Welcome to the five hundred and seventy-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, in honor of Captain America: Civil War, legends involving Captain America, Iron Man and, well, Civil War! Were Captain America and Iron Man initially on opposite sides for Marvel’s original Civil War? Was the Mandarin banned as a villain in the Iron Man films? And what famous Captain America villain was inspired by…an ice cream sundae?!
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Iron Man and Captain America were originally going to be on opposite sides during Marvel’s Civil War.
STATUS: Technically True
Marvel’s 2006 crossover event, Civil War, pitted Iron Man against Captain America as the leaders of two factions of superheroes. Iron Man’s side argued in favor of a superhero registration act that would force superheroes to register with the government if they had superpowers, as their powers would be akin to a firearm, which also have to be registered. Captain America’s side argued that forcing people to reveal their identities to the government violated their privacy and put the heroes in danger.
When you come up with a major event like this where heroes have to take specific sides of a contested issue, it is difficult figuring out which hero should take what side. Since this is fiction, you can make heroes take a side that others might not think appropriate for that character, but so long as you explain the logic of them taking said position, I don’t mind it. I don’t think heroes having earlier, contrary positions means that they cannot support an opposing viewpoint today. You just have to explain it.
One of the most controversial characters in all of this was Mister Fantastic for the Fantastic Four, who publicly testified in front of Congress in opposition to a similar Registration Act in the late 1980s but was in favor of the Superhuman Registration Act during Civil War, with different writers coming up with different justifications for the change in his stance. Really, from a consistency standpoint, the major issue was that different writers would come up with different arguments for their position, and some of them were better than others.
Anyhow, at the heart of the matter were two heroes, one of whom actually fought against the United States government to protect his private designs for his Iron Man armor…
But another one who, despite being dubbed Captain AMERICA, actually split from that persona twice because of his problems with the government…
So both men could easily be seen as willing to fight the government on this issue.
Originally, though, it was IRON MAN who was going to fight against the Superhero Registration Act and Captain America who would support it! But by “originally,” I mean for just a few minutes. Here’s Tom Brevoort, in Andy Mangels’ brilliant Iron Man: Beneath the Armor, on the subject:
It’s always easier to write a story where your guy is pushing against the omnipresent evil oppressive government than it is to push for your guy out there following what amounts to the rule of law in an unpopular situation. That was the balancing act that we tried to maintain throughout Civil War, and in some books we did it better than others…I certainly see where there have been readers who have been put off of this, and how on the simplest level you could think, Tony Stark should be the maverick and Cap should be the guy who toes the line. In point of fact, when we started the very first discussion about Civil War, that was where the initial instinct was to place them. Within twenty minutes of talking back and forth, and story building and throwing ideas around, we realized that really didn’t work or make sense with who these characters are and what they believed and where they’d been all through the years. What we ended up doing was a little closer to what rang true for these guys.
Tom also made a compelling argument that Tony’s actions during Armor Wars shows that he’s a guy who will do anything if he believes his position is right, and he happened to think the Superhuman Registration Act was right.
Thanks to Tom and Andy for the great information!
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
On the next page, was the Mandarin “banned” from appearing in Iron Man films?
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