Battle Plans: Sizing up Civil War II's Team Iron Man vs Team Captain Marvel

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Mar 22, 2016

[Editor's Note: March kicks off a season of big-time showdowns, grudge matches and maybe a few team-ups. Infamous as the month when Brutus betrayed Caesar, March will get even more epic because Batman will take on Superman on the big screen, Daredevil will get company in Hell's Kitchen in the form of The Punisher on Netflix, and The Flash shall race on over to CBS to meet Supergirl. And, of course, just a few weeks after this kickoff, we'll see a breakdown in the friendship between Captain America and Iron Man in Marvel's Civil War movie. Because we love seeing a good battle between titans, we've dedicated March to versus. Over the next four weeks, check this space for stories on title fights in superhero stories, horror, science and more!]

War is coming for Marvel’s mightiest, and not just on the big screen. While their cinematic counterparts are doing battle in Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s comic-book characters will be choosing sides in Civil War II. The new event arrives 10 years after the original blockbuster — this time written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by David Marquez — and will see our heroes divided over a different ethical question: If superheroes could see the future, should they use that knowledge to change it?

In the new series — which kicks off with a release on Free Comic Book Day on May 7 — a new Inhuman goes through terrigenesis and gains the ability to see the future. One faction of superheroes is led by Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, who thinks they should utilize the resource to stop crimes and disasters before they happen, while Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, leads the opposition that believes the punishment cannot precede the crime. The two sides will come to blows when one of their own is foreseen to be the cause of a huge catastrophe, divided over what to do with the prediction.

The particulars of the conflict beyond that are still to be revealed, but Marvel has released a slew of teasers showing the forces that amassed under the flags of Team Tony and Team Carol and others spotlighting the major players. They have also revealed details of the first wave of tie-ins, which will show how the gods, mutants, Inhumans, and more factor into the war, leaving us with enough information to begin speculating on how the event will pan out.

So in the spirit of Blastr’s Versus Month, I’ll be making some predictions of my own, sizing up the pro- and anti- sides’ forces, seeing who has the most muscle, the most resources and who has the moral high ground, in order to prophesy which side is more likely to emerge victorious.

In This Corner

Let’s tackle this the simplest way possible first: who would win in a fight between the two teams?

The bulk of both teams is a fairly even match in my eyes. Spidey, Cap, and Hawkeye would fight Deadpool, other Cap, and Black Widow to a standstill, while Winter Soldier, War Machine, and Ant-Man would largely do the same to Black Panther, Iron Man, and Luke Cage. There are always upsets and clever uses of powers that lead to surprise victories, but in an even fight, I’d call the bottom halves of both teams a coin flip.

The difference is at the top of the roster, and Carol has simply recruited a more experienced and heavier group of heavy hitters, largely made up of her Ultimates and A-Force teammates Spectrum, Blue Marvel, Vision, She-Hulk, and Medusa. Iron Man’s team would certainly put up a fight, but the only people approaching that power level are Hercules, Thor, and Hulk, and the latter two — who are Jane Foster and Amadeus Cho, rather than the classic versions — are fairly inexperienced with the upper limits of their powers. Compare that to Adam Brashear, a.k.a. Blue Marvel, who is one of the most powerful heroes in the world and has been wielding his powers for more than 60 years. Captain Marvel and Spectrum — the former Captain Marvel and leader of the Avengers — are both about on his power-level, and the trio recently fought and tamed Galactus as part of the Ultimates. I don’t see Tony’s big guns overcoming that in a fair fight.

Brains Over Brawn

But rarely has a story like this come down to sheer power. This fight will also be about who fights smartest, and who best utilizes the opportunities available to them. The combatants hail from across the Marvel Universe, and so do their connections, friendships, and bank accounts, any number of which could drastically change the game.

Both sides have access to impressive minds, both scientific and tactical. Team Tony clearly has an edge in the science department with Tony, Black Panther, and Amadeus Cho out-braining opposing super-scientists Adam Brashear and Peter Parker nine times out of 10. However, the tactical and military minds of Carol, Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers, War Machine, and Rocket Raccoon — seen in a teaser fighting Team Tony’s Star-Lord — could put an end to the fight before the big brains have a chance to whip up any miracle-devices.

More than one monarch and a CEO or two have embroiled themselves in this war, bringing with them all of the alliances and influence their positions entail. Captain Marvel is the director of the Alpha Flight Space Station, and all its observational and offensive resources, such as her teammates Sasquatch, Aurora, and Puck, are sure to be utilized. She will also be backed by Parker Industries, whose technological and manufacturing capabilities could outfit her forces with upgrades like the company does for Spider-Man. Medusa will also prove a valuable asset as the leader of the Inhumans, most of whom will follow her orders, potentially giving Captain Marvel a massive boost in numbers.

That alignment could also make an enemy for Team Carol, however, as the Inhumans currently have a precarious relationship with the mutants — a conflict that will be explored in Civil War II: X-Men — that could drive the X-Men to largely side with Tony. Iron Man takes advantage of Stark Industries as much as he can, but it’s recently fallen on hard times. The backing of Wakanda through King T’Challa is not a sure thing either, since the Wakandan people’s opinions of their ruler may be changing once his new ongoing series gets under way. Having the X-Men on their side is nothing to sneeze at, but Team Carol seems to have much deeper pockets and a larger pool of connections to pull from, so they come out on top once again.

