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"An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again. But one which crumbles from within? That's dead... forever."
Helmut Zemo[src]

The Avengers Civil War was a conflict between members of the Avengers that was semi-orchestrated by terrorist Helmut Zemo, who sought to exact revenge against the team for his family's deaths. While Zemo was arrested and subsequently incarcerated, his actions successfully fractured the Avengers, forcing half of its members into hiding.

Background

Age of Heroes

"The world is filling up with people that can't be matched, can't be controlled."
Nick Fury[src]

Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark announced to the world that he was the armored superhero known as "Iron Man".[1]  

Immediately following Stark's disclosure, the number of enhanced individuals increased exponentially, generating strong feelings of resentment and fear among the general populace. It was not until after the Battle of New York, however, that the fear of those with powers became more ubiquitous.[2][3]

As the world realized that humanity was not alone in the universe, public opinion of the Avengers became increasingly divided. While many regarded the Avengers with praise, others either called for their arrest or resented them for the destruction caused.
Battle of Triskelion 2

The fall of S.H.I.E.L.D.

In 2014, the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D. put Project Insight, a secret operation that would prevent future threats to international security, into effect.

Unbeknownst to all, HYDRA, who had been embedded within the organization since the end of World War II, attempted to use the project to achieve their goals and establish a new world order.

Captain America and his allies successfully exposed HYDRA but were forced to release S.H.I.E.L.D.'s classified files on the Internet, which resulted in S.H.I.E.L.D. being disavowed and labeled a terrorist organization by the international community. Despite mass panic over the fact that there was no one left to protect the world, a new S.H.I.E.L.D. emerged under the direction of Phil Coulson and worked in secret to defeat HYDRA.[4][5]

Meanwhile, on a smaller scale, superheroes like Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Luke Cage emerged, attracting the attention of local news networks.[6][7][8]

Ultron Offensive

With S.H.I.E.L.D. in disarray, the Avengers reassembled and worked together to take down HYDRA cells around the world. Their mission climaxed in 2015 when they raidedSokovian research base and arrested high-ranking operative Wolfgang von Strucker.

During the raid, Stark recovered the Scepter wielded by Loki during the Battle of New York, which Strucker used for his experiments. Stark later discovered an artificial intelligence hidden within the scepter's gem and used it to create the Ultron Program.

However, the program became self-aware and convinced itself that humanity was responsible for preventing peace. Ultron proceeded to launch a series of attacks with the ultimate goal of global genocide. The attacks eventually culminated with the Battle of Sokovia, which caused the death of 177 civilians and $474 billion in damage.[9][10]

Battle of Sokovia

The Avengers fight the Ultron Sentries

Immediately following the Ultron Offensive, public opinion of both the Avengers and "gifted people" worsened. Many people went as far as threatening to expose them and often referred to them as freaks.[9]

Inhuman Outbreak

Matthew-Ellis-WHiH-Speech-AoS

Inhumans are revealed to the world

Sometime later, during a confrontation between S.H.I.E.L.D. and a faction of Inhumans, a Quinjet filled with Terrigen Crystals crashed into the ocean and contaminated a shoal of fish. The fish were eventually caught, turned into fish oil pills, and distributed worldwide.[11]

Though S.H.I.E.L.D. pulled some of the product off store shelves, several people consumed what was not caught and, in doing so, discovered their true heritage.[12]

In the wake of both the outbreak and several attacks engineered by the Inhuman known as Lash, the Advanced Threat Containment Unit was formed in order to handle incidents involving the rise of Inhumans.[12]

At the same time, a radical group known as the Watchdogs emerged and attacked an ATCU facility, killing all of the personnel inside. They later broadcasted the terrorist act, using the Battle of Sokovia as an excuse for their actions.[13]

As a result, public negativity towards superhumans increased and the nations of the world began demanding government oversight.[14]

The Lagos Catastrophe

"This is for dropping a building on my face!"
Crossbones to Captain America[src]
Approximately one year after the Ultron Offensive, the Avengers learned that former HYDRA sleeper agent Brock Rumlow, who had aligned himself with several mercenaries, had been sighted in Lagos, Nigeria.
Captain America Civil War 13

Rumlow's team prepares to storm the IFID

Upon arriving in Nigeria, the Avengers discovered that Rumlow was planning to break into an Institute for Infectious Diseases laboratory and steal a biological agent. Although they managed to successfully secure the weapon, Rumlow managed to escape.

