Tony Stark and Steve Rogers have never really gotten along. They may not be enemies, but if not for The Avengers they probably wouldn’t be friends, and the abrasive relationship between Iron Man and Captain America has fueled one of the greatest storylines in the modern Marvel Comics universe: Civil War, the epic 2006-07 crossover series that pitted hero against hero.
Now comes word that Robert Downey Jr. is in talks to join Chris Evans in Captain America 3 in a story that would bring this clash to the big screen, two sources confirm to EW.
But it is “far from a done deal,” one source says, noting that similar efforts to bring Joaquin Phoenix to the role of Doctor Strange fell apart after reaching a similar stage of negotiations.
In fact, the friction between Cap and Iron Man may be rivaled only by the hard-nosed dealmaking between Downey’s agents at CAA and notoriously cost-conscious Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter, according to a report in Variety by Marc Graser, who broke news of the talks and said Perlmutter had ordered Iron Man written out of the script. Reps at both CAA and Marvel declined to comment for this story.
For now, that impasse seems to have been settled, and talks are continuing, sources say. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, whose pioneering interlocked franchises reshaped the way Hollywood studios manage their tentpole pictures, has managed to bridge the divide between the two sides, determined to keep Marvel and Downey’s massively profitable partnership intact. Counting just The Avengers and the three Iron Man movies, Downey and the studio have earned nearly $4 billion at the global box office.
Brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, who directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, are already on board to direct Cap 3, which is set for May 6, 2016.
Not coincidentally, today Marvel Comics teased a relaunch of the Civil War series for next summer, tweeting out a new cover emblazoned with Summer 2015.
The original storyline, written by Mark Millar (known for creating the graphic novels Wanted and Kick-Ass) placed the heroes in a thinly veiled post-9/11 metaphor as the U.S. government tries to eradicate secret identities and force those with superhuman abilities to register and be monitored. Tony Stark is on board with the plan, while Captain America sees it as encroaching fascism, and a violation of everything they fight for.
The battles were as much philosophical as physical as fellow heroes, including Spider-Man (who makes a critical and influential decision) determine where they stand on the issue. This would explain the recent overtures made by Marvel Studios to partner with Sony Pictures, which owns the license on the web-slinger, to potentially share the character — something sources tell EW that Sony isn’t keen to do right now.
Downey has repeatedly stated he is happy to continue playing Iron Man as long as Marvel — which launched its enormous cinematic franchise off his charismatic hero’s metallic back — continues to share the wealth. The actor was listed by Forbes as the highest-paid actor in the world, having earned $75 million from his backend deal for Iron Man 3, the highest-grossing live-action movie of last year at $1.21 billion.
That kind of money buys a lot of shawarma.