In what can only be described as one of the most shocking announcements for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was revealed that Robert Downey Jr. is in final negotiations to play Tony Stark in Captain America 3, which will adapt the 2006 crossover event Civil War. The movie will see Captain America and Stark on opposing sides of the Superhuman Registration Act, a bill that forces superhumans to reveal their identity to the U.S. government and serve under their jurisdiction, with Stark pro-registration and Cap anti-registration. There has been speculation for weeks that Downey’s role in the MCU would be expanded in some capacity, but few saw something like this coming. This is intended to kick off years of new films and franchises given how heavily Civil War affects the status quo.

There are still way more questions than answers at this point, one of which is how they’ll adapt Civil War when there are significantly less superhumans in the MCU than in the comics. Regardless, in case you’re not familiar with the nearly decade old storyline that turned the Marvel universe askew, here’s a rundown of the main plot points, as well as what Downey’s inclusion in Captain America 3 means for the MCU.

The Superhero Registration Act
The Superhero Registration Act
The Civil War kicks off with the passing of the Superhuman Registration Act after multiple incidents of mass casualties between superpowered individuals plague the Marvel universe, including a Hulk rampage in Las Vegas and an attack on Manhattan to strike back against former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury. The final straw occurs was when a superhero group called the New Warriors tried to capture several supervillains for a reality TV show. It quickly turned into a fight, and antagonist Nitro uses his explosive powers to destroy several city blocks, killing hundreds of civilians. Nitro and the superhero Speedball were the only survivors.

Under the Act, any person in the United States with superpowers, whether it’s genetic, magical or even through use of unusual technology, is required to register with the government as "living weapons of mass destruction." It doesn’t matter if you help defend the law or work against it. If you have superhuman abilities of any kind, be they natural or artificial, you must register with the government or face imprisonment.

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