Before Marvel announced the line up for ‘Phase 3’ of their cinematic universe there was talk of a Civil War. Rumors had flooded the Internet that Robert Downey Jr. would not only star in Captain America 3 but the title of the film would ‘Civil War’. With this news confirmed everyone had expressed excitement as well as the surprising fan boy nitpicking: “It makes no sense; there aren’t enough costumed super heroes! There are no secret identities, THERE IS NO SPIDER-MAN!”
For some the equation is simple enough, Marvel minus Spider-Man does not equal Civil War.
Well my friends, I hate to break it to you, but you don’t need Spider-Man to have a Marvel Civil War. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to Spider-Man in a Marvel Studios film. Seeing RDJ’s Stark mentoring then betraying Andrew Garfield’s Parker/Spider-Man would be amazing. Hell, seeing Spider-Man in a Marvel Studios film would be incredible! But people are missing the key and essential point to the Civil War and its underlying message. That story was not about unmasking. It was about accountability and the government’s role in all of our lives.
They actually hinted at this in Marvel’s The Avengers film. Remember when at the end of the movie they played that montage of grateful New Yorkers getting Tony Stark goatees and Captain America shield tattoos? There was also that new clip from a Senator that asks about who is accountable for the damages down to the city. “Who are they? Where are they now?” It’s actually a valid question and the first thing that popped into my head was CIVIL WAR.
Yet, how could there be a Civil War? Tony Stark announced that he was Iron Man. Captain America/Steve Rogers has an entire Smithsonian exhibit dedicated to him. Black Widow met before a highly published government tribunal. That really just leaves Thor, Hulk and Hawkeye, but given that Clint Barton is a SHIELD agent I don’t think they’ll bat much of an eye. Thor is Asgardian and Banner is on the run. Is it worth having a civil war over two characters’ identity? Maybe not. Yet whether are not we know their identity doesn’t change the fact that someone has to be accountable.
The Avengers ended with The Battle of New York with no one to clean it up and leaves Stark with PSD and a fear of wormholes. Winter Solider ends with the collapse of SHIELD with Hydra rotting from its core. Age of Ultron is about Stark creating a robotic police force to release the Avengers of that accountability. Of course we all know how that goes horribly wrong. And who was at responsible for all of that? STARK. With everything that he is responsible for and everything that he has endured it does make a lot of sense for Stark to go along with what government plan is creating to get the heroes in line. Stark must finally see that the road to hell is in fact paved with robotic gears and good intentions. All that he has ever wanted to do since the first Iron Man back in ’08 was “to help the people.” Perhaps now he sees that if you can’t beat em’ join em. Now with Rodgers being totally disillusioned from his arctic nap and the collapse of SHIELD, I can see why he would be against teaming up with the government and finding that whatever they are up to is in fact unconstitutional.
With no Spider-Man and no secret identities there is still room for this War. At press conference in Hollywood Kevin Feige a.k.a The Watcher explains their Civil War:
“… The generalities of the act are the same. Something happens, perhaps it’s cumulative for things that have happened though all of the movies leading up to this point. It has made the governments of the world say ‘we need to have some oversight of these guys. They need to report to somebody.’ So it becomes more… it falls under that umbrella, rather than ‘you have to take off your mask.’ It’s not about the secret identity thing, as much as it is about, overall, who reports to who, and who can agree to oversight committee. Because as of now, in Avengers 2, there is no more security council, there is no SHIELD, obviously. Stark is paying for it, Captain America is running it, and things occur that will make governments begin to question.”
If we examine the films and the characters that we have been introduced to, then we can see that this is natural progression in the MCU’s story telling. The characters that are forced to live in this world would, at this point, be fed up with heli-carriers falling out of the sky, aliens attacking New York and London, and a giant robot reciting Pinocchio. Of course they would want somebody to answer for this. However, it does beg the question how is the government going about asking for accountability that would make Cap run from the government? Side note, this would have been a great opportunity for Stark to become the Iron Patriot! Or what if Marvel is going to a pull twist where it’s Captain America supporting the registration act and Stark is on the run? Unlikely, but hey you never know!
I understand the love for Spidey; our little web head. He is the conscience of the story; its heart. We ultimately share his viewpoint. He is the one that is caught between the robotic demon and the patriotic angel (or vice versa depending on your perspective) and so are we. It’s easy to share in his confusion and it is something that I will miss in the film, that’s not up for debate. However, the idea is that the Marvel Civil War can endure in films so long as it stays true to its message, even if it is missing it’s red webbed heart.