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Road to Civil War: Avengers Assemble

Written by Mark Russell

Back in 2008, when Nick Fury appeared in Tony Stark’s house to invite him into the Avengers Initiative, comic book connoisseurs realised that some of the most iconic superheroes in Marvel’s history would be crossing path on the silver screen. Not only did Avengers Assemble open the door for the successful concept of a shared film universe, but established that the team dynamics of a superhero team are not squeaky clean and there will be internal conflict. And now that conflict will spill over in Captain America: Civil War, with the dream team split in two and the battle to come will shake the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its core. But how did we get here? What hints were there that would drive the Avengers against each other?

Let’s find out as we take a rather different second look at three key films in the MCU that set the ground work for Team Iron Man vs. Team Capt through the character dynamics and conflicts, and the larger consequences of the Avengers’ presence.

The foundations of Civil War were set up right from the word “go”. From the first scene of The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. were making preparations to defend the Earth by using the Tesseract to create WMDs after the Destroyer trashed a small town in New Mexico in Thor. Further unmentioned causes may have been Iron Man’s own escapades in his two movies, and the Hulk, as Bruce Banner puts it “broke Harlem”. Already, the Avengers are causing an impact on the world before they were even founded. But when Loki shows up with the intent to conquer the world through an alien invasion, everyone comes to realise that they are not alone in both the universe and on their own planet. Til then, Iron Man was a celebrity, Thor was a myth, Captain America was a wartime fad, and Hulk was an urban legend acknowledged only by those in Big Foot hunting circles.

Obviously, the seven key members of the Avengers (including Nick Fury) all have their own morals and opinions on right and wrong. As expected, it all comes to a boil midway through the film but there are early signs of conflict between our heroes. Rogers, who is very much one for following orders and being honest, clashes with Stark who has more underhanded ways of getting things done which Capt. doesn’t approve of, and yet he is inspired to break into the Helicarrier’s depths to find out what Fury is up to. The two and Bruce Banner disapprove of S.H.I.E.L.D. using the Tesseract to make weapons. Rogers is particularly objective, cementing his distrust for the agency in Captain America: Winter Soldier.

The conflict between Stark and Rogers will be a key factor in Civil War, and their first crossing is riddled with tension. They argue about everything, from their own levels of seriousness, and Stark’s attitude (“Big man in a suit of armour. Take that off, what are you?”).  Roger goes on to accuse Stark of never being the one to make the sacrifice, which, of course, he nearly does at the climax of the film and this drives Stark on his path during Avengers: Age of Ultron. Stark then reminds Rogers that everything special about him “came out of a bottle”.

Here, you can see the duality between Iron Man and Captain America – Iron Man had the talent but not the ideals, while Capt. had the opposite, needing the super soldier serum to become a superhero. The mirroring of the two has continued into the MCU, with Iron Man gaining a more responsible role, even if his actions are extreme, while Capt. looks to follow the grey side of morality, with brief moments of it in Winter Soldier. Black Widow and Hawkeye will both be involved in Civil War, though it looks like both will merely by on the battlefield to keep an eye on things judging by their banter in the advertising.

The events of Civil War will begin with the introduction of the infamous superhero registration act, a decision that stems from the destruction caused by the Avengers. Unlike Dawn of Justice, where Superman can demolish Metropolis without any personal consequences, the Avengers aren’t so lucky. The film’s climax takes place in New York, and despite their being zero onscreen civilian casualties, there still are hints that people died. In Jessica Jones, the titular detective is confronted by a vengeful woman hoping to kill Jessica, blaming “her kind” for the death of her mother during the battle for New York. Jessica doesn’t take kindly to having other people’s pain dumped on her, but she won’t have to deal with the bigger sanctions that the Avengers will.

Avengers Assemble marked the beginning of a bigger universe and the bigger challenges that come with it. The road to Civil War leads to division between heroes and friends, the clash of ideals, and the questioning and abuse of authority and power. We shall see the extent of the latter in our look at Winter Soldier.

What do you think are the key factors that will lead to Civil War? Were Iron Man and Captain America always destined to clash? Sound off below or on our Twitter feed.

About the author

Mark Russell