When Marvel revealed its slate of movie releases designed to keep you entertained until you suddenly wake up and wonder where your youth has gone, a lot of attention revolved around the title of the third Captain America film: Civil War. While details about casting and other tidbits of information have slowly been accruing, like, say, the tension between two of Marvel’s biggest superheroes, the news that the Civil War storyline from the comics would play a huge role in the next round of Marvel films meant that Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man would almost certainly feature prominently in Captain America: Civil War. Now, in an interview with Empire Online, Downey confirms that, despite his status as Marvel MVP and one of the biggest movie stars in the world, this whole Civil War thing is really “Steve’s story; it doesn’t say Iron Man 4: Civil War.”

Those familiar with the Civil War storyline from the comics (mild warning if you want to stay unsullied by details of a comic plot that may be adapted for the films) know that change is coming. In the wake of certain tragic events—events almost certain to unfold in Avengers: Age Of Ultron for the MCU version—Tony Stark and Steve Rogers end up on opposing sides of a bitter conflict over whether superheroes need to register with the government. The “twist,” such as it is, is that Tony Stark is on the side of the government, and Steve Rogers is the leader of the resistance. And while Iron Man’s role in the conflict might surprise people who only know him from the films, Downey explains where Tony’s path may lead him:

“ The clues are in Ultron about where we might find him next, but what would it take for Tony to completely turn around everything he’s stood for, quote-unquote, because he was the right-wing guy who could still do his own thing. The idea of Tony being able to march into Washington and say, ‘I’ll sign up’, wouldn’t have made sense if the political climate in the real world hadn’t shifted the way it has. It’s a little bit of things following a real world continuum in, ‘What would you do?’ You have to figure, ‘Were you to ask the question, what would the American government do if this were real?’ Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Tony doing something you wouldn’t imagine?”

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After this quote, in which Downey says with a straight face that his superhero who wears a metal suit and flies around is doing something different because the political climate in the real world has changed, he goes on to stress that it’s not just his character who’ll be changing his mindset. He also suggests that Evans’ stars-and-stripes golden boy will be facing some darker times:

“ I think Chris [Evans] has been hungry to bring even more of an underside and some shadow to that. I remember the comics—on the surface you got the sense that Cap was baseball and apple pie, but underneath there was all this churning stuff of being a man out of time. Now we know he’s made his peace with that. What’s the bigger issue? It can have a little something to do with the past, but it can be about someone becoming more modernised in their own conflict.”

Of course, all the speculation about just how Marvel intended to adapt the storyline got shaken up like a corporate synergy snow globe last week, with the news that Spider-Man would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given that Peter Parker played a pivotal role in the original Civil War story, it seems likely that he’ll be there to crack wise while Stark and Rogers glower at each other. Unless they choose to reset Spider-Man in the guise of current comic-book Spidey Miles Morales, a totally safe and uncontroversial move that would for sure lead to a polite Internet debate full of well-reasoned suggestions.

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