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CSBG Archive

Top Five Captain America/Iron Man Fights

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Here is an archive of all the past top five lists I’ve done over the years.

With Captain America: Civil War due out later this year, I was inspired to do a Top Five Captain America/Iron Man fights.

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Avengers Volume 1 #4

So Captain America has just woken up in the future, realizing that his life has passed him behind AND his partner, Bucky, has been killed in front of him right before he dies. Then, after he processes all that information super quickly, he then has a bunch of costumed folks doubting that he is really who he says he is. So what does he? Dares them to “conquer him.”

How badass is Captain America? Anyhow, this Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and George Roussos fight is not really a full fight, but damned if it isn’t awesome none the less.

Civil War: Casualties of War #1

In this one-shot by Christos Gage, Jeremy Haun and Mark Morales, Cap and Iron Man call a truce during Civil War to talk. They end up fighting, of course, but interestingly enough, they do it sans armor for Iron Man, as Gage cleverly intercuts their fight with flashbacks to the time (during Bob Layton and David Michelinie’s run) when Cap trained Tony Stark (who he didn’t know was Iron man at the time) how to fight…

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I love the flashbacks, but the fight itself just sort of tapered off out of nowhere.

Avengers Volume 5 #29

During the Original Sin crossover, Captain America discovered that Iron Man and the Illuminati had wiped Cap’s mind of their existence. He was none too pleased about this and he confronts Tony in his workshop along with the rest of the Avengers…

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Very cool sequence by Jonathan Hickman, Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan, but it got cut off a bit too quickly by the Time Gem going haywire to rank higher.

Civil War #7

This Mark Millar, Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines sequence is the heart of the Civil War storyline, but it’s really more of a Captain America AND Vision vs. Iron Man fight, right?

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Otherwise, it’d be in the Top Five for sure!

Captain American Annual #9

In this story by Roy and Dann Thomas, Jim Valentino and Sam De La Rosa, all the inhabitants of a small town in Washington have been driven crazy by infected trout (they’re celebrating their annual trout festival). So has Iron Man, leaving Captain America to try to figure out a way to stop his teammate (Cap has determined that extreme cold kills the virus, so he lures Iron Man out to the top of a snowy mountain to try to freeze the virus out of him, and hopefully hold him off until the cold works)…

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Go to the next page for the start of the Top Five!

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39 Comments

Nice! I loved the #1 choice, but there was in 1998 an annual solely about a confrontation between Tony and Steve, by the likes of Busiek, Stern and Waid. I didn’t read it, but was it that bad it didn’t show up here?

Alexandre Julião

January 24, 2016 at 6:54 am

Yeah, a good setup is essential for a fight between super heroes to work in a believable way. Armors Wars have it, Civil War don’t.

Rereading all those scenes from the Civil War crossover, only served to reinforce two things on my mind:

Civil War: Casualties of War is the only book of that crossover worth reading and that Iron Man was been setup to be turned into a full time villain, no matter how much Marvel denied it.

Marvel only didn’t go ahead with it because of the success of the movie.

Those guys really go all out when fighting each other don’t they? How often do we see Captain A hit anyone in the face with the edge of his shield? They fight the Mandarin and the Red Skull less brutally than each other.

I remember a fight from Sentinel of Liberty where ‘fresh out of the freezer’ Steve fights a mind controlled Tony and Tony is lamenting how Steve doesn’t stand a chance.

Steve then proceeds to kick his aft. :-)

“Look at us. We’re just fighting.” Really, can’t any character written by Mark MIllar say that?

I think it’s telling that 85% of these stories are concentrated in the last 20% of the characters’ history. I’m not sure exactly what it tells, but it’s telling something.

Bernard the Poet

January 24, 2016 at 10:17 am

@Alexandre Julião

It is not just Iron Man. No character in Civil War behaves in a consistent way.

