Any dedicated comic book fan can tell you that, thus far, the films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe have differed - sometimes greatly, sometimes in much more subtle ways - from their comic book sources. Decisions are made based on production needs, the flow of a story, and often much more complicated factors of the movie-making process. For example, the team we know from [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) is radically different from their pre-movie lineup, but the film itself took off in ways that the comic never did. On a smaller scale, Nick Fury's duty as the leader of the Howling Commandos was passed to Captain America, as the MCU-verse Nick wasn't alive yet.
It's pretty clear that the MCU, like any comic book universe, stands on its own. So with that in mind, what does it mean for it's massive upcoming event -- [Captain America: Civil War](movie:994409)?
As you may have read, a few of us here at Moviepilot (and really, fans of the MCU everywhere) are more than certain that the seeds of Civil War will kick off much, much earlier than we'd expect - in fact, many are speculating that the seeds of Civil War will happen before [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035), though we were given a brief look at yet another Captain America VS. Iron Man scuffle at Marvel's special event in Hollywood last week. Missed it? Here it is:
While that stands as a pretty blatant 'seed', our own Kit has speculated that we could be seeing the beginning of Civil War on Marvel's [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469) - after all, Marvel has been laying down a plot for [The Inhumans](movie:910490) right under our noses through the show. Will Marvel's up-and-down ratings smooth out once fans are told that, to quote the theme of season one, "everything is connected"?
The Obvious Changes for Captain America: Civil War!
Several key players in the comics are not coming back for their roles, thanks to legal and ownership issues: Spider-Man, Doc Ock, Goliath, The X-Men, the dramatic divide of the Fantastic Four, and many others will not be involved in this storyline.
While many of these missing characters might create what seem like major holes in the storyline, it's important to keep in mind that these are movies, and they're not The Hobbit. Many of these plot lines will be condensed or removed for the sake of a smoothly flowing storyline and a movie that isn't eight hours long. Which means, of course...
The gap that Mutants left will be replaced by the Inhumans
Mutants, of course, are non-existent in the MCU thanks to FOX's refusal to allow Marvel the right to use the word. Many fans are speculating that the hole left by the mutants will be filled by the Inhumans, who are already being hinted at in Marvel's [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469); this has been strengthened by another fan theory that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are actually Inhumans themselves, and that their new storyline will reflect this.
While Wolverine was probably the most major player out of all the X-Men during Civil War, their involvement was extremely self-contained in comparison with the other occupants of the Marvel universe. The civil war within the X-Men themselves can be pulled from the MCU to instead focus more heavily on the conflict that sits directly between Captain America and Iron Man. Speaking of...
Whoever fills in for Spider-Man won't be playing the same role
One major factor to take into consideration is that, so far, there's absolutely no confirmation on Spider-Man being part of the MCU. Fans have been jumping at anything that we feel is a hint - from Sony being 'in talks' with Marvel, to RDJ's facebook team posting someone else's photo-set with Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker (really?) but what we're likely to recieve is someone else in Spidey's place who isn't exactly playing out the same role... someone like Black Panther.
Okay, this one's been pretty obvious: even before Chadwick Boseman stood between the faux-squabbling duo of RDJ and Chris Evans at the recent Marvel event in Hollywood, fans have been speculating that Black Panther would serve as the neutral force between Cap and Iron Man. According to Marvel President Kevin Feige:
"With Black Panther, what our little fun dance at the end was meant to signify, and I’ll just clarify, he is definitely a big part in Civil War. We will meet him for the first time in Civil War, in costume."
The difference, of course, will be that Spider-Man was torn between the two sides, whereas I believe Black Panther (being far more cool, collected, and experienced - he's the freakin' King of Wakanda after all) will act more as a mediator to some degree, but not because he directly cares for either party, but rather for the greater good of the world itself. Black Panther's investment isn't emotional; it's entirely lawful.
According to a great theory by Luis Rodriguez, Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaw will play a huge part in Age of Ultron that will lead to Black Panther's involvement in Civil War: he's providing Ultron with Vibranium, and this all plays a part in massive, violent devastation in Wakanda at the hands of Klaw and Ultron. Reacting to this, Black Panther will more than likely show up for some physical conflict resolution, causing both Captain America and Iron Man to plead their cases to him.
This definitely adds fuel to my guess that this event will focus on a smaller, more centralized group of characters, and that the driving force will be the conflict between Tony and Steve.
The 'Spark' that sets off Civil War might not involve a Reality Show
Kit covered the possibility of Speedball's appearance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a few weeks back, and the point still stands - an actor from "The Whedon Pool", Fran Kranz, tweeted (and swiftly deleted) a vague, but telling message about Speedball and Mockingbird on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but since then, we've heard almost nothing about his involvement or casting as the hyperactive hero.
