Updated June 20, 2015: Over the weekend, Martin Freeman pulled back the curtain a little bit on the mystery character he'll be playing in 2016's Captain America: Civil War. Although the identity of the character remains unknown, from The Hobbit actor's description it sounds more and more like the comic book character Newsarama speculated about (below) back in May.
"He works for the American government. He works in conjunction with the superheroes, and certain agencies that help to tame the superheroes' power, I suppose," Freeman told BadTaste.it. "So you’re not quite sure which side he’s on. It looks a little bit like he’s playing one game when actually he’s playing another. It’s the kind of character I like because it’s ambiguous and because you don’t know whether he’s good or bad. I like that area that isn’t black or white, I like the grays, because I think there’s just more fun to be had in not playing one obvious line."
It sounds as if Freeman's unnamed government liason with superheroes could be a part of 'the Accords' which were first mentioned in the post-credits scene to Ant-Man which Kevin Feige has since confirmed was a scene from Captain America: Civil War. But as for who Freeman's character could be, read on for our speculation back in May.
Original Story published May 8 2016: This week’s official ‘Captain America: Civil War began production’ press release was almost as interesting for what it didn’t reveal as for what it did.
What it did reveal was a huge cast, including new official additions Paul Rudd as Ant-Man and William Hurt as “Thunderbolt” Ross (Red Hulk..? No, right?). The cast is so large, in fact, officially designating it a “Captain America” sequel seems like a needless marketing limitation. But that’s Marvel Studios’ issue to concern themselves with and a topic for another day.
What it didn’t reveal were the characters new cast addition Martin Freeman and previously announced cast member Daniel Brühl will play – the only characters not identified.
The latter was a curious omission because Brühl himself seemed to reveal he’d be playing Baron Zemo in and interview shortly after he was officially announced. Now, why Marvel would withhold his character’s name if he already revealed it is curious, and we’ve been banging our skull against a wall until it turned red trying to figure it out … ahem … but that too is a topic for another day.
Right now we’re going to be focusing on Freeman, and we’ve got a couple of thoughts to throw out there as to possible characters he could be playing – one inspired by the new official description of the film and Marvel comic book history, and another based on the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Let’s start with the former, and that official new log line (italics ours):
“Captain America: Civil War picks up where Avengers: Age of Ultron left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.”
Now the movie Civil War seems pretty well removed from the comic book Civil War, but those plot points don’t sound entirely unfamiliar. It sounds like some governing security body (the World Council?) is going to want to oversee the activities of the team.
And if you do, you usually need a human liaison between the team and the overseeing governing body. Does that description remind anyone of this guy???
For you non-Avengers long-timers, that’s Henry Peter Gyrich, a character created by Jim Shooter and George Pérez in 1977’s Avengers Vol. 1 #165, who was appointed as you guessed it – the official U.S. government liaison to the Avengers by the National Security Agency and later the United Nations.
Curiously, Gyrich also later served as head the Commission on Superhuman Activities as well as the Secretary of the Superhuman Armed Forces, the latter of which that was put into place after the events of … you guessed it again … Civil War.
Gyrich has been portrayed mostly as a straight-laced hard-ass during his history, and while eventually gaining the trust of the team in later years, early on his relationship with the them was mostly adversarial. At various times he imposed restrictions on their membership (creating the 7-member limit rule that stood for many years) because the government saw the team’s one-time huge roster as a national security threat (sound familiar?) Gyrich even dictated their membership at times and once installed the Falcon in their line-up as a form of affirmative action (see below left).
The character has, in his history, served as the epitome of unwelcome government interference and oversight in the Marvel superhero universe and if Civil War includes a human face to what Marvel Studios describes as “a system of accountability” that ultimately fractures the team, Gyrich would be the most logical character from Marvel comic books to fill that role.
While he might not be the first actor you'd think of for the no-nonsense, crew-cutted, tie-and-sweater-wearing Gyrich, the British Freeman could certainly fit bill as a liaison to an international governing agency in a looser interpretation of the character.
But if that theory doesn’t float your boat, we’ll briefly offer a second:
Now that J.A.R.V.I.S. has graduated from Tony Stark’s artificially intelligent personal assistant to part of what makes up The Vision, Iron Man is going to need a new right-no-hand man. J.A.R.V.I.S. was replaced in Age of Ultron by F.R.I.D.A.Y., a new ‘female’ A.I. voiced by British actress Kerry Condon, but director Joss Whedon held back on giving her a more prominent personality.
That might have been simply been a function of the sheer amount of stuff going on in Age of Ultron, and maybe Whedon didn’t feel like he had the bandwidth to install another new “character” in earnest to replace Paul Bettany.
And while the idea of a ‘female’ A.I. sparring partner for Tony could be intriguing if Condon is allowed to introduce a more ‘human’ personality in Civil War, if the Russo Brothers go in another direction, perhaps Freeman could be brought on to voice the new A.I.?
Which (if either) would you prefer?