There's a hell of a lot of different comic book franchises fighting for space as we move now into the new year, from DC's [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870) and Suicide Squad to Fox's Deadpool and even Marvel TV's Daredevil Season 2; 2016 is set to be the year of the superhero blockbuster.
And of course we cannot forget the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, which for some fans is set to be the highlight of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Phase 3.
The promo footage that we've seen so far has heavily shifted the focus of the upcoming film onto the shoulders of James "Bucky" Barnes / the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and the relationship between him and the titular Avenger Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans). But they're not the only ones being put under the spotlight in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409)...
Tony Stark's Role Will Be Pivotal
Anyone who's read the original [Marvel: Civil War](tag:2346746) comic book arc from which the film takes its name will know that the Winter Soldier doesn't actually feature heavily at all. In fact most of the story involving him picks up post-Civil War in The Death of Captain America story arc, but whether or not we'll see this specific narrative adapted remains to be seen.
No, originally the focus of Civil War was on the ideological split that occurs between good friends Captain America and Iron Man / Tony Stark, divided over the issue of whether or not to support the controversial Superhero Registration Act. Both chose a course of action and both struggle with the consequences throughout.
We saw a bit of this in the Civil War trailer with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) waxing lyrical about wanting to punch Steve in his "perfect teeth", but the lengthy and complex back story which exists between the two men in the comics doesn't really exist in the MCU.
Tony Stark's Neuroses
Whilst it's inarguable that Downey Jr's Tony Stark is one of the highlights of the MCU it's also fair to say that the character has been toned down a lot in terms of his demons; PTSD, daddy issues and alcoholism. These issues were touched upon in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 but Disney have rejected delving too far into these facets of his internal character struggle for numerous reasons.
Because of Tony's inherent dysfunctions it's been posited that he has a different concept of friendship from Captain America himself. Whilst Steve stands with his best friend of many years, Tony is an isolated genius who is "unfamiliar with functional human relationships". When you consider the daddy issues stemming from both the emotional distancing of his actual father and the betrayal by surrogate father figure Obadiah Stane in Iron Man it seems possible that he's projecting these issues onto Steve's perceived betrayal in Civil War.
The renegade, anti-Government Tony Stark that we saw in Iron Man 2 seems hard to reconcile with the one taking the side of the government and their Sokovia Accords in Civil War, but it's all explained by the events of last year's [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035).
Age of Ultron Guilt
Tony's stance on the Accords is driven by guilt. In the comics it's guilt over the Stamford Incident and a confrontation he has with a grieving mother whose child was killed. In the MCU it's the destruction of Sovokia in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) due to his creation of Ultron which drives him.
Tony's error was in turn was caused by his overcompensating complex resulting from the events of The Avengers and the PTSD he suffered there (as was outlined in Iron Man 3) in addition to his already existing issues from being kept in captivity. Additionally Joe Russo, one half of the Civil War directing duo, has outright said that Tony's guilt is what drives him:
"[Tony Stark] now has a guilty complex and the guilt drives him to make very specific decisions... Tony has a very legitimate argument in the movie that’s a very adult point of view, about culpability, about the Avengers’ responsibility to the world, and the world’s right to have some sort of control over the Avengers. It’s a very complicated emotional arc for Tony Stark in this movie."
Whilst Steve Rogers may just be trying to protect Bucky from being black-bagged by the government, Tony Stark is trying to right the wrongs he's made whilst standing in the Iron Man suit as a symbol. He's the one with red in his ledger this time round, and he's trying frantically to erase it.
And of course we've already seen a less jovial, more broken version of Tony in all the teaser footage, especially as he sits with the unconscious (pleasedontbedead) body of his friend James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine (Don Cheadle) and almost gets shot in the goddamn face by Bucky (dammit Bucky).
Of course there's still a lot of narration we'll need to see bridged for Tony Stark between Age of Ultron and Civil War especially since - like in Iron Man 3 - we last saw Tony appearing to give up on the old being a superhero thing.
Likely Tony's motivations will be made less oblique in order to properly set up the conflict when it all kicks off in Civil War, but in the meantime it always helps to look a little deeper at the particulars of his state of mind and how it has changed over the last few films.
All we can say for sure right now is, it's gonna be a pretty intense showdown when Captain America: Civil War lands in the US on May 6, 2016.