Four Color Comments: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR: Why The Movie Will Be Better Than The Comic Book

Can’t wait for the movie. Hated the comic book. In May, the highly anticipated movie, Captain America: Civil War, comes out. The movie is loosely based on Marvel Comics’ 2007 miniseries […]

Can’t wait for the movie. Hated the comic book.

In May, the highly anticipated movie, Captain America: Civil War, comes out. The movie is loosely based on Marvel Comics’ 2007 miniseries Civil War, from writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven.

In the comic, a group of young heroes gets in over their heads while trying to capture some villains. This results in the destruction of Stamford, CT and the death of over 600 civilians, 60 of whom were children. The government comes up with the Superhuman Registration Act, a legislative bill which requires the mandatory registration of any person based in the United States with superpowers… including their secret identities. Many of the Marvel Universe heroes are divided on their feelings about the Registration Act. At first, Captain America is asked to talk to the heroes that don’t comply. Cap refuses and decides to oppose the Registration any way he can. This means he, and those that follow him, become fugitives of the law. The government then tasks Iron Man with bringing in Cap and his followers. This eventually leads to a physical conflict between the two groups of heroes, with each side thinking their viewpoint is the correct one.

To a lot a people, this miniseries was one of the best “event” books ever to happen. But when I read it, all I saw were too many plot holes, bad dialogue, cheap stunts, and all around sloppy writing. This story is so flawed, it’s not even funny.

So what am I seeing that others don’t? Let me point out some of the most blaring issue:

  • Ultimate Captain America Not 616 – I like Mark Millar as a writer, but his interpretation of Cap here was all wrong. While Millar was working on Civil War, he was also working on The Ultimates. The Ultimate Universe was similar to the proper Marvel Universe with a lot of differences. In the Ultimate Universe, we had a Cap that didn’t take crap from anyone. He was a real ass-kicker. He actually said to one villain “Surrender? SURRENDER??!! You think this letter on my head stands for France?” A little harsh, but he’s a man out of time where, according to him, France just gave up during World War II.  But this isn’t the same character that writer Ed Brubaker was doing in Cap’s main book. At one point Cap actually says to Iron Man: “You really think I’m going down to some pampered punk like you?” Not even close to Brubaker’s dialogue. And not for nothing, Cap and Iron Man while at odds have always had mutual respect.  Totally out of character.
  • No X-Men – Like with most of Marvel’s big events, once again the X-Men are missing in action from the main story. In issue #3, Tony Stark meets with X-Men Headmistress Emma Frost. Frost tells Stark that the X-Men won’t take either side. Personally, I find this all ridiculous. Since I can remember reading comics the X-Men were always dealing with anti-mutant registration, and now when there is a real cause they don’t take a side? I have an issue with that. I just don’t buy it. It just seems to be another way to keep the X-Men trapped in this little bubble Marvel has had for them for so many years. It seems just in recent years Marvel has included them in a large event, which would be the Avengers vs X-Men event. Even that is short lived, as it seems Marvel has a grudge against the X-Men because Fox holds the movie rights. But I digress.
  • Spider-Man Revealing His Identity  Spider-Man’s identity as Peter Parker has been one of the longest kept secrets in the Marvel Universe. Even in issue # 1 of Civil War, Spider-Man is on the anti-registration side and even says: “Yeah, well… not until that day I come home and find my wife impaled on an octopus arm and the woman who raised me begging for her life.” Then at the end of issue #2, he’s revealing his secret identity to the world. How the heck did he change is mind like that? Of course, the answer is in an issue of the Amazing Spider-Man comic. But I’m sorry, but if you’re going to tell a story, a major event like that should be part of the main story arc, not a separate issue. I get it’s all about marketing, and trying to get people to buy more books, but that’s just not good enough for me.
  • Clone Thor – AAffectionately known as Clor. Tony Stark, Hank Pym, and Reed Richards end up cloning Thor. I’m not sure how I really feel about it but it seemed a little ridiculous to me. Especially Pym being on board with this project. Did everyone forget he created Ultron? Though it was later revealed it wasn’t actually Pym, but a Skrull imposter. The main problem is that the creation of Clor leads to the next point…
  • The Killing Of Goliath/Bill Foster – Let’s take a Z-list character that’s barely been used in over 10 years. Make him a central character in issue #3, and then kill him off. Are you kidding me? If there’s anything that screams hack writing it’s when an author (or editor) doesn’t have the balls to kill off a major character. I have to say it again..hack writing. If you’re going to kill off a character then you better have one that is actually current / relevant. Yeah, this is my rage button right here and the whole issue I have with Civil War. This is the reason I go nuts when people say that Civil War is this great story. This right here is why it’s crap. This is death for shock value and shock value only.

In the end, Cap realizes that this Civil War is putting innocents in danger, and the 2 sides are just fighting to fight. Cap has his side surrender and Cap allows himself to be taken into custody. But after 7 issues of this pain, there was still an aftermath: Captain America killed.

In Cap’s own book, while he was cuffed and being lead to court, Cap was shot and killed. I can even remember seeing CNN reporting this. But to me, I know better. In comics, death is a revolving door. And even though Cap was killed, he had a movie coming out the following year, so I knew they would bring him back. The only saving grace was the writing on the book by Ed Brubaker. Regardless of Cap’s “death”, it’s still an enjoyable story.

So if I hated the book so much, why see the movie? Simple. As I stated before, the movie is loosely based on the comic. We are not dealing with over 50 years of stories. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is only 8 years old, and unlike comics that come out monthly, or even weekly, we are following a story that comes out about once or twice a year. You also don’t have to worry about drastic changes in personality. They are pretty much set in stone, and yet evolving naturally.

In the comics, Iron Man and Captain America have a strong friendship. That’s really not the case with the movies. While they are friends in the movies, they don’t know that much about each other. There’s still a learning curve.

There aren’t as many characters in the MCU as there are in the comics. The MCU is growing, but for the most part, we can count the number of heroes on our hands. This narrows down the players and makes the storyline easier to follow.

In the comics, you can also get away with a lot of outrageous technology. So far what we’ve seen in the film, while of lot of it is still fiction, there are realistic elements to it. So I doubt we’ll be seeing Clor in the film.

Finally, on why the film will be better than the comics: The Russo Brothers. Let’s all admit it, Captain America: Winter Soldier was one of the best Marvel films, and  the Russos are back with another screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

So go see the film when it comes out, just avoid the comic it is based on. It’s not worth all the hype it’s getting.

Brian Isaacs - Executive Editor / Publisher

About Brian Isaacs - Executive Editor / Publisher

An avid comic collector/reader for over 40 years and self-proclaimed professor of comicology, Brian original started up the site Pendragon's Post to share his voice. Well that voice has been shared, and evolved into The Fanboy Factor. Brian is an advocate for remembering comic roots, and that we don't forget what was created in the past, and encourage everyone to read it as well. When not swimming in geek culture, he can be seen corrupting..introducing his young son to comics, much to his wife's chagrin.