CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Isn’t About Secret Identities

It's barely connected to the comic.

Captain America: Civil War is not about unmasking and secret identities. 

In the original comic book crossover that was the crux of the issue, with the government wanting superpowered individuals to register as part of the Superhero Registration Act, and they wanted everybody on file with their full identities revealed and all that. In the course of the story Spider-Man revealed his true ID (an idea so bad the fucking devil had to get involved to erase it) and Captain America and Iron Man came to blows over it all. With the next Captain America movie having that title - and pitting Cap against Iron Man - it's easy to see why some people think that's the plot of the film. But it isn't, and when io9 ran a lengthy article today about how unmasking is a stupid idea for a movie, I knew I had to say something. And that something is: 

Captain America: Civil War is not about unmasking and secret identities. 

There is no Registration Act. There are Accords, a global move to govern the supeheroes. After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, where the Avengers showed up and busted shit in South Africa and Sokovia, many of the world's governments are concerned about a unilateral super-powered strike force that answers to no one now that SHIELD has been destroyed (SHIELD is still gone in Civil War, as evidenced by the fact that Samuel L. Jackson isn't even in the movie). The divide between Captain America and Iron Man boils down to that famous Latin quote that gave us one of the best comic book stories ever: 

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? 

Who watches the watchmen? 

It's similar in some ways to the story of the comic Civil War, but only in the broadest strokes. The main difference is that there are almost no characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with secret identities, rendering all of the registration shit utterly moot. This isn't going to be a movie where Cap and Iron Man fight over whether Daredevil and Spider-Man get to maintain their secret IDs. It's a larger question of responsibility, and to whom these heroes answer. It cuts both ways - who is responsible when the Avengers get into a battle that causes civilian casualties... but also can the Avengers be told by a world governing body not to get involved in a terrible situation where lives are at risk simply because the local government says to stay out? Should superheroes be free to do as they please, ubermensch inflicting their will on the world? Should superheroes be bound by the whims and changing winds of politics, unable to help people simply because a dictator who has a place on the UN Security Council doesn't want anyone interfering in his human rights abuses? It's a rich conflict where both sides are potentially right. It's a conflict that grows out of the two characters: Tony Stark who has become increasingly aware of his responsibility to the world and Steve Rogers who has seen everything he believed in undermined when SHIELD was revealed to be a Hydra front.

And it has nothing to do with secret identities. 

Will Captain America: Civil War be good? We wil find out in May. Until then we can be sure of one thing: 

Captain America: Civil War is not about unmasking and secret identities.