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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • One humorous one is that Captain America isn't shamed into silence by Sally Floyd's interview but is simply too stunned by how stupid she's sounding to respond.
    • Here's one for Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic from before the Civil War even started: Iron Man has stated multiple times that they knew the War would happen before anyone else did. Now, before the war began, they, along with the rest of the Illuminati (minus Namor) also decided to send the Hulk away on another planet because they deemed Hulk to be too dangerous. However, what if Tony and Reed had another reason? What if their real reason for sending Hulk away was because they knew that Hulk would be more likely to side with Captain America than with them and because they knew that whoever had Hulk on their side (again, most likely Steve) would have a huge advantage over the other side?
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  • Anvilicious: All of the messages delivered in the the event are incredibly unsubtle, from the pro-Registration being fascist to the anti-Registration being anti-accountability, only made worse by the fact that the comic can't even seem to decide what its Aesop even is.
  • Bizarro Episode: In one of the crossover comic books, Howard the Duck tries to register. Not because he supports the law, but simply because he's too poor and cowardly to be running away from Iron Man and simply wants to avoid trouble. But he got into the wrong waiting line and wound up renewing his driver's license instead. When he found the actual place for registering, he was rejected—S.H.I.E.L.D. is so tired of receiving reports about "the duck man from Cleveland" (the duck man driving a taxi, the duck man insulting hot dog stands, the duck man painting graffiti in bus stops, etc), that they made it an official policy that he does not exist, and all the reports are dismissed. He yelled that they can not turn him into an Un-person just like that. Then the officer tells him they can because he's a duck... Which he instantly takes advantage of when he leaves the registration office because now, as an Un-person, he is no longer legally required to vote or sit on a jury (or pay parking tickets).
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  • Broken Base: Is the story a compelling modern classic, or an awkward Idiot Plot? A third option appears to be that it's just "eh".
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • A common misunderstanding of Civil War is that registering may mean revealing the secret identity to all the public and becoming vulnerable to attacks from super villains. In fact, they were only legally required to reveal their identities to the government, not the public. Spider-Man took things a step forward as a gesture of support to Stark. Not helping is the fact that the actual text of the registration act was never shown, and different writers gave contradictory accounts of what it entailed.
    • Civil War is often cited in the media, and other Marvel comics, as why Steve died in Captain America #25. However, he was assassinated by the Red Skull's henchmen in a scheme unrelated to the conflict. The only connection was that Cap's arrest at the end of Civil War put him in the location of his death.
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  • Critic-Proof: Many fans do not like Civil War, and at the time critics were heavily split on it. On the other hand, the event did sell extremely well, and is one of the highest selling comics of all time.
  • Designated Hero: Marvel's official stance at the time was that Tony was the good guy. Though, the extent that this applied depended on the writers, who all had their own ideas and evidently no intercommunication. Which character was presented as being "right" is subject to change depending on what particular comic you were reading. Besides, he had supervillains working for them, and captured superheroes were jailed in the Negative Zone.
  • Designated Villain: Marvel's official stance at the time was that Cap was in the wrong, though the books themselves were constantly implying that Steve was right and Iron Man was acting fascistic. And given that Tony was locking up any captured anti-registration heroes in a concentration camp in the Negative Zone, it's kind of hard to argue against that point of view.
  • Dork Age: Some felt Marvel would be better off disavowing this story and undoing the big changes made by it. It finally happened after Dark Reign, and which led to the abolishment of the Registration Act.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Hercules. The popularity he gained from him beating the clone of Thor with his own hammer got him his own series.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Civil War is usually seen as when Marvel began to go overboard with the Hero Vs Hero events. It was a welcome change at the time, good vs. evil conflicts are somewhat predictable as they always ends with good triumphing over evil in the end. If both sides are the good guys, then you can't be sure in advance who will win. The ending was in fact surprising, as Marvel's stories about a superhuman registration act always ended with either the act being repealed or with it leading to an evil dystopia. The more it was used, however, it alienated fans. More often than not, fans like both sides in those conflicts, and hero vs. hero events force them to choose either of them. And properly writing stories where Both Sides Have a Point is hard: plots frequently turn one of both sides into the villain of the story, and their fans will obviously not like that.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The opening event of the story is a disaster in suburban Stamford, Connecticut that involves the destruction of, among other things, an elementary school, serving as the tipping point for a national debate over superhero registration. Six years later, an elementary school in another Connecticut town, just one hour away from Stamford, was the site of one of the deadliest killing sprees in history, acting (together with another massacre five months earlier at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado) as the tipping point for a national debate over gun control. Notably, unlike in Marvel where a sweeping superhero registration act is promptly passed, in real life those massacres did not result in any new gun control laws.
