Why we shouldn’t see Civil War any time soon
With the release of Marvel’s The Avengers this summer, there has been an abundance of rumor, speculation, and fandom in-fighting about the possibility of Marvel’s Civil War event coming to the big screen in the next few years. Some are for it, some are against it, and, not unlike the event itself, it’s a topic that people are likely going to be arguing about for many days to come. That powers that be certainly like to fan the flames from time to time, it seems. But as a film, I don’t think it has a place in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and certainly not in Joss Whedon’s current incarnation of Avengers. And here’s just a few reasons why.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is too new.
MCU’S Phase One films, including the Avengers, were just the origin story. It was the beginning. As it stands today, there are only six heroes in the MCU. They have all just met and established alliances, and the world is still getting used to the idea of super-types running around. While Marvel plans to expand their universe with the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man movies, they hardly have an entire pantheon to work with yet. Rumor has it Marvel’s getting close to getting the film rights for Daredevil and Ghost Rider back (although I haven’t been able to confirm that), but they still don’t have Fantastic Four or Spider-Man, all of whom were crucial to the Civil War story. And what about New Warriors? Luke Cage? Spider-Woman? Namor? What about the dozens of other characters, super-powered or not, that played a role in the event?
There just aren’t enough pieces on the board to justify the undertaking, especially when, in canon terms, superheroes haven’t been around long enough to really present themselves as a threat to national security or the American people.
Civil War was really complicated. Really, really complicated.
There were numerous social and political factors leading in the event, particularly the Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Decimation and Secret War storylines that preceded it. Which, uh, we just haven’t seen in the MCU, and likely won’t, because all of these actors are squishy mortals and don’t have time to film the fourteen movies it would take to make Civil War happen in any logical capacity. And to completely short-cut the event and make a super-simple, streamlined version? Well, why even bother calling it Civil War anymore?
There’s no risk, and ultimately, no pay-off.
Civil War had several decades’ worth of backstory to rely on. These are people we’ve come to know and love over generations, from comic books to cartoons to action figures to lunch boxes. All of these heroes have rich pasts and complicated relationships with one another, all of which helped weave the complex, multi-perspective narrative of Civil War. That was what made the drama in the first place: Watching lifelong friends and comrades destroy each other, embattled over political division. With the MCU as it stands now, we barely know these guys, and as characters, they barely know each other. What’s the point in watching people beat up their acquaintances? Where’s the pay-off? If there’s no emotional stake for the characters, there’s none for the viewer, and that’s just boring.
Uh, what about Thanos?
I thought we were all in agreement that the tone of Whedon’s Avengers films would be more…galactic in nature? And after the announcement of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I figured that was kind of a given. To completely switch gears in time for Avengers 3 seems rushed and stupid. (I want my date with Death, damnit!)
Remember: MCU’s Tony Stark privatized world peace. (You’re welcome.)
And he’s been pretty proud of that fact. I sincerely doubt he’s going to kowtow to Congress when, up to this point, he’s been kind of anti-government about all of this superhero business. Beyond that, I feel that his characterization in the MCU has skipped ahead a bit of where he was at the start of Civil War to where he ended up in later storylines. To me he feels more like Matt Fraction‘s Tony Stark, giving up on making weapons to pursue clean energy initiatives, and trying to redeem himself. This Tony, while he has dark days coming in Iron Man 3, doesn’t seem like the same guy who manipulated Spider-Man, took over SHIELD, and screwed over most of the Marvel Universe at large just because he felt the ends justified the means. MCU’s Tony Stark is in the middle of his own character arc outside of the comic continuity, and I’d like to see where that goes, instead of taking big steps back to the person he was before Civil War.
But but, Winter Soldier! That’s a contemporary storyline! If they can do that in Captain America 2, why can’t they do Civil War?
Bringing Bucky back, giving Steve more reason to stand in the corner looking sad, and butting into the Clint/Natasha fanfiction we’ve been writing all summer is a much smaller undertaking that is directly tied to both Steve’s and Natasha’s storylines. See? That would be character development. What did I just say about strangers punching each other?
I didn’t give Marvel all of my time and money just to watch Captain America and Iron Man punch each other on the big screen.
Any attempt at Civil War right now would just be a cheap Captain America vs. Iron Man movie, and that is so pointless. I happen to be a sucker for their friendship, and despite fanboy cries for blood in the streets, I really don’t want to see it shafted for the sake of a big budget spectacle. Obviously I’m not going to get my forty years of bromance on-screen between Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr., but if they’re just going to try to beat each others’ faces in (and they do have such nice faces!), I quit. Because, seriously, if Captain America is assassinated and Iron Man just shrugs and goes out for burgers? I will personally throw my laptop at somebody.
Can Civil War be done one day? Maybe, with enough time and build-up. Is it really necessary? I personally don’t think so. The MCU is just now moving into Phase 2, using classic stories to create a world for contemporary fans and viewers to enjoy. I would really like to see where these Avengers end up in this universe, without having to smash each others’ faces in because Marvel/Disney want to keep making money off Civil War. They have the trades and the novelization, and if they’re still desperate to do it, hey — take a page out of DC’s playbook and make a big animated film instead. Just let us have our movies, man.