"Civil War"

Cover of Civil War 7 (Jan 2007). Art by Steve McNiven.
Publisher Marvel Comics
Publication date July 2006 – January 2007
Main character(s) Captain America
Iron Man
Marvel Universe
Creative team
Writer(s) Mark Millar
Penciller(s) Steve McNiven
Inker(s) Dexter Vines
Colorist(s) Morry Hollowell
Collected editions
Civil War ISBN 0-7851-2179-X.

"Civil War" is a 20062007 Marvel Comics crossover storyline built around a self-titled seven-issue limited series written by Mark Millar and penciled by Steve McNiven, which ran through various other titles published by Marvel at the time. The storyline builds upon the events that developed in previous Marvel crossovers, particularly "Avengers Disassembled", "House of M", "Decimation", and "Secret War". The tagline for the series is "Whose Side Are You On?"[1]

Publication history

The premise of Civil War involves the introduction of a Superhuman Registration Act in the United States. Similar acts have been used as literary devices in Uncanny X-Men, DC: The New Frontier, Powers, and Astro City, though never on a scale such as this; permanently altering an entire pantheon of established pop culture icons. Mark Millar, writer for the story, has said:

I opted instead for making the superhero dilemma something a little different. People thought they were dangerous, but they did not want a ban. What they wanted was superheroes paid by the federal government like cops and open to the same kind of scrutiny. It was the perfect solution and nobody, as far as I'm aware, has done this before.[2]

The act requires any person in the United States with superhuman abilities to register with the federal government as a "human weapon of mass destruction," reveal their true identity to the authorities, and undergo proper training. Those who sign also have the option of working for S.H.I.E.L.D., earning a salary and benefits such as those earned by other American civil servants. Characters within the superhuman community in the Marvel Universe split into two groups: one advocating the registration as a responsible obligation, and the other opposing the law on the grounds that it violates civil liberties and the protection that secret identities provide. A number of villains have also chosen to take sides, some choosing to side with the registration, others against it. Luke Cage (previously the second Power Man), an African American, compared registration to slavery, and did so to Iron Man's face. Others compared the act to the norms under which the police and soldiers operate. [[:wikipedia:File:4.25.13MarkMillarByLuigiNovi44.jpg|thumb|left|Writer Mark Millar signing copies of the collected edition of the main miniseries during an appearance at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.]] The genesis for this idea sprang from conversations between Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, and Bryan Hitch.[2] Within the story, the adoption of sides by characters builds into the titular "civil war." Although the series can be read as allegorical commentary in the wake of 9/11 and the Patriot Act, writer Mark Millar has noted, "The political allegory is only for those that are politically aware. Kids are going to read it and just see a big superhero fight."[3]

Mark Millar described the event as "a story where a guy wrapped in the American flag is in chains as the people swap freedom for security," agreeing that a "certain amount of political allegory" was present, but that the real focus of the book was on superheroes fighting each other. Contrasting it with the Ultimates, Millar stated that Civil War was "accidentally political because I just cannot help myself.

Millar was also questioned about the perceived inequality in the presentation of the two sides. He responded, "it's pretty much Tony's side that gets the better rep all the way through" the Civil War book, but "the tie-in books demonized them a little."[4] Tom Brevoort wrote extensively about the production of Civil War and, some time after the series was over, posted Millar's initial pitch document.[5]


Marvel announced in August 2006 that some issues of the main Civil War series would be pushed back several months to accommodate artist Steve McNiven. The schedule had issue #4 being released one month late, in September, while issue #5 was released two months later, in November. Furthermore, various Tie-in books including the Civil War: Front Line miniseries and tie-in issues of other comics were delayed several months so as not to reveal any plot developments.[6]

In late November, Marvel announced another delay. Civil War #6, originally scheduled for release on December 20, was pushed back two weeks and released on January 4. Unlike the previous instance, only The Punisher War Journal #2 was delayed. In a final act of rescheduling, Civil War #7 was pushed back two weeks (from January 17 to January 31),[7] and then pushed back again until February 21.[8]



Civil War follows the implementation and consequences of the Superhuman Registration Act, a legislative bill which required the mandatory registration of any person based in the United States with super powers. The act arose due to public pressure for accountability following a series of superhuman-related events causing significant damage and death within the Marvel universe, such as an attack on Manhattan in reprisal for Nick Fury's "Secret War", and the Hulk's rampage in Las Vegas which resulted in the death of 26 people. When the mutant population was drastically reduced in the aftermath of M-Day, itself caused by a mutant, anti-mutant hysteria caused by extremist groups caused a majority of the remaining mutants, known as the 198, to relocate to the Xavier Institute, and raised public support for the proposed act.