    • When Spider-Man confronts Iron Man about the clone of Thor killing Goliath, a black superhero, Iron Man defends it by saying the the clone was acting how any police officer would in that situation. This in combination with the argument used multiple times in the event, that superheroes should be held accountable just like the police, casts a rather dark pall over the whole thing considering the subsequent rise in evidence of cases of police brutality and groups like Black Lives Matter exposing how little accountability cops actually have to face.
      • And earlier at Goliath's funeral, Miriam Sharpe tells Tony that he shouldn't be held accountable for Goliath's death, saying that he was justified in doing his job like a police officer would do when a punk pulls a gun on them. This comment did not win Sharpe any favours back then and it has only aged poorly following the increased attention paid to police brutality.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The one big player on the pro-Reg side who turned out to be a Skrull is knocked out and impersonated by the half-Skrull, half-Kree Hulkling during the climax.
    • In Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #2, Spider-Man is told by Tony Stark the benefits of unmasking. When Spidey tries to refute, Cap backs up Tony's assertions. What makes this even funnier is that the issue is written by Mark Millar!
    • On the flip side of that is The Other storyline, which ran across all of the Spider-Man titles the previous year – After Spider-Man's supposed death, the New Avengers (led by Captain American & Iron Man, no less) decide that they can't reveal Peter Parker is Spider-Man and have to create a cover-up for his death, because revealing his identity would result in Aunt May & Mary Jane being targeted by every lowlife with a grudge against Spider-Man. And that's exactly what happens after Spider-Man unmasks.
    • At some point Peter was involved in some event or other where Daredevil got unmasked and stated that the whole thing had convinced him to never unmask...
    • Sally Floyd's Armor-Piercing Question "What is MySpace?" would be just as baffling to most people in the U.S. today.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • During the initial promotion for the crossover, Marvel released a pair of message board signature images reading either "I'm with Captain America" or "I'm with Iron Man". Within days, fans were creating their own versions by the dozens, and similar images are still being created for both Marvel and DC's Crisis Crossovers as well as things that have nothing to do with comics. There was also the Third Option: "You're all fucked when the Hulk gets back."
    • "THOU ART NO THOR!" said by Hercules while he was fighting an evil Thor clone that Reed and Tony cooked up and turned loose.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Nitro crosses his at the beginning of the story. After being cornered by the New Warriors and struck down by Namorita, he uses his powers to cause an explosion so he can escape. He did it right next to a park of playing children, killing all of them and a total of 612 people altogehter.
    • To Captain America, the Punisher crosses it when he just straight up murders Goldbug and Plunderer note  after their attempted Heel–Face Turn just because they were once criminals.
  • Narm: Bill Foster having to be buried at giant size in over eighty burial plots because for no apparent reason they can't shrink his corpse. Kinda undermines the drama of his death, especially with them having dialogue discussing it.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Just think about the fact that Hulkling was vivisected and his organs were rearranging themselves.
  • Obvious Judas: Did anyone really believe the Punisher would follow Cap's Thou Shalt Not Kill philosophy for long?
    • In "What If Civil War 1", Iron Man died during the Extremis arc, and Captain America led all the heroes against the Registration act. The law was enforced by Gyrich, Hill, Jim Rhodes, and their armies of Sentinels and mechanical Thors. Jim Rhodes negotiated an agreement with Captain America, but a traitor standing in the shadows told it to Gyrich, and they were both killed. Who was the traitor? Come on... as if you didn't see it coming.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The crossover generated a big upswing in interest in Hercules (kicking off what would turn out to be a few very good years for him), in a series of moments that amount to about six pages.
  • The Scrappy: Three major ones:
    • Maria Hill: The acting head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and pro-reg supporter who decided arrest Cap for "not following the law" — despite the fact that said law hadn't been voted on in the US Congress yet and Cap had only said that he didn't want to hunt down heroes who disobeyed the law, not that he was adverse to registering himself. She's still largely distrusted by fans in anything she happens to pop up in.
