Captain America: Civil War launched Marvel's Phase 3 to critical and popular acclaim, tearing the Avengers in half and bringing Captain America and Iron Man to blows! With the dust settled, it's time to ask: what's next for Earth's Mightiest Heroes? Where do they go from here?
Civil War was a catastrophe for Paul Rudd's Ant-Man. The character had been working to get back his legitimacy, but he was unable to resist the charisma of Captain America. After a brief stay at the Raft, he was broken out by Steve Rogers, and is now on the run from the world's governments. I suspect he'll stick with Steve Rogers rather than going his own way (more on Steve later).
The good news for fans of Scott Lang is that Ant-Man and the Wasp is based after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, likely meaning that Ant-Man's status quo will have been reset at the end of that film - hopefully he'll no longer be a fugitive. It's smart scheduling, because it means the current arc arc is unlikely to impact the character plots for Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther made a phenomenal debut, perfectly capturing the character of T'Challa, Marvel's legendary African superhero. Over the course of the film, T'Challa learned a crucial lesson; that revenge can consume you. Tellingly, he refused to kill Baron Zemo, and instead brought him in to pay for his crimes as a prisoner on the Raft. It's possible that he also learned the value of teamwork, though; he saw the Avengers torn apart, and may well be crucial to restoring the damage Zemo caused.
It's unlikely that we'll get any cameos from Black Panther before his movie releases in 2018; he's not really suited to the street-level superheroics of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and is unrelated to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok.
Although Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow sided with Iron Man, her moment of treachery - inspired by her trust for Captain America - cost her everything. She's now on the run, and is likely to prove an essential aid for Captain America and his allies. Her experience as a spy will make her a tough target for General Ross to track down, and I suspect she'll use her old contacts to furnish the rest of the Avengers with false identities. Ross is likely to wish Black Widow hadn't switched sides.
Civil War was devastating for Chris Evans's Steve Rogers. When he left his shield behind, he abandoned that identity; but that doesn't mean he's left the superhero business. As he himself protested to Tony Stark, when he sees a situation going south, he can't just ignore it.
We don't know which of the Avengers will stay active alongside him - my money's on Black Widow, Falcon, Hawkeye, and Scarlet Witch at a minimum - but Steve Rogers is definitely going to be attracting some attention. Some already considered him a vigilante; now they'll feel that he's proved them right, as he rejects the Accords outright, but refuses to stand down.
How will the public react to Steve Rogers? It all depends what crises happen in the background between Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. It's entirely possible that the United Nations will forbid the registered superheroes from intervening in a situation that draws global attention, but Steve will get involved anyway. If he successfully resolves that situation, it will begin the process of undermining the Sokovia Accords. If things get worse due to his intervention, though, the opposite will be the case.
We don't know if we'll see a cameo from Steve Rogers before Infinity War, but he's got to play a major role in that film. It's pretty obvious that Infinity War will see the Avengers reunited against Thanos, and it's likely Steve will pick up the shield and finally be heard uttering the immortal words: "Avengers assemble!"
As Steve Rogers's best friend, Anthony Mackie's Falcon will be at Steve's side come what may. As he comments in Civil War, when people start shooting at Steve, he's in the line of fire too. However much he may complain, Falcon wouldn't have it any other way. Likely furnished with a false identity by Black Widow's spy contacts, Falcon will still be heavily active.
The decision to side with Steve Rogers has cost Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye a lot. There's a possibility that Hawkeye will be able to lie low with his family, but personally I doubt it; dialogue in the film suggests Tony saw his coming out of retirement as his blowing that chance. So I reckon that Hawkeye will have to stick with the vigilante life, probably working alongside Steve Rogers. He may also act as a mentor to Tony Stark.
Hawkeye's family will truly suffer due to his choices in Civil War, but - unlike the rest of the Avengers - Hawkeye didn't have to choose a side at all; he could have sat it out. I can't see him becoming bitter about it all.
Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark has moved to the center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the most important registered superhero. That said, Stark isn't in a pleasant position; General Ross is already furious with him, and will be watching him like a hawk. Should Stark put a foot wrong, he'll be condemned to the Raft.
The question is whether or not Tony Stark has the temperament to be put in check in the long-term. We can be pretty sure he'll keep Spider-Man's identity secret from General Ross; what's more, it's certain he won't tell Ross he has a way to contact Steve Rogers. How many other secrets will he keep?
We know that Tony Stark will play a cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but his relationship with Ross at this point is a mystery; odds are high that Homecoming will just contain a slight nod to that, as it will focus on the street-level adventures of Spider-Man. It's possible that Black Panther - likely to include elements of global politics such as the Accords - will give us more information. All we can say for sure, though, is that Avengers: Infinity War will have to firmly establish Stark's status quo, and then change it considerably.
