When Marvel Studios executive Kevin Feige took to the stage in Los Angeles on Tuesday, journalists and fans sat in awe as film announcement after film announcement was named, the microphone in his hand figuratively dropped.
From the last Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok to the announcement of Captain Marvel and Black Panther, Marvel’s first two-stand alone films featuring a lead actor of colour and a lead actress, the announcements were all a little dizzying.
One of the most exciting announcements, however, came in the form of the final Captain America film, officially named Civil War.
As comic book fans know, Civil War is one of the most important stand-alone series to come out of the publishing house. An all out battle that engages two separate teams led by Captain America’s Steve Rogers and Iron Man’s Tony Stark.
The war begins as a direct result of the United States government implementing the Superhuman Registration Act, asking any person or being with superhuman powers to break their anonymity and disclose who they really are.
On one side, there’s Stark and his narcissistic, almost clinical need for constant attention and praise. He believes that as super powerful human beings, mutants, and other worldly creatures they deserve respect for constantly putting their lives on the line for the less than special human inhabitants of Earth.
On the other side there’s Rogers’ camp who believes losing their anonymity puts them at risk during their everyday lives and the lives of their families.
So commences one of the biggest wars ever scripted and illustrated in Marvel comics’ history.
The most important character in Civil War, however, is the young man in the tiny red and blue suit, the black outline of a radioactive spider embroidered on his chest.
While Spider-Man may not be the leader of either camp, he acts as the conscious overtone hanging over the war. He initially sides with Tony Stark revealing his true Peter Parker identity to the world, a crucial moment in the Marvel universe after fighting diligently to keep it top secret for years. Together, he fights Captain America alongside Stark and Hank Pym (meaning Ant-Man will make an appearance in Captain America 3).
It all changes, however, when Stark constructs a prison in the Negative Zone, deemed Project 42. When Parker learns Stark is using the underground space to imprison their fellow super humans, he sees the error of his decision and abandons camp, joining Rogers’ rapidly falling side and taking up arms against his former leader.
In many ways, the use of Parker’s character acts as a pseudo-audience member. He’s just as confused as to why they’re fighting and like readers, is learning about the vicious ideas Stark has begun to use to win the war. Parker’s thought process echoes the audience’s own: when did this get out of hand, how is this happening, and is this fundamentally wrong?
Without Spider-Man, Captain America: Civil War just becomes another titanic fight of stubborn men with dominance issues.
Marvel Studios has been building up the animosity between Rogers’ and Stark’s characters since before the first Avengers, and as comic book readers are well aware, it all stems from issues they’ve had with Tony’s father and Steve’s pseudo-father, Howard Stark.
A fight between them is obvious, but above all else it’s boring. Civil War only works because of Peter Parker’s shining display of humanity in a war being fought by celestial beings and super human men and women.
It’s fantastical and Peter Parker keeps it grounded, relating to it as any non-super human being would.
Feige and his team may go ahead and produce Civil War without Spider-Man, but without him, it will not be the Civil War fans have come to cherish.
Without him, there is no conscience and there is no heart; the very ideals expressed by Mark Millar in the original pages of the seven part series stripped down to nothing of value to the other characters involved and the audience watching them with hopeful eyes.