With this week’s epochal news that the Marvel Cinematic UNiverse will be adapting the Civil War event storyline, many are wondering…why? Few of the superheroes introduced in the MCU even have secret identities—which were the crux of the kerfuffle between Iron Man and Captain America. Some just think it’s a bad idea on other terms.

Noelle Stevenson, of Lumberjanes and Nimona fame, is one of the sharpest commentators on Twitter, with incisive character analysis delivered in short 140-character bursts. Her thoughts on Avengers characterization are below.

Librarian Ivy Noelle Weir suggested Dear Marvel: Literally No One Wants a Civil War Movie:

Let’s be real: Civil War was a hamfistedly allegorical post-9/11 pseudo-intellectual machoist posturing slapfight between Tony and Steve.

Okay, maybe I’m editorializing a bit. But it is true that Civil War has long been one of the most contested and disliked events in Marvel history, with the major critique being that the behavior of all the characters involved was way off the map and that it dismantled years of continuity for what ultimately was not that compelling of a story. In my experience as both a fan and a retailer, Civil War is often cited as the reason a lifelong reader dropped Marvel for a while.

Mark Sampson at ScreenCrush suggests how all the movie and comics storylines might tie together. In addition, all the rumours about Spider-Man joining the MCU for a bit in a deal with SOny would suggest that he could be recruited to play the cenral role in a movie he plays in the comics.

Finally, what about Mark Millar, who wrote Civil War? Millar is very busy with his own cinematic universe, including the upcoming The Secret Service., When the news broke he tweeted

Before sensibly adding:

Civil War is currently the #2 graphic novel on Amazon and #235 in Books.


  1. Marvel’s Civil War was a travesty of a comic story. And it’s an absolute shame that they keep making Captain America the supporting character in his own movies. To me, the first Cap movie was the most optimistic and most enjoyable of all the MCU movies. And I find it unfortunate that they keep emasculating Cap. But hey. I suppose in the current world environment, with movies needing to sell tickets overseas, we can’t have a character called ‘America’ being too important anymore.

    And Winter Soldier? Meh. Good comic. Bland movie. All the impact of the Winter Soldier storyline is lost when everything was introduced and resolved in 2hrs.

  2. “Literally no one wants a Civil War movie and yet Civil War is one of Marvel’s best selling trades? Odd.”

    Not really. See: Watchmen.

  3. Good point! You could argue that plenty of people did want a Watchmen movie, but the one they got wasn’t up to scratch.

    At the very least, I don’t think the average cinema goer cares about the established continuity of Marvel comics in the way that Ivy Noelle Weir does.

  4. I’m curious as to whether they might drop the Superhuman Registration Act and have something else ignite the Civil War. Say, there’s some kind of catastrophe and both Coulson’s resurgent SHIELD and Stark Industries’ private army jump in, miscommunicate, mistrust each other, step on each other’s toes, and make the situation worse. That makes sense in the context of the MCU as it currently stands; each has a good reason for mistrusting the other.

    A Superhuman Registration Act doesn’t make sense unless they add a whole lot of unregistered superhumans in the movies and TV shows coming between now and then.

  5. Thad has a good point: there’s no more than a dozen superhumans in the Marvel movie universe, even counting a few from Agents of SHIELD, and everybody knows who they are. I can’t think of one with a secret identity. So what’s to “register?”

    I’m hoping this Civil War talk is just a trial balloon from the studio to see how people react. So I’m reacting. Just from a narrative/storytelling angle, it’s a bad idea. Moviegoers–many of whom have never read a comic–love Tony and they love Steve. Nobody wants to see a movie where two people they love fight to the death for two hours. It’d also be unearned, in much the same way the drama in “Star Trek: Into Darkness” was unearned. “Civil War” and “Wrath of Khan” built their emotional resonance on the characters having years of history together. As far as we know, the movie Avengers have assembled exactly once (twice after Avengers 2). Who cares if two guys who’ve spent a couple of days together (and shared an order of shawarma) have a beef? Low stakes, and nothing to be gained by manipulating viewers to hate Tony (face it, nobody’s going to take Tony’s side over Steve’s).

  6. Here’s the deal:
    Marvel has to write Iron Man out of the movies, because RDJ wants/deserves too much money. (Feige had to overrule Ike to get this deal done.)

    In Ultron, not only does Stark create the tech which is responsible for Trillions of dollars of destruction, but he also puts on his slobberknocker Hulkbuster tank to fight the Hulk.

    So, yeah, Civil War/Registration is the logical way to go, short of Tony Stark building a spaceship and fleeing Earth and a class-action lawsuit the size (and value) of The Moon.

    Maybe they’ll pull a Seinfeld. Everyone loved Seinfeld, until the final episode, when fans realized just how self-centered those characters are. Maybe fans will find that out about Tony Stark.

    Meanwhile, the new Superior Iron Man series seems to be following that theme as well. He’s gonna be even more narcissistic and manipulative than when he was head of SHIELD. (Go read the She-Hulk issues where she’s an agent…)

  7. I don’t get the criticism of Stark the character. he’s a douchebag, and is usually presented as such. There’s douchebags in the world, too.

  8. I must be missing something. Which Marvel movie was a direct adaptation of an existing comic storyline? To me, they’ve always just taken the core ideas of a story or three and used them as something to write a movie around. So, Civil War, The Movie? Sure. You have Tony Stark, a man overwhelmed by the new things he’s seen and can’t control, trying to control things. And you have Cap, who has seen that too much power in too few hands can lead to corruption and tyranny. They disagree. Go forth, movie, and fill in the rest.

  9. Know what would be fan-fucking-tastic? If people wishing to convey information would stop trying to complete thoughts 140 characters at a time and wrote proper paragraphs in English on a platform that did not place arbitrary limits on the number of letters they can use. This is the internet. We don’t suddenly need to ration bytes of UNICODE.

    Jesus fuck I hate posts full of giant blocks of twits. At least transcribe them into plain text so your readers don’t have to scroll down through multiple pages just to see a complete paragraph.

  10. I think in all the secret identity talk, an artifact of superhero comics that is seldom questioned by fans but which superhero films quickly saw through and discarded, there’s been some overlooking of the second and more insidious nature of the Registration Act which required anyone with powers to join SHIELD and train as a super police officer whether they wanted to or not (which may not have been what was intended by Millar, but was frequently how it was presented by other writers, which was the norm for the series) which is a lot more heinous than not being to call yourself Captain Awesome anymore.

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