Captain America: Civil War May Kill The Franchise

Captain America: Civil War, the third installment of the franchise, hits theaters in April 2016. The film's story involves a schism that opens up between the Avengers, with Captain America (Chris Evans), on one side and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) on the other. It definitely sounds exciting, but we're nevertheless worried about some of the film's elements that may just end up doing more harm than good to what's been a pretty awesome series up to this point.

No stakes

It'll be surprising if any of the myriad of Marvel superheroes die during Captain America: Civil War. Why? Because Marvel needs them to appear in the third Avengers film. Chris Evans, for example, is under contract with Marvel Studios for at least one more movie after Captain America: Civil War. For the informed audience member, knowing this going in seems to remove the stakes from Captain America: Civil War. If there's little to no chance of dire consequences for either side, then where's the tension? This can hurt the Captain America franchise, and other standalone films (Thor: Ragnarok, etc.), because it'll acclimatize fans to the notion that nothing truly consequential will occur in the solo movies.

Inconsistent characterization

Captain America and Iron Man are the respective leaders of the anti-government and pro-government forces in the comic book version of Marvel's Civil War storyline. The filmmakers have replicated this conflict in Captain America: Civil War. Yet it seems incongruous that the Captain America and Iron Man characters from the films would align themselves in this way. Tony Stark, especially, is the last person to submit to authority. Remember at the end of the first Iron Man movie when Tony Stark decided to reveal his secret identity, despite urgings to the contrary from Lt. Colonel Rhodes? Sure, characters can change, but radical alterations may serve to alienate the audience and set a bad precedent for future Captain America movies.

Too much Iron Man

It's been reported that Iron Man/Tony Stark's role in Captain America: Civil War was originally much smaller. Robert Downey Jr., however, wanted to be a larger part of the film and Marvel agreed. Downey Jr. is certainly great as Iron Man, but we must remember that this is a Captain America movie. Won't Iron Man's presence, combined with Downey Jr.'s charismatic acting style, take away from Captain America's character arc?

Iron Man as the villain?

On a similar note, given the iconic nature of the Iron Man movies, it's hard to determine if audiences will accept Iron Man as the movie's antagonist. Theoretically the filmmakers want to divide the audience's loyalties. But will anyone really take Captain America's side in this conflict? Chris Evans is a good actor, but he hasn't yet earned the fan loyalty of Robert Downey Jr.

Too many characters

The title indicates that this is supposed to be a Captain America movie, right? Yet the new movie features almost the entire cast of Avengers: Age of Ultron and new characters like the Black Panther and yet another incarnation of Spider-Man (now played by Tom Holland). Presumably these actors would not have agreed if they didn't get some screen time. All in all, this strongly hints that Captain America may be overshadowed in his own film.

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier

The trailer for Captain America: Civil War indicates that Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) will again be prominently featured. Unlike in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it appears that Barnes is a hero in this second sequel. Doesn't this make Captain America himself somewhat redundant? Besides, it seems unlikely the audiences are clamoring for the next installment of Bucky's character arc, since we hardly knew him in the first two movies.

Future expectations

The trailer shows that Captain America: Civil War will be an epic film that pits superhero against superhero. The problem with this concept is that subsequent sequels will have difficulty living up to this conflict. Audiences will expect a similar level of grandiose fights in future films combined with superhero cameos. In essence, each Captain America movie—ostensibly about a man out of his time—will become just another Avengers film. That leads us to the logical next question: why wasn't Captain America: Civil War just the next Avengers movie?