Hearts And Minds

Much like in the original, in Civil War II alliances will change, traitors will be revealed, and unforeseen players will join the chaos. But which side stands to benefit the most from shifting allegiances, and whose team seems built on the strongest foundation?

A team is only as strong as its weakest link, making this one area in which Team Tony appears stronger than Team Carol. Captain Marvel’s side includes several characters who seem like they could be easily lured over the battle lines with the right motivational speech from the other side or tragic misstep by their own. Steve Rogers was all about civil rights during the first war, and being a lawyer you’d think She-Hulk could be swayed by the same argument, while Both Ant-Man and Hawkeye are former criminals who should understand the importance of a second chance. Then again, altering reality is the reason they’re both alive (it’s worth noting this will be Bendis’ first time writing the pair together since he killed them both off in 2004’s Avengers: Disassembled). Team Tony looks far more solid here, with only potential sources of trouble being Black Widow possibly being a spy since she’s… y’know… a spy, and also Deadpool’s unpredictability. The rest of team is largely made up of characters who would logically be big on the idea of being able to change your own destiny, so I don’t see many shifting their stance.

There are also several wild cards that have yet to choose a side that could tip the scales significantly. Black Bolt is currently estranged from his wife Medusa; will he choose her side in the war, or stand against her, deepening their divide? If he joins up with Tony, he’ll surely bring Inhuman supporters with him, bolstering Iron Man’s ranks. Most of Tony’s All-New All-Different Avengers teammates joined up with him, but Miles Morales Spider-Man and the Vision joined Carol, and Nova has yet to pick a side. Will he join up with most of his team, or will the Vision’s blackmailing of him pull him in the other direction? And if he goes with Tony, will Miles’ friends Nova and Ms. Marvel force him to reconsider his position and switch sides, mirroring his predecessor’s arc in the original story? Not wishing to see hero fight hero, Hercules will be forming a team of mythological heroes in the tie-in series Civil War II: Gods of War which will include Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Theseus, and Lorelei among others. If he is inspired to become more directly involved in the fighting he may bring them along for the big fights, providing some much-needed muscle for Team Tony. Most of these scenarios seem to play out in Tony’s favor so I’ll give him the win here, but we’ve still yet to hear from many major characters, such as Dr. Strange and the other magical heroes, as well as most of the rosters of the New and Uncanny Avengers, so anything can still happen.

To Change Or Protect

Carol and Tony can amass all the firepower in the world, but it won’t matter if they’re wrong. Which side has the stronger argument that will end up on the right side of history? While the series will strive to provide a balanced take on either side, one side may still end up being viewed as wrong, just like in the original series, where Iron Man’s actions painted him fairly definitively as the villain by the end. This time around, both sides have their fair share of good points as well as a bit of hypocrisy.

The most optimistic point of view on Iron Man’s side likely will come from a man who has seen more than a few prophecies about heroes in his day. Hercules argues from the perspective that a prophecy is a challenge to be overcome by a hero, not for others to use to control the course of the future. A current example of that is Jean Grey, who is displaced from the past and striving to prove that she can become something other than the destructive Phoenix that everyone expects her to become.

Peter Parker will probably be the one to put Team Carol’s position most simply: with great power comes great responsibility. If this new Inhuman has the great power to warn of coming disasters and save lives, do they not also have the great responsibility to do so, same as any other powered hero? As the Queen of the Inhumans, Medusa will likely use a similar argument, encouraging them to use their gift to the fullest. Captain Marvel and the other Ultimates on her team have made solving the biggest problems in the MU their mission statement, and the ability to see the future would certainly help with that. More information, they’ll argue, will help them be more effective heroes and save more lives, and besides, isn’t this basically what Cable does every time he comes to the past to prevent a future, and isn’t it what Old Man Logan is currently trying to do? They’ll also use the point I mentioned earlier: that if it wasn’t for reality being tampered with, Hawkeye and Ant-Man would still be dead, and Bucky would still be brainwashed.

But heroes playing with the fabric of time has rarely gone well. Tony is likely to use the corruption of the timestream caused by Age of Ultron, and by Beast bringing the original X-Men to the present, as evidence for why they shouldn’t play god, also likely having learned his lesson about power and corruption after the original Civil War. But some of his own team can’t use that argument, notably Black Panther, who just altered the timeline himself at the end of Secret Wars. And we have to note the inherent hypocrisy in Tony Stark — a man who prides himself on being a futurist — not wanting to predict the future. He does the same thing all the time, he just uses math and science to do it rather than superpowers.

It is easy to assume that Carol’s team will be the ones to overstep their bounds and cause a disaster while trying to prevent one, but it’s just as possible that Tony’s cynical assumptions will prove as arrogant. I would call this a wash.

Smart Money

So with all that said, which side looks poised to come out on top?

If I were a betting man, I’d put my chips on Team Carol. While Team Tony certainly has the potential to pull off the upset, they have an uphill battle. Carol has the more powerful line-upa war room full of master tacticians, and the formidable resources of Alpha Flight, Parker Industries, and Attilan behind her. Tony has a team that seems less likely to cause him trouble and will probably see his forces grow as the story goes on, but I don’t see it being enough to overcome Carol’s strength and organization. Captain Marvel has a long fight ahead of her that will test her faith in herself and her closest friends and allies, but she has the tenacity to see her forces through to the end.

But we’re still over a month out from the first shots in the war being fired, and who knows how much the future might change by then?


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