The role reversal of Iron Man?
Raise your hand if you like comic book movies. Easy right?
Now raise your hand if you’re a pro-military small-government republican who happens to like comic book movies. Did I lose you?
Then just maybe Marvel will too.
Make no mistake about it kids, the next entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a political film. In an MCU where the three biggest heroes don’t even have secret identities, the central debate that drove the Civil War comic is moot. In lieu of a battle over the right to keep their civilian counterparts free from government registration, the moral conundrum has been replaced with the right to operate independently of the US military. The brilliant/crazy/scary thing these filmmakers have done is adopt an argument that has literally split this country in half. We’re talking gun control, we’re talking privatized military contractors. Yup, even the Iraq war. Still with me?
So does this mean Tony Stark is the bad guy? I cant help but wonder if this was IRON MAN 4, and not CAPTAIN AMERICA 3 who would be on whose side? After all, the name on the poster is supposed to be in the right. Right?
Before the all-too-many cooks in the kitchen mangled the much debated IRON MAN 2 with endless subplots, that film was supposedly centered on the very same argument. The US government wanted final say in what our hero was allowed to do. Depending on whether or not you made it to the end of that one, our hero proved them wrong and got a metal from the late great Gary Shandling. Huzzah! Now, here we are a couple near apocalypses later and Tony’s the new poster boy for government registration. Is this a natural evolution of the character, or a convenient plot device being forced down our throats because Robert Downey Jr. was too expensive to get to headline the next IRON MAN movie? A skeptic might think we are being sold a role reversal of everybody’s favorite playboy because of the bottom line.
Lets take a ride in our TARDIS all the way back to 2006. George W was President. Small government. Big military. Ultimate Captain America was taking over the sales chart and his regular Captain America counter part was evolving to match him in. More importantly, nobody gave a flying hoot about Tony stark or RDJ. Hard to imagine, right? The no brainer reader favorite for the book was Cap. If your fan fave character is Cap, and you support superheroes being superheroes, then the story writes itself. We had a logical story ready to be unleashed that made you wonder why it had never been done. Flash forward to now and Tony Stark is the money sign of the MCU, and just like the time my childhood hero Mick Foley went “heel,” we have a heartbreaking reality to face: Is Iron Man now the bad guy?
Phase two of the MCU ended with a resounding “ehhh.” AGE OF ULTRON was okay, but not groundbreaking; ANT-MAN was a fun romp, but basically a retread of many other Marvel films, with a hint of OCEANS 11 thrown in for good measure. It became clear that the audience had grown tired after 12 installments of the three act fun ride we had been getting twice a year for going on a decade. So the producers decided to ask some more interesting questions. Enter CIVIL WAR.
While I am skeptical about the characters roles in this conflict, I respect the hell out of marvel entertainment head, Kevin Feige. He is willing to possibly completely alienate 49 percent of his audience based on political ideology. All while smearing the good name of his golden boy, and first golden ticket, if it means telling a good story that needs to be told. Judging by its 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes it looks like it was a good call. That is until Bucky jumps in between the two of them and yells “Martha!” and they all hug. Then I want my money back.