Public sentiment toward superheroes plummeted after the New Warriors, a group of young superheroes and the focus of a reality TV show, botched an attempt to apprehend a group of supervillains in a quest for better ratings. In the resulting fight the villain Nitro used his explosive powers to destroy several city blocks, including an elementary school at the epicenter, resulting in the death of over 600 civilians, 60 of whom were children, with just Speedball of the Warriors and Nitro himself surviving. Although many high-profile superheroes assisted in the relief and rescue effort, there were a number of isolated revenge attacks, and support for registration rose.

The prospect of registration divided the superhuman community down the middle, with Tony Stark, the superhero Iron Man who had previously tried to halt the act, becoming the pro-registration figurehead, and Captain America leading the anti-registration group. Iron Man, with Mr. Fantastic and Henry Pym, argued that the changing political landscape meant that resisting the law was pointless, and that it is reasonable for heroes to have proper training and oversight, whereas Captain America, alongside Luke Cage and Falcon argued that heroes required secrecy in order to protect aspects of their 'normal' life, such as wives and children, and to allow them to act in whatever means necessary against threats which the ordinary emergency services couldn't cope with. Although nominally a U.N. agency, S.H.I.E.L.D. assumed the brunt of enforcing the act under acting director Maria Hill.


The opposing sides initially traded propagandic victories, with the anti-registration heroes continuing to fight supervillains, leaving them restrained to be found by the authorities, whilst the pro-registration side attempted to locate and arrest any superperson who was not registered. The first major coup for either side came when Iron Man convinced Spider-Man to publicly reveal his identity, a secret the latter had worked hard to maintain. During this time many tie-in titles concerned with the war's impact on the wider Marvel universe were published, including Wolverine hunting Nitro who had fled the scene at Stamford, the X-Men under the leadership of Cyclops declaring the remaining mutants to be officially neutral and the effect the war had on supergroups such as the pro-registration Thunderbolts and the neutral Runaways, as well as the reaction of the criminal element, many of whom fled to Canada.

The conflict escalated when Captain America led the anti-registration heroes, known as the Secret Avengers, into an ambush by the pro-registration forces. However Captain America sucker-punched Iron Man with a miniature device that shuts off Iron Man's armor when shaking his hand in agreement to talk about the situation, leading to a public brawl between the pro and anti-registration forces. During the battle, a clone of Thor was sent to assist in the arrest of the anti-registration heroes, but instead kills Goliath by blasting him through his chest. As the pro-registration heroes attempted to control the clone, the Secret Avengers retreated.

In order to contain the superpeople unwilling to register, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic built a prison in the Negative Zone, labelled 'Project 42', it being the 42nd idea they had come up with post-Stamford in order to improve the world. Upon finding out that people who did not agree to register would be imprisoned indefinitely, Spider-Man quits the pro-registration side and joins with Captain America's underground movement after a battle with Iron Man. The Punisher obtains the plans for Project 42 through covertly infiltrating the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four.


The Secret Avengers and their allies reach the prison via Riker's Island penitentiary, where they are met by Iron Man and the pro-registration forces, as well as a number of supervillains who were being controlled by nanites, having been betrayed by Tigra. However Hulkling has used his shape-shifting ability to assume the role of Pym, working alongside Iron Man, and had released the incarcerated heroes, leading to an all-star battle between the two sides.

During the fight Cloak teleported the battle to the centre of New York City, where the pro-registration forces were joined by the fixed Thor clone and Captain Marvel, and Namor led an army of Atlanteans to assist the Secret Avengers. As the battle rages around them, Captain America and Iron Man, whose armor had been compromised by the Vision II, exchange blows. As Captain America is about to deliver the finishing blow, several standard emergency service personnel hold him back, and realizing how much damage had been caused by the battle and wishing to avert any more bloodshed, Captain America surrendered.

