What’s all the fighting for? It seems like both of the big superhero comic publishers and their attached movie houses are putting out flicks this year in which two of their biggest heroes battle it out in Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War. March, if you’re not aware, is the anniversary of the first appearance of both Captain America (Captain America Comics #1, March 1941) and Iron Man (Tales of Suspense #49, March 1963). That’s Steve Rogers and Tony Stark to most of us, or “Mom” and “Dad” if you happen to be an Avenger.
In honor of the first appearances of these two Avenging angels and their tumultuous, but endearing, bromance across time and space, we present the most epic moments between Iron Man and Captain America.
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9. Captain America #174
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Sal Buscema
"WAIT—where's the Solid D#$% moment?" I'm here to break your hearts, class. It never happened. I wouldn't be doing my job in compiling this list if I didn't include it, but I cannot tell a lie. The original panel, from 1974's Captain America #174, simply has Iron Man offering some solid advice—which makes for a better friend, but a less silly meme. Oh well.
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8. Captain America & Iron Man
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Barry Kitson
Admittedly, most post-Civil War (the 2006 Marvel event that pitted hero against hero) Iron Man and Captain America stories are pretty gloomy. That's where this awesomely fun Cullen Bunn and Barry Kitson miniseries from 2012 comes in, giving the pair a chance to kick butt, old-school style. A tech expo in Madripoor is beset upon by the techno terrorists of A.I.M., requiring the two Avengers to team up in the name of retrieving the specs to Iron Man's armor. A classically fun story with modern sensibilities, it might mark the first time these two have gotten to just relax since that whole "Death of Captain America" unpleasantness.
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7. Iron Man/Captain America: Casualties of War
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Jeremy Haun
Blows are dealt, nothing changes, but damn, does this single-issue story make you want peace. As a last-ditch effort to settle the mess of Civil War, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers meet in the burnt-out husk of Avengers Mansion. There, they shuck their armor, set aside their shields and throw the hell down. It's a perfect retrospective of how stubborn both icons can be, and how many times in the past they've each been wrong. It doesn't end with a hug, no matter how many times you re-read it, hoping it will.
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6. Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1, Demon in a Bottle
Writers: David Micheline, Bob Layton
Artists: John Romita, Jr., Bob Layton and Carmine Infantino
It's one of the most famous Iron Man stories ever published: a personal Tony Stark introspective where the bad guy is alcoholism—something that can't be punched. Brother-in-arms Captain America offers some tough love, telling Tony he's got to want the help he needs, or he can't do anything for him. After an intense round of hand-to-hand combat training, Steve reveals his own father was an alcoholic, and makes the choice to walk away. Cue Intervention music.
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5. X-Factor #231
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
Part 3 of the 4-part X-Factor "They Keep Killing Madrox" storyline follows Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, as he jumps from reality to reality following his wedding night. (Comics, right?) In one dimension, Madrox stumbles into a world where Tony Stark stays locked up in his tower, hiding from the mutant menace. The Scarlet Witch has created a world where humans are on the run, ("no more humans," for you House of M fans) and their primary weapon is a violent cyborg created from Steve Rogers, Captain America himself. In case you were wondering if Cap and Tony fight like Itchy and Scratchy in this reality as well? You betcha.
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4. Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Sean Chen
The first of two one-panel moments on our list, Earth-3490 has found its way into the halls of Internet legend. With Tony Stark on the run, Steve Rogers dead and Norman Osborn in power as the Iron Patriot, Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards desperately searches for an alternate, peaceful world where the Superhero Civil War ended much differently. He passes one by in the form of Earth-3490, a world where the Civil War never happened. Steve Rogers of 3490 and the Iron Woman, Natasha Stark, were instead a happily married supercouple. Aww, is someone chopping onions in the Avengers Mansion? I always cry at weddings.
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3. Civil War: The Confession
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
The cap—(get it?)—stone of Marvel's Civil War, The Confession provides the answer to the question everyone was asking at the end: how does Tony Stark even live with himself after the death of Captain America? The answer: not super well. The Confession is a standalone issue by Marvel architect Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev that functions in a way so many comics can't. It's primarily a monologue—a defeated Tony Stark, apologizing to the rapidly cooling body of Steve Rogers. The second half of the issue shows their final, cruel interaction before Steve's death, putting the nail in the coffin of Stark's final takeaway from the whole bloody battle: "It wasn't worth it."
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2. Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Jerome Opeña, Adam Kubert
"And It Started With Two Men. One Was Life. And One Was Death." With these words, writer Jonathan Hickman sets a whole new Avengers world spinning, one with the brotherhood between Tony and Steve at its center. Like much of Hickman's work, the implications of every action are cosmic and dizzying, and a web of secrets, lies and brotherly love weaves the entire complex piece together. Jerome Opeña's art adds a haunting realism to the whole thing, an intimacy that leaves the reader breathless.
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1. The New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Finch
Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers ushered in a new era where the Avengers went from dreary world-cops to a team of incredibly real super-people just keeping the pieces together. The great reformation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes occurs in typical Bendis fashion—two heroes chatting on a rooftop over coffee and bagels. "No more politics, just us," says Captain America. "Just us helping the people that need help." "I'll think about it," replies Tony. And just like that, the band's back together.