According to Variety, Robert Downey Jr. is nearing a deal that would see him reprise his role as Tony Stark / Iron Man in Captain America 3. The deal would kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s interpretation of the classic “Civil War” storyline that ran throughout Marvel Comics in 2006-2007.
“Civil War” pits hero against hero as the United States government passes the Superhero Registration Act, forcing masked crime-fighters to reveal their identities and work as registered agents of the state. Captain America (aka Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans in the MCU) is against the Act on civil liberty grounds, while Stark supports it, causing a major rift between the one-time Avengers and the superhero community at large. Stark brings Iron Man to work for the government, and Cap goes underground to form a resistance.
(Read: The 10 Best Robert Downey Jr. Performances)
The storyline would essentially turn Downey Jr.’s Stark into the villain of Captain America 3, which is set to hit theaters on May 6th, 2016. The timeline makes sense, as Ant-Man (starring Paul Rudd) is scheduled for a July 17th, 2015 release, and Doctor Strange is penned in for just a few weeks after Captain America 3. Both characters eventually join the Avengers in the comics, and the appearance of more superheroes could prompt the US government to enact the SRA.
The Variety report indicates that Marvel originally wanted Downey’s Captain America 3 role to be small, just three weeks of work. When Downey lobbied for more screen time and more money, he was almost written out entirely. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige stepped in and showed that Iron Man’s involvement would be crucial to the future of the MCU, as the fallout from the “Civil War” plot would have repercussions through Avengers 4 and beyond.
Just this Monday, Marvel announced plans to revisit “Civil War” next summer in a new comic series. Earlier this month, Downey played some mind games with fans regarding the future of his role as Iron Man, first appearing to confirm an Iron Man 4, and then backtracking, saying the folks at Marvel “do have a plan and I think they’re gonna announce it.”
Captain America 3 will be directed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier duo Anthony and Joe Russo.