Iron Man’s Worst Civil War Mistake May Destroy the Marvel Universe

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WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Captain America/Iron Man #1, on sale now from Marvel Comics.

When the Superhuman Registration Act was signed into law during Civil War, Iron Man became the leader of the Pro-Registration movement, leading the fight against the Anti-Registration resistance led by Captain America. Completely convinced that following the law was in the superhero community’s best interests, Iron Man resorted to increasingly questionable methods to achieve victory, from building a prison for unregistered heroes in the Negative Zone to forcibly conscripting supervillains into the Pro-Registration movement’s ranks with mind-controlling nanites. Although the Superhuman Registration Act was eventually repealed, it would take years for the fractured and embittered superhero community to fully recover from the chaos that its passage caused, and even longer for many of its members to forgive Iron Man for the role he’d played in enforcing it.

In Captain America/Iron Man #1 (by Derek Landy, Angel Unzueta, Rachelle Rosenberg, and VC’s Joe Caramagna), Iron Man is confronted with the consequences of one of his biggest Civil War-era mistakes when the Paladins, a group of young heroes affiliated with the Fifty-State Initiative, accidentally foil his and Captain America’s attempt to capture the fugitive Hydra agent Veronica Eden. In doing so, they’ve raised the ghost of one of the Marvel Universe’s darkest eras and given the Superhuman Registration Act a second chance to destroy the superhero community.

RELATED: Avengers: The 10 Most Powerful Recruits From The Fifty State Initiative, Ranked

The main catalyst behind the Superhuman Registration Act’s creation was the “Stamford Incident,” which saw over 600 innocent civilians killed after the inexperienced New Warriors failed to capture the villain Nitro and caused the general public to rally for more accountability within the superhero community. Fresh off of his victory in Civil War, Iron Man created the Fifty State Initiative, which sought to place a S.H.I.E.L.D-sponsored team of superheroes in every state within the United States. Under the Initiative, any potential new superheroes underwent intense training before being placed on a “legal” team that answered directly to S.H.I.E.L.D. By producing well-trained superheroes who held full legal authority, the Initiative was almost a physical manifestation of the Superhuman Registration Act’s promise of safer superheroes.

Unfortunately, like many of the Pro-Registration movement’s other endeavors, the Fifty-States Initiative would ultimately cause more harm than good. When Norman Osborn was named the director of S.H.I.E.L.D, he also assumed the role of the de-facto leader of the entire superhero under the Superhuman Registration Act. As they’d been trained to follow the Act to the letter, many of the teams created by the Initiative became agents of Osborn, allowing him to assume control over the country with what was essentially an army of superheroes. After Osborn was removed from power following his attempt to conquer Asgard, the Superhuman Registration Act was repealed, with the Initiative being unceremoniously dissolved soon after.

RELATED: Captain America/Iron Man Series Opens With an Avengers Trainee-Turned-Murderer

Although most of the heroes associated with the Initiative have retired, several of them have continued to operate within the superhero community, but their effectiveness has always been limited. The Paladins, made up of the heroes Pioneer, Vox, Prima Donna, and Think Tank, follow this tradition well during their debut, as their intervention allows Veronica Eden to escape before Iron Man and Captain America can capture. To make things even worse, another recruit from the Initiative, Fifty-One, actively aids Veronica in her escape, having seemingly become a supervillain. Despite being designed to create more effective heroes, the Fifty-State initiative has effectively done the exact opposite.

Since the Superhuman Registration Act was repealed, Iron Man has done everything he can to make amends for the choices he made during Civil War. Sadly, like many of his other attempts to make up the mistakes of his past, the Paladins are a constant reminder Iron Man’s failures come at a cost that he can’t always pay.

KEEP READING: Captain America: Civil War vs Marvel’s Civil War – Which Is Better?

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