The Marvel Community is practically dying for any news about the upcoming Civil War film.
Even the lowest-quality leak is totally grabbing our attention. We're probably not ready for the pain and suffering this movie will inflict upon us, but we're impatient anyway. There's a long time between now and May 6 (2016), so in the meantime, it might be nice for all of us to welcome newcomers to the Marvel community, who might not know what to expect from the movie and are confused by our emotional flailing.
Whose side are you on?
The Civil War event in the Marvel Comics universe was introduced very recently (publication dates July 2006-January 2007). It tied together many different characters and story arcs under one theme. There were many different heroes and teams within the Marvel universe, and while they sometimes clashed, they hadn't all been brought together in such an explosive way before.
The precipitating event was the introduction of the Superhero Registration Act.
After several accidents caused by superhumans...
... including a rampage by the Hulk (which caused the deaths of 26 people), the United States government passed an act which required superhumans based in the U.S. to register with their real names and go through training. Scarlet Witch also took away the powers from the majority of mutants (in an event called M-Day). Because of this event, many mutants actually supported the Act. Another group, The New Warriors, caused mass destruction in Stamford Connecticut when they failed to apprehend a villain, which caused mass outcry from the rest of the population.
It was inevitable: something needed to be done about the 'super-power problem'.
The writer Mark Millar had this to say about Marvel's approach: "People thought they were dangerous, but they did not want a ban. What they wanted was superheroes paid by the federal government like cops and open to the same kind of scrutiny." Tony Stark (Iron Man) became the figurehead for the Act. He felt that is was reasonable to offer both training and oversight for people with powers or special abilities. Feeling that it violated the civil rights of superpowered people, Steve Rogers (Captain America) opposed the act. He and his supporters felt that having a secret identity was essential for the safety of super heroes and their families.
Luke Cage was one of those supporters.
He compared the Act to the oppressive and destructive system of slavery, and the climate of racism in 1950s Mississippi.
"Getting pulled out of your home in the middle of the night for being different is the same now as it was then."
Iron Man encouraged Cage to join the Registration Act movement, implying that his input could be instrumental in preventing the landscape that he foresaw. Cage refused, joining Captain America and the Secret Avengers.
"My name is Peter Parker, and I've been Spider-Man since I was fifteen years old."
While he was wary of the Registration Act, Peter Paker (Spider-Man) was originally on Tony Stark's side. He went so far as to reveal his true identity in a press conference, even though he'd worked very hard to conceal his identity. Doing so has dramatic consequences for Peter. He's fired by his boss (Jonah Jameson), and villains like Doctor Octopus begin to attack him and his family.
And his doubts only increased...
The Negative Zone convinced him to switch sides.
A prison constructed for superhumans that refused to comply with the Registration Act was designed by Tony Stark and Hank Pym. When Parker saw the conditions that some people were forced to endure (including being restrained so they couldn't move their bodies at all), he rebelled against Stark.
The ensuing battle tore apart parts of the city, and almost resulted in Parker's death.
Some alliances shifted during the conflict...
... but for the most part superhumans chose a side and stuck with it. Here's the breakdowns of who was one which side in the comics:
Falcon, Daredevil, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Wolverine, Storm, Sharon Carter, Nick Fury, Punisher, Spider-Woman, Hercules, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Jane Foster, & Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura).
Black Widow, Deadpool, James Rhodes (War Machine), Maria Hill, Mister Fantastic, Beast, Captain Marvel, Blade, Wasp, Yellowjacket, Squirrel Girl, & Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers).
Obviously, many heroes who were once allies became enemies. But the core conflict was always between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. Having fought together with The Avengers, the conflict grew extremely personal for them both.
The conflict grew, until the two sides fought an epic battle.
Beginning at Rikers Island, Captain America's team led a prison breakout, but they were caught by Iron Man and his allies. The battle was then teleported to New York City. Steve Rogers was able to corner Tony Stark, but he was held back at the last second.
Seeing the destruction that the battle caused, Rogers surrendered.
The aftermath of the event was brutal.
Ultimately, many heroes remained undercover (with the New Avengers going underground), but the event did set an important precedent: heroes were accountable for their actions. Previously, if heroes made mistakes, they were personal instead of public. Post Civil War, it was understood that the actions of heroes have real-world consequences that wouldn't be ignored.
The event concluded with the Death of Captain America
After turning himself in, Steve Rogers was shot before he could go to trial for his actions (don't worry, you should know by now that nobody in Marvel stays dead except for Uncle Ben). After his death, the former Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes became Captain America, followed by Sam Wilson (also known as Falcon).
What does this mean for the movie?
Obviously the film adaptations are a little different from the comics. For now it seems like Black Widow, War Machine, Vision, and Black Panther will be on Iron Man's side, in support of the Registration Act. And those who oppose the registration act? Hawkeye, Sharon Carter, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and the Winter Soldier will be with Captain America. It's not clear yet how Spider-Man will be integrated into the film (because the film rights to the character were given to Marvel during production, the character was added to the script).
The only thing we know for sure? It's gonna hurt.
We've watched these characters develop over the years. At the end of Age of Ultron, it seemed like everyone had FINALLY reached a point of agreement. Tony Stark was going into retirement, and the new Avengers lineup looked incredible.
"We could have had it aaaaall" plays softly in the distance.
Since Captain America: Civil War is the beginning of Marvel's Phase 3 set of films, the event will have an affect on every other film released.
Fans are also worried that it will signal the deaths of some of their favorite characters, and contract disputes between Marvel and their actors has not assuaged this worry. Even though Marvel has been cranking out movies and tv series consistently since 2008, for some fans it feels like we haven't spent a very long time with the characters. That's because in comparison to the comics, we haven't. There were story arcs spanning decades, and the films have had to condense the events.
Long story short: Civil War hits us right in the feels.
It's nice to meet you, new Marvel fans! Enjoy the sadness in store for all of us.