The year 1995 the Superhuman Registration Act was passed on.
The pro and cons had been discussed for a while and the most known superheroes Ant Man, Wasp, Black Widow, the Fantastic Four - whose identities were all already public - supported this act as a controlling element to the growing superhuman population. The world’s most known weapon dealer, Howard Stark, even stood forward and talked about a world where weapons weren’t needed, where superheroes could do the job.
The people smart enough, but still not famous enough to really matter to the public, understood this sentence in a way they weren’t supposed to, but in a way which was just a relevant: It would be a world where superhumans were weapons.
So the superheroes who opposed to the act protested, but were soon arrested and put in the Negative Zone. Luke Cage, Jewel, Daredevil and many more were imprisoned until they agreed to register. Over the years only a few superheroes gave up and let themselves be registered to be free. Stubbornness was a very common superhero trait though, and most superheroes refused to give in. Howard Stark was an insider and stood for the safety of their identities until then. The released superheroes insisted they could do more from the inside.
Then the Skrull Invasion happened and the superheroes lined up. But registration bit them all, hard. The Skrull infiltration was successful because they knew which of the superheroes’ relations to swap out. It was only with the help of Osborn that humanity regained the control of the planet. Osborn takes over S.H.I.E.L.D. and renames it H.A.M.M.E.R. Privacy and human rights are exchanged for safety and control. Gradually superheroes pull themselves back from the public. They didn’t want to fight anymore and the government considered retirement a human right even few superhumans were allowed. In that way the government came to sincerely believe that they were being fair, even merciful. Because losing their superheroes was hard. So hard that Stark stepped back onto the scene and started producing Sentinels.
A short while after, over a lot of fighting with the X-men, Mutant Registration is the next thing getting passed on, soon resulting in Scott Summers, Wolverine and Rogue getting imprisoned. Charles Xavier is rescued by Erik Lehnscheer also known as the super villain Magneto and lives underground as a wanted man. It gets out that Howard Stark’s son possesses quite the same genius as his father, but unlike Howard Anthony hasn’t yet proved his worth to the country. He gets the sort of immunity from imprisonment that the upper class tends to have, the promise to public about their young ones being safely guided, in control of their powers, under supervision of a military person and of course a certain measure of isolation and not being mixed with non-superhuman people is needed. To the day of 2014, it is still a common debate in the media about whether or not Howard Stark should turn over his son to the government. The man himself has taken to many defensive measures to keep his son close. In many ways the double standard is infuriating, no matter how small damage the genius could actually do – they had all heard about the time he had single-handedly controlled an out of control Hulk. The irony about Howard being the “victim” of the Act is not lost on anyone.
The superhumans’ family relations and partners are soon craved registered as well and with registration comes curfews, lack of privacy, controlled human relations, permit to reproduce, applications to marry. It becomes a cultural reaction for superhumans and mutants to start hiding their abilities to live a normal life. It only makes the law a tighter collar, the patrols more often, the inspections more thorough, the control more noticeable and the death sentence of Sentinels more constant.
“I should be able to say that the SHRA was the first mistake that the USA made. You should be able to verbally acknowledge that the tight control is what ended up getting us blocked out from the rest of the world. You should personally know a mutant or a superhuman with a healthy life standard. You shouldn’t know a person whom you are pretty sure is a superhuman and whom you are pretty sure isn’t registered. You shouldn’t understand why that person won’t do that. You should be able to say what you want. You shouldn’t fear to become a mutant or a superhuman – you shouldn’t fear that a partner, a son, daughter, friend, sister or brother is or will become one. You shouldn’t be expecting for this to be the last time to hear my voice. But you expect all of that and I think it is time to admit that we could have done better when it came to forming our society.”
He is just called the Captain in the beginning. He has an unhackable Youtube channel despite the desperate attempts of the government to trace it and take it down. There he criticizes the system and the government on camera. He bashes the so-called superheroes, says that they let corruptible, non-aware machines without compassion take over a job, only a superhero could do. The video is often split up from him debating with other, making a speech, guest visitors singing or playing a tune – it isn’t just a rant, a protest: it is entertainment. And that makes it far harder for the public to stay away. The Captain speaks of freedom and becomes a symbol for it. A year after he finally reveals his physical being, dressed in blue enhanced army suit, with red gloves and high boots, a helmet underneath the hood, a bandana around his head patterned with the American Flag. Only his blue eyes are visible, but they can see his strong build, the soldier like stiffness and discipline he has over his athletic and muscled body. He says it is the beginning.
The day after he shows up in the actual public with an assembled team of young mutants and superhumans. He calls them a freedom movement but what he really does that day is declaring war.
“How far and straight out stupid has society become when a group of young adults, barely grown, has to take things in their own hands because the grown-ups are too scared? You think doing this is easy, fighting back having lived a life full of fear? We know the consequences of our actions and we already living the sacrifice. But isn’t it a small price compared to the freedom we can obtain? We are a blinded, oppressed people and we are living so deep into our lies that we don’t even realize it. I think it shows by how much we believe that this is the only way to live. I’m telling, it isn’t.”
Every time the youngsters take action a new speech or song or art piece comes out. All of the art forms spread like wildfire. The government cannot stop schools from singing a catchy song; they cannot silence the gossip spreading around and the revealed idea about hope. It hasn’t been born yet but the public is pregnant with the idea of breaking away.
