In Captain America: Civil War, there’s a government push to ID all super-powered beings on Earth, whether they like it or not.
Now that the movie has started shooting, we have a little bit of that data ourselves. Ant-Man is in, but no word on Spider-Man. The big surprise is a return appearance by a notorious Hulk-hater.
Here’s Marvel’s full cast list and a little about which character they’ll be bringing to the party.
Obviously, Chris Evans is returning to the red, white, and blue hero, and Robert Downey Jr. is joining him—or, technically, not—as Iron Man. Friction between the two heroes has long been part of Avengers lore, and this time they won’t be on the same side.
In the 2006-07 hero-against-hero comic-book series, Iron Man supported the government regulation of superbeings, while Cap felt it was a violation of the freedom and safety they fought to protect. Let’s just say this political argument wasn’t fought with fiery Facebook posts and subtweeting.
Here’s Marvel’s new, official synopsis for the film:
“Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.”
Caught in the middle is Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and introduced last Fall when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige outlined their slate of movies through the end of the decade.
What side will the fearsome leader of Wakanda take? That’s a question every character will have to answer, including Spider-Man—whose allegiance in the Mark Millar-penned comics was a major turning point (and one of the main reasons Marvel fought so hard to reclaim usage rights from Sony Pictures.)
No webslinger (that announcement will probably come later), but we do have another creepy-crawly-related good-guy in the crew: Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, who will get his own movie this July.
Another newcomer, sort of: William Hurt as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, father of Hulk love-interest Betty Ross, who is reprising his role from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, a rare connection to the movie that has become the ill-fitting puzzle piece amid the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mostly due to Mark Ruffalo replacing Edward Norton in the lead role of Bruce Banner.
With the government trying to identify and control superheroes, it’s easy to see this guy leading that charge.
[SPOILER ALERT] Fans also could count on seeing Cap, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow leading the new Avengers team, revealed at the end of Age of Ultron: Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, Paul Bettany’s Vision, Don Cheadle’s War Machine, and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch (which she already confirmed in the press tour for the current film.)
Daniel Bruhl similarly risked “Marvel prison” to inform the world he would be turning up as the villainous HYDRA scion Baron Zemo, a longtime opponent of Cap’s and founder of the Masters of Evil (sort of a bad-guy version of the Avengers.) With so many good guys on the call sheet, Bruhl won’t be the only antagonist. Frank Grillo will be reprising his role as corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Brock Rumlow, a.k.a. Crossbones, badly wounded at the end of The Winter Soldier but more determined than ever to spill some of Captain America’s super-soldier blood.
The two actors have already started mixing it up in a sassy Twitter feud that involved Grillo promising an “ass whoopin,” and Evans questioning his ability to read.
At this point, Civil War is already getting crowded, but like a late-night infomercial: WAIT … there’s more!
The Hobbit actor Martin Freeman is also on the roster, although his character hasn’t been specified. Also in the cast is Revenge star Emily VanCamp, reprising her brief appearance in The Winter Soldier as Agent 13, who has ties to Cap’s (long) past that have only been teased so far.
And what of the Winter Soldier himself? Apart from Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter (who was not part of the cast list), the old friend once known as Bucky Barnes is the oldest and most important connection Steve Rogers has to his old self. Of course, Sebastian Stan is coming back.
Civil War, which will be released almost exactly one year from now, May 6, 2016, began shooting in Atlanta, and will move to locations in Germany, Puerto Rico, and Iceland.
Back at the helm are filmmaking brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, who made The Winter Soldier and are best known for their innovative work on TV shows such as Community and Arrested Development. They will also oversee Marvel’s 2018 and 2019 two-part Infinity War film (which is essentially Avengers 3). Also returning to the Captain America universe are screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who worked on the previous two installments.
UPDATE: Markus and McFeely are also now officially signed on to write Infinity Wars, so fans referring to Civil War as Avengers: 2.5 are on to something, at least as far as the behind-the-scenes crew goes.
So who else isn’t in today’s start of production announcement? Apart from Spidey and Agent Carter, we also have no word on Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, or any indication that Ruffalo will appear as Bruce Banner—although the presence of Gen. Ross suggests he’ll at least come up.
Most tantalizing: in the recent comics, Ross underwent a procedure to become the Red Hulk, a crimson-colored version of the monster that he hopes will help him destroy his verdant old foe. (The plan, of course, goes horribly awry.) It could be a lot of fun seeing Hurt live up to his last name, though, and distribute some of that in this story.
But that’s probably unlikely. This is a Captain America story, after all. As much as Avengers: Age of Ultron was bursting at the superhero-spandex seams with characters, Civil War seems to have it beat in terms of sheer volume. The trick will be keeping focus.
It’s a gargantuan juggling act, to say the least.