Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Civil War Meanderings

I had a weird thought about the end of Civil War the other day.

Now, I've made no bones about the fact that I don't like the end of Civil War. I think it was poorly done and just served to make Cap look like an utter tool. (Tony was already irredeemable as of the storyline to me and had been since that one battle where he pressed that button and there was screaming and writhing on Cap's end and to be honest, I don't actually remember the context at all, but I do remember thinking "NO! Good guys don't do that to their friends!")

At the same time, it does occur to me that for Civil War to end, Cap pretty much had to surrender. Because, honestly, as far as the Marvel Universe goes, most of those idiots will end up fighting into eternity and never ever EVER admitting they might be wrong. Cap himself is fairly good at mediating a compromise when he's on the outside, but being involved instead, meant that if the war was going to end, he was going to have to be the bigger man and give in for the sake of the world.

And there is no way Iron Man, even in his normal not-CW-level-dick characterization, would ever end up characterized as "the bigger man" with regards to Captain America. It's just not going to happen.

I just wish they put a little more effort in the whole set-up as to WHY Cap would surrender though. Because as it is, it really didn't work for me.


  • At May 18, 2008 12:04 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Oh, don't get me started. Civil War did more to single-handedly turn me OFF of Marvel Comics than any other factor. Practically every character, either for or against registration came out looking stupider or more obnoxious than they had ever been.

    The end result is that Captain America is dead, and while the Winter Soldier is INDEED hot, I would prefer to have Steve back. Tony Stark is a fascist and a creep, and the rest of them are aparently Skrulls.

    I think I'll just stay happily in the DC camp, where they may gratuitously kill off my favorite characters, but at least they are still heroic.

    Crab, crab, crab.

  • At May 18, 2008 1:10 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    Except Max Lord and Hawk, and occasionally Hal Jordan, right? :)

    I think the biggest problem with Civil War (with regard to that aspect, anyway) is that they really painted themselves into a corner by trying to tell a nuanced, no-right-side, shades-of-gray story with the same tropes as the normal black-and-white superhero/supervillain story. We already know that whatever side Cap's on is the "good guys," we know that government surveillance programs (thanks, X-Men) are bad, that betraying your friends is bad, that behind-the-scenes manipulative masterminds are bad, that "teaming with villains against heroes" is bad, and that the underdog fighting for freedom is invariably the good side. You can't tell a story with all those tropes in place and not see that you've set up a clear hero and villain, whether or not you intended to.

    Unless, apparently, you're Mark Millar. They needed to muddy the waters and play up the ambiguity of "right" and "wrong," instead they had the pro-Reg side acting like typical supervillains, and the anti-Reg side acting like typical heroes. And so they came to an end where instead of heroes against heroes, it was heroes against villains, and when heroes are fighting villains, the heroes always win. So they had to patch together a slipshod justification for Cap's surrender. Which, incidentally, required them to suddenly insert even greater heroes (firefighters and the like) to make the heroes look a little more like villains than they actually were. It was Civil Servant Ex Machina, the only way (with the story-as-written) to have Cap lose and not make it out like the villains won.

  • At May 18, 2008 1:46 PM, Blogger Jer said…

    I agree with Tom that Marvel did paint themselves into a corner with this one, but it was one that they could have reasonably NOT done by tweaking the story just a shade. If you turn it around so that Cap is on the "pro-reg" side and Tony on the "anti-reg" side you end up with a story where shades of grey can work. As Tom points out - any side Cap takes is the side that's going to be identified as "the good guys". So if you want a story with shades of grey, you put Cap on the "wrong side" - the side with all of the advantages, all of the authority, and all of the easy answers to tough problems. There's a lot of drama (or melodrama, if you prefer) that could have been mined from that setup.

    But even that change was probably far too subtle for Mark Millar to have pulled off. He can't do "subtle" - it's all "in your face all of the time".

    Anyway to the main point, I think you're right Kalinara - Cap's side surrendering was pretty much inevitable unless they ended it with a big reveal that Stark was secretly a Space Phantom controlled by Kang or something. Once I heard how the sides were laid out I knew that was going to be the case - Cap would either end up dead or surrendering by the end of it. Because there's really no other way for the story to "end" - I guess the other option would have been that the story wouldn't have had a real ending and the new status quo would have been Cap on the run from the government and Tony hunting him down, but for some reason I didn't see that as the endgame for the miniseries.