“We are not here to mislead you or to even lead you. We don’t have all the answers. All we ask is how is it wrong to break free from what is holding us down? To decide who we want to spend our lives with or whom we don’t want to spend our lives with? We are not here to take over. Believe me: We are not enemy. We are here to break the stranglehold. And we are here to avenge all the people who died in it.”
People stop trying to catch them in the act, to report them, to inform the authorities about seen appearances. The government knows as much because their costumes are colorful and their group tends to be loud, and it is a straight out lie when the police stations insist that the group wasn’t seen before any of their attacks – which in general are just a lot of graffiti on holy places, hindrances in exchanges of information, a downright crash in updating the newest names on the Superhuman and Mutant list. The public is taking sides and it shows which one by how little Intel even the police are willing to offer about them. Their acts get more frequent and direct. Captain America – if he really is the one leading the group - is an excellent strategist and tactician. Their power is small and almost unusable in consideration of how they are slowly but surely breaking down the Act’s utility. He uses the Avengers to the fullest and the damage control becomes greater and more irreversible. The Fantastic Four a called back to the States to personally guard the Negative Zone, because everybody knew it would only be a matter of time before the Avengers would try to free the prisoners. It is an excellent move, and adds more reliable and experienced players to their teams. What they had done so far would be nothing against what the elder superheroes could do.
Unlike Spiderman Steve doesn’t personally expect to never get caught. He knows that there will come a day when he would be compromised but he was willing to go that far. He just hoped it was in the action of doing something big.
“Many questions and comments are added to our videos every time we release them. And many theories have been discussed. Well, first off I can tell you that no one in this group knows the identities of the others so we do not actually eat burgers at McDonalds after vandalizing the Statue of Liberty. That is a precaution and a safety measure we’ve taken for as little as possible information to be leaked and most likably tortured out if one of us gets captured even though our sense of loyalty would never allow us to abandon a comrade like that. For all questions regarding tech, we are supported by a source calling himself Iron Man – he is an official member of the team. Whether he is a technopath or just a very talented person, we do not know but we consider him one of our own. So to the agents and intelligence workers out there, listening to this, trying to find a slip from our side: Yes, you might find me. But you never get all of us. And that is a promise.”
It’s almost painful looking at the old superheroes getting dragged out back into the public, exposed and naked in their years of therapy and isolation and distraction. When they had stopped being superheroes they had somehow lost the battle against themselves.
Steve freezes. As casually as possible he turns around and heads towards the man standing by the computer. He should have known it would be stupid to get lessons in technology by Tony Stark. But he had thought that there would be a lesser possibility of getting suspected if he was standing just in front of the head of security’s son. And he needs the lessons. Iron Man never complains but Steve doesn’t feel right leaving so much control and information in the hands of a man he has never met, even though he does try to trust him.
With controlled steps he nears the young man. He isn’t very tall but thin and the years at the West Coast has coursed lighter stripes in his hair and a tan, which was admittedly starting to fade a little. He has early sign of frown lines and crinkles around his eyes, despite only being around 17 (Steve has heard that he just graduated from MIT and no one really knows why he chose to make his PhD in New York). The skin looks soft on his jaw, but is stubbly.
“Sir?” Steve says.
Stark quickly looks up at him, down at his computer again and then up at him. With a frown he asks: “What happened to your face?”
Your dad’s Sentinel happened to my face. “Got in a fight,” Steve says and he isn’t lying. “I would rather not talk about it.”
“You commented on someone’s penis in the shower?”
“No, I got a woody looking at it.”
Stark startles out a laugh and Steve smiles pleasantly at him.
“But I guess my fantasies isn’t what you wanted to talk about?” he prompts.
“Well, no,” Stark says going serious again. “Actually I was directed to you. You’re leader of school committee, right?”
Another try at Can’t see the forest standing between the trees. The serum is getting used at its fullest because Steve signs up to whatever gives him the reputation of a good, normal. He had changed schools, but he was afraid that people would one day find out that he went from 110 lbs to 220 lbs within a day. “Yeah,” Steve says, relaxing a bit.
“You thought you were in trouble?” Stark teases with a wide, unpleasant grin.
Steve shrugs. “It came out of nowhere. I tried to remember if I was the one setting fire to the school lab yesterday, even though I’ve never actually been down there.”
“Well, how about we find it together then? Two heads are better than one as all people who aren’t geniuses say.” Tony catches himself, stares at Steve with wide eyes as if he expects an attack. Thoughtfully Steve just widens his eyes and looks away as if Stark’s slip makes him uncomfortable. Stark quickly continues: “I need to know this place better since I’m going to stay while making my PhD.”
“Well then.” This was going to bite him in the ass so hard. Steve summons a welcoming smile and reaches out his hands. “Let’s try this again.” Tony grabs his hands and shakes it firmly. “Steve Rogers, second year, the same age as you. I’m studying history and I will be glad to show you around. You can always come to me.”
“Well then, Steve, I’m sure I will be taking you up on that,” Tony replies and this time the smile lights up the whole room. Amazed Steve stands, staring at him with wide eyes and the only thing he can think is Shit.