11 comic book characters missing from Captain America: Civil War

(Image credit: Marvel)

It's Civil War (the comic) vs. Civil War (the movie)

Like most superhero movies, Captain America: Civil War is based on a comic book series, and like most comic book adaptations, there’s LOADS missing from the original story. A huge comic crossover, Civil War involved pretty much every major (and minor) character in Marvel’s universe, including Avengers cut from the movie (Thor) and superheroes you’d never have thought should even be in the movie (The Punisher). But doesn’t missing out loads of characters change the story a bit? Let’s take a look at some of the major Civil War superheroes who didn’t make it into the Russos’ adaptation and how they might have changed the outcome. 

11. Wolverine/X-Men

Comic: Despite declaring official neutrality during Civil War (the X-Men have their own established plotline - House Of M - to deal with in their Civil War branded titles), Wolverine plays an important part in proceedings - investigating the events that led up to the conflict, and discovering the conspiracy at its heart. He was also a key part of the anti-registration movement, comparing Stark’s plan to the Mutant Registration Act.  

Movie: Despite Hugh Jackman making it intensely clear he wants to see Fox’s X-Men crossover with the Marvel’s Avengers, it seems he’s going to retire from the role - Wolverine 3 will be his curtain call - long before that happens. They certainly don’t show up in Captain America: Civil War. 

10. The Punisher

Comic: Frank Castle is a key player in Marvel’s Civil War, despite the fact it takes him a while to get involved. Initially not particularly bothered about the concept of a war between heroes (he saw worse in Vietnam) he decides to join the fray when Stark’s side starts using criminals to enforce the registration act. He sides with Team Cap, and even saves Spider-Man’s life. 

Movie: Civil War’s key themes - vengeance and consequences - fit The Punisher so perfectly, it feels like a massive waste Jon Bernthal, so brilliant in Daredevil, wasn’t on the cast list.

9. Thor/Ragnarok

Comic: During the first battle between the two sides, the former friends hold back from hurting each other. So S.H.I.E.L.D. unleashes Codename Lightning - Thor, previously presumed dead - to fight against the anti-registration army. After Thor kills superhero Goliath, significantly upping the stakes for everyone, it’s revealed the Norse god is actually a malfunctioning clone, named Ragnarok.

Movie: Thor’s missing from Civil War, presumably because it’d be an unfair advantage to have a god on whichever side he chose. However, we may see elements - evil clone? - from this plot in the upcoming solo movie Thor: Ragnarok

8. Iron Fist

Comic: After Daredevil is arrested by Tony Stark for refusing to register his identity - a silly scene that makes the most of Murdock’s religious background - Iron Fist (Danny Rand) takes off his weird pirate costume and puts on Murdock’s leather onesie to take up the mantle of Daredevil, keeping Hell’s Kitchen safe while its champion is behind bars. No-one seems to notice the fact Daredevil suddenly has mad kung fu skills. 

Movie: Iron Fist is coming to Netflix, but hasn’t landed quite yet, so it would be difficult to include him in the MCU. But would it have killed them to include a quick shot of Daredevil listening to a news report about the Sokovia Accord? C’mon!

7. Reed Richards/The Fantastic Four

Comic: Reed Richards (and, initially, the entire Fantastic Four) sides with Stark, helping him build a prison in the Negative Zone to store every superpowered hero who refuses to register. Named Project 42, before being renamed Prison 42, it’s extremely divisive - even amongst pro-registration members. Combined with the murder of Goliath, it leads to a split in the Fantastic Four, with Johnny and Sue joining anti-registration forces. 

Movie: There is a prison in Civil War, but you’ll have to see the movie to find out who ends up there. Speaking of prisons, the Fantastic Fox remain at 20th Century Fox - for now. 

6. Thunderbolts

Comic: Baron Zemo’s Thunderbolts were approached by Iron Man, Reed Richards, and Yellowjacket, initially to help them track down supervillains, convincing them to register in exchange for clean records. Soon, there’s an ‘Army of Thunderbolts’, including Venom, Lady Deathstrike, Taskmaster, Bullseye, Jester and Jack O’Lantern, who are guys licensed by the government to track down unregistered heroes (think Suicide Squad, but with more Venom-drool).

Movie: Only Baron Zemo survives this plot-thread in the big screen version, which is a pretty big missed opportunity. Civil War introduces a rebooted version of Spider-Man, why not chuck an MCU Venom in there too?

5. New Warriors

Comic: The New Warriors are extremely important in Millar’s Civil War, mainly because they kick-start the whole thing. During a televised take-down of a bunch of supervillains, the team fails to prevent an explosion that kills 612 civilians, including 60 children - and the team themselves. 

Movie: In the film, Cap’s team causes the incident - which is much smaller than the comic, but still significant. It’d be a big ask to incorporate New Warriors into the MCU at this late stage, but, as a comic fan, I wish they’d found another way to make it work - one that doesn’t make Cap look like a bad leader. 

4. Norman Osborn

Comics: Despite the fact Osborn has been the villain in more Spider-Man movies than any other character, they’ve barely touched the surface of his multiple roles in the comics. From Iron Patriot, to leader of the Dark Avengers, to his role in Civil War as a major conspirator.  

Movie: I’m fully prepared to admit it’d take a 10-hour Civil War movie trilogy to incorporate every character/team I’ve listed in this feature, but Osborn’s journey is so compelling I deeply wish they’d convinced Willem Dafoe to reprise the role, even if he is dead in the Raimi Spider-Verse. 

3. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones

Comic: Jessica Jones and Luke Cage - still courting on Netflix -  are married parents by the time Marvel’s Civil War comes around, and this extra responsibility causes Cage to send Jones to Canada, where registration won’t be an issue. Cage compares the registration act to slavery, decides to stay in America in protest, and waits to be arrested in his home. It’s an inspiring moment in the comics, and establishes Cage as a major player. 

Movie: I can totally see why this wouldn’t work in the MCU, but still wish the Netflix contingent could have been incorporated somehow, especially Cage. Even a brief bar conversation between Jones and Cage, discussing the implications of the Accord would’ve quenched my thirst. 

2. The Skrulls

Comic: Spider-Woman, Hank Pym and, uh, Jarvis - are actually Skrull sleeper agents during Civil War. It doesn’t have a major effect on the plot, but their status does lead into Secret Invasion, which the MCU may want to adapt at some point. 

Movie: Marvel doesn’t have the rights to the Skrulls - it’s one of those weird crossover character grey areas (they also don’t own the concept of mutants, which is why you’ll never hear Scarlet Witch referred to as one in the MCU) - a problem that previously saw the Chitauri invading the Earth at the end of The Avengers, instead of the more iconic alien Skrulls. Like the Skrulls, Chitauri have shapeshifting abilities, so could eventually be part of a Secret Invasion movie.

1. Howard The Duck

Comic: Despite not being a superhero, former presidential candidate/inter-dimensional being Howard the Duck - AKA the Duckman of New Jersey - is still required to register. However, he discovers his rebellious lifestyle was such an administrative nightmare for the government, he was written off and no longer officially exists. 

Movie: Alright, so it’s not the most essential plot-thread in the comics, but I’d give my left wing to see Howard choosing between Tony and Steve’s side in the MCU version of Civil War. The character has already been hatched in James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, why not shove him in somewhere? Is it too late for reshoots? I’ll pay! 

Sam Ashurst is a London-based film maker, journalist, and podcast host. He's the director of Frankenstein's Creature, A Little More Flesh + A Little More Flesh 2, and co-hosts the Arrow Podcast. His words have appeared on HuffPost, MSN, The Independent, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, and many more, as well as of course for us here at GamesRadar+.