Marvel's Civil War on the big screen *and* the comics ?

It looks like Marvel is going to revisit Civil War on two fronts. The mega selling 2006 limited series by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven saw the heroes of the Marvel Universe fighting over philosophical differences in how superheroes should be policed.  As a result of a battle between the New Warriors and Nitro, 600 civilians (among them 60 school children) were killed.  This led to the US government passing the Superhuman Registration Act, which required all superhumans to register with the government. Captain America opposed the SRA, as he felt it would lead to the government controlling superheroes and dictating what they could or could not do.  Cap felt that the heroes were capable of policing themselves. Iron Man supported the SRA, feeling that superheroes needed proper training and accountability.  Across the Marvel Universe-with the exception of the X-Men-heroes chose sides. Multiple battles were fought with friendships and relationships strained to the breaking point. In the end, Captain America surrendered, realizing that the continued fighting was causing too much strife and destruction.

I read Civil War when it came out.  I thought it was an interesting idea. Philosophical differences between superheroes with a real world resonance?  Neat idea. The execution, however, was not to my liking. I didn’t like the fact that Millar treated the New Warriors as neophytes, launching into battle without any concern for civilians.  These were heroes who had a great deal of experience and they were being written as newbies. It felt contrived. I didn’t like the fact that Cap and Iron Man, previously close friends, couldn’t sit down and resolve their difference without fighting it out. That also felt contrived.

I also don’t care for the glossing over of Civil War.  Cap and Tony have never really addressed the fact that they were bitterly opposed to each other and literally duking it out.  Reed Richards and his wife, the Invisible Woman, were on opposite sides of the Civil War, and Reed was involved in the creation of a clone of Thor who later killed the second Goliath. This put a serious strain on Reed and Sue’s marriage, but there was precious little follow-up and the reconciliation was incredibly forced.

While I’m thinking about it, given the dearth of African-American superheroes in comics, killing Goliath was not a good move.  Another strike against Civil War.

I also don’t like the fact that Civil War led to years of tension between the Marvel heroes. Yes, I know Marvel history is littered with heroes battling one another over a misunderstanding and later teaming up. That’s practically a staple of Marvel Comics. But this took things to the next level and the ripple effect was a Marvel Universe that wasn’t a pleasant place to read, where some heroes weren’t trusted, while others were exalted.  This is just a personal taste obviously, but aside from misunderstandings, I like my heroes to be more heroic. Tension between characters is fine-welcome indeed, but the distrust between characters went too far, IMO. To add to that, Civil War failed IMO, to make a strong case for the distrust between Cap and Iron Man. I might have liked it better had there been more development on this front.

One of the few things I did like about Civil War was watching Spider-Man reveal his secret identity to the world. Initially, Spidey sided with Iron Man, but after revealing his secret to the world, and seeing the continued violation of civil liberties by the pro-registration side, he changed sides to join with Cap. The fallout of revealing his identity to the world led to many interesting Spider-Man stories; stories that couldn’t have been done without him revealing his secret id.

Given my dislike for Civil War, when I clicked on this CBR story, my heart kinda sunk.

Recently teasing his desire to work out a deal with Marvel Studios for a fourth “Iron Man” film, Robert Downey, Jr. has now reportedly reached a deal with the studio to appear in “Captain America 3.” According to Variety, the movie will kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of “Civil War,” the popular comic book storyline by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven that led to the death of Captain America.

The trade’s report is chock full of unofficial behind the scenes details that will surely pique the interest of industry watchers and Marvel movie fans alike. Apparently, the studio had originally pitched Downey on a smaller cameo role in the picture only to see him push for a more sizable role close to his comic counterpart’s status as leader of the Pro-Registration heroes in the “Security Vs. Civil Liberties” plot of the comic. Such a part would expand the actor’s payday — something that Marvel’s notoriously budget-conscious chief executive Ike Perlmutter reportedly balked at.

If Variety is to be believed, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has brokered a deal that keeps both parties happy while also bringing back “Captain America: The Winter Solider” star Chris Evans and directing team of Joe and Anthony Russo. If the “Civil War” story does kick off in “Cap 3,” it will also initiate the next major phase of Marvel movies, tying in newer characters like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange while also extending the universe into “Avengers 4” and beyond.