My personal theory is that Cap’s position: – ‘the democratically elected government of my country has passed a law that I disagree with, so I am going to form my own para-military organisation and carry out terrorist acts’ – is clearly wrong-headed. So Iron Man had to be shown as devious and sinister to balance out the moral conflict. Otherwise, Cap just looks like a mad dog and enemy of democracy.

I immediately thought of #1 when I clicked, and I wondered if it would have been included. Glad to see it made number 1!

I also immediately thought of #1, but the fact that I reread the Captain America portion of it just last week probably has something to do with it.

@Lierson
“Nice! I loved the #1 choice, but there was in 1998 an annual solely about a confrontation between Tony and Steve, by the likes of Busiek, Stern and Waid. I didn’t read it, but was it that bad it didn’t show up here?”

No, it was very good. But the problem is that it was, as I recall, a Cap/Iron Man team-up, not a fight. (Although they did have words about Tony’s ethics – again!)

Bernard –

There are some instances when democratically elected governments do stuff that is so abominable as to make violent opposition seems not a clear-cut issue (I’m mostly thinking the history of slavery here and John Brown, I refuse to consider Brown a 19h century Bin Laden). But the real problem here is that in an action-adventure story, things MUST devolve to violence. No one wants to read about Steve Rogers’s pacificist hunger strike against registration or Matt Murdock arguing against it in court over the course of 8 issues. We have Action Comics and Detective Comics, but we don’t have “Civil Resistance Comics”.

Agreed Rene. There are certainly circumstances where violent resistance to democratic decisions can arguably be justified. Let’s not forget, men like Bull Connor and George Wallace were democratically elected, and they used the force of the State violently against people innocent of any wrongdoing. Arguably, some of those people would have been justified in using violence in self-defense. The fact that non-violence was a semi-successful tactic does not vitiate the argument that violence may have been justified. Some people lost their lives to the State, and could plausibly be alive today if they had resisted the force of the democratically elected government with force of their own.

I didn’t read Civil War, but Cap’s “vigilante” violence could be arguably moral, especially if it was solely used in self-defense and defense of others.

@Bernard, @Rene, and @Nu-D,

In my opinion the biggest issue was that what the Superhuman Registration Act entailed was never really spelled out and seemed to change depending on what side any particular writer wanted to present as the “right’ one.

Sometimes it was explained as merely wanting to register people acting as superhuman vigilantes so that they could be held accountable for their actions. While there are definitely people in the Marvel Universe who would not agree to this, this is the “most reasonable” version of the SRA and the one that was used when the writer wanted the reader to be sympathetic to Iron Man’s side.

Other times the SRA was shown to mean that possessing any superhuman powers (e.g., I can change my eye color) meant that you could be conscripted into a superhuman army under the control of the US Government. Not registering was punishable by indefinite imprisonment in the negative zone without trial or death at the hands of the Dark Avengers. This version was used by writers which wanted to portray Captain America’s side as being the right one.

Obviously, the reality is that Civil War is a story engine designed to throw superheroes into conflict. I just wish a little more thought was given to what the SRA actually entailed as I think it would have lead to a more complex and better story.

@Rob:
Far be it from me to suggest that Civil War was in any way coherent, because it wasn’t, but it seemed like the first “held accountable” interpretation was only what pro-reg people said to justify their position, whereas hunting superpowered people down and making them join their army, imprisoning them or sometimes executing them was what they actually did in practice. I dunno that there are any instances of them just registering heroes and allowing them to go about their heroic business.

interesting to see civil war made the list so much as both honorable mentions and some of the top five. plus interesting to see armour war made the cut mostly for cap and iron man showing that not only is cap stubborn over a cause but so is iron man. a little early future lead up to civil war

@David Spofforth, thank you for the answer… I recalled being teased about a fight between both characters. Oh well.

That Valentino art is hideous. Hideous. Such awkward anatomy.

I began reading comics earnestly right around the time Armor Wars and the Captain saga were happening. That’s awesome, but it’s rough because it set the bar for good storytelling for the next 30+ years.

Bernard the Poet

January 24, 2016 at 6:03 pm

I appreciate that Marvel needed a McGuffin to motivate their superheroes to have a big fight, but the Superhero Registration Act should have been jettisoned at the planning stage. In a democracy there are a myriad of non-violent ways to oppose government legislation. Captain America just looks like a hypocrite. For 70 years, Cap has been pontificating about the American Way and as soon as a law is passed that doesn’t suit him, he turns into a supervillain. Clearly Marvel recognised how badly Cap’s behaviour could be perceived, so in order to disguise it, they portray the pro-government superheroes as fascists.

Marvel really needed someone to call a halt before this got published– Captain America doesn’t try to overthrow democratically elected governments, Iron Man doesn’t hire hitmen and Reed Richards doesn’t build concentration camps in the negative zone. If your story falls apart unless your protagonists behave completely out of character, then you need to get back to the drawing board and think up a new reason for them to have a fight.

Like others here, I thought of the #1 entry right away, and like others here, I had just recently read the Cap portion of it (having gone through that 19-issue “Captain/John Walker arc, great stuff!).

That Top 75 Captain America Stories list must have inspired a lot of re-reading around these parts!

The Silver Centurion armor looks good in #1.

For all the grief people give Civil War, that part where Cap is getting creamed and Herc yells “he’s killing him in there!” was really chilling.

And the rematch they had was the most badass thing Cap has done, in my opinion. He used the Vision as a tactical tool, very practical. Most of the time you see him win against other heroes, they’re too busy revering him to do very much.

I actually like Valentina’s iron man. He makes him a little too curved at the hips, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Jim get a shot at iron man some time. Although I don’t think he draws any more.

Bernard, it’s telling that not until the end of Civil War does Cap suddenly go, “Wait, if I refuse to comply peacefully, then make myself a symbol when the government tries to prosecute me, it could send a powerful statement about the immorality of this act!” (at least IIRC). It makes much more sense for him if he’s going to be a refusenik. While I realize nonviolent protest doesn’t lend itself to pulse-pounding battle, if Walt Simonson could make a congressional hearing on super-human registration interesting … But that’s why he’s Walt Simonson instead of Mark Millar.

Hell yeah #1!

Millar didn’t write in character, but that’s part of what superhero events are good for: just telling a big crazy superhero story. I don’t fault Millar for not using off-brands in an independent story that half of CW readers at best would read. No one would care about Wall Crawler unmasking or betraying Metal Man to join Citizen Muscle. Cap and Iron Man both got huge boosts from it: the two solo books were some of the best superhero titles on the stands at the time, easily.

Anyway, with what little I’d seen of Haun at the time, I sure got a chuckle out of the… McNiven-esque look of that one story.

Civil War is the greatest example in comics of what TV Tropes calls the Conflict Ball. Everybody acts way out of character, because we gotta have drama and conflict. But the characters act so outrageously that drama is negated, at least for me.

But I still disagree that taking violent action against a democratic government automatically makes one a supervillain. :) I don’t think it’s that simple.

And not even Walt Simonson at his prime, awesome as he was, could have written 8 issues of civil resistance and law court drama and make it work as a superhero summer event. So I don’t think Civil War could ever happen the “right” way. But maybe we can get a good movie out of it.

Love all the use of the Clang! sound effect in #2!

Also, as an honorable mention you maybe could throw in Avengers #224, where Tony starts romancing Jan while Hank is in jail. This being before she knew that he was her longtime ally Iron Man. Cap gives him hell for it. I suppose more of an argument than a fight, but pretty memorable.

Out of curiousity, why does Kev Walker’s comic book art look so much different than his MTG art? I like his comic book art, and I think it’s really dynamic, but it’s nowhere near as clean and pretty as his MTG art.