Two weeks later, the Fifty State Initiative is launched and the Mighty Avengers assemble as a team. Tony Stark is appointed Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., while Maria Hill is demoted to deputy status. Some heroes move to Canada, while some stay underground, such as the New Avengers. Many of the Secret Avengers are given amnesty by the government, while Captain America is placed in jail. Captain America is later seemingly fatally shot by Crossbones and Sharon Carter (the latter hypnotised by Dr. Faustus) on the way to the courthouse, leading to the conclusion of the Civil War.


Other versions


When Mister Fantastic was researching realities where the Civil War ended differently, he found one reality in which their Iron Man was actually Natasha Stark and she was legally wed to Captain America.[16]

What If?

In What If Civil War Ended Differently?, a stranger appears in front of Iron Man, who is visiting Captain America’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. Tony Stark is told of two diverse ways the Civil War could have concluded:[17]

  • The first is, "What if Captain America led all the heroes against the Registration Act?" In this reality, Tony Stark dies of the Extremis virus, leaving the U.S. government to choose Steve Rogers as the spokesperson for heroes, who as in the regular universe opposes registration. Though he manages to delay its passing, the Stamford disaster occurs as in the true reality. Without Tony Stark to provide a fairer path for registration, the government's response is more extreme. Governmental forces led by Henry Peter Gyrich destroy the resistance and many heroes are slain.
  • The second is, "What if Iron Man lost the Civil War?" In this reality, Iron Man asks for Cap's help in chapter three instead of threatening him, thus Cap does not use the hidden weapon in his glove to disable Tony's armor. The heroes unite to stop the out-of-control Thor clone, Ragnarok. The resulting goodwill convinces Captain America to help run the program as he is the only one the heroes will trust with their secret identities.

After that story, the stranger is revealed to be none other than Uatu, Earth 616's Watcher. Upon learning the truth of this alternate reality, Tony is devastated and weeps for the bright future he helped prevent.

In a special What If: Annihilation by David Hine and Mico Suayan,[18] a cosmic war reaches Earth. The heroes unite to neutralize it, and many die in the first clashes. Captain America and Iron Man, after a final reconciliation, sacrifice themselves alongside Nova to deflect the full Annihilation Wave.


Tom Spurgeon took note of the difficulty in using costumed characters to send messages about real world issues: "When I was a kid, I liked it when Captain America saw a high government official commit suicide. I thought that was way deep, man. But I never go there when thinking about Watergate. While Millar's Captain America and I may both worry about civil rights...the moment this leads Cap to take out a battalion of Secret Agents to buttress his point, he's kind of lost to me as a potential partner-in-ideology."[19]

According to a scholarly analysis presented at the 2007 Comic-Con International, this story's conflict is a natural outgrowth of what psychologist Erich Fromm called the basic human dilemma, the conflicting desires for both security and freedom, and "character motivations on both sides arise from positive human qualities because Fromm’s image of human nature is ultimately optimistic, holding that people on either side are struggling to find what is best for all."[20]

Comic tie-ins

Road To Civil War

Civil War

From the Pages of Civil War


Casualties of War

The Initiative

Related but not listed

  • The 2006 Eternals relaunch has the Civil War play a fairly present background in the setting with Sprite appearing in pro-registration PSAs. In issue #3, Iron Man reminds Sersi to register. In issue #6, Iron Man and Hank Pym try to get the Eternals to register again, but they refuse. In the end, Zuras explains that the Eternals have no desire to meddle with humanity, and will stay out of their affairs, which Iron Man concedes as a fair compromise.
  • Daredevil #87 leads into Civil War: Choosing Sides (one-shot).
  • New X-Men #28 and She-Hulk #9 are indirectly, but strongly involved.
  • In Black Panther #19-20 "World Tour" Black Panther meets with Doctor Doom, then the Inhumans, to discuss the Civil War (these are not listed as official tie-ins due to a marketing error).
  • Marvel Comics Presents (vol. 2) #12 involves a patsy attempt to get Man-Thing to register with the government. The story was published late (October 2008 cover date), during Secret Invasion and the same month as Marvel Zombies 3, in which Man-Thing also appeared.
  • The cover of Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #11 features a Civil War parody cover including a plaid background, the words "Not part of a Marvel Comics event," and Aaron Stack holding up a card reading "Mark Millar licks goats."
  • Spider-Man and Power Pack #3 (March 2007) includes a parody entitled "Civil Wards," written by Marc Sumerak and illustrated by Chris Giarrusso.
  • The final issue of Robert Kirkman's Marvel Team-Up opens with Peter Parker getting ready to travel to Washington with Iron Man.
  • The third issue of the 2006 Union Jack miniseries also mentions Tony Stark and Peter Parker's trip to Washington.
  • Incredible Hulk #100 includes a 12-page backup story dealing with Mr. Fantastic's involvement with the Thor clone, and the repercussions of the Illuminati having exiled the Hulk into space.
  • In Annihilation #4, the former Earth hero Nova is aware of the Civil War and is disappointed with the actions the heroes have taken, as they are not united against the threat of Annihilus.
  • In Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6-10, Spider-Man is seen wearing the new suit he got in The Road to Civil War.
  • In Sensational Spider-Man #26-27, Spider-Man is seen wearing the new suit he got in The Road to Civil War.
  • In Sensational Spider-Man #28-34, Spider-Man deals with the aftermath of revealing his identity.
  • Captain America (5th ed.) #25 is subtitled Civil War Epilogue.
  • Punisher: War Journal (2nd ed.) #2 and #3 are direct Civil War tie ins (prior to Civil War #6).
  • Moon Knight (5th ed.) #8 and #9 are direct Civil War tie ins.

