Unless you were frozen in ice and in a state of suspended animation yesterday, it was difficult to miss the news that Robert Downey, Jr., Tony Stark/Iron Man himself in the Marvel Studios’ Avengers family of movies, will appear in Captain America 3: Title TBD. What’s more, his appearance will help to ignite a series of events that will result in a superhuman Civil War, based on the Marvel Comics storyline that pitted superhero brother against superhero brother over support or opposition of the Superhero Registration Act. While this news is big enough on its own, the appearance of Tony Stark in Cap 3 has sparked rumors whether the movie’s directors, brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, will have a wider role in Marvel Studios’ cinematic playground moving forward.
With more and more Marvel films in development—Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, The Inhumans—the plans for Marvel Studios’ Phase 3 seem to more far-reaching than we’ve seen so far, and that’s certainly saying something. Should director Joss Whedon choose not to return to helm future Avenger films after The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the scuttlebutt is that the Russo brothers are the lead candidates to tale the tales of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in a third and/or fourth Avengers movie.
In their coverage of its coverage of the Robert Downey, Jr./Cap 3 news, Badass Digest released this rumor:
How closely will Captain America 3 tie in with Avengers 3? I’ve been told that the Russo Brothers are in talks to direct Avengers 3 and possibly 4. Sources tell me that they’re the favorites of Marvel right now and that they are the guys Kevin Feige want to pick up the mantle from Joss Whedon.
All of these rumors are contingent on Joss Whedon opting out of directing further Avengers films, which is a distinct possibility. And, as SlashFilm points out, if Captain America 3 is meant to act as a connecting bridge with whatever happens in The Avengers 3: Civil War Boogaloo?, then the Russos, who have done so well with exploring questions of freedom and liberty in their films, would be the perfect choice as the next drivers of the franchise.
While we really don’t know the trajectory that the Civil War storyline will take in the Marvel cinematic universe, it does seem that the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be catastrophic. You don’t have to be familiar with the Marvel comics’ stories featuring the crazed robot to know that: Just from looking at the released art from the film depicting the Avengers being overrun by swarms of Ultron drones gives a fair indication that the world won’t make it out unscathed. As we know Tony Stark has a hand in constructing Ultron, this might be the spark that leads to a proposed Superhero Registration Act in Captain America 3, leading into a full-blown superhero civil war in Avengers 3. If Avengers 3 is indeed a two-parter as has been rumored, then this storyline will have the proper breathing room to be told without a feeling of being rushed.
That brings us to Avengers 4. Badass Digest has suggested that this is the film that will finally feature Thanos as the Big Bad after years of teasing, since his blink-and-you-missed-it mid-end credits appearance in the first Avengers film. If the end of Avengers 3 leaves the team splintered, with fill-ins Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and others carrying the Avengers banner, then the fourth film could be an all-out brawl that sees all of the heroes coming back together to stop the threat Thanos poses against the universe.
As we all know, all of this type of hypothesizing and conjecture is just that. Avengers: Age of Ultron won’t even hit theaters until next May, so all of this forecasting might be moot. I will say this: As long as the plans with the Russos doesn’t interfere with their reported directing of an episode of season six of Community, I’m on board with them being stewards of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.