6 Ways the New 'Captain America' Movie Will Fix the Original
Marvel recently announced the third Captain America movie, and online fans couldn't be more excited if they'd announced that the third layer in a Chris Evans/Scarlett Johansson sandwich would be "You, the one commenting on forums about this right now."
"First! But, uh, give me a minute and I'll be ready to go again. You two carry on."
Captain America: Civil War is based on one of the largest ever Marvel comics stories. This is great news for true Marvel fans, acknowledging the rich comic history of thousands of storylines, and even better news for Marvel shareholders, acknowledging a clear intent to make a billion dollar movie about every single one of them.
The Marvel movie planning committee.
But it's the best news for obsessive online nitpickers. Normally, they have to work out how a movie will suck based only on casting rumors or font choice in a teaser trailer. Now they've got an entire source comic!
"Firstly, the movie will be projected on a screen, while the original was printed on paper, so obviously it can't ..."
A teen superhero tackles a villain called "Nitro" into an elementary school bus. It's an even worse idea than it sounds. They blow up the bus, and the school, and a fair fraction of the surrounding town, killing over 600 people and triggering a national backlash against masked idiots running around exploding things. The government demands that heroes be registered. The story tackles the resulting complex American battle between security and liberty by having Iron Man and Captain America punch the shit out of each other.
Don't miss other serious issues, like Daredevil and Forge Discuss the Disabilities Act Through Greco-Roman Wrestling.
Purists complain that it won't be the same in the movie. What those frothing naysayers forget is that Civil War was one of the worst comics ever made. It was a tone-deaf, continuity-shredding disaster which took years of retcon to repair. But all the "problems" with the movie could fix that. In fact, these problems could turn the movie into the story Civil War should have been in the first place. Problems like:
Marvel's movie division doesn't have the rights to Spider-Man. They sold him to Sony back in the '90s, and it remains the most expensive mistake since King Anti-midas was given a tour of Fort Knox.
On the upside, with no film license power comes no emo dancing responsibility.
Spider-Man was pivotal to the comic. He was the everyday hero on the fence, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Guy torn between Iron Man's insistence that superheroes register with the government and Captain America's repeated violent assault of law enforcement agents instead of talking or debating or anything.
How the Movie Will Fix It:
Spider-Man was pivotal to the comic sucking. A crux of the superheroes-must-register argument was that their secret identities would be absolutely protected. Iron Man advances this agenda by getting Spider-Man to publicly reveal his secret identity, which you might notice is the exact opposite. You and everyone who's ever wanted to kill Spider-Man.
"I'd like to take this chance to say goodbye to my loved ones, who'll probably be dead before I'm finished with this sentence."
It almost immediately gets people killed, and later requires the dumbest Spider-Man story in history to undo (Peter Parker sells his marriage and unborn child to the Devil to undo the effects. Classic Spider-Man!). When someone's actions are so stupid that his own writers make Faustian pacts to pretend they never happened, they might not be essential to the story.
Besides, Iron Man and Captain America battling over the heart of Spider-Man makes less sense than most yaoi with the same plot (And involves about the same amount of spider-fluid). Sure, Spider-Man is one of the best superheroes ever written for the reader -- accessible, relatable, enjoyable and all that -- but how much use is he in that battle? His combat ability is nil next to Iron "I'm An Actual Tank" Man, and his PR value is nil compared to Captain "I'm The Goddamn Flag Itself Come To Life To Punch Nazis" America.
Also, everyone's sort of sick of Spider-Man movies.
No Secret Identities
It's not just Peter Parker becoming "He Who Must Not Be Named, Or Sony's Lawyers Will Ream Us." Early reports indicate that there will be no secret identity aspect to Civil War at all. This was the core of the comic. Hordes of heroes were worried that if the government knew who they were, that might stop them from going out at night and beating people up.
"Uh, yeah, that's pretty much our entire job."
How the Movie Will Fix It:
The movie universe wisely left all that Donald Blake bullshit back in the last century. Oh, you didn't know Thor used to spend half his time as a literally lame doctor named Donald Blake? Most people don't. That would suck in a movie! Ditching secret identities means the movie can focus on what the original comic should have been about: security versus liberty. How much freedom are we prepared to give up to protect ourselves from harm? It's an amazing theme for post-terror-legislation America, so it's a real shame the comic relegated it to a few text balloons while worrying about whether Nighthawk would have use a fake name on his tax returns.
Nighthawk. Imagine if Hawkman forgot his mace. And had to wear body armor. And needed a suit to fly.
Besides, drawing attention to secret identities is superhero story suicide. It's a 1930s cliche, a rubbish relic of old stories. Any competent government, half-competent local UPS courier, or mouth-breather with Twitter in a world of smartphones would be able to work out a superhero's real name in about 20 minutes. And the only possible answer to "Should someone have to register if they can fart exploding lasers?" is "DUH!" You have to register and accept government-mandated training if you want to drive a motorbike, and you can only cause one stupidly lethal explosion with that.
"With power like this, I could save lives! If the organ donor vehicle arrives quickly enough."
Better Reasons for an Evil Stark
Tony Stark was the comic's bad guy. That's always your job description when you're punching Captain America.
No matter how sweet the punch is.
He was a government stooge, a heavily-armed yes man whose idea of affirmative action was firing his repulsors. Because Tony Stark is absolutely fine with cooperating with the government, and definitely not defined by repeatedly telling them, "Screw you, this stuff is mine and you can't have it."
"Sit on this, Larry Sanders, this is my show now."
