ByDavid Latchman, writer at
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David Latchman

With the release of the last trailer for [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), we have a few clues to how the event transpires and how different it will be to the comics. The main theme of the comic is a debate of national security and civil liberties and the balance we undertake to protect both. This is something I explored in my previous article, Is there a right side in "Captain America: Civil War?"

Details gleaned from the trailer indicate that while the movie's events will be very different from the comics, they are going to explore similar themes. We can speculate how different these themes will be by exploring the differences between the comic series and the movie, and what could happen when the movie comes out.

The Comic: The Superhero Registration Act

As bad as most reality TV shows are, things never got as bad as people dying. In the comic series, the New Warriors botch the capture of some supervillains on TV. To avoid capture, the supervillain Nitro explodes and kills 612 people and most of the New Warriors in Stamford, CT. This event turns the public against superheroes and leads to the events of Civil War and the Superhero Registration Act (SRA).

Like the comic series, there is no one event that leads to the SRA. In the second trailer, we see Gen. Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) list the major events that have turned public sentiment against superheroes. They include the Battle of New York seen in The Avengers, the Battle of Washington, DC seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the Battle of Sokovia seen in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035).

Things are not so different from the comic series. Public pressure builds following several superhuman-related events that include an attack on Manhattan in reprisal for Nick Fury's Secret War, and the Hulk's rampage in Las Vegas which resulted in the deaths of 26 people. Fans of the movies who pay close attention can see how this buildup occurs; Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) becomes increasingly frustrated to save the world in Age of Ultron. Maybe he believes that superheroes can not do things on their own.

The Movie: The Sokovia Accords

This is one of the things we have known for some time with the first Civil War trailer. The act that calls for the registration of people with superpowers is known as the Sokovia Accords. After the Ultron Offensive, public perception worsens for anyone with superpowers, including members of the Avengers. We see this underlying fear played out in the Netflix TV series Jessica Jones where people are wary of revealing they have superpowers for fear of retribution and exposure; For example, Audrey Eastman (Jessica Hecht) attempts to kill Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) to avenge her mother, who was killed in the Battle of New York.

In the comic series, the equivalent legislation is known as the Superhuman Registration Act. This is not the first time Marvel has explored this type of legislation within their comics. The Mutant Control Act, for example, plays a part of the X-Men's Days of Future Past storyline. While the law takes place in an alternate timeline, the Mutant Registration Act (MRA) is passed in the main comicbook universe but plays no significant role other than passing mention.

The next registration act seen in the Marvel comics is the Metahuman Registration Act, seen in various storylines during the 1990s but most prominently seen during the Acts of Vengence crossover event. Unlike the Mutant Registration Act which calls for the registration of mutants, or people who have their powers inherently at birth, the Metahuman Registration Act covers those who acquire their powers later in life.

Reed Richards argues to Congress that this legislation is unnecessary as super-humans have been largely effective and trustworthy in their actions and government regulation would only stifle their ability to protect the world. Individuals who act irresponsibly with their powers are also likely to be supervillains, and thus would not be candidates for registration anyway. The legislation dies a quick death when a device designed to scan a person's physical and mental capabilities identifies several regular humans, including some members of Congress, as "superhuman."

The Comic and the Movie: Someone Dies

This is one area where fan speculation is rampant. In the comics, Bill Foster, who plays the superhero Goliath, fights on Captain America's side and is killed by Ragnarok, the clone of Thor. This death is a pivotal event and affects the balance of forces in Civil War; it leads several characters to switch sides.

In the trailer, we see James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle) get shot out of the sky while wearing his War Machine armour. Rhodes fights on Stark's side in the movie and he is the character speculated to buy the proverbial farm. How this affects the storyline, whether he dies, or if anyone changes sides as a result is anyone's guess.

Captain America also dies in the comics, but as Chris Evans is contracted to appear in Avengers: Infinity War, death seems unlikely. But then again, this won't be the first time Steve Rogers has come back from the dead. Technically, he did die in the first movie. Sort of. Maybe he dies and is resurrected in the next movie.

The Movie: Spider-Man's identity remains a Secret(?)

One of the biggest reveals was that Marvel reacquired the rights to use Spider-Man from Sony with both companies agreeing to share the character. Spider-Man plays a pivotal role in the comics by siding with Iron Man and revealing his identity to the world during a press conference. Peter comes to regret this decision as it places his friends and family in danger.

Though Spider-Man does indeed fight on Iron Man's side in the trailer, this reveal is likely not going to happen in the movie. The rebooted character, played by Tom Holland, is not going to have an origin story that typifies the start of most superhero movies. Instead, Sony is going to start with Peter having already established himself as a superhero for some time. As the (third) first Spider-Man movie is yet to come out, revealing the character's identity to the public would change things substantially.

It must be noted that Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), prince of the kingdom of Wakanda, who assumes the role of Black Panther was initially supposed to be a neutral player, choosing to fight on neither side, in Civil War. The recent deal Marvel made with Sony to use Spider-Man may have changed the motivations of the character who sees both sides. While it is difficult to ascertain whose sides Black Panther is fighting for in the latest trailer, one scene where Captain America and Iron Man are running towards each other, Black Panther appears on Iron Man's side.

Different Worlds, Different Outcomes?

This is one area that makes things difficult to predict. There were far more characters involved in the comic series than will be involved in the cinematic universe. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not as big a place as the comics, it does not mean that the consequences will be less so; directors Joe and Anthony Russo have promised that the movie will have a massive impact on the cinematic universe. They have warned the expected dramatic ending is likely to be "controversial for a lot of people.”

Black Panther is on Iron Man's side?
Black Panther is on Iron Man's side?

The Inhumans Plot

Fans of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD will notice that many of the same expected themes in Civil War are playing out in the television series. In the television show, Terrigen Crystals leak into the ocean and contaminate fish. Anyone with the Inhuman gene who accidentally ingests contaminated fish will undergo Terrigenesis and either mutate or develop super-powers. The events in the episode Inside Man highlight how contentious the issue of having superpowered beings living in the world actually is.

Agents of SHIELD explores the role of superpowers play with an individual's personal responsibility, something that was never done in the movies; the Avengers could pretty much do what they wanted and be glorified for it. How much trust is accorded to someone is open for debate. It seems inconceivable that the events in the TV show won't play some part in the upcoming movie.

Just how much of an impact the TV show will have on the upcoming movie is unknown, but we do know that SHIELD is still "suffering" from the effects seen in Winter Soldier when it was revealed that Hydra had infiltrated the organization.

The Final Outcome

Both the Marvel cinematic and comic universes are very different. While the comic book universe is larger and has been dealing with superpowered people (and aliens) for a longer time than inhabitants of the cinematic universe, people's reactions to perceived threats are the same. Whatever the final outcome of Captain America: Civil War or how different it will be from the comics, we know this: it is going to change the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a major way.


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