  • At May 18, 2008 3:13 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    (Tony was already irredeemable as of the storyline to me and had been since that one battle where he pressed that button and there was screaming and writhing on Cap's end and to be honest, I don't actually remember the context at all, but I do remember thinking "NO! Good guys don't do that to their friends!")

    I'm not sure which battle you're talking about, but wasn't it Cap who did that to Tony?

    When they met and Tony, opened his helmet and wanted to shake hands, and Cap put that thing on Tony that electrocuted him and shut him down? :o And then he punched him in the face. (i'm reading it right now to make sure xD)

    Or are you thinking of a different fight? :\

    Cuz I remember that part made me go "that's low Cap :( "

  • At May 18, 2008 4:29 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'm pretty sure this was a different scene. The big battle that happens before Stature and Cable and a few others end up leaving the anti-reg side is what I'm referring to, if that helps. It's been a LONG time so I can't be more specific.

    I have to admit, I don't really recall the scene you're talking about, but just looking at the description, it does sound pretty low, but then Tony in the armor has something of a physical advantage on Cap (what with the flying and weapons). It's a fairly clear strategy to shut the armor down and punch. Not nice, mind you, but fairly straightforward, which I suspect is why I don't really remember it. It didn't stand out as out of line to me. I'll have to reread that part now and see if I still think so.

    In contrast, whatever it was that Tony did looked like torture. And since Tony in the armor already has the advantage over Cap in a straightforward physical battle, it seemed a lot more out of line.

  • At May 18, 2008 4:40 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    hmm.. I thought cable and everybody left b/c of roboThor killing ppl, which happened the next issue during this same battle :\

    The fight I'm referring to is Cap and Tony's first confrontation in the mini (I didn't read any of the tie-ins, only the mini, so maybe different things happened outside it :( ) and Tony wanted to talk and that's why I thought it was low, b/c Tony had his mask off (and so Cap was able to punch him in the face) :(

    After that the big bruhaha broke out and then roboThor showed up.

    I'm reading thru the mini and they dun fight before that happened, that's why when I was reading it, to me (as I said, I didn't read the tie-ins), it seemed like, in their first meeting since the split, Tony wants peace, opens his helmet, and wants to talk, and then Cap electrocutes him and punches him in his exposed face out of the blue and I was like ":( Cap! Why did you do that!?" :(

    It was in Issue 3. roboThor shows up in Issue 4 and kills ppl and now I'm like "I hate everybody :( "

  • At May 18, 2008 4:44 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    To clarify, Tony had his helmet open, and reached over to shake Cap's hand as a gesture of good will to talk, and Cap took his hand and said he was willing to talk, but then slapped the electro thing on it and started punching Tony. :(

    I couldn't look at Cap the same way after that :(

  • At May 18, 2008 4:55 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I just looked up the issues (curse you for making me read Civil War again :-)).

    I think it's definitely something of a jackass move, but somewhat understandable given the way he'd been ambushed by SHIELD and the like in earlier issues. It was the opening volley of a battle.

    I do think it was out of character though, since I really think Cap wouldn't have pretended to shake hands first. But it's not quite the character assassinating thing that this part is to me.

    Disarming with the device and a punch to the face is out of line but it's not...whatever Tony's doing here to a LOT of his old friends here is fairly monstrous. This isn't a punch to the face, it's outright agony. Tactically sound to take down so many at once, sure, but still, torturing his friends to take them down is a villain move. Plain and simple. And the lack of ANY sort of visible guilt or faltering makes it worse. (The ADMIRATION that Cap's still moving and the coaxing him to just close his eyes so he can wake up in captivity just ices the cake. *shudder*)

    And he had to have planned the use of THAT thing ahead of time, so suddenly I feel a lot less irked by the zap-punch in the previous issue.

    Though I think we can all agree EVERYONE's out of character here, I can justify Cap's dishonorable behavior a bit more than whatever the fuck they just did to Tony. Cap can just be a hero who had a really really bad day and isn't going to play at being nice anymore, but Tony crossed well into irredeemable there for me and never looked back for the rest of the miniseries...

