Once again, the Avengers have assembled and parted ways… mostly. Since the end of a Marvel Studios movie is never really the end of the story, Age of Ultron contains plenty of hints about where the Marvel Cinematic Universe is headed next. With many of the studio’s upcoming films in various states of production, there are some things we already know about the adventures that lie ahead for the costumed heroes.
First off, a new face will be joining the MCU lineup with the opening of Ant-Man (July 17). Though the story of thief-turned-superhero Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) looks like it’s going to be pretty light on Avengers connections, do keep an eye out for a more seasoned Howard Stark, played by Mad Men’s John Slattery. The actor is set to reprise his role from Iron Man 2 as the older version of Tony’s papa — given that Howard died before the events of the first Iron Man, it stands to reason that he’ll appear in a flashback, possibly one reaching back to the younger days of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original inventor of the Ant-Man suit.
From there, Marvel moves to its biggest “standalone” movie yet, Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016). Is it possible for more to be happening in a single MCU film? Let’s just run through some of the elements that we know to expect in Joe and Anthony Russo’s Winter Soldier follow-up.
Steve v Tony: Dawn of In-Fighting
Even though Cap and Iron Man have their disagreements in Age of Ultron, the pair parts ways on a decidedly amicable note. That harmony won’t last long — the two Avengers will tussle at some point. Over what? Given the film’s title (which references a famous Marvel Comics storyline), the conflict could erupt over some form of the Superhero Registration Act, a regulation that required masked heroes to essentially behave as a kind of police force. But Marvel’s movies have never been strictly beholden to the books, so chances are the script will take its own path. Still, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the film will find Steve Rogers and Tony Stark at odds.
The New Avengers
By the end of Age of Ultron, the team’s roster gets a well-deserved shake up. With Hulk heading somewhere (space?) and Thor investigating some darkness he senses from Asgard (Loki?), Cap leads the New Avengers, which appears to include Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, War Machine, and Vision. Those last two—meaning Don Cheadle and Paul Bettany—haven’t been officially confirmed for Civil War, but it would be a huge missed opportunity to not show this line-up in action.
The Search for Bucky
As Falcon stealthily implies in Age of Ultron, the Winter Soldier is still out there. With Sebastian Stan set to return as the guy Steve’s going with to the end of the line, it’s safe to assume we’ll get some kind of closure from the cliffhanger-ish ending of the second Cap movie.
All hail T’Challa!
There’s a third major player in this superhero tango. Chadwick Boseman is set to make his first appearance as Black Panther, ahead of his standalone movie in 2018. It’s still unknown what role the king of Wakanda will play, but who cares? It’s Black Panther, and it’s Chadwick Boseman!
Winter Soldier planted the skeletal seeds we’ll see blossom in Civil War as Frank Grillo returns as the Hydra-loyal Brock Rumlow. Last time we saw him, Rumlow had survived the Triskelion collapse with some
minor major burns. It’s almost a guarantee that we’ll see him don a skull mask and become the villain who, in the comic books, played a significant role in — yep — Steve Roger’s assassination.
As if there weren’t enough people to antagonize Captain America in the film, Daniel Brühl will appear as Baron Helmut Zemo, a masked villain, whose family had been eviling it up since World War II. In the comic book canon, it was actually Zemo’s father who was responsible for the blast that killed Bucky and put Cap on ice.
On top of all of that, Civil War will very likely be the first place we see Sony’s rebooted Spider-Man. According to recent reports, the field of actors vying for the role of teenage Peter Parker has been narrowed. Expect a casting announcement in the coming weeks.
Oh, and find room for new cast member Martin Freeman in there somewhere.
Is that it? This could be a seven-hour epic. As Cap’s movie overtakes Iron Man’s as the “big” standalone entry of the Marvel’s Phase 3, there’s a sense that non-Avengers movies aren’t as small as they used to be. Considering how Winter Soldier dismantled S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s clear that Civil War is going to have major MCU ramifications, possibly even setting the table for Thanos’ villainy in the next Avengers film, Infinity War, the sprawling two-part adventure that also will be directed by the Russos. As we all know, it’s all connected.