It’s hard to look at the comic book of Civil War and accurately compare it to the upcoming film since the comics are on a much larger scale. However, for what Marvel Studios has done, comparing it to the books will really bring us an in-depth look at both and allow us to see why the road to Civil War was inevitable.
“There is no right or wrong in this debate, it is simply a matter of perspective…” –Dr. Strange
The road to both Civil Wars’ is both different and similar. The triggering results are vastly different. In the comics, a young group of superpowered kids filming a reality show make a ratings-based decision to take down some super villains that were way out of their league. This results in massive casualties, especially at an elementary school. The social backlash was like no other with many calling for super hero reform while others calling for a ban on super heroes. The reality is that in the Marvel Comics, there are so many super heroes that many of the young people with powers are going out untrained. It was inevitable that something like this would happen and the results begins to draw a line between heroes; some take the actions of those heroes more personally while others feel the actions of those few shouldn’t force them to become government agents.
Obviously, as seen in the trailers, the comic books took a similar route where the leading voice for the pro-registration of super heroes is Iron Man while the face of the resistance is Captain America. But in the films, if we look through the history we can see that the road was also inevitable. As the trailer suggests, New York, Washington DC, and then Sokovia marked areas of massive destruction that involved the Avengers. Although each incident wasn’t started by the Avengers, the outcome brings about fear and uncertainty by governments and people. Similar to how Batman v Superman attempted to show a fear by governments in Superman, Civil War will show us that as well, however we have a history of events and also an invested connection with the characters that will hopefully make for a more compelling and true story. The conflict in this film has its seeds in Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
It is no surprise that Tony Stark would side with the idea of being regulated by the government. From the first Iron Man film to Age of Ultron, Tony Stark has seen his inventions and, at times, actions turn to something sinister. Although we are not sure if something in the film hits him as deep and personal as the comics, his ideology differs from that in Cap that he would view government oversight as a good thing. Meanwhile, Captain America: Winter Soldier showed us what Cap really thinks when governments try to stop wars before there even is one. With the seeds of Hydra still fresh, Cap knows that the best hands the Avengers can be in is their own, a neutral party that stops the villains that no government task force can actually stop.
The other issue is the matter of secret identities. In Age of Ultron, we were introduced to Clint Barton’s family. If Hawkeye is forced to register, he then has to give up his secret identity which can put his family in harm’s way. It is an issue that was brought up in the comics that ultimately resulted in one of the biggest reveals in comic book history. Can a hero revealing his secret identity to the public be a good thing, or is it the biggest mistake they can make? The mask of the hero isn’t the one they wear while fighting crime, but the one they put on in public. To take that away not only puts their life in danger, but everyone around them in danger. So naturally, we see that Hawkeye is on Team Cap for the film (and Ant-Man) as a secret identity is not just about him, but about protecting his family.
The question is, how far will Civil War go? Will Tony do the unethical to get to the future he feels is needed? Will Cap be able to sway any of Team Iron Man to fight his side? And, which side will we choose? The reality is, that both sides will be right and that is what will make the story compelling if done right. What are the moral obligations of these heroes and how should they be handled? When new heroes rise up as is the inevitable now, what is the protocol for younger ones who want to be like their favorite hero? As a citizen, you don’t want untrained heroes going around causing mayhem, no matter how much good they are doing. This is most likely the fear Iron Man has and why it makes him right.
“Don’t play politics with me, Hill. Superheroes need to stay above that stuff or Washington begins telling us who the Super Villains are” Captain America
At the same time, the corruption in politics will ultimately abuse their power by having a handful of weapons of mass destruction at their fingertips. And if the government ultimately starts using heroes, what will stop other governments from doing the same thing? And what if a super villain attacks another country not within their jurisdiction of the government, what is to stop the politicians from deeming it not worth the time? Cap’s moral center would never allow such a thing, and that’s why he is right as well.
Ultimately, whether we are looking at Team Cap or Team Iron Man, both sides have legitimate reasons to side with which one they so choose. They have always been on opposite sides of the spectrum when moral obligations are concerned, but that blend is what keeps both sides in check. But as we know in these films, Hydra and bad politicians is the main reason why they should govern themselves. Free of jurisdiction, but with a set of standards that the public is well aware of and a commitment to train new heroes as they rise up. I am not sure how Civil War on film will end, if it will stay true to the comic or will it change. One thing is for certain, in the end they have to remember one thing, why do they do what they do? Even the most noble of things can be wrong if the reason for them are for selfish reasons. But when we put others above ourselves, then our actions will have far greater reaching impact and rewards.