Collected editions

Title Material collected ISBN
Civil War: Road to Civil War Amazing Spider-Man #529-531; Fantastic Four #536-537; New Avengers: Illuminati 978-0785119746
Civil War Civil War #1-7 978-0785121787
Civil War: Black Panther Black Panther #19-25 978-0785122357
Civil War: Captain America Captain America #22-24; Winter Soldier: Winter Kills 978-0785127987
Civil War Companion Civil War Files; Civil War: Battle Damage Report; Marvel Spotlight: Mark Millar/Steve McNiven; Marvel Spotlight: Civil War Aftermath; Daily Bugle: Civil War Special Edition 978-0785125761
Civil War: Fantastic Four Fantastic Four #538-543 978-0785122272
Civil War: Frontline, Vol. 1 Civil War: Frontline #1-6 978-0785123125
Civil War: Frontline, Vol. 2 Civil War: Frontline #7-11 978-0785124696
Civil War: Heroes for Hire Heroes for Hire #1-5 978-0785141808
Civil War: Iron Man Iron Man #13-14; Casualties of War; The Confession 978-0785123149
Civil War: Marvel Universe Choosing Sides; The Return; The Initiative; She-Hulk #8 978-0785124702
Civil War: Ms. Marvel Ms. Marvel #6-10; Ms. Marvel Special 978-0785123057
Civil War: New Avengers New Avengers #21-25 978-0785124467
Civil War: Peter Parker, Spider-Man Sensational Spider-Man #28-34 978-0785121893
Civil War: Punisher War Journal Punisher War Journal #1-4 978-0785123156
Civil War: The Amazing Spider-Man The Amazing Spider-Man #532-538 978-0785122371
Civil War: Thunderbolts Thunderbolts #101-105 978-0785119470
Civil War: War Crimes Civil War: War Crimes; Underworld #1-5 978-0785126522
Civil War: Wolverine Wolverine #42-48 978-0785119807
Civil War: X-Men Civil War: X-Men #1-4 978-0785123132
Civil War: X-Men Universe X-Factor #8-9; Cable & Deadpool #30-32 978-0785122432
Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways #1-4 978-0785123170
Civil War: Script Book Scripts to Civil War #1-7 978-0785127949
Civil War: What If...? What If? Annihilation, Civil War, Planet Hulk, X-Men and Spider-Man Vs. Wolverine 978-0785130369

In other media


Marvel had Civil War adapted into a prose hardcover novel for July 2012 as the first of a series of four novels adapting some of Marvel's most significant events. It was written by Stuart Moore, the writer of such comic stories as Namor: The First Mutant. The book expanded on the story and featured both Captain America and Iron Man as key characters together with other male and female heroes on both sides. It was also altered to take place during Barack Obama's first term in office rather than George Bush's last term (for reasons that remain unexplained), as Tony Stark makes reference to Obamacare when speaking to Spider-Man during the early pages of the book.[21] The story is also set after the controversial storyline One More Day and it's aftereffects, as Spider-Man is not married to Mary Jane.[22] Civil War itself was partly the lead in to the controversial storyline, as May Parker is shot by an assassin on the orders of Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) after the primary events of the main Civil War storyline had nearly concluded, due to the longstanding rivalry between Spider-Man and Fisk, which stretched back to the early years of the former's existence.


