“Captain America: Civil War,” premiering Thursday, pits Iron Man against Captain America, two characters that the movies have established as having both philosophical and personal differences. But surely, you say, that wasn’t true in the comics, where squared-jawed heroes are always best buds!
Annnnnnd: No. Iron Man and Captain America have been teammates off and on going back to 1964, when the Steve Rogers was thawed out of his iceberg and joined the Avengers. But they haven’t always gotten along. In fact, they’ve often come to blows So, to celebrate “Civil War,” let’s take a look at the highlights of this long and bumpy relationship:
1983: Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, hits bottom in his battle with alcoholism (“Devil in a Bottle”), which results in him losing his armor, his Avengers membership, his girlfriend and his company. Rogers gives Stark a serious chewing out for letting the bottle beat him.
1992: After defeating the Kree Empire in “Operation: Galactic Storm,” the Avengers capture the creature behind it all, the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence, a conglomeration of the greatest Kree minds. Several Avengers want to kill it/him. Captain America, who is moral man, says no. Iron Man, who tends to ignore the word “no,” does it anyway.
1998: After Cap and Iron Man defeat a telepath who uses a satellite network to control minds, Stark ’fesses up to Rogers that he used the network before dismantling it to make everyone on Earth forget Iron Man’s secret ID. An outraged Cap tries, and fails, to explain to an uncomprehending Iron Man why this is wrong. They agree to disagree.
2006: The comics version of “Civil War” is different in a variety of ways, but the bottom line is that Cap and Iron Man not only beat the snot out of each other for months, but they recruit other heroes to beat each other up. Cap actually wins the fight in the end, but surrenders when he realizes how dopey and irresponsible it all is. Better late than never.
2014: Remember how Iron Man doesn’t understand that mind control is wrong? In the “Time Runs Out” story line, Captain America finds out that he has been mind-controlled by Iron Man and his “Illuminati” allies to forget that they’ve been blowing up alternate-dimension Earths to prevent our Earth from blowing up. (No, I’m not going to explain that.) At the end of “Time Runs Out,” Stark and Rogers are crushed by a helicarrier from a parallel world while in mid-combat. And, while I’m not explaining that, either, I will note that they get better.
2016: In fact, they get a lot better. There is a new Marvel Universe these days — it was kinda-sorta relaunched last year — but it keeps most of the elements of the old one. Rogers and Stark are back, and once again Avengers.