Film-maker set to helm Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War movies says studio may jettison key superhero characters from its ‘cinematic universe’

A bruised Iron Man prepares for battle in forthcoming superhero smackdown Captain America: Civil War.
Last stand … A bruised Iron Man prepares for battle in forthcoming superhero smackdown Captain America: Civil War. Photograph: YouTube

Russo told an audience at the Wizard World New Orleans convention that film-makers planned to deal with an increasing proliferation of costumed heroes in Marvel’s “cinematic universe” by removing some of its key players. The film-maker, who will oversee Captain America: Civil War, due to be released in the UK in April, and the two-part Avengers epic Infinity War alongside brother Anthony, also said lesser-known figures might move to the fore.

“I want to see some storytelling from some of the secondary characters,” Russo told fans at the Wizard World New Orleans convention. “We’re focusing on that right now with Infinity War while we’re breaking into those movies, [to see] which characters we can pull to the forefront who potentially haven’t had their own ‘A’ story arc to this point. I think you’ll see that the supporting Avengers are going to become primary Avengers.

“Everything is finite, right? Nothing can last for ever,’ he added. “It’s cyclical. Some new Avengers in [future movies] are going to become prominent and then maybe some Avengers might not be around any more.”

There have been rumblings of change for some time at Marvel, with Robert Downey Jr, who played Iron Man, now 50 and having failed to sign up for future solo outings as the power-suited hero. The looming debut of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, a key member of The Avengers in some of the original comic books, has also inspired speculation that the sorcerer supreme could eventually join the superhero team on the big screen.

There is also a precedent for the disappearance of Captain America, currently played by Chris Evans, from the Marvel universe. In a 2007 comic book chapter, the original patriotic hero, Steve Rogers, was revealed to have died after being shot at close range by sometime paramour Sharon Carter, who had been hypnotised into committing the murder. Rogers remained “dead” for two years before a 2009 series, Captain America: Reborn, revealed he had simply been phasing in and out of space and time.

Infinity War parts one and two will be released in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Doctor Strange, with Scott Derrickson directing, marks Cumberbatch’s debut lead role in a big-budget Hollywood production and will be released in November.

Marvel director Joe Russo hints at looming Avengers cull