    • Miriam Sharpe: The mother of one of the Stamford victims who blames heroes for her son's death — despite the fact that most of the people she attacks had nothing whatsoever to do with the disaster. Not helping matters was her appearance at Goliath's funeral, saying that Goliath's death was his own fault because Tony and the rest of the pro-reg side was just doing their job. Said comment not only comes off as extremely insensitive, but shows that Sharpe has no remorse for how much damage and death caused by the Act that she helped to push for. She remains reviled to this day.
    • Sally Floyd: A reporter who accused Captain America of being un-American because he doesn't use a particular social media webpage, enjoy car races, or watch a certain TV series. Because of this, Sally ended up being the most hated character in the entire Marvel Universe, second perhaps only to Miriam Sharpe.
  • Strawman Has a Point: The whole arc had this problem.
    • It was supposed to be a nuanced exploration of whether or not compulsory registration for superheroes was necessary to curb catastrophic mistakes and potential abuses of power. Both sides were supposed to have valid points (but supposedly supporting the Pro-Registration overall). Unfortunately, due to insufficient coordination between the writing teams of different books (Marvel's editorial team infamously outright refused to give any clear answers to what the letter of the act actually said, even to the writers, causing what can only be described as a Right Hand Versus Left Hand situation), as well as a serious difference in the skills of the writing teams — while the anti-reg side got J. Michael Straczynski, Mark Millar failed at making readers sympathize with the pro-registration side, and both sides ended up looking like straw men, with the pro-registration side looking particularly monstrous. For starters, the SHRA criminalized the act of apprehending a criminal even as an average citizen, as well as S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to arrest Captain America for refusing to join the pro-reg side and enforce the law, before it was actually signed into law. To make matters worse, the actual specifics of registration varied from book to book:
      • In pro-reg books, registration was treated as a prerequisite to a superhero being a crime fighter. Supers were given the option of not using their powers, getting trained in using them properly and to establish that they were not a threat to themselves or others, and going to prison. If they did not want to fight crime after they were finished being trained, then they didn't have to, and there was no indication that they would be forced. It was just shown that a lot of people chose to fight crime because they had made friends with their fellow trainees and they felt like they should use their powers for good. However, the pro-registration side was still not sympathetic because Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic were portrayed as being jerks, who felt like they knew what was best, as well as committing some blatant crimes. But they were making excellent points throughout, and if Mr. Fantastic's soothsaying math can be believed, it was the lesser of a few evils.
      • In anti-reg books, S.H.I.E.L.D. forcibly conscripted anyone who happened to have any kind of superpowers whether they wanted to fight crime or not, and the pro-reg heroes were Well Intentioned Extremists at best. When Luke Cage said he just was going to not use his powers and stay out of it, armed gunmen showed up at his door on midnight of the day the act went into effect. In Avengers: The Initiative, kids recruited were told that they either join the initiative, get their powers taken, or go to jail. Cloud 9, whose power was a little cloud that could make her fly (kind of like the Flying Nimbus), was recruited, turned into a sniper and sent to killing missions, even though she never wanted to use her power for crimefighting let alone assassinations. In addition, Stark orchestrated an attack on Black Panther, foreign chief of state, because his wife (who had diplomatic immunity) refused to sign up. It was quite clearly a case of "work for us or else".
  • Take That, Scrappy!: The side of Maria Hill won… but she did not; she was demoted to be the Number Two of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new head honcho, Tony Stark. At least that's how it looks in the main title. In the Iron Man tie-in, she hands over the reins to him of her own volition, having realized that she was given power for the wrong reason. Many didn't think that was punishment enough for her.
