E-mail Scott
Scott's Links
About the Author
Opinion Archives
Social Media:
Facebook
Twitter
Tumblr
Google Plus
YouTube
Flickr
PhotoBucket
Monthly Archives:

January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017

Powered by Blogger
Subscribe via RSS

Monday, May 2, 2016

Looking back on Marvel Comics' Civil War

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Marvel Studios' Captain America: Civil War opens on Friday, based on a Marvel Comics storyline of the same name a decade ago. In addition to addressing a major universe-wide plot hole, the series attempted to address the "if this were real" problem that is often poorly addressed in fiction. The series did (for a while) change the landscape of the Marvel Universe. With the movie opening today, I figured I would look back on the series.

A quick note and disclaimer: It has been years since I read the series and I do not have the comics any more. Please pardon me if my memory is not perfect.

The event that sets off the series is a group of glory-seeking young superheroes have located some supervillains that recently escaped from prison. Instead of calling in the Avengers or SHIELD, they attempt to apprehend the criminals as part of their reality TV show. (Today, it would be a YouTube channel.) Things go badly when villain Nitro lives up to his name and sets off a huge explosion, incinerating an entire neighborhood and an elementary school.

The nation is outraged and increasingly fearful of super-powered characters running rampant, and legislation is drafted to force super-heroes to register with the government. They will no longer be allowed to fight crime as vigilantes, but must operate under state sanction or they will be in violation of the law. Such begins a "civil war" between Marvel's heroes, with Captain America leading the anti-registration side and Iron Man as the pro-registration leader.

The Superhuman Registration Act is where the universe-wide plot hole comes in. It never made sense to me that citizens of the Marvel Universe hate and fear mutants, but not people who got their powers through other means. Even people who got their powers by stealing a rocket ship and going on an unauthorized space mission are adored, but people who were born with their powers are not. If the worry is these immensely powerful beings requires something like a Mutant Registration Act, why not register all superhumans? Civil War tries to fix this.

The Superhuman Registration Act also addresses the "if this were real" problem. In the real world, if I put on a mask and go beat up muggers, I am not a hero. I am a vigilante and I am breaking the law. I will be arrested, not publicly praised. (Of course, I would be dead within seconds of my first outing, but that is another story.) If this were real, someone who is bulletproof and can bench press 100 tons, or someone who can manipulate energy powerful enough to incinerate a city block would not be allowed to use his powers to fight crime without accountability and training.

Civil War did change the landscape of the Marvel Universe for a few years. There were super-vigilantes who operated without government sanction and were outlaws, and there were super-heroes that were working for the government. The unmasking of Spider-Man had consequences for and was an (unfortunately temporary) evolution of the character. Civil War led indirectly to the Green Goblin eventually being the United States' top law enforcement officer.

Yes, the U.S. government really is that stupid in the Marvel Universe.

One moment that stands out is when Captain America loses his temper and brutally beats the Punisher after Frank Castle ruthlessly executes some super-villains. Punisher takes the beating without resisting, prompting Captain America to demand he fight back. The Punisher's response? "Not against you." This did a great job putting over how much the rest of the Marvel Universe looks up to and respects Captain America and sets up the final surrender of the anti-registration side when he orders them to stand down.

The series was heavy on action and was generally good, but did become aimless at the end. The biggest problem was the anti-registration side's final battle with the government. What exactly did Captain America hope to accomplish if his team won the battle? Was his plan to force Congress to repeal the Superhuman Registration Act under threat of violence? Was his plan to overthrow the government completely? Is having Atlantis join the anti-registration side maybe just a little bit too far, since Cap was calling in an invasion by a foreign power?

The final battle between the anti-registration and pro-registration side would have been better with a clear endgame by Captain America's rebel forces. An action scene like that needs a storyline justification for it.

Before you go see Captain America: Civil War, you should go get the trade paperback that collects the Civil War series as a reference point. While you're at it, go read Kingdom Come, a DC Comics series with a very similar premise: In an alternate future where super-vigilantes are running amok and causing massive collateral damage, Superman comes out of retirement to force the irresponsible new generation to work for the Justice League or be put in prison. In my humble opinion, DC did it better, though as an "Elseworlds" story it did not change the main DC Universe.


Below are the rules for commenting on ConservaTibbs.com.

  1. A reasonable level of civility is expected. While it is expected that controversial political and social issues may generate heated debate, there are common-sense limits of civility that will be enforced.

  2. This blog is a family-friendly site. Therefore no cursing, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, etc. will be allowed. This is a zero-tolerance rule and will result in automatic deletion of the offending post.

  3. Anonymity has greatly coarsened discourse on the Internet, so pseudonyms are discouraged but not forbidden. That said, any direct criticism of a person by name may not be done anonymously. If you criticize someone, you must subject yourself to the same level of scrutiny or the comment will be deleted.

  4. You must put a name or pseudonym on your comments. All comments by "Anonymous" will be deleted.

  5. Please keep your comments relevant to the topic of the post.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Comments: