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Iron Man v. Spider-Man! the Civil War That Has Been Raging for Years

Updated on June 18, 2017

Iron Man v Spider-Man. The Civil War

Spiderman: Homecoming Promo Poster. Credit: Marvel Studios
Spiderman: Homecoming Promo Poster. Credit: Marvel Studios

The Beginning

The moment Iron Man utters the word ''Underoos!" is when his friend Spider-Man finally joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the joy of millions of Marvel fans worldwide. On the eve of the release of Spiderman: Homecoming we go on a journey to find out why these two super heroes have been having their own "Civil War" for many years now.

Stan Lee (Born Stanley Martin Lieber) was a creative young lad from Manhattan New York who was heavily influenced by books and movies. Stan scored an assistant job at Timely Comics at age Seventeen. 'Timely' was part of comic book publisher Martin Goodman's company Pulp Magazine and Stan's first role was an assistant.

Lee fetched lunches, sharpened pencils and proofread for his superiors. In May 1941 under his new stage name of Stan Lee he made his comic book debut with Captain America Comics #3. This comic introduced the tossing of Cap's shield as a weapon. Timely Publications had generally become known as Atlas Comics in the early 1950's but in 1961 it evolved into Marvel Comics. The Amazing Fantasy #15 comic book was published in August of 1962 and it featured a character created by Stan and his writer-artist companion Steve Ditko. This character was Spider-Man!.

Spiderman in Captain America Civil War. Photo: Marvel Studios
Spiderman in Captain America Civil War. Photo: Marvel Studios


Inside the Spider-Man suite is a guy named Peter Parker. An orphan who is raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. He is bitten by a radioactive spider which gives him superhuman powers with the ability to cling to walls and sense danger. Peter is also depicted as an intellectual and academic genius which helps him acquire a huge skills set. These talents include the ability to build a device that weaves webs and is attached to his wrists and to sew his own pyjama like costume. So versatile!. The shy school kid started off as more of a sidekick to other established super beings but quickly became a main man featuring in stories such as The Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man and The Avengers with his friend Iron Man.

Before Sony Pictures secured the movie rights to exclusively use the web slinger in 1999 there had only been a small amount of movies using Stan Lee's character. The first was a short Donald F. Glut film from 1969 followed by a 1977 made-for-television movie both simply called Spider-Man (The latter Directed by E.W. Swackhamer and written by Alvin Boretz). The year 1978 brought a Japanese version of the pyjama wearing superhero also known as Supaidaman. So along came Sony with Sam Raimi directing and Toby Maguire starring to produce Spider-Man in 2002, Spider-Man 2 in 2004 and Spider-Man 3 in 2007. Financially they were all very successful with the third grossing the most money at $890.9 million worldwide. Plans for the fourth film were scrapped when Raimi pulled the plug after four failed script changes.

In typical Sony fashion the idea to Reboot was made and Marc Webb was handed the directorial duties. The casting was magnificent with Andrew Garfield as the protagonist and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy the love interest. It also included Hollywood veterans Sally Field, Martin Sheen and Denis Leary. The Amazing Spiderman (2012) was an average film at best but performed well at the box office so a sequel was green lighted. The Amazing Spiderman 2: Rise of Electro featured most of the original cast along with new bad guy Jamie Foxx. This movie was below Jamie's acting abilities and tried to cram to many stories and villians into one nearly two hour action film.

Iron Man

Iron Man made his comic debut in Tales of Suspense #39 in March 1963 a mere eight months after spidey's comic debut. Stan had some help creating the Iron One with assistance from younger brother and script writer Larry Leiber, Don Heck (Story artist and cover artist) and Jack Kirby (Cover artist/character designer). The hero's real identity was a man named Tony Stark who is a billionaire business man following in the footsteps of his father. He is a qualified engineer but when he suffers a life threatening chest injury (after being kidnapped and held captive), he is forced to design an iron suit to try and escape. The character is also a founding member of Marvel's favourite superhero team The Avengers and features in some of the most popular comics including The Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man: The Inevitable and Marvel Adventures Iron Man.

The movie history of Tony Stark's iron alter ego consisted mainly of animated films up until director John Favreau's 2008 effort Iron Man which was the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Apparently the film had been planned as early as 1990 but Marvel sold the rights to the character ( Which they did with Spider-Man) and only reacquired the rights in 2006. The film was excellent and made big money in cinemas and DVD sales. Robert's next role as the Stark character found him in the stinger of the 2008 Marvel film The Incredible Hulk. We see him and William Hurt's Marvel character General Thaddeus Ross meeting in a bar to talk about a 'Team' that's being put together. This is a reference to the movie that ended up being 2012's The Avengers. Iron Man 2 followed in 2010 which was also directed by Favreau.

Along with the original the sequel succeeded thanks to a number of factors but the main being a perfect casting choice. Having actor Robert Downey Jr play Tony Stark was a master stroke. The man has made the character his own and is a huge reason behind it's success. It is easy to believe that Robert is actually Rob and is hard to imagine anyone else as Iron-Man.

