The second Superhero Civil War has waged in the Marvel Universe for months. Today, it all comes to an end in Civil War II #8, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez. The issue reveals the final fate of Captain Marvel and Iron Man and hints at major events coming in the future of the Marvel Universe.
Spoiler Warning for Civil War II #8
The issue is likely to leave Marvel Comics fans with as many questions as answered, so ComicBook.com spoke to Bendis and asked him a few questions of our own, discussing the state of Tony Stark, the future of Ulysses, and what those final visions mean for the next year of Marvel Comics.
Civil War II was extended from a seven issues to eight. How did that effect the ending?
Brian Michael Bendis: The actual events didn't change, but how the story was told changed. We'd been thinking about the visual dynamic of Ulysses’ powers. In the earliest, earliest, earliest version, before you even heard there was an event, we started to think about what kind of ending Ulysses brings us. Do we kill him? Does he join the Avengers? Does he join the Inhumans? Does he go bad? Does he snap?
He keeps being hammered by tragedy. He feels them and some of them are really going to happen and some of them are just going to happen to him. Regardless, if you're young and you're idealistic and suddenly your brain just gets hit with everything horrible that could possibly happen, it will change you. Does it change him into a villain?
There were all these opportunities, but the one that was the most intriguing to me and to everyone else when I pitched it, is that he evolves past profiling. The profiling is a stepping stone to another step in evolution beyond anything the Inhumans have ever experienced and what it does is it removes him from future storytelling without it being like a Twilight Zone tragedy, like, "Oh my God, he died in the middle of one of his own predictions."
So this evolution, this evolving of him, to another part of Marvel, that maybe will bring stories down the line is very interesting, but how to capture that evolution, visually in the comic book to really sell it, was something that I thought could use some more pages and when you turn the page and see Eternity and the other Elders of the Cosmos, that's not an eighth of a page. That’s, you turn the page and that's a double page whammer.
Also, everyone at the end gets glimpses into the future of the Marvel universe. Some things the audience knows are going to happen, some are classic and some that are brand new and have things that the audience doesn't know about that may be coming true very soon or later in the year. Not only does it kind of answer the question of Ulysses’ powers, but it also makes us as creators look like we've got our s*** together and so smart because we do have our s*** together on some level and this let us illustrate that using Ulysses’ powers.
I'm very excited that it was almost a visual interpretation of the Marvel timeline we did in Avengers years ago where there was this timeline that showed things from the future, some of which we knew were going to come true. People would go back to that timeline for many years then come to Me and Tom [Brevoort] and go, "Oh my God, you actually did the thing with the thing.” We're actually pretty proud of that.
We thought a visual interpretation of that would be great and also it let us get some other artists in here to make it about Marvel Comics, many types of different comics, and that's when we were so happy when all of our collaborates from Andrea Sorrentino doing the bit for Old Man Logan and then Alan Davis doing Killraven, and Mark Bagley and everyone else that came and joined us, they were all of our first picks and they all said yes and we got to express this idea that we've been toying with for many years again, but in a different way, and that was pretty cool. In a way, it kind of makes Civil War II a sister book to Age of Ultron and a sister book to Avengers and it all connects to the work we've been doing, but in a different way.
Ulysses’ powers have proven to be inconsistent over the course of Civil War II. With that in mind, how should readers take these final visions? Some are clearly upcoming events like Monsters Unleashed and Inhumans vs. X-Men Are the other hints at future plans, or are their red herrings mixed in as well?
BMB: Some of them have already happened, or at least are futures we know of, like Days of Future Past and Age of Ultron, futures that could happen. Those are almost like a warning shot, things that could happen, will happen or could be avoided. All of that, we thought was a nice way for Ulysses to kind of bow out of profiling and leave just enough for all the heroes that were present to realize that they will always have work to do.
As you mentioned, Civil War II #8 gives Ulysses an ending that takes him off the table for now but still gives him a new place in the Marvel universe. Do you see yourself returning to Ulysses in future stories?
BMB: To be continued. I have a couple of ideas that could work to put them him on the same level as the Collector and the Gamesmaster, but I'm not working on any books right now that type of cosmic character would fit into. I feel a couple of the other writers are going to grab him. I feel like he's going to pop up in some surprising places down the line. There's kind of like a mix between making sure enough time goes by that it will be exciting to see him again, but if we wait too long, it'll be like, "Who?"
I wouldn't be surprised if you see him sooner or later. I don't have him right now. If no one else ends up doing anything with him, I have a tendency to grab my toys back and do it myself, so we'll see.