    • Many people must have thought this when the Cape Killers gave the Miranda Rights to Sally Floyd and took her prisoner. Fortunately, they did not have any strong evidence to keep her there, so she's free to continue annoying all superheroes. On the other hand, this somehow causes her to switch to supporting the Pro-reg side.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: Like two other crisis crossovers that would later follow, this story focuses on superheroes fighting each other rather than supervillains. It's pointed out inside the story by Doctor Strange that nobody really is right or wrong in this, meaning it can be hard to decide who to root for. And finally, it ends on a rather dark note, with Captain America being arrested and assassinated while anti-registration superheroes still are operating against the law, giving you the impression nothing really was accomplished. You could be excused to stop caring in these conditions.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions:
    • Y'know what was going on at the same time as this event? Annihilation, aka the event where Annihilus killed Quasar and the all of Nova Corps (except Nova himself), stole the Quantum Bands thus making himself invincible, and then lead a Negative Zone army on a warpath, trying to slaughter all life in the universe. This was a threat so big that almost every space superhero, villain, and alien race up to and including Galactus teamed up to stop it. Compared to that the events here seem incredibly pointless. Not to mention the Hulk was on his way back to rain holy hell on the superheroes. Lampshaded by a What If? Issue where Nova calls out Iron Man and Cap on wasting everyone's time like this when a galaxy destroying army of bugs is on the way. Hell, it's lampshaded in Annihilation itself by Star-Lord and Nova, who argue whether the heroes would even be able to stop fighting one another long enough to not die if the Wave reaches their back door. Side note, Annhilus was waging this intergalatic war which killed trillions out of rage that the universe was encroaching on his territory, the Negative Zone. Guess where Iron Man built his concentration camp without any permission from Annihilus.
    • The event also went on during the same time as X-Men: Decimation, in which most of the world's mutants have been depowered and they're being hunted to extinction. New X-Men even has Emma give a five-page "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Ms. Marvel, telling her about all the students she lost while the Avengers were busy doing their own thing instead of helping them.
  • Unfortunate Implications: As Linkara pointed out during his "15 Things Wrong with Marvel's Civil War" video (at point 6), the prominent casualty of an event named Civil War is a black guy...killed by a blond, blue-eyed guy based on Nordic Mythology note  and his body gets wrapped up in chains afterwards. What's worse? Said blondie was cloned from the original Thor to act as a, for lack of a better term, slave. Not helping matters is that Clone Thor's shutdown code is Richard Wagner, whose image would come to be associated with Nazism due to his infamous antisemitism and being a role model for the Nazis. In the same review, Linkara was also struck speechless by Tony saying that the Thor clone acted like any police officer would — that is, he immediately decided to shoot to kill against a black man. And earlier at Goliath's funeral, Miriam Sharpe tells Tony that Goliath's death is, in her words, "no more [Tony's] fault than a cop could be blamed for shooting a punk who pulled a gun on him". Given that several race riots have erupted because police officers acted like that against minorities… yeah, that defense didn't age well. It gets even worse then The Initiative shows that one of the people involved in making the clone of Thor was...a literal Nazi war criminal who'd been forcibly recruited by the pro-reg side.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • The story was written in the aftermath of 9/11, the reaction of the Bush administration, and the "War on terror". Also MySpace.
    • The politics dealt with in the event have also not aged well. The frequent allusions to the Pro-Reg side operating more like police officers is especially cringe-inducing, since later controversies in the mid-2010's have led to the US police being heavily scrutinized and painted in a negative light by various sectors of the public.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The pro-reg side decide to back the government because "the law is the law is the law"... which, natter-inducing argument aside, would hold slightly more weight if this A: Wasn't the government of the Marvel Universe, but more importantly B: Wasn't a government which a few weeks prior to the event beginning had tried to nuke the Avengers to get rid of one supervillain. And these are the people Tony Stark thinks are worth trusting?
    • It also doesn't help that Tony Stark formed a group of supervillains to aid him in fighting the anti-reg side. For someone who's supposed to be in the right, his willingness to ally with villains who could have easily gone rogue makes his judgement all the more questionable.
    • Cap himself refues to hear Tony out when he offers to make peace and beats Punisher senseless for murdering criminals. While Punisher might not be the greatest person the fact he refuses to fight back really makes Cap come off as the bigger jackass.
  • Values Dissonance: Many readers from countries with conscription display more negative opinion on its conflict, especially the Anti-Registration's views on Superhero Registration Act as slavery.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Sally Floyd's speech to Captain America about him being out of touch just screams this. Most of the topics Floyd brings up ended up being dated barely a year after the comic.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Didn't help that writers of the tie-ins directly brought politics into their writings.
  • The Woobie: Speedball survives the horrific incident that kick-starts the entire mess, is made the scapegoat for all of it, and while completely powerless is sent to a maximum security prison, where he is, naturally, attacked repeatedly with no way to defend himself until his powers kick back in, and even then it's in a horrific new way that requires him to feel pain in order to do it. Not surprising then he goes mad.

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