Kind of hard to swallow the notion that America-616 is “democratic” by any reasonable standard. How many androids, aliens, Nazis, mutant-hating-mutants, mind-controlling gods, and millennia-old cabals have been revealed to have far more decision-making power than any of the superficial democratic window-dressing that is used to manage the population?

Within the storyline itself, the US Government-616 put NORMAN OSBORN in charge of enforcing the regulations.
You really expect a good faith/”trust what we say” argument to be persuasive given what we know about how Marvel’s governments work?

And yes, following the Stanford incident (which was, canonically, a set-up), there might have been a groundswell of reactionary sentiment that was exploited and manipulated to legitimize the SRA. Of course, a sizable number of Americans wanted us to go to war w Iraq because they did 9-11, too…

I’d like to put in a good word for the Cap-Iron Man conflict during Jim Shooter’s first Avengers run. Steve was, to say the least, less than thrilled with what he saw as Tony’s lackadaisical Avengers leadership (to be fair, iirc Tony was in conflict with SHIELD over the ownership of Stark International at the time) and the two finally came to blows at the beginning of the Korvac saga. A nice long-running plotline whose resolution strengthened their friendship (for a while).

Still trying to figure out how honorable mention fight with Tony without his armor lasted more than two panels….

And “It’s broken up by the clone of Thor showing up on the scene.” Only comics.

But the list is good, and 1 and 2 are 1 and 2. I find it funny all this talk about how Civil War got the motivations wrong (which it did) but no one contrasts this with #1, which got it so right. Here you have Tony Stark, independent guy who follows no ones orders, going up against the government, because he doesn’t want others, including the government, to control his armor. And Captain America saying you can fight a war against your own government, and can’t make these decisions on your own. Then later, we have Cap going against his government when he’s been a government agent like the registration act requires and has never been all that big on a secret identity, and probably believes soldiers should do soldiering, not civilians. And Stark saying hey, whatever you say boss, I’ll fight the government for my armor tech, but I’ll give me AND my suit (as well as anyone else I’ve helped created) freely to you. Because hey, no I give up my secret identity to save a cat, so what does it matter? (And they make a joke of it in the movie, but Iron Man being the bodyguard was a GREAT sleight of hand and explanation, and also added a mercenary rep to the character that wasn’t true but he had to overcome). #1 is well written comics; Civil War is dreck with pretty pictures.

M-Wolverine –

Well, there have been cases where Stark worked for the government and SHIELD, but those tended to be earlier on in his career and he was more consistently shown to be an individualist at least since the 1970s, so yeah, his portrayal as an authoritarian who knows what’s best for everyone comes out of nowhere.

With Captain America it’s less clear-cut, I think. True, Cap isn’t quick to anger, but he is never been shy to demonstrate his disagreement when the government acted in ways he judged morally wrong. The various times he basically said “shove it” and abandoned his costumed identity, for instance, and inevitably ended up fighting goons in the employ of the government, like Freedom Force. Of course, Civil War short-circuits this ludicrously, with Captain America becoming a rebel leader like, 15 minutes after they start talking of registration.

But it’s Mark Millar’s writing, where everybody is an asshole. With really clever quips.

I don’t think Stark minds getting PAID by the government, but he’s always enjoyed lording it over guys like Fury that they need him more than he needs them.

And sure, Cap shouldn’t be lock step with the government at all. But 1. Civil War is a lot closer to the #1 situation than say “Nomad” and 2. it would make a lot more sense if it’s more along your timeline, and maybe more powerful, if Cap is on the side of registration but then as the government goes from “we just want to know where to find you if you blow up a school house” to “we’re conscripting for the Super American Army” he turns his back on them. Then he and Iron Man could be on the same side. And if he dies fighting the government then, it means a lot more than “boy, we’ve been screwing up fighting each other for 7 issues, haven’t we? Take me.”