Rogers confronted him and the two engaged in a hand-to-hand duel that ended with Rogers subduing the former STRIKE commander.

When Rogers pressed Rumlow for information, the latter claimed Bucky Barnes was pulling the strings before activating a suicide bomb attached to his vest, intent on taking Rogers with him.

Captain America Civil War 89

Wanda Maximoff in the wake of the chaos

Wanda Maximoff contained the explosion and attempted to move the blast away. However, she moved it too close to a nearby building and inadvertently caused an explosion that killed 26 people, with several relief aid workers from Wakanda among the dead.[10]

The Sokovia Accords

"For the past four years, you've operated with unlimited power and no supervision. That's an arrangement the governments of the world can no longer tolerate."
Thaddeus Ross to the Avengers[src]

With the "Lagos Catastrophe" deemed a public relations disaster, several international politicians, chief among them Wakanda's reigning monarch T'Chaka, called for the United Nations to create a system of accountability.[10]

More than a month after the attack, Thaddeus Ross, who had been recently selected by President Ellis to serve as Secretary of State, met with the Avengers at the New Avengers Facility and informed them that the United Nations was preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, a set of documents that would oversee the increasing number of enhanced individuals while establishing a subcommittee that would monitor the Avengers' movements.

Captain America Civil War 106

Secretary Ross attempts to prove his point

Ross went on to explain that anyone who refused to sign would be forced to "retire" and left the facility so the team could discuss the matter privately.

The team immediately became divided over the issue of government oversight, with Stark supporting the accords due to his guilt over the destruction of Sokovia and Rogers opposing them due to his strong mistrust of government agencies. 

During the discussion, Vision noted that, in the six years since Stark revealed himself as Iron Man, both the rate of hostile enhanced individuals and the number of potential world-ending events grew exponentially. While Stark agreed, Rogers argued that they would be surrendering the right to choose if they agreed to sign.[10]

The Vienna Bombing

"Don't bother, Ms. Romanoff. I'll kill him myself."
T'Challa to Natasha Romanoff[src]
Eventually, Stark, Vision and James Rhodes decided to sign the Accords while Clint Barton refused, citing the fact that he was retired. Rogers, who was forced to put the discussion on hold after learning that Peggy Carter died in her sleep, confided in Natasha Romanoff that he stood by his beliefs.

Three days later, the United Nations arranged a formal ceremony at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria. Among those in attendance were Romanoff, King T'Chaka, and his son T'Challa. T'Chaka accepted Romanoff's apology but was saddened to hear that Rogers was not in attendance.

While watching his father open the proceedings, T'Challa noticed a commotion taking place outside the Centre and discovered that a bomb had been planted in a news van. Despite T'Challa's attempt to evacuate the room, the bomb detonated and decimated the building, killing T'Chaka and several others.

Captain America Civil War 10

The Vienna International Centre is destroyed

Immediately following the bombing, T'Challa became Wakanda's new monarch. When security footage revealed that Bucky Barnes was responsible for the bombing, T'Challa set out to avenge his father's death.

Meanwhile, Rogers learned about Barnes' supposed role in T'Chaka's death and implored Sharon Carter to help him. She eventually revealed that Barnes was in Bucharest, Romania, prompting Rogers and Sam Wilson to track him down.[10]

Conflict

Capture of Winter Soldier

Captain America Civil War 70

Rogers follows T'Challa

Rogers and Wilson managed to find Barnes living in a Bucharest safe house only to learn that both T'Challa and local law enforcement were also in pursuit.

This led to a high-speed chase through the city, which came to an end when Rhodes apprehended the four and escorted them to the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre in Berlin.

Barnes was then placed in a contained cell while Deputy Task Force Commander Everett Ross arranged for psychiatrist Theo Broussard to speak with him.

Meanwhile, Stark attempted to persuade Rogers to sign the accords. The conversation became heated when Stark revealed that he confined Wanda to the New Avengers Facility.[10]

Escape from the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre

As Stark and Rogers continued arguing, Broussard arrived and met with Barnes. Before the discussion officially began, the power suddenly went out. Broussard then recited a set of conditioned trigger words that were used when Barnes was a HYDRA operative.

Captain America Civil War 92

Barnes attacks Stark

His training reactivated, Barnes broke free of his restraints and went on a rampage throughout the facility. After overpowering Romanoff, T'Challa, Carter and Stark, Barnes made his way to the roof, where he attempted to escape via a helicopter.  

