Although it’s several months away from hitting theaters, “Captain America: Civil War” is perhaps the most highly anticipated Marvel film since the first “Avengers” in 2012. With fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe excited to see two of its greatest heroes go at it, many are wondering what sparks the conflict between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in the first place.
As fans of the Marvel Comics source material will note, the “Civil War” event in 2006 was a massively successful storyline that spanned several titles, including “Captain America,” “Spider-Man,” “Iron Man" and "The Fantastic Four." The climactic battle between Iron Man and Cap began over the issue of Superhuman Registration. In the comic books, a catastrophic event in Stamford, Connecticut, leaves more than 600 civilians dead, and the public believes superheroes are the ones to blame. Fed up with letting the cavalcade of masked vigilantes that made up the Marvel crew operate unrestricted by the government, people supported nearly unanimously a bill that would force each hero to unmask privately to S.H.I.E.L.D. This would allow them to be held accountable for things like property damage and civilian casualties. Unfortunately, as io9 notes, secret identities can’t carry the same weight in the MCU as they did in the comics simply because, well, no one has a secret identity.
Tony Stark revealed he’s Iron Man at the end of his first movie in 2008. Steve Rogers was the most successful science experiment and the world saw him help the Allies win World War II as Captain America before he was publicly unfrozen in 2012. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is mentioned by name every time the Hulk goes on a rampage and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) isn’t from Earth, so he couldn’t care less if paparazzi spot him on the street as the God of Thunder or as Donald Blake (as his comic book counterpart sometimes goes by). Sure, there are characters like Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who don’t necessarily want the media to report their full names, but they were already regulated by the government as agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before it fell in “Captain America: Winter Soldier." So, with S.H.I.E.L.D. gone and secret identities virtually nonexistent in the MCU, what then will it be that causes a rift between the former allies in the 2016 flick?
Not much is known about the coming film's plot other than the brief synopsis we've been given. According to a report from the Birth. Movies. Death., the film version of the “Civil War” will change things up from the comic books by doing away with the Superhuman Registration Act and replacing it with something called "the Accords," a global move to govern the superheroes of the world, giving them a place to report to and a way to be held accountable without having to unmask. In essence, it would preserve the same general high stakes as the comic book event without having to tack on the idea of unveiling hero’s secret identities, which was a very potent issue in the comics that wouldn’t translate well on film. Iron Man will reportedly lead forces in favor of the Accords and Cap will lead his team against them, which CinemaBlend notes makes perfect sense given the fact that the last time his actions were controlled by a government body, it turned out to be the villainous Hydra in disguise.
Unfortunately, BMD doesn’t reveal a source for its information, meaning it has to be taken with a big grain of salt. However, there is some evidence to support the site’s claim. For those who made it to the theater to see “Ant-Man” in July, who apparently were few, there was the perfunctory post-credits scene tacked onto the end of the film showing Cap, Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). In order to save the Winter Soldier from peril, Falcon and Cap discuss asking Stark for help. Eventually, they decide that that won’t work as Stark is too busy with, you heard it right, the Accords. While this doesn’t necessarily count as proof that the Accords will be the plot device to replace the Superhuman Registration Act, it certainly seems like a nice way to make “Civil War” work in the MCU.
Sadly, fans will just have to wait until “Captain America: Civil War” hits theaters on May 6, 2016, to have all their burning questions answered. In the meantime, you can comment your thoughts on the Accords below or tweet them to @TylerMcCarthy.