that they need to put aside all their differences for the greater good because they can only stand a chance against such a cosmic threat if they all work together.  Consequently, the survivors of both teams will fight together alongside all the other heroes in the Marvel Universe and defeat Thanos.  And at the end of the fight the United Nations will vote to repeal the Sokovia Accords and replace them with a better alternative which gives the heroes more leeway in doing what they believe is right.  In this way, I see Avengers: Infinity War as the ideal conclusion to the “Civil War Saga.”

Other Movies

The other two movies which could potentially deal with the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War are Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel.  Not much is known about either movie yet, but we can make some guesses as to how they could tie in with Civil War.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp is the only solo sequel in Phase 3 for a character appearing in Civil War.  Though my expectation right now is that the focus for the movie will be on Scott, Hank, and Hope attempting to rescue Janet from the Quantum Realm, there could be more involved in the movie than just that.  And whatever they do could be made much more difficult by the Accords—and even more by Scott’s part in the Civil War.  Might a superhuman bounty hunter be sent to hunt down Ant-Man and other unregistered heroes, as Hawkeye and Two-Gun Kid both did in the comics?  That could make for a very interesting antagonist, especially if Scott has to convince him to look the other way long enough for Scott and Hope to rescue Janet.

We do not know anything about Captain Marvel at this point beyond a release date, but if they are faithful to Carol Danvers’ comic book origin, she will be another hero who started out in the military (following in the tradition of Captain America, War Machine, the Winter Soldier, and Falcon, to say nothing of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents).  Consequently, one question that this movie could answer is “How do the Sokovia Accords affect the military’s ability to deploy a superhuman like Captain Marvel in the field?”

As of now I doubt that there would be all that much direct tie-in between these two movies and Captain America: Civil War, but there are still some possibilities for a tie-in.

The Rest

I suppose I should touch on the other four Phase 3 movies briefly and how they could be affected by Captain America: Civil War, if at all.  Fair warning:  I don’t really expect much tie-in with any of them.

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Doctor Strange is the movie that comes out immediately after Civil War, but we really don’t know enough yet to know how it could connect to Civil War.  There was a rumor a while back that Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo would appear in both movies, but I haven’t seen anything since then to confirm Zemo’s involvement in Doctor Strange.  If there is any tie-in, I expect a small thing like a background news report of the Accords/conflict as a “current event.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 really shouldn’t have any tie-in with Civil War, as it takes place in a different galaxy entirely.  I don’t think Quill’s going to be returning to Earth before Avengers: Infinity War, and James Gunn has been adamant about keeping Quill as the only human in the movie.  Simply put, a tie-in to Civil War would not be appropriate or necessary.

Thor: Ragnarok could incorporate a little more of a Civil War tie-in than Guardians of the Galaxy, but not by much.  With the Hulk confirmed to appear and Nick Fury rumored to appear as well, there are definite possibilities:  something’s gotta explain how he/they get to Asgard!  However, I’m not going to expect more than a passing comment from Banner/Hulk to the effect that things started going sideways on Earth and he wanted to get off-world until everything quiets down.

With the Inhumans not set to come out until after Avengers: Infinity War Part 2, there is almost nothing known about it beyond the assumption that it will focus on the Inhuman Royal Family.  However, with Inhumans beginning to appear all over the planet thanks to the Terrigen Fish Oil, the Sokovia Accords will definitely need to address the Inhumans.  And if humans start rounding up and branding Inhumans, I’m betting the Inhuman Royal Family will have something to say about it.  However, this feels to me like something that would be explored well before the Inhumans movie (Infinity War Part 2 at the latest).  Add to that the fact that the Sokovia Accords may not last until Inhumans comes out, and I don’t think this movie will have much opportunity for direct tie-in with Civil War beyond the possibility of seeing what a post-Accords MCU looks like—assuming it’s set on Earth and the Royal Family is even interested in Fish Oil Inhumans to begin with…

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Marvel has done a very good job of laying groundwork in one movie which doesn’t get paid off until a movie several years down the line.  Sometimes this works out very well (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), while sometimes this doesn’t work out quite as well (Iron Man 2).  The challenge with this kind of interconnected storytelling is to tell a compelling story in each film first and foremost, while still including those hints at what is to come—though not in such a way as to distract from the film itself.  This is not an easy task, but it is something that Marvel has strived to do in every movie to-date, and something which they have (in general) been getting better at doing every year.

If they put in the effort, I think that Marvel could very easily work the ramifications and consequences of the Civil War into many of their Phase 3 movies to a greater or lesser extent, and do so in such a way that it actually enhances all the movies and improves the viewing experience for the fans.

How do you want to see the Civil War/Sokovia Accords tied into the other Phase 3 movies?  Do you disagree with any of my ideas?  Let me know in the comments!

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  1. I hat not thought about the Spider-Man movie as a direct sequel to CA:CW, but it makes perfect sense!
    It could be played as a really down-to-earth adventure, really small scale. No end-of-the-world scenarios. It would be Peter Parker dealing with his daily life while being chased by the Mighty Avengers and being recruited by the Secret Avengers.
    The smallness of Parker's daily concerns and problems would contrast well with the Alien Invasions and Genocidal AIs, really making him relatable.

    But the current situation of super-powered vigilantes being targeted and forced to register is a direct result of the actions of super-heroes when dealing with those Alien Invasions and Genocidal AIs.

    Also, how about this?
    As you said T'Challa and Wakanda must be a third option to the Civil War conflict. If on the one hand you've got super-human beings acting as independent protectors of human-kind, regardless of consequences, and on the other super-human beings being servants of human laws, then a third option would be a super-being as a ruler of humans.
    In the comics T'Challa is the god-king of Wakanda, and the fact is that Wakanda is one of the most developed nations on earth, so it is compelling evidence that super-beings might do a good job as rulers.

    "Consequently, one question that this movie could answer is “How do the Sokovia Accords affect the military’s ability to deploy a superhuman like Captain Marvel in the field?"
    This is a great idea, and it would be such good writing on their part. Captain Marvel would be the second successful result from the Super Soldier Program after Captain America.
    She would be a product of the state's military science, exactly like Captain America was originally. Maybe exactly as an additional state-approved members to the Mighty Avengers to help them catch the Secret Avengers

    1. That would be an interesting direction to take Captain Marvel, though I wonder if they're willing to make such a major departure from her comic book origin. Perhaps it would work better if her powers are still tied in some way to experimentation with Kree genetics (perhaps as a result of the Kree's involvement with Avengers: Infinity War Part 1).

    2. Duh, I didn't see the rest of your comment. I like your thoughts about Black Panther as the super-ruler of Wakanda and the "smallness" of Peter Parker's problems contrasting with the "bigness" of everyone else's problems. It depends on what Peter does in Civil War as to how Spider-Man can build off it; he might fall more on the side of the Mighty Avengers and have Tony recruiting him during his movie, just as much as he might be getting chased by the Mighty Avengers and recruited by the Secret Avengers!

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