Comic vs. Film: ‘Captain America: Civil War’
We break this comic book adaptation down to its atoms!
I’m starting to feel embarrassed for DC/Warner. Sure, I thought Batman v. Superman was entertaining, but the the filmmakers didn’t manage to achieve the social commentary or emotional weight they were shooting for. But Captain America: Civil War hits you in the feels and makes it seem effortless. Marvel Studios excel at translating everything essential from the comics that makes the stories worth telling, while altering certain aspects to have them better fit the film or the more realistic world. This is apparent every time they introduce a new character or adapt a classic storyline. And with Civil War, they even managed to break the “too many character” curse that has sunk many a comic book film.
Below we will look at everything Civil War takes from the comic books and how faithful it is to the spirit of those illustrated stories.
Steve Rogers aka Captain America
In the comics a showdown between a young superhero team (New Warriors) and a C-list supervillain (Nitro) ends in massive civilian casualties and widespread destruction. The government responds by imposing mandatory registration for any crime-fighting or powered individuals. So, the hot-button issues in the comics are: should the government regulate superheroes and should these heroes be forced to reveal their secret identities?
Tony Stark takes a pro-registration stance, while Steve Rogers sides with those unwilling to “sign up”. Just because dude’s name is Captain America doesn’t mean he automatically sides with the Johnny Law. He has regularly disagreed with US policy at home and abroad throughout the years. Now, here’s the thing, in modern times Captain America’s identity is not a secret, so his choice to fight for and lead the anti-registration squad once again proves he is a defender of freedom.
So, did the movie deviate from the Civil War mini series? Yes, slightly, but only in aid of the overarching MCU storyline. Plus, there is a ton of direct panel-to-screen adaptation (see in the Iron Man comparison below).
A cool little detail is that while Cap’s original round shield is not made by Howard Stark in the comics, he does eventually rock one designed by Tony. However, he eventually replaces that shield with one given to him by T’Challa that is pure Vibranium. Hint, hint.
Tony Stark aka Iron Man
Tony is definitely the villain in the Civil War comics. He pulls some questionable shit (like cloning Thor) and works alongside a very “big brother” iteration of S.H.I.E.L.D., who are pardoning and deputizing supervillains who agree to register. In fact, he becomes the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the aftermath of Civil War.
At the time Civl War takes place in the comics Peter Parker aka Spider-Man is being mentored by Stark. Spidey even wears an armored suit designed by Stark called the Iron Spider. Many of the pro-registration heroes don’t have secret identities, so it is a huge boost for Tony’s side when Peter agrees to unmask on TV. However, when Pete starts to question the registration act’s aggressive enforcement, he switches sides. Hello, Russos? We call that the big turning point, and I’d say it’s a missed opportunity in this film.
Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow
Even though she had been a staunch ally of cap in the comics up until that point, when Civil War went down she joined Iron Man’s task force to enforce registration. She is one of only a handful of A-list heroes on Tony’s side.
Widow’s look has not changed much in the comics over the decades, and the version of her suit she sports at the airpot battle is probably the most accurate yet. It would be dope to see Scarjo in Natasha’s early ’90s look, when she had short hair and a grey one-piece.
Clint Barton aka Hawkeye
Clint Barton was absent during the Civil War in the comics. He was on a personal quest and was not acting as Hawkeye. He even left his uniform and equipment behind.
We still haven’t got Clint in a mask yet, but as you can see the rest of his gear is comic accurate. You gotta love how he even has the long sleeve on the right arm and the archer’s glove on the left hand.
The hero that assumed the Hawkeye title during Civil War in the comics was Kate Bishop of the Young Avengers and she and her team were #teamcap all the way.
James “Bucky” Barnes aka The Winter Soldier
To answer a FAQ I’m getting from friends who don’t read comics, yes, Howard and Maria Stark’s assassination at the hands of The Winter Soldier is pulled directly from the comics. But, no, it had nothing to do with Civil War. In the pages of Captain America, Bucky does go to trial for crimes he committed as The Winter Soldier and he is sent to a Russian gulag full of supervillains.
During the Civil War in the comics Bucky is an undercover operative working for Nick Fury, who has left S.H.I.E.L.D. and is fighting against registration from the shadows.
Anybody else notice that part of Bucky’s activation code was “homecoming”? This of course is the name of the upcoming Spider-Man movie.
Fun fact: In Age of Ultron, when Ultron is first sorting through data as he gains consciousness, there are documents that reveal Tony’s parents had been killed by The Winter Soldier.
James “Rhodey” Rhodes aka War Machine
In the same way Sam and Buck are Cap’s ride or die homies, Rhodey is Tony’s roll dog. They haven’t always seen eye-to-eye in the comics but when push comes to shove, they have each other’s back.
We love how something new is added to War Machine’s arsenal each movie he’s in. The shock baton in this film was ill. If it’s not apparent from the above pictures, Rhodey’s rig tends to have heavier armaments and be more chunky than the Iron Man armor.
Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch
They started to show just how powerful Wanda is in this movie but they have barely scratched the surface. In the comics she can literally change reality with a thought. This third iteration of her costume in live action has brought it more in-line with Wanda’s recent Uncanny Avengers look.
Wanda was presumed missing during the Civil War mini series after being the cause of the catastrophic events in the House of M and Avengers Disassembled crossovers.