GraphicAudio produced an audiobook of the prose hardcover novel, the audiobook contains 6 CDs and features a full cast, music and sound effects it was released on March 1, 2013 and is six hours long.


In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "The Man Who Stole Tomorrow" the Negative Zone prison "42" makes an appearance although only to incarcerate supervillains. Like in the comics it was designated 42 because it was Tony Stark's and Reed Richards' 42nd idea for improving the world. Later in "Hail HYDRA!", Maria Hill states that she will talk to the president about registering with S.H.I.E.L.D. Notably, unlike the comics, Tony Stark is against the idea of registering, as seen in his conversations with Hill in the episode "Alone Against A.I.M.", citing among other reasons the Good Samaritan principle.

Video games

  • In Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, the game makes a reference to Civil War by showing a huge billboard displaying a Daily Bugle article talking about the Superhuman Registration Act and whether it will pass.
  • The video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 features the Secret War first, and then the Civil War storyline.[23] Like the comics, Nitro invokes the Civil War by blowing up a neighborhood in Stamford, Connecticut. After the accident, the player chooses sides in the war. What makes this different from the comics is that Iron Man loses control of the nanite-controlled villains, the villains combining into a nanite-based hive mind known as 'the Fold', forcing Nick Fury to unite both sides to stop the Fold before everyone in the world is infected by the nanites. Because of the incident with the nanite-controlled villains, the Superhero Registration Act was temporarily suspended. After the Fold is defeated, there are two endings to this game depending on the side the players take. If the player completes the game on the Pro-Registration side, the Superhuman Registration Act gets amended so that superheroes can volunteer for the program and not have to reveal their secret identities. If the player completes the game on the Anti-Registration side, the Superhuman Registration Act is repealed.
  • In the crossover fighting game, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds, if Captain America defeats Iron Man as his last opponent, he says "And that was for Civil War!"; conversely, if Iron Man beats Captain America as his last opponent, he says "It's like Civil War all over again". There is also a trophy/achievement called "Whose Side Are You On?" described as "Bring about an end to the Civil War in an online match". This is awarded for having an online battle involving Captain America and Iron Man on opposite sides.

See also


  1. 2.0 2.1 "classic.newsarama.com - Civil War & Peace of Mind with Mark Millar (Part 2)". http://classic.newsarama.com/marvelnew/millar/millar_2.html. Retrieved 2007-03-20. [dead link]
  2. "The Battle Outside Raging, Superheroes Dive In". The New York Times. 2006-02-20. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/20/arts/design/20marv.html. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named millarpostgame
  4. Tom Brevoort: Civil War Memorial, Marvel Universe, April 28, 2007
  5. "Newsarama Forum - Marvel's Civil War Delayed". http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=80636. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  6. "Newsarama Forum - Civil War #6 Gets a Schedule Bump". http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=92680. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  7. "Marvel Comics Catalog - Titles on Sale, Week of February 21, 2007". http://www.marvel.com/catalog/?date=2007-02-21. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  8. Captain America vol. 5, #25 (April 2007)
  9. 10.0 10.1 Civil War #7 (Feb 2007)
  10. New Avengers vol. 1, #27 (2007)
  11. Mighty Avengers #1 (2007)
  12. Avengers: The Initiative #1 (2007)
  13. Civil War #5 (2006)
  14. Fantastic Four #543; Black Panther vol. 4, #26 (2007)
  15. Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2
  16. What If? Civil War #1
  17. Annihilation Makes Things Civil: Hine talks "What If? Annihilation", wikipedia:Comic Book Resources, October 5, 2007
  18. Delusions of Civil War, Michael Netzer Online, June 17, 2006
  19. Freedom versus Security: The Basic Human Dilemma from 9/11 to Marvel’s Civil War. Retrieved on September 29, 2007.
  20. Civil War by Stuart Moore. Chapter one, page 22, hardcover edition; ISBN 978-0-7851-6035-9.
  21. Civil War by Stuart Moore. Chapter nineteen, page 191, hardcover edition; ISBN 978-0-7851-6035-9.
  22. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, NYC Comic-Con 09: Exclusive Taking Sides Trailer, Game Trailers, February 5, 2009

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