Friday, May 6, 2016

How close will 'Captain America: Civil War' tie into the comic book?

In case you fans have been living under a rock, "Captain America: Civil War" is out in theaters today.

That's not exactly breaking news. But when the news broke that the third Cap film would have the subtitle "Civil War," Marvel Comics readers started to wonder just how much Marvel Studios would borrow and/or be inspired by the 2006-2007 seven-issue limited series.  (The published series is reviewed after the break, but stick with me here as I speculate on the cinematic story. ...!)

That's not unlike the speculation we had about the 2014 film "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and the dramatic storyline by Ed Brubaker, which brought back James "Bucky" Barnes back from the dead as a cybernetically-enhanced and government-programmed assassin/hitman. (Look for a repost of my review here soon.)

While the Russo brothers clearly took many moments from the original story, the co-directors made their film its own thing. At the same time they brilliantly further developed the relationship among Steve Rogers/Captain America's supporting cast.

After seeing "The Winter Soldier" and how closely Black Widow worked with Rogers, wouldn't it be safe to assume she clearly would be a Team Cap member? Doesn't she owe more allegiance to Rogers than Tony Stark (aka Iron Man)?

Yet the "Civil War" footage clearly shows her siding with Team Iron Man/Team Stark.

My gut tells me with Black Widow being a trained KGB spy -- and despite now being a SHIELD field agent -- "she might end up paying lip-service to (General "Thunderbolt") Ross and Stark."

(I addressed this possibility nearly five months ago in my review of the "he's my friend" trailer.)

So when push comes to shove, I bet Natasha Romanoff will turn her back on Stark and remain loyal to Rogers/Cap, a fellow fighter who knows more about the military life than a civilian one. (Besides, actress Scarlett Johansson and actor Chris Evans are longtime buds!)

Keep in mind, Romanoff and Rogers had a heart-to-heart talk about loyalty when they hid out at Sam Wilson's place in "The Winter Soldier."

"If it was the other way around, and it was down to me to save your life, and you be honest with me, would you trust me to do it?," Romanoff asks Rogers, whose reply is straight to the point and from the heart.

"I would now. And I'm always honest," he says.

Another reality on the Team Cap/Team Iron Man division in "Civil War" comes to down to a gender breakdown and making the sides evenly numbered.

Cap trusts Scarlet Witch, having already bonded over their mutual altercation with Ultron in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," so having Black Widow supporting the Star-Spangled Avenger would be too many women on one side. And besides, don't you want to see Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch take on Vision, her (now ex-) husband in the comics?! I know I do.

Ultimately, the movie version of "Civil War" won't be about government sanctions as much as it will grapple with the tension of allegiances, disagreements over philosophies and friendship. (Secret identities aren't really "a thing" in the Marvel movie universe; after all, with Cap and Iron Man's IDs are public knowledge.)

Any Caphead and/or regular CAPTAIN AMERICA reader will tell you that loyalty and doing what's right trumps everything else for Steve Rogers.

The heart of the movie will be about his allegiance to Barnes. Rogers no doubt believes in his best friend's ability to redeem himself from his violent Winter Soldier past. Why else would Cap and the Falcon search for Barnes for two years?

The power of their friendship -- and the bonds Rogers has created with other superheroes and SHIELD agents -- overshadow the government's perceived problem with Captain America.

The authorities see Rogers as a loose cannon and likely will question his support of Barnes, a former assassin.

The truth is the Star-Spangled Avenger -- even though he's the government's first sanctioned superhero and rocks a patriotic costume -- isn't about what the government dictates; he's always focused on freedom, the person and his or her rights. That's been played out time and time again in countless CAPTAIN AMERICA comics.

Now onto my review of the CIVIL WAR storyline ...

March 11, 2013 --
“Do you ever wonder if we’ve picked the right side, Hank?” — Peter Parker to Yellowjacket (aka Henry Pym) 

Seven years of real time is a lifetime ago in fanboy/fangirl time. More stuff can happen over seven years of comic-book time — heck, just two years — it’s mind-numbing.

So you might want to know why I’m just now reviewing 2006′s CIVIL WAR.

A recent conversation with on my best geek-buds, Andrew Gates, about all things Marvel Comics (Andrew’s basically is a “Marvel Guy”) led to CIVIL WAR. Since I hadn’t read the seven-issue limited series yet, it inspired to read the issues I do have (Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 7). …

OK, I’m totally rationalizing some timeliness on reviewing a series published seven (now 10!) years ago, which has been in a shortbox by my bed for the last couple months — ever since I bought four of the issues for a quarter each at a warehouse sale. (But I did just read them!)

Anyway, onto CIVIL WAR. 

Despite only reading 57 percent of it, I have a great feeling for what transpired.

There’s great drama and strategic usage of splash pages. There are traitors and heroes with misgivings about the cause they’re supporting — good stuff.

One of the things I really appreciate about CIVIL WAR is the recap in each issue. (Technically, there are two — one on the back cover and a more detailed on the first page.)

With so much happening in each issue, those recaps help readers get back-up-to-speed — whether you’re reading them in one sitting or you purchased them one month apart.

Steve McNiven’s pencils hit it right. He gives characters — major or minor — a wide range of expressions. Very few artists know how to have characters express many emotions.

McNiven also draws interesting fight scenes; you can feel the vicious blows Captain America and Iron Man deliver to each other.

Many contemporary artists can depict intriguing fight scenes; all of them can put heroes and villains in great poses.

Another art to comic book storytellling is arranging panels to tell an effective story. McNiven does all those things well — and colorist Morry Hollowell makes his pencils shine with even more drama. 

What else can I say about a story, where in the course of just two issues, Avengers teammates (and good friends) shake hands — only to slug it out later, one hero dies, a founding Avenger questions the ethics of cloning a teammate and a marriage falls apart?

I can’t. Grade: A

Now the question remains: Just how close to the dramatic and jaw-dropping climax/conclusion of CIVIL WAR will the Russo brothers stay in the "Civil War" film? Would Marvel Studios go there?

This Caphead doubts it. But I've been wrong before …

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