While the marvel movies showcased a lighthearted Civil War fight scene between Spider-Man and Captain America, the comic version of the clash was far heavier.
Among the many thrilling moments that pitted hero against hero in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, the brief clash between Spider-Man and Captain America may be the most lighthearted. Though the friendly neighborhood arachnid managed to land a few solid hits on Cap, the star-spangled veteran quickly and efficiently neutralized the teenage Spidey without injury. And to further affirm the no harm, no foul nature of the tussle, Cap even compliments Spider-Man on his heart before taking off. It’s an unforgettable fist time encounter between two popular MCU Heroes to say the least, but the comic book scene that inspired it is far heavier in comparison.
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The Amazing Spider-Man #534 by J. Michael Straczynski and Ron Garney tracks Peter Parker while in the thick of Marvel’s sprawling Civil War storyline. Here, Peter’s an experienced adult and the war being fought is significantly more personal than the light shoving match depicted in the MCU. At this point in the conflict that has sent ripples through an entire world of heroes, blood has been spilt and friends turned on one another over the lines drawn between Iron Man’s Pro-Superhero Registration and Captain America’s Anti-Registration sides.
Decked out in the Iron-Spider armor given to him by Tony Stark, Peter accompanies his allies while transporting a convoy of Anti-Registration prisoners through the streets of New York City. But the severity of this war is taking a toll on Pete, and he questions whether Iron Man’s side is truly where he should be. Without warning, Cap’s team ambushes the transport in an attempt to rescue the prisoners, causing everyone to scatter. As a result, Spider-Man ends up on his own in a back alley where he comes face to face with none other than the living legend himself.
Being the symbol of hope that he is, Cap begins by making an appeal to Peter’s heart, telling the conflicted crime fighter that he has great respect for him and wants to give him a chance to do the right thing. The tense moment is made all the more agonizing with Peter’s inner-thoughts put on display as he confesses to spending most his life wishing for nothing more than the respect of Captain America, a hero he’s always admired. And as their battle begins, Peter is tormented by the idea that his own actions are now the cause for losing that respect forever.
The pressure is at an all time high as Peter notes how deadly fast Cap is, making it practically impossible to defend himself. And Peter’s pride takes the ultimate hit when Cap uses his shield, the symbol of the whole country, against him. Though Spider-Man manages to throw Cap off guard and draw first blood by deploying his newly equipped Iron-Spider appendages, the winner is ultimately undeclared as a greater conflict in the distance causes Cap to take off. However, Cap’s shield is left behind in the alley and instead of turning it over to Iron Man, Peter makes the choice to web it up to a wall for Cap to return and reclaim at a later time.
Peter’s anguish in being forced to fight one of his own personal heroes is just one example of how dire the stakes were in the Civil War comic compared to the movie. The conflict Peter feels in this particular issue eventually becomes so consuming that he later betrays Iron Man and switches over to Cap’s team. And it’s no wonder, as every part of the hero’s inner being is fully aware just how wrong his fighting Cap is. But through the perspective of a grounded, neighborhood hero who makes the responsible choice his personal daily mission, a conflict like the one presented in Civil War is anything but an easy moral line to discern. Ultimately, Spider-Man follows his heart and joins up with Captain America, clearing up some of that doom and gloom brought on by the intensity of their initial battle.
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