With the upcoming May 6 premiere of Captain America: Civil War, there are some great comics out there you can read to prepare yourself for the much anticipated superhero movie.
CIVIL WAR (2007)
Written by Mark Millar
While the movie is not a direct adaptation of this graphic novel, there are a lot of key elements that are taken from it, mainly the Captain America vs Iron Man conflict over whether superheroes should register themselves or not to act as government agents. The events of this storyline had huge ramifications for years in the Marvel comics, and no doubt it will have just as much of an impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In both the comics and the movie, Captain America leads the fight for the anti-registration side. Joining him are the Winter Soldier, Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER ULTIMATE COLLECTION (2010)
Written by Ed Brubaker
This is the the beginning of Ed Brubaker’s esteemed run on Captain America. Many consider Brubaker’s run to be one of the best ever written.
Especially in the way that he made the character even more relatable and dynamic for modern readers, without compromising the ideals of what has defined Steve Rogers since he first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (1941).
This graphic novel also introduces the Winter Soldier, which inspired the events of the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
AVENGERS: FALCON (2014)
Written by Scott Edelman, Mark Evanier, Stan Lee and Jim Owlsley
This is a collection of the Falcon’s origin story in Captain America #117 (1968), as well as some other key issues that define Sam Wilson, one of Steve Rogers’ best friends and trusted allies outside the Avengers and Bucky Barnes.
Currently in the comics, Sam Wilson has taken the mantle of Captain America and leads the All New, All Different Avengers.
HAWKEYE: VOL. 1 (2013)
Written by Matt Fraction
First appearing Tales of Suspense #51, the archer Hawkeye has been a long time member of both the comic and movie Avengers.
In this recent, and much acclaimed comic, writer Matt Fraction takes Clint Barton back to his blue collar roots when he moves into an apartment and tries to get by in the ordinary world. As well, Clint has to balance his personal life with being a crime fighter and mentor to another archer.
VISION AND THE SCARLET WITCH #1-12 (1985-1986)
Written by Steve Englehart
Scarlet Witch and the Vision are the unlikeliest of romantic partners in the comics, and while their romance hasn’t yet blossomed in the MCU, Civil War will place them on opposite sides as they side with Captain America and Iron Man respectively.
This collection of twelve issues follows their adventures as a couple as they encounter Ultron, Wonder Man, Doctor Strange, Quicksilver, Luke Cage and the Inhumans, all who have or will make appearances in other MCU productions. Scarlet Witch first appeared in The X-Men #4 (1964) and the Vision first appeared in The Avengers #57 (1968).
ANT-MAN: SCOTT LANG (2015)
Written by Tom Defalco, Bob Layton and David Michelinie
While the superhero Ant-Man first appeared in Tales of Astonish #27 (1959), at that time his secret identity was Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas in Ant-Man. Like in the movie, thief Scott Lang steals the Ant-Man costume in a bid to help out his daughter Cassie in this collection of stories starring Lang.
He also teams up with Spider-Man, the Avengers and Hawkeye. Lang first appeared in Marvel Premiere #47 (1972). In both the comics and movies, Lang has a daughter that he would do anything to protect, and thus joins Captain America to ensure that his identity remains a secret to protect Cassie from reprisals by his enemies.
TEAM IRON MAN
In support of registering themselves as government agents, Iron Man and his supporters of War Machine, the Vision, Black Widow, Black Panther and Spider-Man are tasked with bringing in any and all superheroes who refuse to cooperate.
IRON MAN: DEMON IN A BOTTLE (2006)
Written by David Michelinie
Considered by many to be the definitive Iron Man comic, in this at the time controversial storyline had Tony Stark becoming an alcoholic and nearly destroying his father’s company, reputation as a superhero and his very life.
Mirroring Robert Downey Jr.’s real life turning things around, Stark is forced to face himself and take accountability for his actions. No doubt after nearly destroying himself in Iron Man 2 and creating Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Stark feels even more compelled for all superheroes to take personal accountability.
IRON MAN: WAR MACHINE (2008)
Written by Kevin Hopgood and Len Kaminski
Tony Stark’s long time friend is Air Force Lt. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, who later donned the War Machine armor in the service of the government.
This graphic novel collects how he first comes to become a superhero, in the wake of Stark’s personal struggles. In both the comics and the movies, Rhodey never gives up on Stark.
BLACK WIDOW: VOL. 1 (2014)
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Black Widow in both the comics and movies is a superhero with a violent and bloody past as an assassin.
In this graphic novel, Natasha Romanov must confront her past as she tries to redeem herself, as well as unraveling a sinister political plot in true espionage style. Black Widow first appeared in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964).
BLACK PANTHER: WHO IS THE BLACK PANTHER (2009)
Written by Reginald Hudlin
Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (1966) as the first black superhero in comics, during the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement in America. The king of Wakanda, a fictional African nation unspoiled by European intervention, it is a technological paradise defended by the Black Panther.
This graphic novel is a very good introduction to his secret identity of T’Challa, son of the late King T’Chaka who was murdered by the assassin called the Klaw. After Civil War, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther will appear in 2017’s The Avengers: Infinity War and will lead his solo movie Black Panther in 2018. As the leader and secret protector of an entire nation, Black Panther probably feels that superheroes should work with government oversight.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN EPIC COLLECTION: GREAT POWER (2014)
Written by Stan Lee
No doubt Spider-Man is Marvel’s most popular superhero. This collection chronicles Spider-Man’s early adventures and his very first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962) where young Peter Parker is bit by the spider that would change his life forever and loses his Uncle Ben who famously told him and the audience that “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
No doubt those words are a big reason why Spider-Man has decided to join Iron Man in enforcing superhero accountability.