He's the ultimate example of personal liberty. He literally rebuilt his identity around open carry. In several storylines, he's spent or set fire to his fortune rather than give in to external bullying. None of which mattered in the comics, where his thought processes were, "Occupy is big right now, and I'm rich, ENGAGE MWAHAHAHA MEGAVILLAINY MODE." Followed by, "Hang on, who really thought that?" then "SHUT UP AND DO WHAT YOU'RE TOLD MISTER ONE PERCENT (EDITORIAL NOTE - DON'T PRINT THIS BIT)."
He's acted more in-character in stories where he was under active enemy mind control. It would have made more sense if it had been the latent evil of having a goatee all these years finally catching up with him. He built murderous clones of his friends, constructed a negative-zone ultratraz for heroes, and was suddenly just fine with hiring murderous villains he'd personally locked up several times to hunt his fellow Avengers.
"Yeah, this totally looks like something a good guy would do."
The only reason he wasn't tying maidens to railway tracks is that his company uses maglev and he isn't allowed to know maidens. It's incredibly off-putting when a character starts being an idiot because the story requires it. Especially since Stark could easily have succeeded without any violence.
How the Movie Will Fix It:
Age of Ultron trailers are already hinting at a Tony who's taking things too far, one who's prepared to enact sweeping surveillance and extreme force entirely on his own say so. And movie Captain America really is the incarnation of the ideals of liberty. Cap was working for S.H.I.E.L.D., his only reference point in a world which had left him behind, and the second he realized they were assholes, he burned them to the ground. He'll have no problem taking down Tony.
In the comic, he was stopped by The Incredibly Subtle Spirits of the Real Heroes
More importantly, the franchise needs Stark to turn evil. Or do something. He's been coasting on Incredibly Privileged Douchebag With No Downside for far too long. In the second movie, they made him an alcoholic and gave him a fatal disease, and all it did was make him stagger while people loved him at a party. Age of Ultron is about to reveal why letting one person do whatever they want is actually a bad idea. Then he'll have a real motivation to try to fix it in the Civil War -- and a real belief that the big picture are more important than individuals like himself or Cap.
Maybe They Won't Kill the Black Guy
The comic needed to kill someone to show that the event was totally really serious for real this time. But comic book deaths are less reliable than election promises, and equally based in pretending to achieve something. Marvel asked, "How can we make this death believably permanent?" Then someone said, "Kill a black character," and was depressingly right.
Who knew becoming a much larger target made of soft flesh was a bad idea?
Horror's most awful cliche as a pivotal point of the story: kill the black guy. Even if you have to import one specially to do it. Bill Foster's only function in this storyline was "get murdered as publicly as possible so that other characters can be upset about it. " As for the guy himself? Wrap him in tarp and chuck him in the ground.
Houdini's worst trick.
Imagine how that meeting went in the fictional Marvel office:
Editor: "Hi! Great to see you, uh, Bill."
Bill Foster: "Hi."
Editor: "How are you doing these days?"
Bill Foster: "Mainly glad that you're finally calling me Goliath instead of Black Goliath."
"Am I ... am I crushing people defined only by being pink and white?"
Editor: "We've got a great upcoming position for you, Bill. Big huge super-serious conflict between fellow Avengers, and you'll get to stand right next to main characters during a lethal fight."
Bill Foster: "Oh. Great. Should I wear a red uniform?"
Editor: "Uh, no, you're already color-coded."
How the Movie Will Fix It:
The movies are already moving in the opposite direction by increasing the total number of named black characters. Captain America: The Winter Soldier brought us Falcon, who kicked all the ass, and Captain America: Civil War will be introducing Black Panther. Who'll be getting his own movie in 2017. (Just like we asked for.)
Every kind of yes.
This could put Black Panther center stage as the outside observer to the Tony/Steve superbattle, replacing the missing Spider-Man. But with a far cooler animal.
They Don't Have Too Many Heroes
The greatest problem leveled at converting the crossover into a film is that the Marvel movie universe simply doesn't have enough superhero streams to cross. The comics have almost enough heroes to assign every civilian their own personal meta-bodyguard (tough luck for whoever gets Hank Pym. That idiot couldn't find his own asshole if he made it giant and sat on an observatory).
Which would only be one more case of his assholishness getting in the way of science.
When the movies have all the characters meet, it's not a crossover, it's an Avengers sequel.
How the Movie Will Fix It:
The movie doesn't need any of that. The movie doesn't need to fill seven issues and countless company-wide tie-ins with dramatic reveals and bullshit. It turns out that movies and comics are different things. The movie can be much more focused. We don't need to see how the plot affects hundreds of other heroes, especially when those effects are nothing but "interrupt existing storylines, shoehorn in a quick political comment, then get retconned out." We don't want to watch Waffle Man take a break from his breakfast adventures to ponder the ramifications of legislation. That's about as much fun as getting electrocuted by a toaster during a lightning storm.
In the Marvel universe, ALL accidents give you superpowers.
The Civil War comic raised great questions about government versus personal responsibility, then ignored them for splash panels that were so bad that the comics would spend years undoing them. Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. Captain America got shot to death and also into the timestream, and it made even less sense than it sounds, and he didn't reclaim his rank for four years. Iron Man literally reformatted his own brain and restored it from a backup made before the Civil War. And everyone agreed to move on.
The movie can focus on the real story. Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed that the series can handle serious issues surprisingly well, combining an action movie with the morality of hacking as a response to corruption and the revelation that holy shit, Captain America is Marvel's Edward Snowden. Which was a hell of a statement from a movie about exploding flying aircraft carriers. And they were prepared to permanently change the movie universe by eliminating SHIELD. We look forward to seeing what they do next.
And what they explode next.
We were right about Black Panther, so behold the future of superheroic cinema with 5 Superheroes Who Should've Gotten Movies Before Ant-Man and 9 Lesser-Known Superheroes Who Deserve Movie Franchises.
Luke McKinney pits subatomic science against shampoo advertising, tumbles, and responds to every tweet.