Incidentally, don't think the end of Civil War meant Steve Rogers and Iron Man have truly reconciled. That reconciliation will happen on-screen in Infinity War.
Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch is really going through the mill. She's the target of public fury over the deaths in Lagos, and has become the linchpin of the whole 'Avengers are dangerous' narrative. In Civil War, Vision mentioned that her presence triggers a primal, biological fear in humans, and Scarlet Witch's enemies are going to use that against her.
Although Steve Rogers will be General Ross's primary target, for the public at large, it's Scarlet Witch they fear most. The fact Steve has Scarlet Witch at his side will mean he faces an uphill struggle in changing the public perception of his Avengers.
I strongly suspect that Scarlet Witch will remain active as a vigilante, working alongside Steve as one of his team of 'first responders'. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if she seeks to master her powers at Kamar-Taj, becoming the Avengers' link to the Masters of the Mystic Arts. As such, it's possible there'll be an end-credits scene in Doctor Strange that shows her arrival there.
A tremendous hit in Civil War, Tom Holland's Spider-Man has entered the world of the Avengers! In spite of Tony Stark's cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming, my suspicion is that Marvel will want to keep Spider-Man as a street-level superhero. The leaked images of the Shocker pretty much confirm that, as his design feels just as 'rough-and-ready' as Spider-Man's original costume in Civil War.
Returning to his normal life, Spider-Man will settle down as a true superhero - battling against street-level villains such as the Shocker, the Vulture, and the Tinkerer. At the same time, Homecoming is likely to focus in on his personal life - Peter Parker's love-life has always been entertaining!
Marvel's original deal with Sony specified that Marvel had to release a trilogy of Spider-Man movies, with a new film every two years. Sony turned down that offer, but were forced to return to the negotiating table after a hacking incident in 2014; we don't know whether or not the terms are the same. If they are, we can expect to hear of a second Spider-Man film in 2019. Interestingly, in 2017 and 2018 we're getting three movies set in the MCU, but in 2019 we're currently only getting two. So there's room for a new announcement. The date would be officially booked by Sony, who don't tend to book dates so far in the future as Marvel Studios. My suspicion is that we won't hear about the sequel until after Homecoming's release.
Paul Bettany's Vision played an interesting role in Civil War, which played on his relationship with Scarlet Witch - and led to him lashing out in anger, almost killing War Machine. Given that energy-blast was intended to strike a guy who wasn't wearing armor, it's hard to see that as anything less than a kill-shot, and I hope Avengers: Infinity War will explore the emotional repercussions of Vision's mistake.
Vision is one of the firmest supporters of the Accords. That said, I'd be surprised if we got a cameo before Infinity War. He'll be playing a key role in that film, though, as Thanos will be pursuing the Infinity Gem locked within Vision's forehead. It may be that Vision doesn't survive the Mad Titan's wrath...
Although Don Cheadle's War Machine was crippled in Civil War, by the end of the film we can see that Tony's already having him outfitted with prosthetic legs. War Machine doesn't regret his decision to support the Accords - that was made abundantly clear - and won't become bitter about his fate. He accepted the potential outcome of a mission years ago, as a soldier in the U.S. military. In the comics, War Machine became increasingly cybernetic, and it's possible the films will follow the same arc.
War Machine is unlikely to make an appearance before Avengers: Infinity War, but may well then go on to appear in 2019's Captain Marvel. Both War Machine and the lead character have a strong military background, and in the comics they became lovers.
Returned to cryogenic suspension, this time under the watchful eye of Black Panther, Winter Soldier remains a wild card. Some fans are speculating that this will be a major plot in 2018's Black Panther, either with Winter Soldier's enemies hunting him down, or Black Panther waking him up as backup. We do know, though, that he'll be back in action in Avengers: Infinity War.
If anyone can help Winter Soldier, it's Black Panther; Wakandan science may unlock the secret of how to free his mind from Hydra brainwashing, and he'll probably be given a new vibranium arm to replace the one destroyed by Iron Man.
- From 'Iron Man' to 'Doctor Strange' - the Complete Chronology of the MCU!
- Marvel's Changing Plans for Phase Three!
- Your Guide to the MCU's TV Series!
So there you have it! Civil War has radically changed the status quo of every single Marvel superhero, making it a very bold move on Marvel's part. We'll be dealing with the repercussions of Civil War throughout Phase Three, as we meet new heroes, get introduced to the wider world of Spider-Man, and eagerly await the next encounter between Iron Man and Captain America...
Which Marvel Movie are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments! In the meantime, check out this OUTSTANDING fan video...