Rogers, meanwhile, reached the roof and grabbed the helicopter's landing gear in a desperate attempt to stop Barnes from escaping, but caused the copter to fall off the helipad and into the ocean. Rogers saved Barnes from drowning while Carter allowed Wilson to escape with their confiscated equipment.

After taking Barnes to a remote location, Rogers reunited with Wilson and began interrogating Barnes. Barnes revealed several personal facts about Rogers' life before explaining that Broussard wanted information about a HYDRA facility that housed five other Winter Soldiers, all of whom would prove to be unstoppable if revived them.

Rogers and Wilson discussed the situation, deciding that Stark would not be able to assist them due to the accords. Wilson then mentioned that they don't have to fight on their own and that he "[knows] a guy" who could help.

Meanwhile, Stark traveled to Queens in New York City and recruited high school student Peter Parker, who was secretly the costumed vigilante Spider-Man. Parker accepted on the condition that his aunt continued to remain unaware of his activities. Stark agreed and decided to upgrade his new ally's equipment, giving him a high-tech suit and web-shooters.[10]

Rescue of Wanda Maximoff

Sometime later, at the New Avengers Facility, an explosion prompted Vision to investigate while Maximoff stayed behind. Suddenly realizing she was not alone, she used her powers on a kitchen knife to attack the intruder.

Maximoff quickly learned that Clint Barton was in the room and that he was responsible for the explosion, which was meant to distract Vision while he rescued her. 

Vision vs Scarlet Witch

Wanda attacks Vision

Vision suddenly returned and confronted Barton in a fierce duel that ended with the synthetic being overpowering his former ally. At the last moment, however, Barton convinced Maximoff to take down Vision, which she reluctantly did. 

The two fled the compound and recruited Scott Lang before making their way to Germany, where Rogers was waiting with Barnes and Wilson.[10]

A Team Divided

"I didn't kill your father."
"Then why did you run?"
Bucky Barnes and Black Panther[src]
Rogers and his team assembled at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Schkeuditz, where they planned to take a Quinjet to Siberia, where the HYDRA facility was located. Before they could make their way to the Quinjet, sirens went off, indicating that the airport was being evacuated. Rogers instructed the others to suit up and confronted Stark's faction on the airport runway.
Civil War Clash

The Clash begins

Rogers tried to convince Stark that Barnes was being framed, but the latter refused to listen and the two factions engaged in a fight that resulted in mass destruction. 

Lang decided to test the Ant-Man Suit's latest upgrade and reversed the suit's ability to manipulate atomic space, growing incredibly large while providing a distraction for Barnes and Rogers. However, he was taken down by Parker, Rhodes, and Stark.

Barnes and Rogers were then confronted by Romanoff in the hanger, but allowed to take off in the Quinjet after she chose to follow her conscience and used her Taser Disks to stall T'Challa.

Captain America Civil War 76

Stark holds an injured Rhodes

As Stark and Rhodes chased the Quinjet, Vision attempted to blast Falcon, who was making sure that the Quinjet escaped, out the sky. However, Falcon noticed the Energy Blast and moved out the way as the blast hit Rhodes in his power core, who plummeted to the ground and was knocked unconscious.[10]

A Truth Revealed

The four anti-registration Avengers were captured and imprisoned on the Raft while Parker was forced to return home and Rhodes was left paralyzed from the battle. Romanoff went into hiding, knowing full well she would be arrested for her betrayal.

Mark XLVI trailer 2

Stark flies to Siberia

Stark, meanwhile, learned from F.R.I.D.A.Y. that the man claiming to be Theo Broussard was former Sokovian intelligence officer Helmut Zemo and that the real Broussard was found dead with a wig and facial prosthesis approximating Barnes' appearance.

Stark attempted to tell Secretary Ross what he had learned but was rebuffed. Stark then decided to take matters into his own hands and convinced Wilson to reveal where Rogers and Barnes were headed.

Knowing full well that his actions would violate the accords, Stark lied to Secretary Ross before donning the Mark XLVI armor and flying to Siberia, unaware that T'Challa was secretly following him.[10]

Battle at the HYDRA Siberian Facility

"I've lost everyone. And so will you."
Helmut Zemo to Captain America[src]
Having arrived in Siberia, Rogers and Barnes infiltrated the HYDRA facility only to find themselves face-to-face with Stark. Stark immediately apologized for not believing Rogers and reconciled with his comrade before the three made their way deeper into the compound.

The three entered the room where the other Winter Soldiers were being kept and found that they had all been shot in the head execution-style. Zemo suddenly made his presence known, stating that he orchestrated the entire conflict for the sole purpose of avenging his family's deaths.

