2016 has started with a massive cinematic bang, but the year will probably go down in history as the year of the superhero blockbuster. Whether it's Deadpool raking in $758.6 million at the box-office to become the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time or a suited and booted Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent duking it out in the name of all things Martha in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the year is certainly ticking boxes for comic book fans in a big way. It's only just getting started as well, with X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, and Doctor Strange all earmarked for releases later in the year.
One film that is making waves is Captain America: Civil War. Early reviews are in, and according to critics, it's a near-perfect superhero movie. Much like Batman v Superman, the film features a heavy ensemble cast, with a majority of the Avengers returning to the forefront of the story, as well as a few Marvel characters picked up on the way. Two characters who will be introduced for the first time in Marvel's Cinematic Universe via Civil War are Black Panther and Spider-Man, both of whom will be deep into their superhero journey. So far, so typical Marvel, but Spider-Man's appearance actually completely changed Black Panther's role in the blockbuster, and here's how.
With Black Panther and Spider-Man -- played by Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland, respectively -- due to feature in their own Marvel installments, it may be the obvious ploy to adopt their origin stories in those movies. Where this may be the case for Spider-Man -- although it might be handled differently to previous incarnations, according to Movie News Guide -- Black Panther's original role in Civil War featured a slice of his origin story, a plan eventually scrapped by Spider-Man's important appearance.
Cinema Blend recently interviewed screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely during the Captain America: Civil War press day in Los Angeles. During this interview, they explained how the characterization of Black Panther was modified by Spider-Man's arrival to the MCU. As fate would have it, the writers were toying with the idea of having Spidey appear in the film long before Marvel finalized and confirmed their deal with Sony Pictures, and the backup plan should this fall through was showing how Prince T'Challa wound up wearing his special Vibranium costume.
"Originally, T'Challa and T'Chaka were just the representatives of Wakanda, sort of the voice of other countries in the world going, 'You people are out of control,' and then to be aggrieved by possible Bucky actions. Frankly, just not have him be Black Panther yet. He's getting his own movie, you know. He's the prince of a country! That's pretty good for a movie. Maybe we get to play with Spider-Man and all that. When things maybe looked like we weren't going to get Spider-Man, it was like, 'Let's put the costume on that guy!' And then he became so integral to the story as it evolved that once Spider-Man came back, we didn't take him out. So, it was a problem that created a really nice situation."
Joe and Anthony Russo's Captain America: Civil War is not short of a superhero or two, so it's no wonder the writers made the sensible decision to cut some potentially time-consuming origin to simply have Black Panther exist in the MCU. Origins are important in a superhero movie -- for fans who relish seeing it ripped from page to screen, and first-time viewers who don't follow the comics -- but it's getting to the stage now where many of the superheroes in cinema are actually free of this restriction, with sequels becoming bigger and better as they flow out of the studios.
As mentioned above, Doctor Strange will introduce us to a new Marvel character in 2016, and both Black Panther and Captain Marvel are on the horizon for 2018, so Marvel aren't quite finished with origin stories yet. However, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the two-part Infinity War all firmly in the future, these stories will have a fresh, experienced slate on which to cast their heroes. At this point, the fans and viewers seem to have a grasp on their favorite heroes, so it means the movies can simply roll on without any essential exposition staggering the pace.
With Civil War due for imminent release, it marks an important chapter in the superhero genre, one that opens up the Marvel Cinematic Universe for new, exciting heroes. The origin story is anything but dead, but the genre is still as exciting as ever. With films mapped out into 2020 and beyond, this doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.
Captain America: Civil War will arrive in theaters on May 6.
[Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures]