It's official: Captain America is going to fight Batman and Superman.
In theaters, anyway. Marvel Studios have announced that Captain America 3 will open May 6, 2016, opposite Warner Bros.' Man of Steel sequel, commonly referred to as Batman vs. Superman. Marvel was first to claim the release date originally, but Warners moved the Man of Steel sequel to the same date, effectively initiating a cinematic stand off. In March, we reported that Captain America 3 was the likely adversary to Batman vs. Superman, but Marvel waited to make everything official until Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened this past weekend to a mammoth $96.2 million, setting a new, domestic box-office record.
Of course, having both comic book movies set to open the same weekend makes for fun speculation, particularly among comic book fans who are often split among their loyalties to DC or Marvel, but whether the two movies stay in those release dates could be a matter of economics. Forbes speculated last month that "with Warner Bros.’ future superhero adaptation plans all pretty much hinging on the success of Batman vs. Superman, a major underperformance or failure of that movie would be so significant that it could have a ripple effect" that falls on Marvel's shoulders. While it's fun to think of both companies strategizing ways to destroy the other, economically both studios will profit more if both studios are succeeding.
What is more likely is that Warners' is trying to stake out early May as their release date of choice. The Avengers opened on May 4, 2012, and Warners' certainly took notice of it. As evidenced by The Winter Soldier, Marvel also has success in April, but, with the sequel performing so well, they may not need to move off of May 6th. However, another determining factor is whether Captain America 3 will be ready in two years.
Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo will both be back for Cap 3, and recently admitted that they know where the third installment is going (hint: it's in keeping with the end of the movie), but whether screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have a completed script yet remains to be seen.
No matter when they open, there's no doubt both movies will be successful, but, as much fun as it is to think of both studios sharpening their knives for the other, the reality is that both studios are more concerned with box office than anything else and profitability will determine whether either movie is moved, not rivalry.