While the MCU is getting ready to throw down in Captain America: Civil War, things are also getting rough on the comics side of things. Marvel is gearing up for its Civil War II crossover event, which will see superheroes at odds over whether the power to see the future gives them the right to change that future.
Given the timing, it seems pretty obvious that Civil War II is being used as a tie-in to the Civil War film. Marvel insists that this isn’t the primary reason for creating the event, though; instead, Civil War II is more about following the characters and their ideologies to a point of conflict and seeing where they can go from there.
Speaking to CBR at WonderCon, Brian Michael Bendis explained a bit about how Civil War II came about and how it related to the original event. He claims that it isn’t just trying to cash in on the upcoming film, and isn’t just retreading the steps of the original comic book crossover event:
“We’ve never done giant events that wrapped around a movie. It’s a weird road to go down. It’s much better to let characters and story [lead]. And what really got us excited, and where I think a lot of people are the most nervous, is the Marvel Universe is so much different than it was 10 years ago. “Civil War” was 10 years ago, to both of our shocks. Every single major player in the Marvel Universe has either had a life-altering thing that has changed their perspective or they’re a different person completely. The person representing Captain America is a different person. Ms. Marvel isn’t Captain Marvel. Iron Man has been through so much. And that got us so excited — what’s ‘Civil War’ with these players. It is not a beat-for-beat reinterpretation; it is a new story with new players, some of which there’s overlap; they’ve all survived ‘Civil War,’ that informs the story as well, particularly Tony Stark, who went through hell and I got to write the exclamation point on that in ‘Civil War: Confession.’ That weighs heavy on the decision to go after his friends again on something he wholeheartedly can’t sleep over.”
According to Bendis, Civil War II is the biggest Marvel event he’d been involved with since Secret Invasion in 2008. The approach taken to this event is different than that or even the first Civil War, though. Describing the differences between the events and how they evolve, Bendis said:
“The planning that revolves around a major event — the biggest I had done is ‘Secret Invasion’ where there were so many pieces and so much build up. This one, yeah, this has got a lot of pieces and that is the hardest part is making sure that the sides are equally balanced, that the argument is equally balanced, and I’ve learned that. Every single [event] has been a unique experience, almost a different genre. ‘Secret Invasion’ was an alien invasion; ‘House of M’ was this fantasia of Marvel desire; this is a real war comic.
What I did do is specifically arrange the story to be as surprising as possible to even the most jaded event reader. I thought about that. I thought about, ‘Here I am, I’ve read ‘Civil War.’ What would surprise me the most issue-to-issue?’ I’m not gonna spoil what that is but we’ll talk again afterward and you’ll say, ‘Oh, issue #3 was built around… I’ve never seen that in an event.'”
He acknowledges that some people are tired of what seems to be frequent reboots and rehashes, and that fans as a whole sometimes seem cynical when it comes to the moves that companies like Marvel make with these sorts of major comic book events like Civil War II:
“The cynical people I have found are the first ones to buy, they’ve read it by the time I’ve woken up on Wednesday I’ve already heard from them. That’s not cynicism, you’re so fucking excited you don’t know what to do with yourself. I’ve had people who rag on me with every issue and I’ll say, ‘You’re on issue #25, you should stop buying it.’ Or, ‘You’re on issue #25. You like this book on some level. It’s not just the character. There are other places to get this character.’
“But also, the cynicism really builds up on [message] boards where people really just snark-off. But there is a lot, like more than half, like seventy percent of readers don’t want to argue and have shit ruined and fight about their favorite writer or their favorite artist, they just want to enjoy their comics.”
However, things aren’t always as they seem:
“What I have discovered from my time in independent comics to my time in mainstream comics to this stuff with the events is that there are a great many people who say one thing online and then do another thing with their checkbook and with their ordering.”
In the end, Bendis seems content with the stories that they tell, even if people do complain. He summed up his view on it fairly succinctly:
“As far as a lot of the other stuff people complain about, variant covers or whatever, the events, I don’t — the people who complain, either they go away or they’re also replaced by people who really love the events because they, for what they cost, I want almost a promise that something’s gonna happen. No matter how cynical you are, shit happens in these event comics. It might not be stuff you liked, you might have lost your favorite character, but somethin happened. You got your money’s worth.”
It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds across the event, especially with the role reversal that Iron Man and Steve Rogers seem to be taking compared to the first Civil War. While there will obviously be people who assume that Civil War II is just a movie tie-in, it’s good to see that Marvel seems to have higher aspirations for it than having it just be a movie tie-in. Whether it really wows readers like Bendis hopes remains to be seen, but Marvel did pull off some interesting twists in its Secret Wars event so here’s hoping.
Of course, no matter how much Marvel says that they’re following the story first and foremost, it doesn’t hurt that the event will tie in with a major film and feature characters front-and-center who will be part of the MCU slate in coming years. Bringing Captain Marvel to the forefront is certainly a calculated move, though she has had some pretty interesting stories in her own right in recent years. Hopefully the references and shout-outs are just references are just that, though, and the story really does stand on its own two legs.
Marvel’s Civil War II event kicks off in June 2016 and is scheduled to run through eight issues of a limited series (with spinoffs and tie-ins) in 12 books.