Tales of Suspense #39- Iron Man is Born!
Tales of Suspense #39- Iron Man is Born! | Source

The Avengers finally hits the big screen in 2012 but only features Iron Man, Spider-Man is still the property of Sony. The movie is fantastic and features alot of Marvel's most loved super heroes (Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury). Joss Whedon wrote and directed the film and could not have done a greater job. The MCU had already been successful up until this release so it's popularity guaranteed many future sequels and stand alone films.

Iron Man 3 is released in 2013 with the director's chair taken over by Shane Black. It is the highest grossing Iron Man film but feels like a strange choice to be the follow up to The Avengers. It only features two characters from that movie and only references it on a few occasions.

Our man Downey Jr also features in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron which is directed by Joss Whedon. Age of Ultron along with Captain America: The Winter Soldier from 2014, gets the "Avengers" story line back on track.

Captain America Civil War Promo Poster. Source: Marvel Studios
Captain America Civil War Promo Poster. Source: Marvel Studios

Spider-Man returns home

A deal was made on February 10, 2015 between Sony and Marvel. This deal allows Spidey to feature in films from both companies with each keeping their respective films profits. The Re-entry of Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe opened up a plethora of possibilities for future storylines. Marvel had reacquired a major asset and Sony would benefit as well. It was a win-win situation for both companies. Rumours circulated that the web throwing super hero would make an appearance in either the Civil War film or maybe just in the after credits stinger. When the role was recast with young actor Tom Holland, fans quickly realised that dream had become reality.

The first promo picture (featured at the beginning of this article) was released to the media and seemed to hint at the amazing one featuring heavily in the movie. The photo created many questions for fans as well. ''Why the hell is he holding Captain America's shield?'' and ''What is the suite made of?''. Comic book fans can indeed break the internet trying to find this valuable information!.

Marvel's Third Captain America movie of the current generation Civil War is finally released on the Twelfth of April in 2016. Fans eagerly awaited the appearance of Spider-Man. So our first spidey scene comes when RDJ visits the web slingers' Aunty (played by Marisa Tomei). He is trying to recruit him to a team of elite Superheroes who are trying to flush out the hiding Captain America and his accused criminal friend The Winter Soldier.

Turns out our new Peter Parker is only a teenager!. From a business standpoint this is understandable, Marvel rebooting the character in his younger days leaves him youthful with plenty of movies to make and money to be made. Tony Stark recruits our man and off they travel to try and capture Captain America and his brainwashed pal The Winter Soldier.


So when the actual "Civil War" begins and Iron man finally calls for spiderman to enter the battle. UNDEROOS!!! he yells. Spidey swoops in, takes Cap's shield from him (that's how he got it!) and says ''Hey everyone". Am I the only one that did not for the life of me know the meaning of the term underoos?.

Underoos is in fact a brand of underwear that was first designed primarily for children. It was invented by entrepreneur Larry Weiss. The product was then produced by the Fruit of the Loom company in 1977. They obtained four major comic book character groups back then which included Marvel's Spiderman and Captain America characters.

The underwear not only came in traditional style but included a matching top and bottom style for both boys and girls!. They also include DC Comics and Star Wars characters among many others.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in Civil War. Photo: Marvel Studios
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in Civil War. Photo: Marvel Studios

So all is good in the Marvel universe! Our superhero friends are back together again and fighting on the same team in business and the movies. Then why is there a civil war that's been raging for years you ask?. Two reasons, Money and Popularity. Spider-Man is by far the highest grossing comic book superhero and he reportedly earns around $1.3 Billion a year. This includes movies, comics and merchandise. This far outweighs any other comic character including DC's Batman and Superman, Marvels own Avengers and you guessed it....Iron Man.

When spidey was still exclusive to Sony, Marvel decided that Iron Man was going to be there flagship hero and continued to push him hard. The success of the movies coupled with Robert Downey Jr's perfect portrayal of Mr.Stark led the company to believe they could catch up if not take over their former mvp's popularity. This wasn't the case though which may have led to the negotiations to get the amazing Spider-Man back into Marvel movies.

Robert Downey Jr's Marvel contract is reportedly only movie to movie and Avengers Infinity Wars Part 1 and Part 2 are the only one's left on his current contract. If they were to lose him it would strike another massive blow to the superhero's popularity and money drawing power.

The upcoming Spider-Man film Homecoming is to be produced by Columbia Pictures in association with Marvel Studios and will be distributed by Sony Pictures. Robert Downey Jr is in the film and appears to play a major role. The Iron Man character is at it's peak popularity and will probably be as close as it ever will be to competing with the mighty Spider-Man. Don't be suprised if we actually do see Spider-Man v Iron Man on the big screen one day. For now though they will remain friends, allies and Iron Man will just have to be happy with second place.

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© 2017 Lee Bruce


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