With Captain America: Civil War fast approaching, and Avengers: Age of Ultron looking set to begin the confrontational story-line that'll ultimately lead to Iron Man and Captain America butting heads within it, it's not too surprising that thoughts are turning to just what role Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark will play in the movie.
After all, in the comic-book version of Civil War, Stark operates as, essentially, the villain of the piece - turning on his old friends in favor of government registration and control - and there's no real reason to suspect that his role in the story will have been substantially changed for the movie.
Robert Downey Jr., Though, Has Other Ideas
Specifically, when he was recently asked by Empire whether or not he'll be playing a villainous role in the movie, his response was pretty clear cut:
"I wouldn't put it that way."
Before, intriguingly, turning the question around to focus on Cap's role in the movie:
"The biggest question is, for Chris and for Cap, how do we bring Cap to a place where people go, 'Man, I never thought I would see such a vast change in Steve.' After you see Snowpiercer, you're like, 'I want to see a little bit of that guy.'"
Which, it seems, suggests that the bigger change we're set to see could well actually come from Captain America himself.
And, in fact...
That Moral Complexity is Completely True to the Original Comics
After all, most readers ended up seeing Cap as the hero of Civil War because he was sticking up for individual freedoms and the little guy, whereas Iron Man was blindly taking the side of government control.
You could, though, just as easily frame Iron Man as the hero - doing what has to be done to constrain what could be an apocalyptic menace, while Cap clings to outdated ideals from the 1940's that no longer work in a terrifying modern world.
That's the beauty of Civil War - and, hopefully, of the movie adaptation - is exactly that openness to interpretation. No matter what side of the political or ideological spectrum you fall on, odds are you'll find the storyline engaging and challenging - even if who you see as the main hero might just change.
So, as RDJ seems to be pointing out, if you see anti-government political agitation (of the sort Chris Evans' character in Snowpiercer is very much part of) as an inherently bad thing, then you might well see Cap as the bad guy in the movie. If, on the other hand, you see obtrusive government intervention as the real villain, then Iron Man may - to you at least - be the main antagonist.
And, as RDJ also points out:
Everyone Changes Their Mind Sometimes...
"It's natural to change your views...The main thing to me is, what sort of incident could occur, and what sort of framework could we find Tony in? The clues about where we might find him next are in Ultron. But what would it take for Tony to completely turn around everything he's stood for? Joss brings this up all the time. It's kind of weird that these guys would have all these throw downs all over planet Earth and yet when the movie's over, nobody minds. What would the American government do if this were real? Wouldn't it be interesting to see Tony doing something you wouldn't imagine?"
Which suggests that...
a) Tony could well change his mind a few times throughout the next few Marvel movies.
b) There could be a whole lot more moral complexity to Age of Ultron and Civil War than we've necessarily been expecting...
Which, if you ask me, sounds freaking awesome.