Marvel's Civil War was a massively successful comic that inspired an even more successful movie.
Marvel's Civil War II was...not.
Actually, it was a disaster on the scale of the ending that saw Iron Man and Captain Marvel come to blows at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Instead of recapturing the original arc's bold storytelling, Marvel saw a backlash from fans and critics who felt the company was just trying to cash in on another event comic.
- As The Dust Settles From 'Civil War II' - Did The Event Work?
- Marvel's 'Civil War II' - A Step In A Strange Direction!
Civil War II needed to be a win in order to keep some momentum going forward for Marvel Comics in 2017. Sadly, Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez failed to live up to expectations, almost solely because of the tired premise: heroes fighting heroes over a philosophical debate. (Spoilers follow!)
In this case, some of Earth's Mightiest believed it was better to stop crimes before they were committed; others believed that punishing pre-crime (to borrow a phrase from Minority Report) would be unjust. This led to various characters being on either Team Iron Man or Team Captain Marvel.
It simply wasn't a fresh enough idea to warrant an event comic of this magnitude. Also, Captain Marvel was written extremely poorly and it was hard to see where she was coming from with her acting more like a villain than the wonderful person that we know she is.
But Marvel has bounced back from bigger missteps, so here's how they can do better in 2017.
1. Focus On Character-Driven Stories, Not Gigantic Events
Comic books are finally heading back in a direction where hope and compassion take center stage. Ms. Marvel does this extremely well by balancing out Kamala's duties as a superhero and as a Muslim teenager from New Jersey. By showing her struggles to maintain normalcy with her family and keep her friendships intact, it allows us to truly care about her because everyone can relate to those situations.
With that in mind, every story doesn't need to lead to some Earth-shattering battle against a supervillain trying to take over the world, capped off with cheap temporary deaths for headlines. Marvel has always been great because it depicted heroes dealing with everyday life and real problems — it's time to get back to those roots!
2. Quality Over Quantity: Stop Putting Out So Many Comics
Do the Avengers really need two different books with two different teams? Can you tell me the difference between the All-New Avengers and the Uncanny Avengers?
The paradox of choice is that if you have more options, it gets harder to actually choose one because you feel like you're missing out on something better. (Anyone with a Netflix subscription understands.)
Last summer, DC had a considerably lower number of comic titles in circulation than Marvel did, but Marvel only had three comics in the top 30. Basically, it's a chore to keep up with all those comics, especially when most of them aren't of the highest quality.
Marvel should figure out which titles would make the greatest impact and focus on getting attention for those instead of flooding the market with an insane amount of comics. DC dropped their prices down $2.99 per comic and they're shipping their most prominent titles twice-monthly. (Guardians of the Galaxy is actually now doing this, but it could only be because Marvel Studios is releasing Vol. 2 in May...more on that later.)
3. Instead Of Replacing Our Favorite Heroes, Give Us New Ones
No offense to Riri Williams, but people read an Iron Man comic to see what crazy thing Tony Stark will do next. Riri is a cool character and she would've proved popular enough to receive her own book without Tony getting sidelined. We'll see how receptive readers are to the A.I. version of him.
Marvel's capable of this. Kate Bishop's Hawkeye and Jane Foster's Thor have been well-received by both fans and critics, and Miles Morales is a breakout star...but we still have Clint Barton, Thor Odinson and Peter Parker. So, was it really necessary to kill Bruce Banner and War Machine in Civil War II?
One hates to keep bringing up DC, but they went back to legacy characters with DC Universe: Rebirth, and that's currently working out extremely well both critically and commercially. The company has dominated not only headlines but also the court of public opinion; fans have been in favor of almost everything DC's putting out these days.
4. Stop Using The Comics To Sell Movie Tickets
This was one of the biggest complaints that fans had for Civil War II. The integrity of the story felt sacrificed in order have more connections to the heroes' on-screen counterparts. Honestly, what were the Guardians of the Galaxy doing taking part in some war on Earth when their best stories come from these epic space operas?
Furthermore, the Inhumans are being brought front and center in the comics, just as their TV show is going into production. Sadly, they've yet to create any truly interesting stories in any of their books. Corporate synergy is important, but so is delivering a quality product.
We should stay hopeful that Marvel Comics can remedy this messy situation just like DC did: by delivering stories worth telling. These characters work so well that they've become the biggest franchise in the history of cinema. Only time will tell if Civil War II proves as detrimental to Marvel as it was for Tony Stark, James Rhodes and Bruce Banner.
What did you think of Civil War II? Does Marvel Comics need to change its approach or is it working for you? Let us know in the comments below!