  • At May 18, 2008 5:06 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    I didn't like that either :(

    Both lost all my respect in that whole sequence :(

    But shaking hands in order to set up a sucker punch rly did not sit well with me, esp since that happened an issue before Tony did that, so I was alrdy rly mad at Cap before the next issue :( At that point I had resigned myself that everybody was gonna act like a jerk :\

    I can't justify either of their actions. :( I guess for me, it's just something I cannot see Cap doing. And I dun wanna see Cap doing :(

  • At May 18, 2008 5:26 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    Reading it over again, that was rly horrible of Tony :( I think the reason I remember the Cap thing was b/c it happened an issue before and it just struck me as so ooc and mean for Cap to do that it stuck to me as the big thing in Civil War that rly made me go "everybody's acting like a jerk :( "

    I just think it was all ooc and crappy for everybody involved :( I mean the fact that all the pro-reg heroes had audio blocks meant that they knew of this ahead of time too (that or they never questioned why they were given audio blocks). :\

    Blah :(

    *hugs* I'm sry for making you read Civil War again :\

  • At May 18, 2008 5:34 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    To clarify: I totally agree with you that Cap should not have done that though. It was so...not-Cap. :-( Civil War had some interesting ideas, but such a crap execution. :-(

    I actually kind of liked the art though.

  • At May 18, 2008 5:42 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    I did like the art! :D

    I thought the idea and the concept was neat when I first heard of it too, before I had any idea of what was going to be going on :\ That's why I picked it up :)

    Unfortunately it was not as cool as it was in my head :(

  • At May 18, 2008 5:43 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I really liked the Falcon swooping in and carrying Cap panels. <3

    All I really know is that when Cap finally does return, Tony better fucking grovel. :-)

  • At May 19, 2008 7:37 AM, Anonymous Earl Allison said…

    Marvel's problem was trying to tell the story to begin with, IMHO. I don't think the writing staff at Marvel, especially Millar, could destroy some of the conventions of the genre (costumed vigilantes have been an openly accepted part of the MU for decades) and tell a comprehensive story.

    Yes, Cap being on a side was always shorthand for "right side," and Marvel should have been aware of that. I'm still not 100% certain they AREN'T aware of that, and aren't simply yanking our collective chains regardless.

    As for the scene Ami remembers, please recall the following that immediately preceeded Cap's sucker-punch of the Iron Fascist :P

    1. Tony and the Pro-Regs set up a trap by exploiting Steve's desire to do good. Recall that the trap was over the story of people being trapped in the explosion Stark rigged. So Tony preys on the heroic impulses of his opponents.

    2. Tony's side pre-emptively shoots Cloak and Wiccan in the back with tranq darts, presumably to keep the Anti-Regs from escaping.

    3. Tony surrounds Steve's forces with a massive number of Pro-Reg heroes and "Cape-killer" units (truly a bad name if ever I read one).

    Then, and only then, does Tony say he wants to talk. Funny, I read those actions as dictating surrender terms.

    Hogwash. If you want to talk, you pick up the phone and call, or otherwise arrange a meeting. This was clearly possible, since they actually did that in the "Casualties of War" one-shot added after Marvel started to have delays, and realizes their Pro-Reg side was one step away from being Nazis (sorry for the Godwinizing, but I think it was accurate).

    Mind you, I agree that Cap probably SHOULDN'T have zapped Tony, but it didn't happen in a vacuum, Tony set a lot of it in motion as well. No way did I get the idea that they would talk, and if Steve disagreed, that he would be allowed to walk away.

    Sorry for the long, drawn out comments, but that scene really bugged me, more for how some of the rabid pro-CW (not you, Ami, not at all) people latched onto the "Cap attacked first!" part of it while leaving out all the context (and handwaving anything Tony did away).

    Man, so many high hopes before that "event" came out. Were hopes ever raised so high only to be dashed so completely ever before?

    Take it and run.

    Earl Allison

  • At May 19, 2008 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Should I point out the irony of people getting worked up about Captain America using a sneak attack when The Colonial Army probably would have been defeated in a matter of months and there would be no United States of America today if it were not for the sneak attack? :)

    No, I agree that while there may be nothing more American - in practice - than the tactic of hitting the guy who has you out-gunned when he's least expecting it... that is not how Captain America rolls.

  • At May 19, 2008 12:22 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    It's all Tony's fault! Swaggering around, ruling SHIELD with a fist of iron, betraying his friends, setting up concentration camps, working with villains, paying a villain to fight him in order to persuade Spider-Man to join him, manipulating people right and left, cloning Thor, killing Goliath, whining about the destruction of a schoolyard in Stamford and then gleefully levelling half of Manhattan...He'd damn well be either a Skrull or possessed by Parallax, because he has a lot to answer for.


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