By Joe Glass
BE AWARE: This article contains mindless speculation – and spoilers for the original Civil War series.
We now know that Civil War II, by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez, the sequel to one of Marvel's most successful line-wide events and a handy tie-in to the Captain America: Civil War movie (or as I like to call it, Captain America: Battle of the Bromances), is definitely a thing. I was wrong in that it isn't something that is connected and spins out of the Avengers: Stand Off event as such, but it is a real thing.
But what could it be about? The original Civil War, by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, and to a great extent the aforementioned movie, were about the Superhuman Registration Act, which itself was an analog to several US (and really ultimately global) initiatives in the real world that sought to provide safety for their citizens by infringing on civil liberties and/or effectively spying on them.
The SRA would have involved the abolition of the 'secret identity' and registering your powers, lest you have them taken away from you.
In his weekly CBR interview, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso has stated that that idea of a public concern or topic of debate will be the driving force behind the new Civil War too.
What distinguishes "Civil War II" from "Secret Wars" is there's a metaphor at its core that speaks to one the most prevailing issues of the day, something that everyone is aware of and talking about. And we didn't spend years planning it — in fact, we weren't even planning on doing a "Civil War II." It came about because I was discussing the upcoming "Civil War" movie with my boss, Dan Buckley, over lunch, and we pondered what issue or question would provide the fulcrum for a story of that scope today. It was a hypothetical conversation. I took those seeds of that conversation to Brian Bendis and Tom Brevoort and we watered them a little, and a story emerged that showed enough potential that we invited Dan, Joe Quesada, Mark Paniccia, Nick Lowe, Steve Wacker, Sana Amanat and C.B. Cebulski to give us feedback. We grew that idea across several emails and there eventually came a point when Dan called it: "You know, what this is, right? This is 'Civil War II'."
So what kind of hot topic issue of the moment could be the issue at the centre of Civil War II? Could there be a Marvel Universe version of Donald Trump, obsessed with building walls and worse? Well, not likely, because any character who would side with that racist windbag would be seen as a villain, pure and simple.
Alonso promises that although Civil War II will again force readers to pick a side, it won't be easy as there will be no good guys or bad guys. No right or wrong decision. Which he says is like the original. Now that I disagree with.
Tony Stark in the original Civil War sided with the government. That act in itself is not 'wrong' or villainous – at the time, however, Stark was characterised as a bit of a douche to say the least. The man, in his efforts to 'do what's right' created a murderous, clone-cyborg thing of one of his best friends, without their knowledge, that went on a killing spree. He buried Black Goliath in a tarp and a shallow-looking grave. Tony Stark created a 'prison', which really was an internment camp, for superhumans that essentially just didn't agree with the government – for most internees, that was their only and sole crime. By any stretch of the imagination, the actions of Tony Stark, even if not the motivations, would make him seem the 'bad guy'.
But what about this time? With Iron Man front and centre of the All New, All Different Marvel Universe, and with a much more likable characterisation these days, is it likely he would be such a bad guy this time? If not, what could that central conflict be? I think I have my theory now:
With mass shootings all over the media, especially in the United States, and the regularity of them and the resultant topic and debate coming up every time some man with a gun goes on a rampage of tightening the gun control laws in the USA, this could be a timely and as divisive a topic as the original Civil War presented to be sure.
Perhaps this time it isn't superhuman characters who have to register so much as tech-heroes (and villains). Perhaps this time, a tech-wearing/using villain goes on a mass killing spree, and it leaves the government wanting to register any and all technology, to seize it or maybe to make more to give to every citizen (to defend themselves in future). Tony Stark would be against such measures, I believe…he has never, ever been a fan of anyone getting their hands on his Iron Man technology, government or otherwise, for fear it could be used for making war.
In fact, even at the end of the original Civil War when Tony became head honcho for SHIELD, he may have fitted them out with some technology but never full Iron Man suits, and it is implied he kept the secrets of its production a secret (later, when Norman Osborn becomes the man in charge, even though he wears an Iron Man armor, he doesn't know how to make them or fully how they work, leading him on a merry chase of Tony Stark for his knowledge).
So could that the divisive line this time? After some awful, technology/weapon fueled event, the government calls on all those with that technology, hero or villain, to either give it up or make it for the masses? And where exactly would that 'weaponised super-technology' hunt end? After all, the Marvel Universe has flying suits of armor, wings, unstable molecule-outfits that are bullet proof among other things…nearly all of which the heroes of the MU have kept to themselves for fear of how it might be used.
And, if I'm right, and the ultimate topic that is the hot-button issue at the heart of Civil War II is indeed gun control – Whose side will you be on?
Joe Glass is a Bleeding Cool contributor and comic creator, having created The Pride, a superhero team series about a group of LGBTQ+ superheroes fighting for representation, diversity and equality. It was one of the Top 25 Top Selling Comixology Submit Titles of 2014, and is available on Comixology in full, or from The Pride online store. He is also the co-writer of Welsh horror comedy series, Stiffs, available on Comixology and here.