Regardless of whether Kranz will move forward as Speedball, he is a very pivotal team member of the New Warriors - the only surviving member after the team suffers a horrible tragedy. Having gone broke, the New Warriors take on a reality show in order to supplement themselves, but are overwhelmed by a team of supervillains. One of them, Nitro, self-detonates, effectively murdering everyone but Speedball, including 612 civilians.
As Kit argues, Speedball can be done away with, but revisiting his comic book role in Civil War might help humanize Iron Man's side of the story, making it more difficult for audiences to "choose a side".
The major problem with this is the fact that the New Warriors had a solid, slightly lengthy series that included characters like Nova before their part in Civil War, gaining fans and causing comic readers to actually care about them. Then, of course, the team is ripped away from fans in an emotional mass-murder, a slaughter that is regarded as one of the most devastating events in comic book history.
They could, of course, be introduced as a long-running team in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but if the whole team isn't there to gain loyal fans, I feel that the effect of their deaths won't be half as impactful. If they're just stupid kids filming a reality show because it's funny, the audience won't be as gripped by their untimely deaths.
Maria Hill may play a much larger role going forward
Time and time again, the quiet but dangerous Maria Hill has proven that she's more than capable of handling intense, superpower-laced situations in a cool and collected manner, and with her new job under Tony Stark, we're likely to see a lot more of her when the fire of Civil War ignites. As it is, Nick Fury seems to be phasing out of the MCU after the events of Winter Soldier: Samuel L. Jackson only has two movies left on his contract with Marvel, and Age of Ultron is one of them. What's more, Jackson said in a recent interview with THR:
I’m not doing so much, I don’t think... It’s another one of those ‘people who have powers fighting people who have powers’ [movies]. There’s not a lot I could do except shoot a gun.
While Nick Fury, Jr. could serve as a replacement, the character hasn't been discussed or hinted at in the MCU so far, so I'm going to dismiss that idea in favor of Maria Hill taking the reigns of Nick Fury's role in Civil War. She's capable, and she's being featured heavily in the latest extended trailers for Age of Ultron. She also seems much more complex than she's previously let on as Fury's second hand, so exploring her character more would definitely be interesting to me.
Despite being part of the Winter Soldier team previously, I could see Maria siding with Tony, if only to fill Nick's shoes on that side of the civil war.
Some Heroes May Shift Sides
Changes to their comic background and upbringing might make for interesting alterations in Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, including their affiliations. They could remain floating outside of the lines, remaining vigilant, but Age of Ultron is supposed to see them switch sides from underlings of Ultron to the reluctant allies of the Avengers.
If we follow comic book canon (and the outright confirmation that we've been given, with Kevin Feige stating that the Avengers' lineup will change by the end of Age of Ultron) it's pretty safe to assume that the twins will join Captain America's team at the end of the film. But from there, we know nothing outside of them not being mutants and serving as experimental subjects at the hands of Baron Von Strucker, we don't really know much about them, or what their objective is.
Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor, and the Hulk (unless he's sent off somewhere else after the madness that's about to ensue in Age of Ultron) will either leave or firmly choose sides. While Thor's departure seems all but confirmed, (factoring in his very evident anger at Tony in the trailer, as well) seeing a divide between former partners Natasha and Clint could work, as much as I'd hate to see it. Outside of their close friendship, an attraction was heavily implied in the first Avengers film - one that's seemingly dropped off the radar in favor of Natasha hanging out with Bruce Banner.
Clint's on-and-off comic book wife, Mockingbird, is now heavily featured in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and will more than likely join in on the big screen action by the third Avengers film, if not sooner. Will an expanding rift between the former more-than-likely-lovers grow even further when they're forced to choose which one of their friends to support? Time will tell.
The TV and Netflix shows will supplement and react to the events of Civil War
In the comics universe, Civil War was a massive event that included more teams and individual superheroes than I can count on two hands - character and team-focused issues followed the reaction and resolutions of those not focused at the center of Civil War. Given that Marvel is building it's cinematic universe in a slightly similar way with several spin-off television shows, including a pivotal slate of shows coming to Netflix, we could very well see the ripple effects of Civil War in shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage.
Most of the characters leading the television universes were all closely involved (in some way or another) in the events of Civil War, though I don't think that Marvel would make their reactions so intense that fans must watch the shows in order to understand the events of Civil War.
The opportunities for these events taking place within the film spectrum are endless, and given that Civil War is being harbored - or at least begun - within a Captain America film that seems to have it's own villain already, what we can expect is that this event will ripple throughout several of the following Marvel films and TV shows through 2020.