First of all, every new character makes me despair a little because I would like a succinct movie for once, and I doubt I get it, but whatever.
Civil War was one of the first comic arcs I read. I had no idea who half of the people were. My experience was regulated pretty literally to Watchmen. I’ve gone back and read it since then, you know after I got some sense of the history behind the characters. I don’t think it’s possible for the movie to make nearly as big an impact for the sole reason that Tony Stark and Steve Rogers don’t feel like friends in the movie verse. They’ve had very little by way of screen time together and what little we’ve see was almost exclusively antagonistic. Comic Steve and Tony, tbh completely in love (romantic, friendship, whatever you want to call it). The story is about an issue that tears friends apart. Movie Steve and Tony? Not friends.
Which means that more of this story is going to be about the Issue. And I get that the Issue can be about privacy vs. security, freedom vs. oppression. Part of it may be the time I read it, (2008, in my Virginia Tech dorm room, about a year after what--at the time--was the worst school school shooting in American history) but for me this is a story about Gun Control.
I was on Tony’s side for the entirety of this run. He went about it in a pretty crappy way, but he was trying to regulate weapons. And that should be regulated. There should be accountability. Vigilantism in modern culture is so very easy to mistake for fanaticism. Secret identities shouldn’t make someone immune from punishment. Everyone should be accountable for the weapons they own. If we’d have had radical gun control reform after Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook may never have happened. But instead we get people crying that their right to bear arms is sacred. Because they have a right to protect themselves.
That’s what the core issue of Civil War is for me. Tony Stark says ‘Hey we have tons of unregulated weapons running around, we should at least try to build in some accountability’ and Steve Rogers replies, ‘Hell no, we all have a right to protect our secret identity.’
And the narrative is going to want me on Steve’s side. Because it’s a Captain America movie.