Zemo proceeded to play security footage from December 1991, which revealed that Barnes was responsible for the deaths of Howard and Maria Stark. Blind with rage, Stark attacked Rogers and Barnes while Zemo made his escape, unaware that T'Challa had overheard his confession.
AwKRc1Kj-3-

Iron Man vs. Captain America

The battle climaxed when Stark dismembered Barnes' prosthetic arm, prompting Rogers to disable Stark's armor before departing with his childhood friend.

Stark stated that Rogers did not deserve his shield, which his father made. Rogers momentarily paused, dropped the shield and walked away with Barnes.

Meanwhile, T'Challa confronted Zemo, who recounted his motivations and apologized for killing T'Chaka before attempting to commit suicide. T'Challa managed to stop him in time and turned him over to Everett Ross.[10]

Aftermath

The End of the Beginning

"You know if they find out he's here, they'll come for him."
"Let them try."
Steve Rogers and T'Challa[src]

Sometime later, Stark received a package containing a cell phone and a letter from Rogers. In the letter, Rogers apologized for keeping the truth about his parents' death before promising that he would be there if he needed help.

Moments after reading the letter, Stark received a telephone call from Secretary Ross, who informed him that Wilson, Maximoff, Barton, and Lang had all escaped from the Raft. Stark quickly cut Ross off and claimed he was busy before hanging up, implying that he was allowing his former colleagues to escape.

T'ChallaCivilWar

T'Challa and Rogers look out on Wakanda

After being pardoned and granted asylum in Wakanda by T'Challa, Rogers allowed Barnes, who was still shaken by his actions, to go back into cryogenic stasis until such a time as the Winter Soldier programming was either suppressed or erased completely.[10]

The Impact on S.H.I.E.L.D.

"I'm here because the President sent me. The Sokovia Accords are the law of the land now."
Glenn Talbot to Phil Coulson[src]
GlennTalbot-BarChat-SokoviaAccords

Talbot discusses the Accords

Shortly after Rogers and Barnes went into hiding, President Ellis sent Brigadier General Glenn Talbot to meet with Phil Coulson and get him to reveal any "undocumented assets".

To Talbot's annoyance, Coulson refused to divulge any information, firmly stating that S.H.I.E.L.D. worked in the shadows. Nonetheless, the S.H.I.E.L.D. director gave Talbot a tour of the Playground as well as "the good, the bad, and the ugly".[15]

Several months later, with HYDRA obliterated and the parasitic Inhuman known as Hive defeated, S.H.I.E.L.D. was relegitimatized under public servant Jeffrey Mace, who replaced Coulson as Director.[16]

Elena Rodriguez, a Colombian native who underwent Terrigenesis during the Inhuman Outbreak, stayed on at S.H.I.E.L.D. following Hive's defeat and agreed to sign the accords.[17]

JT James, an Inhuman mercenary who previously served as one of Hive's allies, also signed the accords, but only because S.H.I.E.L.D. forced him to. Growing to hate what he had become, he forged an alliance with the Watchdogs and set out to eliminate any Inhumans who chose to register.[18]

The Question of Effectivity

Quake Article

Quake's activities make headlines

Around the time S.H.I.E.L.D. was relegitimatized, Inhuman agent Daisy Johnson went rogue and began to operate as a vigilante. Dubbed "Quake" by the press, her actions prompted many to question the regulations put in place by the accords.[16]

Appearances

In chronological order:

References

External Links

Wars and Conflicts in Earth History
First Dark Elf Conflict (Pre- 2988 B.C) - 2988 B.CEgo's Expansion (Pre-0 B.C - 2014) • Asgard-Jotunheim War (965 - 2011) • World War II (1939 - 1945) • Johann Fennhoff's Campaign (1946) • Cold War (1947 - 1991) • Chase of Bruce Banner (2005 - 2011) • Battle of Puente Antiguo (2011) • Aldrich Killian's War (2011 - 2012) • Chitauri Invasion (2012) • Second Dark Elf Conflict (2013) • HYDRA Uprising (2014) • War on HYDRA (2014 - 2015) • S.H.I.E.L.D. Civil War (2015) • Ultron Offensive (2015) • War against the Inhumans (2015) • Inhuman Outbreak (2015 - 2016) • Grant Ward's Campaign (2015) • Avengers Civil War (2016) • Adrian Toomes' Campaign (2016) • Attack on the Sanctums (2017)