Civil War by Mark Millar was a turning point in the Marvel Universe when it first came out in 2006. The story was mainly carried in The Ultimates but bled throughout virtually every title. But like most of what Marvel does nowadays, it will be washed away as they try to reboot their mythos once again. What makes Civil War relevant today is that it is the premise for the upcoming Captain America and Avengers movies. But much like what was done in X-Men: Days of Future Past, I believe that little of the real story of Marvel’s Civil War series will make it honestly to the screen. Which is fine with me, because if we have learned anything from comic book movies, it’s that the books are always so much better.
B level, if even that, superhero Speedball and his band of New Warriors have their own reality show. Sort of a super-powered Cops. Hey don’t laugh, if it was on MTV you know you would be watching. They happen upon a hangout of super powered villains who are out of their league, but its a ratings boom so they attack. In the ensuing battle, the villain known as Nitro blows up a good portion of the city to escape.
Iron Man: I’m told they got a lead on Nitro, word is he sneaked out of town in the back of a pick-up truck.
Captain America: Does it matter? All these children, Tony. The F.E.M.A. chief said there could be eight or nine hundred casualties. All dead for a stupid reality TV show.
Iron Man: They should have called us Cap, Speedball knew the New Warriors were out of their league. The whole country saw the tape where they said they were only chasing ratings.
So it begins, the government and SHIELD, seize the moment and the public’s anger to enact the Super Hero Registration Act. Forcing all super heroes to unmask themselves before the government, undergo training and become federal employees. Tony Stark heads the government round up and seeing this for the freedom robbing move that it is, Captain America rebels against this act of tyranny and injustice.
This is Marvel’s Civil War. Hero against Hero. Friend against friend. Family against family.
What will make this hard to take to the screen, told as the story is originally told, is that Tony Stark is an asshole. A kiss ass want to be Shield Director. A hero, something without his suit he could never be. America’s most beloved hero and with Captain America on the side of the rebels, he has his chance. In cinema, Robert Downey Jr has done a wonderful job of making Stark likable, something his comic book persona really is not.
In Civil War, Stark clones a God, creates an inter-dimensional prison to hide away any super hero that does not bend a knee to his ego and wages war behind the cloak of acting for the Government. He empowers super villains to do the super hero hunting for him. Allowing them attack and beat anyone who gets in their way. Just following orders. When hasn’t history shown that anyone hiding behind that axiom isn’t the worst kind of coward. Murder is committed under his watch and he is okay with it, as long as the public loves him. This eventually will lead to the assassination of Captain America. A final act that shows Stark to be who he really is. A narcissist, with huge super hero penis envy.
But Civil War, issues 1-7 gathered here, is well worth the reading. Millar does a terrific job in this undertaking and stays incredibly true to the characters and their histories. Flaws and all. He does it honestly.
Because, really, Tony Stark is a dick.