In Marvel Comics, there are some matchups between heroes that have occurred many times: Hulk vs Wolverine, Hulk vs Thing… oh, heroes fight Hulk a lot. But if you think the new movie Captain America: Civil War represents the first big blow-out fight between the co-Avengers, well, we’re here to tell you that’s just not the case. Iron Man and Captain America have fought several times in the comics so we gathered them together to summarize and let you know who won in each fight.
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #5-6 (January-February 1999)
These two issues are a throwback to two days after the Avengers thawed out a frozen Captain America, awakening him in modern day and offering him a position on the Avengers. But would Iron Man really trust Captain America to lead the team that quickly? Would Cap accept the job right away? This story takes place between the panels of Avengers #4 with Cap wondering about his place in the world and Iron Man expressing doubt that a mere soldier would be of much use in a team comprised of himself, Thor, Ant-Man and Wasp. But then some aliens conveniently mind-control Iron Man and force the two to battle. Iron Man’s armor isn’t in peak form and his mind is addled but Cap stops him and they team up to destroy some alien robots.
Who Won? Captain America wins but Iron Man is not even close to fighting at his best.
Tales of Suspense #58 (October, 1964)
The Chameleon impersonates Captain America in a plot to defeat Iron Man. And not to get money or anything. It’s just that Iron Man beat his cousin, Kraven the Hunter and Chameleon wanted to prove that he could beat Iron Man. It was seriously a dick measuring contest. What was his big hope? That he’d visit Kraven in jail and brag about how much better he was? Rude. Anyway, Captain America is abducted and impersonated by Iron Man and when Iron Man heads out to find out what happened, he runs into Captain America and attacks the real Cap, thinking it’s an impostor. Iron Man has to flee to recharge and learns about the Chameleon but then runs into Captain America and again assumes it’s the Chameleon. They fight in a factory but Captain America drops Iron Man through a trap door. Then he rescues one of Iron Man’s friends who wandered in and Iron Man figures out it must be the real Cap.
Who Won? It’s hardly a knock-down, drag out fight. But Captain America wins the first time because Iron Man forgot to fully charge his armor and the second time gets the drop on Iron Man with his tactical skills. It’s safe to assume Iron Man could win in a longer fight but he definitely does not come out on top here.
Iron Man #228 (March, 1988) and Captain America #341 (May, 1988)
This is part of the Iron Man story arc called Armor Wars where Tony Stark decides that everyone who has bootlegged his armor technology needs to be shut down. Mostly that means he goes after bad guys like Titanium Man but in Iron Man #228 he also decides to shut down the Guardsmen. The Guardsmen were guards at the supervillain prison The Vault who wore armor based on the Iron Man suit. Tony had once tried to build a “lite” version but it was stolen and eventually it got in the hands of his competitor, Obadiah Stane, who produced 35 of them for the government. But Captain America (at this time going by The Captain after deciding not to work with government oversight) figures out Iron Man’s plans and goes to stop him because it’s a government facility that he doesn’t think Iron Man has the authority to deal with. The fight is super brief because Iron Man flooded the facility with knockout gas. The Captain later breaks into Tony’s house to wait for him but Tony just flies off and The Captain thinks about it and decides he’d have to dedicate all his time trying to bring down Iron Man and it just isn’t worth it.
Who Won? Iron Man, though it really isn’t even a “fight”. He puts a gas mask on a knocked out Cap within a few panels. In the follow-up, he doesn’t want to fight at full power because he’s in his house and he quickly decides to simply leave.
Operation: Galactic Storm (March-June 1992)
In this massive crossover, the alien races of the Kree and Shi’ar go to war and threaten Earth with their carelessness. The Avengers head out to stop them and protect Earth. Good. But in a convoluted bit at the end, it turns out that the Kree leader known as the Supreme Intelligence was okay with a huge bomb going off in the Kree galaxy, wiping out billions of his own people. He reasoned that the Kree had hit an evolutionary standstill and needed this to move forward. Avenger Black Knight is furious and proposes the Avengers terminate the Supreme Intelligence for this genocidal act. Captain America says that the Avengers are not killers and he won’t allow it. But Iron Man argues that he’s a founding member of the Avengers and he’s overruling Cap. So Iron Man, Black Knight and about 5 other Avengers go and kill the Supreme Intelligence. In the next issue of Captain America’s title, he tries to hold a seminar on ethics but most of the Avengers don’t show up. So in the next issue he resigns as leader and appoints Black Widow. Cap and Iron Man never really hash out this major disagreement.
Who Won? I mean, I guess Iron Man got his way and then Cap just walked away. So Iron Man?
Civil War (May, 2006-February 2007)
When some young superheroes mess up in trying to apprehend a supervillain, hundreds of children are killed. The government proposes a superhero registration act to require all superheroes to reveal their identities to the government and become employees. Iron Man supports the new law wholeheartedly. Captain America believes the oversight is a mistake and could be used to disastrous effect. So the superhero community splits in half between the two. Iron Man hunts down Cap whose team goes underground. Ultimately, a massive brawl takes place in New York, causing tons of collateral damage. Captain America gets the upper hand and beats Iron Man silly but then he’s tackled by a bunch of First Responders (police and firemen) who support Iron Man. When he sees the devastation they’ve caused, he orders his side to stand down and surrenders to the authorities.
Who Won? Captain America wins the actual fight thanks to careful planning but ultimately decides the conflict isn’t worth the damage and surrenders. So Iron Man gets his way and is appointed the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain America is assassinated on the courthouse steps (he got better).
Time Runs Out (September, 2014-April, 2015)
Across 20 issues of Avengers and New Avengers, the teams try to figure out how to stop Incursions: events where parallel worlds occupy the same space which wipe out both universes. Back in New Avengers Vol. 3 #3, a secret group of superheroes known as The Illuminati started to plan for these by weaponizing the sun to destroy other Earths. Captain America wouldn’t hear about it so Iron Man had Dr. Strange wipe his mind. Eventually, his memories returned and it pitted the heroes against one another the entire time they also worked to figure out a way to save the universe. Ultimately, they were unable to stop the events and fought one another as the universe seemingly ended (Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom were able to implement a plan to save the universes in a patchwork new universe that Dr. Doom controlled through the power of the Molecule Man).
Who Won? Neither.
Iron Man wins overall. 3 wins, 2 losses, 1 tie.