For all that I’ve liked the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I just don’t want to see Iron Man and Captain America at each others’ throats…for the third time.

Civil War was the first time.

The second is far more recently.  In the pages of New Avengers, writer Jonathan Hickman has had the Illuminati (Iron Man, Black Bolt, Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Black Panther, Captain America, and the Beast) facing the threat of Incursion events. An Incursion event that could have destroyed the mainstream Marvel Universe was delayed due to Cap’s use of the Infinity Gauntlet, but the Illuminati decided they needed to do everything in their power to prevent the destruction of their planet, which began leading them down a dark path that Captain America steadfastly opposed.  As a result, Dr. Strange, at the behest of Iron Man, wiped Cap’s memories of the Illuminati.  Unfortunately, recent events restored Cap’s memories and he’s ordered the Avengers to take down Iron Man and the Illuminati (who have built world destroying weapons and even gone so far as to destroy an alternate Earth, albeit an uninhabited one).  Once again, Captain America and Iron Man are at each others’ throats.

I didn’t like it the first time, and I like it just as much (read: not at all) this time around.  I will grant that the distrust between them…the fracturing of their friendship feels earned this time, bc Hickman has allowed the story to develop far more than Mark Millar did in Civil War.  I might wind up liking where Hickman is going with this.

Then I read this update from CBR:

New York Comic Con is over, but Marvel Comics keeps the announcements coming in the form of a new teaser featuring Iron Man and Captain America playing a game of superhero tug-o-war with Iron Spider standing in for the rope.

Illustrated by Adi Granov, the image is presented with the cover treatment Marvel used for its “Civil War” event, and all three heroes are from that era as well. Aside from the “Civil War” logo, the only other text in the e-mail accompanying the image is a vague date of SUMMER 2015.

My hope is that this is somehow connected to Hickman’s Secret Wars series set to debut next May. This mini series is the endgame for the long form story Hickman has been weaving in the pages of Avengers and New Avengers over the past 2 years.  It will involve Marvel superheroes from various alternate realities in combat, presumably with each other. Perhaps one of these alternate worlds will simply be one where Civil War ended differently.

But really, I tire of Iron Man and Captain America being at each others’ throats. It’s a plot point that’s just been used too much in the last 8 years. I don’t want to see a rehash of it on both the big screen and in comics. But it looks like that’s exactly what I’m getting.

Gee, thanks Marvel.  You really shouldn’t have.

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Marvel's Civil War on the big screen *and* the comics ?
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2 thoughts on “Marvel's Civil War on the big screen *and* the comics ?

  1. 1

    The Cap vs. Iron Man may have been done a lot in the comics, but not everyone (me!) reads them. Even when I was reading/collecting, I wasn’t reading Cap, Iron Man or Avengers, being more focused on Batman and the X-Men. And when I heard from friends who collect about Civil War initially, I just had a feeling of, “Could be good, but probably will not be handled well.” Which I had no real reason to believe, having been away from comics for years, it was just my gut reaction.

    That said, I can see where there should be tension, always, between Cap and Iron Man. Cap is the quintessential Knight — when I saw Winter Soldier, I immediately pegged it as the best way to include a Knight in an Intrigue story. He is a leader, he is a team guy. Stark is a narcissist. He is the smartest guy in the room, and unless Richards is there, he really is and he knows it. There has to be tension. And Tony being out as his superhero identity already probably has that, “Well, it hasn’t hurt me, so it shouldn’t hurt anyone else” massive privilege issue.

    But you’re right, they have been a team for years in the comics and should know each other well enough to come to some sort of accord. Tony as a narcissist should realize that registration is going to cramp his style at some point. It seems to be one of those points the author just decided had to happen rather than growing naturally from the character of the… well, character.

    Wow, this was longer than I expected, and I hope my ignorance of the comics didn’t have me screw up the conversation.

  2. 2

    No worries. You weren’t ignorant. I think my main issue with the rift between Stark and Cap is that (for me) it’s been seen too often in the recent past. Hell, we had shades of it in the Avengers movie-although there I could understand it, and found it enjoyable.
    As for your points, Civil War was a decent idea that just wasn’t executed correctly. They needed a good bit of lead up and character development so that the big event itself seemed like a natural progression of the characters’ stories.

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