By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

Captain America: Civil War, premiering May 6, 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 Living Legend of World War II 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 – sometimes by mistake, but more often because …

Tony Stark is a jerk.

Yes, it’s true! He’s always been an arrogant, laws-are-for-little-people elitist! Even in his early days, he did pretty much whatever he wanted, like dating Russian spies and making tons of money off defense contracts and creating international incidents. And when U.S. senators and got all up in his business, he’d tell them to go swallow a repulsor ray.

Talk about wish fulfillment! Flying and heat vision are all well and good, but rich, famous and above the law are the super-powers we’d probably rather have.

Now, in light of Civil War, it should be noted that whenever someone in the comics called Stark on his behavior, it was almost always Captain America. I don’t think there was any master plan; I think they were just such polar opposites that many writers on many books over many decades all arrived at the same idea, to create drama by having Winghead and Shellhead explore their philosophical differences in a deep and meaningful way.

Which, in superhero terms, means punching each other in the face a lot.

And it always works! It’s ultimate man vs. ultimate machine! Greatest Generation vs. Me Generation! High-minded morality vs. situational ethics!

Also, it’s really glitzy to look at. It’s a battle of the primary colors, between a guy in mostly blue and a guy in red and yellow. Man, that’s comics all over!

So, to celebrate Civil War, let’s take a look at the highlights of this long and bumpy relationship:

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

You have to admit, that is one colorful cover.

1964:The Chameleon (a villain who is a master of disguise) dresses up as Captain America, and tells Iron Man that he is the real Captain America, and the one at Avengers Mansion is The Chameleon in disguise. Result: Many pages of the Star-Spangled Avenger and the Armored Avenger mixing it up. OK, this is a classic case of mistaken identity, not a real fight. It's unfair to ascribe any personality conflict between the two, because back then superheroes were all square-jawed good guys. Hey, the cover blurb even refers to them as "two gallant allies." Yes, heroes were gallant back then! And well-groomed! And polite! But still: “I was too easily fooled by The Chameleon’s story,” muses Stark at the end. “It was unpardonably careless of me.” Almost as if he wanted an excuse to punch Cap in his perfect, white teeth.

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Man, that has got to be hard on Cap's knuckles.

1978: Back in the days when everyone thought Iron Man was Tony Stark’s bodyguard, Cap became irritated that the Golden Avenger – despite being chairman at the time – was often absent or delayed on Avengers missions. Irritated enough, evidently, to “KANG!” him right in his armored face. “You low-life mercenary!” Cap shouts. “Don’t the Avengers pay enough for your services?” Ouch.

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Worst. Intervention. Ever.

1983: Tony Stark hits bottom in his battle with alcoholism, which results in him losing his armor (to Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes), his Avengers membership (Rhodey resigns for him), his girlfriend of the time (name long forgotten) and, oh yeah, his company, which becomes “Stane International.” In this issue, Rogers gives Stark a serious chewing out for letting the bottle beat him. Cap gives up at the end, though. “A man must want to be saved,” he concludes. “Let me know when you do.” Ouch again.

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

I think this is the one where Cap finds out Tony Stark booby-trapped his new shield.

1988: Tony Stark discovers that some of his technology has been stolen and is being used by various peacekeepers and criminals around the world. Amazingly, Stark decides he has the right to take it all back from everyone by force in a storyline titled “Armor Wars,” breaking all kinds of U.S. and international laws, even accidentally killing a couple of people along the way (one of whom was Soviet supervillain Crimson Dynamo, but still). Somewhere in the middle of this he battles Steve Rogers, who is protecting innocent prison guards wearing Stark armor. That was pretty much it for the two being pals, according to the omniscient (and florid) narrator: “No words are spoken, none are needed. For both men know that a bond has been broken today … a bond as old as their friendship … a dear and precious link that may never be whole again.” Sniff.

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Can you really pull rank on Captain America because you joined the team three issues earlier? That means the Hulk can overrule Cap, too, Tony.

1992: After defeating the Kree Empire in “Operation: Galactic Storm” (well, with some interstellar help), 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. (That resulted in Iron Man leaving the team and forming his own for a while, with the almost too on-the-nose name “Force Works.”)

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

I actually don't remember which Cap/Iron Man fight this is from. They start to run together after a while.

1993: Did you know that Tony Stark once pretended to be dead, fooling all his teammates, friends and loved ones? Oh, he had his reasons, but you can imagine how angry they all were. Jim Rhodes put it best: “You got jerkin’ people around down to a science … and I’m tired to death of it.” That has nothing to do with Captain America, but man, that Tony Stark is a real piece of work!

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

I remembered this story readily, but it took me the better part of a day to find where it appeared!

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.

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

You know when two friends break up and they force all of their friends to pick sides? Like that.

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 ever-living snot out of each other for months, they recruit other heroes to beat each other up, too. The Star-Spangled Avenger actually wins the fight in the end, but surrenders when he realizes how dopey and irresponsible it all is. Better late than never, I guess.

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Cap clearly won the fight, but lost  the war.

2014: Remember how Iron Man doesn’t understand that mind-control is wrong? In the “Time Runs Out” storyline, 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.

Copyright Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Man, that's gotta hurt. But not as bad as having a helicarrier land on the both of them.

2016: In fact, they get a lot better. There is a new Marvel Universe these days – it was kinda-sorta re-launched last year – but it keeps most of the elements of the old one. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are back, and once again Avengers.

Which probably means a whole lot of stories to come where they hit each other in the face.

 

Reach Captain Comics by email (capncomics@aol.com), the Internet (captaincomics.ning.com), Facebook (Captain Comics Round Table) or Twitter (@CaptainComics).

 

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I wonder if Tony is happy that his All-New, All-Different Avengers has a new Captain America!

He'll probably fight with him, too. KANG!

And then it turned out all of Tony's problems have revolved around a Kang.

  Does Tony have a DC equivalent?  Someone who does all the same sort of stuff?

I think they sometimes have Batman fill the arrogant know-it-all position.

I was thinking he was a bit like Constantine.

Polar opposites, eh?  Hey, DC has Superman and Batman, Marvel has Cap and Shell-Head!

Going to see Civil War tomorrow night!  Can't wait!

If anyone, that would be the current incarnation of Loki.

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

I was thinking he was a bit like Constantine.

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