Captain America 3: Civil War was just released. Since Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has carefully started to shift the story towards one of the greatest conflicts in comic book history, Marvel’s Civil War. In a sure sign that comics were getting awesome again, Marvel built in a story arc where the Avengers fought each other. This has happened before in comics, usually because one superhero gets mind-controlled by a villain. In the Marvel Civil War, though, the Avengers were instead fighting because they had different interpretations of rights. Both sides’ views were supportable by some interpretations of the Constitution. But would either have stood up in court? If the Avengers had taken their differences to court, instead of to the streets, which way would it have gone?
Which side are you on? Try the quiz below to find out!
The Plot of the War The Marvel Civil War was told in seven comics, released from 2006-2007. It takes place after most mutants have been killed, or have fled in secret to Xavier’s school. Having dealt with mutants, the United States government turned their attention to superheroes. The government wasn’t a big fan of superpowers. Untrained superheroes kept stepping up to villains in crowded areas, getting themselves and others killed. In one case, a couple of new superheroes tried to fight Nitro in a mall, leading to the deaths of over 600 people. In addition, superheroes, especially the Avengers, were also interfering in politics. Nick Fury was fired because he led a coup against one of the United States’ allies (in fairness, that ally was an evil cyborg). Finally, the government decided to act. Congress passed the Superhero Registration Act, forcing all superheroes to take off the masks, register their abilities, and work for federal law enforcement. They hired Tony Stark (Iron Man) to help enforce the law. Captain America violently resisted. Both sides escalated in force.
The pro-registration arguments, supported by Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic, include:
- Superheroes cannot veto a Congressional decision
- Regulation of use of powers will be required by law
- The government may restrict the rights of some to protect the rights of many
The anti-registration arguments, supported by Captain America, include:
- Privacy protects superheroes and superheroes have a right to it
- The majority should not legislate against minority rights
- The government should not restrict rights in the present because of possible events in the future.
Do either of these arguments carry legal weight? This lesson below explores the legal precedents at play.
Some media may contain mature content. Discretion is advised when viewing with students.
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Students will understand controversies surrounding the interpretation of rights in the United States Constitution as they relate to Marvel's Civil War story arc.