AVENGERS MONTH: Why I Want a CIVIL WAR Movie and Why I’ll Never Get One

By Hedgehog

Some spoilers for The Avengers follow.

With The Avengers currently tearing a hole in the fabric of the box office universe, and that’s before premiering in the United States (the late release a decision I won’t even pretend to understand) there has been a lot of discussion about future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies; will we see ScarJo in a Black Widow stand-alone, or Ruffles in yet another version of HULK (signs point to yes on both, incidentally)? What could we see in the inevitable sequel to The Avengers? We’ve already seen one potential future villain in Alexis Denisof’s “The Other” (Yes I know who he is, no, I won’t spoil that one because fuck, that was cool), but what about other members of the avenging roster like Wasp, Ant-man, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch? Will Joss Whedon return for the sequel? Will he bring in some more Whedonverse natives? Where do we go from here?

These questions and more have been raised all across these vast internets, including here on HoG. But I’d like to look to other properties, one in particular, which may in fact be the most epic collection of Marvel superheroes and supervillains in existence. Mostly, because in Civil War, the cast is made up of pretty much all of them.

In Civil War we are treated to the ponderous what if question: what if the world’s superheroes were pitted against one another, a divide growing between them putting friends at odds and creating an environment for some of the greatest battles in comic history. Cap Versus Stark? Sure. Wolverine Versus Cyclops? Yup. Thor Versus Everyone? Pretty much.

The story is this; while trying to make a name for themselves, a group of new mutants are involved in an altercation with some villains who are way out of their league. The resulting battle ends the lives of a number of civilians, including children. As a response to this, the knee-jerk policy of superhero registration (a time honoured trope of the X-Men franchise) is brought up once again, with some supers coming out against it, and some taking a stance of support.

It is this rift which causes the civil war itself; as one team lead by Tony Stark’s Iron Man being pro-registration, while Captain America is staunchly against the idea, citing threats to families and the need for supers to be above the law in dealing with crises that the normal citizens and armies of the world could not handle.

It’s a great story, one of the few capes comics I actually own and have read multiple times. The moment when Thor uses his powers in an impressive and terrifying manner is, well, simply amazing. Written by the almost always impressive (he;s gone a bit over the top recently) Mark Millar and with art by Steve McNiven, the pages are already impressively cinematic and would make the transition to the big screen with ease.

In fact, there is a moment in The Avengers where Thor and Iron Man have a bit of a smack-down which had shades of Civil War in an honest sense. 

So why will we never see this?

To put it simply, the studio infrastructure of the United States prevents this from really, ever happening. The use of Iron Man, Cap, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, Nick Fury, Shield (all owned by Marvel Studios), Spider-Man (owned by Sony), the X-Men (Owned by FOX), Fantastic Four (FOX), Punisher (Artisan and Marvel), Daredevil (Regency) and so on would require an unprecedented level of collaboration between generally unfriendly entities.

FOX have intimated, although unofficially, that they may be open to working with Marvel Studios in the future, but who would retain control of the production? With both houses generally demanding pretty exclusive powers in terms of execution, scripting, casting and development I’m not sure how that would work even if both parties could come to the table. This would allow the use of the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Ghost Rider. It’s been revealed that Marvel Studios have the right to use Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in future Avengers movies, but only their Avengers continuity, and are prohibited from mentioning their parentage (Magneto), the X-Men or, it turns out, mentioning mutants in any way.

Include Sony in the picture – who are rushing through and releasing a new Spider-Man film (which I’ll admit, I am looking forward to seeing) for no other reason than to maintain their hold of the licence – and even more clouded, the future becomes. Sony are notorious for their refusal to play well with others. 

So where does this leave us? We know that superhero team-ups can work, just look at Avengers. I’m half expecting DC to push through a big budget Justice League movie in the coming years although given how well they manage a single character the forecast is less than sunny – look at Superman Returns (which I liked, but mostly because Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey rock my little cotton socks) and Green Lantern, which was a categorical mess of a film with too many weird aliens and not enough plot. And this from a guy who genuinely likes movies about weird aliens and not enough plot. It couldn’t even please me and I enjoy the Baysplosion-fest Transformers movies.

Unfortunately it seems that with the studio’s set up as they are, it’s highly unlikely that a film of this nature would ever make it to the screen, or even to pre-production. Maybe one day, when all the properties have reverted to Marvel’s vault we might get a big screen adaptation. 

Until then, I’m going to go watch The Avengers a few dozen more times.

You can harass the author of this post via Twitter: @CAricHanley