Tony Stark, the billionaire genius otherwise known as Iron Man, may tear a rift in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and actor Robert Downey Jr. gave Empire Online some hints about what might precede the tearing.
Spoiler warning: The following contains hints at the future of the MCU and some background about the comic book and movie stories that it will be based on. If you’re looking to go in knowing nothing, look away now.
The original Civil War comic series turned Captain America into a maverick when he took a public stance against the Superhero Registration Act, which the U.S. government used to to regulate and oversee the gifted among humanity. His actions caused tension between him and former allies like Iron Man and Spider-Man.
Captain America: Civil War, the third film in actor Chris Evans' series, will take its inspiration from the 2006-2007 comic book story. Iron Man’s involvement in the movie was rumored as far back as last October.
"What would you do?"
What’s not clear, however, is what events and circumstances will convince Tony "Iron Man" Stark to turn against Captain America. Downey said partial credit for figuring that out goes to Anthony and Joe Russo, the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War. The duo already planted the seed of a disillusioned Captain America in Winter Soldier.
Although he left much to the imagination, Downey spoke about the psychological and practical reasons that could precede the rift, the beginnings of which we’ll get to see this summer in in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
"The main thing to me is, and this is where I think the Russos are quite brilliant and where Kevin backed the play, is what sort of incident could occur and what sort of framework could we find Tony in?" Downey said. "The clues are in Ultron about where we might find him next. But what would it take for Tony to completely turn around everything he’s stood for, quote-unquote, because he was the right-wing guy who could still do his own thing?"
Downey also spoke of Iron Man’s broad appeal across the political spectrum, which could help viewers sympathize with his decision.
"When the first Iron Man came out," he said, "the liberals and conservatives were both like, "You’re our guy.' Yes! Score! But the idea of Tony being able to march into Washington and say, ‘I'll sign up,' wouldn’t have made sense if the political climate in the real world hadn’t shifted the way it has. It’s a little bit of things following a real world continuum in, ‘What would you do?’"
"The clues are in
Carrying that further and thinking about MCU events as if they happened in real life is a useful thought exercise for determining what Iron Man — and the U.S. government — might do.
"There’s always the bigger overarching question," he said, "that Joss [Whedon, director of The Avengers and Ultron] brings up all the time. It’s kind of weird that these guys would have all these throw downs all over planet Earth, and it looked like a little collateral damage happened over there, and yet when the movie’s over, it’s like nobody minds. You have to figure, were you to ask the question, ‘What would the American government do if this were real? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Tony doing something you wouldn’t imagine?’"
Inglorious Basterds’ Daniel Bruhl will join Downey and Evans in Civil War on its May 6, 2016 release date.