By: Casey Johnston (@TheNerdplosion)
Marvel Studios made big waves this week when it was reported that Robert Downey, Jr. would be appearing in the yet-to-be-titled Captain America 3 film. If you’ve been following Marvel for the last month, you probably know that there have been heavy rumors that the Avengers movies will be shifting towards the Civil War storyline while the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise will focus on the Infinity Stones and Thanos story. If true, and the addition of RDJ to the next Captain America film all but confirms that it is, then things are about to get dicey for our favorite Avengers.
If you’re unfamiliar with Marvel’s seven-issue “Civil War” storyline, it centers around the Superhuman Registration Act. To give a very quick summation, the government begins to grow weary of the damage, both physical and financial, brought upon the country from fights between superheroes and villains. The Superhuman Registration Act is the reaction to the toll taken. In the story, Tony Stark leads the pro-registration group while Steve Rogers leads the anti-registration faction. Other superheros choose sides as Iron Man and Captain America square off against each other.
If this feels like an abrupt about-face for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, consider that the Battle of Manhattan in Avengers, Tony Stark’s PTSD from that battle in Iron Man 3, and Steve Roger’s distrust of the government in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has already laid the groundwork for this story. If this still feels rushed to you, remember that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is there to fill in the gaps left from the films.
If you’re not watching AoS, you’re missing out on a big part of the MCU. While the show struggled to find its own footing in the early part of season one it rebounded in a big way as the episodes “End of the Beginning” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” served as bookends for The Winter Soldier. The remaining five episodes dealt with the Hydra aftermath in a way that we otherwise would have probably never seen in the films. With those episodes, Marvel transformed the show into an entity that doesn’t simply exist in the MCU; it serves as a potential catalyst for events in the films.
With season two underway, the main storyline is still S.H.I.E.L.D. versus Hydra, but there is a secondary plot that could slowly grow into the main Captain America 3 story: S.H.I.E.L.D. versus the U.S. Government. Following the collapse of the agency in the aftermath of the events in The Winter Soldier, Phil Coulson and his team are battling Hydra from the periphery while being pursued by the government and Brigadier General Glenn Talbot.
A common criticism of the show is that it lacks the superheroes of the MCU. This is true, but what the show lacks in superheroes it makes up for in villains. Over the course of the show the team has come across Deathlok (not a real villain but a good guy being manipulated by Hydra), Blackout, Graviton, Blizzard, Lorelai, and The Absorbing Man. More will certainly follow as Coulson and Daniel Whitehall rush to gather as many humans with extraordinary abilities as possible?
What does this mean for the show and the MCU? The battle between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra is starting to bring unwanted attention to formerly-super secret spy agency. They have been outed to the public and branded a terrorist organization by Talbot and his superiors. To Talbot, Hydra is defeated and S.H.I.E.L.D. is the real enemy. Talbot is not a bad guy (yet), he just thinks that he is right and he is willing to pursue Coulson with the same obsession that he had against the Hulk in the comics. This would be a long development, but you can be certain that season two will lead directly into Avengers: Age of Ultron. The events of that film, battling Ultron, the Avengers dissembling, Steve Rogers forming his own team, should influence season three of the show. Captain America 3 hits theaters one year later, which allows Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. one more season to act as a catalyst for the Superhuman Registration Act. If you have not been watching then it is time to catch up.