So, Civil War is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Specifically, in May 2016, with Captain America: Civil War (and, who knows? Maybe in July 2016 too...)
From the looks of it, though, it might even be arriving a whole lot sooner than we think - with the first stirrings of the conflict looking set to appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron in May 2015.
What, though, if the Civil War is already beginning...
More precisely, on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the vanguard of Marvel Studios' attempt to conquer TV in the same way they have movies.
And, what's more, what if we already know exactly how it's set to begin?
The First Clue
Way back in the chilly, mountainous wilds of September 24th, a young actor tweeted (and then swiftly deleted) something that - at the time - got a decent amount of press attention...
The reason for the interest? Adrianne Palicki had been announced to be playing Mockingbird just a month earlier - and now, the young actor Fran Kranz - who's worked with Joss Whedon a bunch of times, no less - was tweeting about Robbie Baldwin.
Otherwise known as Speedball.
And, as it turned out, the kinetic force field-wielding hero (his powers basically allow him to absorb the energy from any impact, meaning he can bounce off anything) known to his friends as Robbie Baldwin just happened to look a whole lot like Fran Kranz....
...as well as having a similar comic-book characterization to Kranz's usual movie roles, including in the Whedon-produced Dollhouse and Cabin in the Woods.
So, the general assumption went, Speedball - played by Fran Kranz - would soon be making an appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Which is great and all, but not exactly earth-shattering Civil War-related news.
Except, of course, that it totally is.
Speedball is a Key Player in Marvel's Civil War
Now, sure, Captain America and Iron Man may have led the two opposing sides, and Spider-Man's central dilemma may have been our way of connecting to the narrative - but without Speedball, there would never have been a comic-book Civil War in the first place.
Or, at least, he's a pretty fundamental part of why it happened...
(Note, SPOILERS from here on out, gang)
The major event that precipitated the Civil War was, after all, a major explosion in Stamford, Connecticut, that destroyed a huge area of the city, and killed 612 people (and 60 children).
A youthful superhero team (featuring Speedball) called the New Warriors were chasing down a group of villains as part of a reality TV show they were filming, including one named Nitro. Nitro caused the massive explosion, which only he - and Speedball - survived.
After which, the movement for superhero registration, which provoked the Civil War, gathered momentum, with the New Warriors - and especially Speedball - taking much of the blame.
So, for a faithful adaptation of Civil War, you need Speedball - and the superhero reality TV show he starred in.
Why Not Change Speedball, Though?
The thing is, Marvel seems set to alter a huge amount of the Civil War storyline anyway - Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men are all most likely not going to have a part of it - so why would they bother introducing the New Warriors anyway?
Well, first off, the Stamford tragedy is one of the most iconic moments in modern comics - which has become a major fan favorite. Not so much so that it'd cause protests, but it'd be a popular thing to include for many of us.
Secondly, Captain America: Civil War is most likely going to need an initial, shocking event to give the Civil War a reason to be - after all, if it's just a case of Captain America and Freedom versus Iron Man and the government, it's going to be a hard sell for the movie to get any of the audience on Tony's side. Add in a horrific tragedy, though, and things could be very different.
What That Means for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Well, principally, it means that the show could well be given a much-increased role in altering the forthcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than just reacting to it.
After all, if Speedball does arrive on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he's likely to appear in a form not too dissimilar to his pre-Stamford reality star form - one which would fit nicely into the shows more grounded approach to the universe.
In which case, that entire storyline - from the initial arrival of Speedball on - would mark the true beginnings of the Civil War - and the show would presumably follow the emergence of the New Warriors (or an equivalent reality TV show-starring team) in the months and years leading up to Captain America: Civil War in May 2016.
And, as a bonus, it'd make [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469) way more difficult to cancel...