Fans have heard stories about how hotly contested the decision about how to end the fight between Captain America and Iron Man in the first Civil War series was. Was there similar debate surrounding how to end the conflict between Captain Marvel and Iron Man?
BMB: It was funny because I was there for those meetings where they were arguing about who would win and how they would win and where certain things would happen. There was a lot of debate about whether Cap would die in his own book or die at the end of Civil War. it was all very interesting and I remember what was so charming about that day, was the argument went on for hours and just, out of the blue, and it never happened before or since, Joss Whedon was in the neighborhood and texted Joe [Quesada] and said, "Hey, can I stop by?" He walked into a room that was divided down the middle about how to handle the end of the first Civil War. He walked into the room just to watch the show and it ended up being like, "Okay, Joss, here's the two arguments. You can tell us the answer." He did and it was pretty funny to me that he just sauntered in the room and just got hammered with the future of the Marvel universe on his shoulders. But I do think about that a lot. I think about, “How do we avoid torturing Joss Whedon or someone else like that again?”
I pitched my ending that happens in the book between Carol and Tony, not the Ulysses part, but the Carol and Tony part was in the original document, and I thought to myself, “Unless something reveals itself that hadn't occurred before, let's really try to stick to this ending and try to make this ending as powerful as possible and, at the same time, as debatable as possible.”
With Civil War II, I lean very heavy into the audience arguing amongst themselves about Carol and Tony and the morality of it all and the friendship of it all and how far are you willing to go for this? Some of the audience enjoys that immensely. Some of the audience gets very wound up about it. They have a favorite character, whether it be Tony or Carol, and they know that something really huge is going to happen at the end of the story. They're dreading a million things that could happen, but there was only one outcome. I wanted the audience to still debate outcome. I would like them to debate amongst each other without insulting me, but what are you gonna do?
This ending was 90 percent of what I said it was going to be, which is a pretty great number for me. That's pretty high up, for the way I go. Sometimes I get to the last third and something else reveals itself that's more intriguing, but this did help, that I plotted this out for so long, no matter what the universe threw at it.
The final scene with the President talking to Captain Marvel about a new position felt reminiscent of Iron Man taking over SHIELD after the first Civil War. Was that deliberate?
BMB: What I liked about Tony’s ending in Civil War was that is was a bittersweet ending, that he ascends to the highest office in this organization that his father had hands in developing, and what an honor, but he did it with blood on his hands. Would he rather have Capt back than have this title? Yes, he would. That's the definition of a bittersweet ending.
I definitely thought that these two love each other so much and in a way, Carol and Tony are tighter than Tony and Capt were, even though they're all very close. They share so much about recovery and other issues they've shared over the years that no matter who wins, and with Rhodey’s death hanging over it all, it would be a very bittersweet ending and that's really the only ending that would be honest even though it might not be the most Twilight Zone-y or exciting. It's the most honest and when you're faced with the honest answer, you've got to stay with that no matter what other, clever thing you could think of.
It's not exactly the same as the first, but it has that same bittersweet quality to it. She's not taking over SHIELD. Something else is going to happen with her. Something else is going to happen to Tony that did not happen to Cap and people have already gotten a little taste of it with some other books, because comics.
There was also the conversation between Captain Marvel and Beast. Was that meant as a coda? Or foreshadowing of things to come? Or even possibly as both?
BMB: What makes you think it was a coda?
The way Beast explains why Iron Man was really fighting against Captain Marvel feels like a revelation that serves as a punctuation mark. But it also maybe feels like an author’s warning…
BMB: I could see that. I am just a big fan of - and realize as well, not just in my comic books and movies - but when all the chaos is over, there's a quiet moment and someone reveals something in that quiet moment that kind of opens the eyes of one of the characters in a way that none of the fighting would ever have done. There's really not that much difference in what Beast says compared to what Tony has said to Carol over the course of the event. It’s just over the body of Tony and the way he says it and he articulates it, it kind of brings it home more for Carol.
Once Ulysses is off the table, it's a little easier to talk about. You can talk about it past tense, and it’s little easier to swallow than it is when you're in the middle of the hurricane. It's more about that than a coda, but yes, with the ongoing myths of the Marvel Universe, which is obviously one of my favorite things, you don't know what's going to happen next year to the two of them. You could wake up and the fight starts all over again in Civil War III or he wakes up and their relationship changes. When and if Tony wakes up, what will his relationship be, not only to Carol but to the entire Marvel Universe?
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