Sam Wilson aka The Falcon
It would do Sam a disservice to call him Captain America’s sidekick, but he has definitely held the Sentinel of Liberty down for decades. Their friendship in the comics has seen them risk their lives for each other on multiple occasions. Sam was of course in Cap’s core group during the Civil War mini series.
Two things worth pointing out on his latest MCU gear is how they included a subtle nod to the red feather-like patterning from his classic comic costume, and how he also has a version of the hawking gauntlet from that outfit.
In the comics Redwing was a Brazilian falcon that was telepathically connected to Sam. So, a bird-like drone is a perfect update. Knowing Redwing is a real bird in comic continuity makes the Black Widow/Redwing joke that much funnier.
T’Challa aka Black Panther
Captain America helped T’Challa’s grandfather and pops defend Wakanda against Nazis during WWII, so you know they down by law. It’s too bad they didn’t go that route here. A World War II flashback with Cap fighting alongside T’Chaka would have been cool.
There was some early criticism of Panther’s suit, but as a comic fan, I can safely say it is a great representation of what he wears in the comics. Sure it has changed over the years, but all the classic elements of the costume are there: Panther mask, ceremonial necklace, and Vibranium alloy claws.
There were rumors that Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) had already been cast as T’Challa’s father and Wakandan king, T’Chaka, for the Black Panther film. But with John Kani playing the role here and considering his fate in this movie, that doesn’t seem likely. However, we may very well see a younger actor portray T’Chaka in flashbacks in the upcoming Ryan Coogler-helmed Black Panther.
In the comics T’Chaka’s assassin is classic Black Panther nemesis Klaw and it happens at the Bilderberg conference. Close enough though.
This is not one person but the name of the Wakandan royal guard. This protectorate is made up of the chosen daughter of every tribe in Wakanda. Traditionally the king chooses his bride from this elite grouping.
In the film we only see a Dora Milaje for a moment but there is no mistaking the bald-headed female with big hoop earrings.
Sharon Carter aka Agent 13
Being a tried and true S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the comics, she actually sides against her man, Steve. Say what? Yep, and though she is brainwashed at the time, she is also one of the shooters in Cap’s assassination!
Scott Lang aka Ant-Man / Giant-Man
Scott Lang was assumed dead during Civil War in the comics. However, Scott’s daughter Cassie has become a size-changing hero named Stature and she takes Iron Man’s side. This puts her at odds with the rest of her Young Avengers team.
Though only Hank Pym ever held the title Giant-Man (pictured above) in the comics, anybody using Pym Particles can shrink or enlarge themselves. Lang, however, rarely grows in the comics.
Lastly, Ant-Man entering Tony’s armor is likely a reference to storyline where Lang had to breach the Iron Man suit to save Tony’s life.
They did a great job of showing the humanizing of The Vision. In the comics, this is a big part of his evolution and is even the basis for his recent comic series that was part of Marvel’s All-New, All Different relaunch. His sweater, slacks, and love of chess are all nods to early Avengers comics.
Vision’s relationship with Wanda from the comics went from a wink wink moment in Age of Ultron, to being a major plot point here. Hopefully, this will be developed even further in Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 & 2. In the pages of Avengers they marry and even have twins…sort of.
Peter Parker aka Spider-Man
Let’s start by saying that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man committed to celluloid yet. He exudes exactly the geeky swag that has made the character arguably the world’s most popular superhero. His moves? Perfect. His quips? Dead on. His relationship with Iron Man? Couldn’t have asked for more.
In regards to his iconic suit, it’s so right…and all wrong at the same time. It is an ode to legendary Amazing Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko, which is awesome and the way it should be. The problem is that his classic red and blue suit has nothing to do with Tony Stark. The levelled up Iron Spider costume he gets from Tony is the one shown above and includes enhancements like three mechanical spider arms, a glider device, and 17-layer armor. The only detail of the Iron Spider gear that is the same as the suit in the film is the mask having aperture control for eye relief.
Oh, we didn’t forget the after credits scene. The gadget he gets from Stark in the film projects the exact same logo that his Spider Signal does in the comics.
We chose the above picture of Zemo to plainly illustrate that he is a Nazi from a family of Nazis in the comics. While this panel is the only time he ever had a KKK-type hood, the rest of the get-up is his standard look. Purple with white fur might have been too much for live action but they could have at least given him some sort of little embellishment to tribute his comic origin.
Now, although they changed him from facist German to Sokovian intelligence, Zemo still maintains the same mission – to get revenge on Captain America for the death of his father (and in the movie, his wife and son too).
Brock Rumlow aka Crossbones
Rumlow was a ruthless soldier faithful to Hydra in the last movie, but not much more than a henchman. In Civil War he’s become a suicidal mercenary hellbent on revenge. And though his time is short, Crossbones plays the same role as Nitro in the comics and as such, his actions are the catalyst that start the Civil War.
Kudos to the filmmakers for actually giving him the skull and crossbones motif from the comics! On the other hand, Rumlow did not have facial scarring caused by Rogers in the comics. Nor has he ever had mechanized gauntlets. But they do make a Crossbones vs. Cap fight more believable.
Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
This was the perfect MCU character to bring back to head up the Sokovia Accords. In the comics Ross has regularly been in direct opposition to super powered individuals, especially if they are not under the control of the US government. He is chiefly a Hulk-hater but he has been known to spread it around.
We didn’t forget about Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross or Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May, we’re just gonna save those comic comparisons for their bigger roles in the Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming movies respectively.