And it actually would make the whole Civil War thing more interesting, because Cap being on the side that they knew readers would naturally be against (registration; I mean, we have read autonomous heroes from the start) and made Iron Man on the side of “right” (rather than his all too common heel turn) makes for interesting drama in the story and for the individual characters. And besides being more in character consistent, it also makes things easier on the writers, because for all the claims that “both sides would be presented equally” said over and over, it wasn’t even close to being portrayed that way, and they’d have had an inherent advantage doing that if they had Cap leading “the bad guys” and Iron Man “the good guys” as it makes it all a lot more gray. As it was they badly skewed the polls.

@buttler: I dunno that there are any instances of them just registering heroes and allowing them to go about their heroic business.

I’m probably misremembering, but I recall an issue of Peter David’s X-Factor where for whatever reason government types showed up at the agency, and whoever answered the door said, “Come in; we’re all registered, of course.” But that’s David’s X-Factor in general, hanging out in its own corner of the Marvel Universe doing its own thing and ignoring everyone else unless forced to.

MAURICE S. KANE. JR.

January 28, 2016 at 5:14 pm

The 2006-2007 Civil War storyline was rooted in conflicts between the heroes over the Superhuman Registration Act passed in the wake of the catastrophic New Warriors battle with Nitro, which resulted in the super-villain unleashing his explosive powers to murder over 600 innocents, including 60 elementary schoolchildren. Reasonable arguments could be and actually were articulated for both sides of the debate. Is it really outlandish for Congress and the elected civilian bureaucracy, including first responders to have some knowledge of citizens or residents who can throw skyscrapers, vaporize neighborhoods, teleport into and out of top secret facilities and correctional institutions for the sake of the general public? No. We’re required to register our vehicles, obtain driver’s and pilot’s licenses, and pass licensing exams to practice law, medicine and other professions, which are significantly less dangerous. On the other hand, shouldn’t humanitarian freelancers risking their lives against extraterrestrials, masterminds, Gamma and cosmic-powered brutes, and evil sorcerers be able to protect their anonymity in their private lives, protecting themselves and their families? Some of the decisions were uncharacteristic in the actual storytelling though. For example, Mr. Fantastic does not strike me as someone who would have assisted in constructing a prison in the Negative Zone for recalcitrant superhumans, many of whom were heroes without criminal records. Physical conflict was , of course, a prerequisite for a year-long, multiple issue crossover action-adventure epic but wouldn’t there be more subtle resistance in light of the alliances and friendships that existed between members of the warring factions, who had literally saved each other from true menaces such as Galactus and Dr. Doom and Kang the Conqueror?

“Those guys really go all out when fighting each other don’t they? How often do we see Captain A hit anyone in the face with the edge of his shield? They fight the Mandarin and the Red Skull less brutally than each other.”

If you’re talking about the Hikman fight, Iron Man has a face plate on its just transparent.

Triniking1234

May 6, 2016 at 8:29 am

Mr. Brian, got anything planned for T’Challa big screen debut?

I really did think I picked up on “hints” throughout Civil War and previous Avengers arcs (specifically the Illuminati mini) that, after fighting the Skrulls and realizing that at some point Earth would need both a large, organized, and trained superhuman military (the “registered” teams) and a decentralized group that would be able to act independently if/when the Skrulls infiltrated the government and militarized superhumans, Iron Man and Captain America cooked up the whole “pro/anti-reg” fight as a cover for preparing for the Skrull invasion.

THAT would have made sense coming from one of the smartest men in the world and one of the greatest tacticians – instead, they were both apparently just short-sighted idiots.

One thing that I feel like that the Civil War movie did superior to the comics is the fact that Cap and Iron Man only fought twice. It felt like the movie was building to that moment and it felt like that both sides had serious motives of why they were doing it. In the comics, they fought each other a lot, which not only felt repetitive, but also began to lose meaning, i.e. they were fighting just to prove they could beat the other side, but there was no motivation beyond that.

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