DC Civil War

One thing I never liked about Marvel’s Civil War event was that it felt like it was conceived as a DC story and several Marvel characters had to be broken to fit roles that would have worked better with heroes from the “Distinguished Competition”.

For those unfamiliar with the comic (which is very different from the movie adaptation) mistakes made by a group of young heroes lead to a villain destroying the city of Stamford CT. In response the government forces super heroes to register with two groups forming around Iron Man (pro-registration) and Captain America (anti-registration). It doesn’t take long for everything to go horribly wrong and the event ends with Captain America being shot and killed on his way to jail.

So here’s my question: if you were pitching Civil War to DC which heroes would you put on the pro and anti-registration sides led by Superman and Batman respectively? Who would you cast in the Spider-Man role, throwing in his lot with one side and changing to the other mid story?


I actually disagree. I think while it was very awkward how the Marvel heroes were grouped into the two sides, inexplicably supporting really terrible ideas and getting into pointless, unnecessary fights with one another are classic and long-standing attributes of Marvel’s heroes. Plus, I don’t see either Superman or Batman supporting registration. If one of them backed registration, it might actually be Batman out of a desire to keep supervillains from causing damage and restrain vigilantes who use lethal force. That said, he seems to understand better than anyone the value of a secret identity and clearly has Issues with shady government folks like Amanda Waller or Wade Eiling sticking their noses into superhero business, so if anything, Batman might be the one in the Spider-Man role.

Now, the SHRA (depending on its specific provisions, which seemed to vary by the writer) would be hilariously, absurdly, massively unconstitutional on like five different levels, so I could see Superman wanting to fight it out “legitimately” rather than going all underground-resistance like Cap did, but I doubt he’d actually sign on to enforce it.

Among the rest of the JLA founders:
-Wonder Woman and Aquaman might fill the Black Panther role - they’re foreign dignitaries and the law doesn’t apply to them, so they’d stay out of it if it came down to a fight between superheroes. Diana would probably back Clark up on publicly opposing it, though.
-Similarly, Green Lantern has made it clear to people like the Rocket Reds and the Great Ten that his jurisdiction comes from the Corps and he doesn’t care whether the country he’s in wants him there.
-Martian Manhunter would probably be worried about trusting his identity (to the extent that he has one) and activities to the government.
-The Flash is the only one I could potentially see supporting the act. I don’t think he would, but he’d be the least implausible of the bunch, since he already works for the police in his civilian identity and has lots of trouble with rogue (so to speak) Metas.
-Even extending up through all the members who joined in the Silver Age and Satellite eras, at best you could maybe add the Atom, Hawkman, and Zatanna to the pro-reg side. Possibly Green Arrow, Elongated Man, or Hawkwoman, but I doubt it.

So, you already have all the heavy-hitters lined up against this thing, so unless, for example, the entire Titans got behind it (unlikely - the founders would probably feel similarly to their mentors and I doubt Raven or Cyborg would have much patience for registration either - Starfire or Changeling I could see either way, but like the Flash I still think they’d ultimately be anti-reg), you’ve got yourself a pretty lopsided civil war.

Well I guess you could say that the Injustice storyline is a civil war storyline


I guess if you’re doing a DC civil war it would be people from traditional society vs people who aren’t. For example I could see Characters like Superman, Wonder woman, Auquaman and Martian Manhunter being pro registration while characters like Batman, Green Arrow and basically anybody that’s not an alien or from a fictional society would be against. As far as the reluctant Character that’s forced to switch sides I’d go with The Flash


Regardless of what characters line up on either side of the “registration-fence”, you know Wally gets whacked in the battle.

Didn’t DC do the Civil War thing before? I thought that was Kingdom Come?

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Based on Dark Knight Returns, I actually think Batman would be opposed to registration or oversight. Superman would most likely support it in order to keep peace and because he has faith in the system. If Bruce Wayne had faith in the system, he wouldn’t need to be Batman.


The main difference between Injustice/Kingdom Come is that those stories are both about super heroes fighting over whether they should use their powers to control the world or not whereas Civil War is more about whether the heroes should allow themselves to be controlled.

I actually thought of switching Batman and Superman but went with my configuration as more in line with Miller’s characterization which (for better or worse) is how they’ve been consistently written for the last 30+ years.

My list-

Pro (not comprehensive)

Green Lantern-Hal
Green Lantern-Guy
Flash-Barry (switches midway)
The Atom


Wonder Woman
Martian Manhunter
Green Arrow
Black Canary
Green Lantern-Kyle
Green Lantern Guy

(Just want to say before I start arguing that I don’t mean to be combative - I just find this interesting and want to think it through. I’m also a law student, so I’m interested in thinking through the viability and consequences of a hypothetical law like the SHRA.)

(Speaking of which, this also all heavily dependent on the specific terms and requirements of the SHRA, which were never consistently outlined even in the original Civil War storyline.)

I do agree that Injustice and Kingdom Come, while superficially similar to Civil War, are about a different kind of dilemma. That said, I still don’t buy Superman supporting registration, or several of the others on Etrigan’s list (again, no offense, I just want to think about it).

First, Supes (particularly in regards to Truth_of_Pisces’ point): Keep in mind that the Dark Knight Returns is (a) a dystopian alternate future and (b) a Batman story. Superman is a government stooge there because it sets up a worst case scenario for Batman, not because that’s Superman’s “normal” characterization. Also note that if Clark Kent “had faith in the system,” he wouldn’t need to be Superman any more than Bruce Wayne needs to be Batman. He’s got a more public persona than Batman, but he still disguises himself and works outside of any legitimate authority. And of course, both of them have at least enough faith in the system to trust their villains to the normal criminal justice process no matter how many times they break out. Indeed, Superman’s got the most dangerous villains, so if anything, he’d be the most threatened by having to register and trust the safety of his identity (and, by extension, the safety of his loved ones) to the government. Which, of course, is known for its ability to not have secret information be leaked.

Hal (and to a lesser extent John) does not have much patience for Earth-based red tape when he’s trying to get his job done. The Green Lanterns in general consider themselves above any specific terrestrial jurisdiction. Look at the early portions of Geoff Johns’ run and Hal and John’s dust-up with Black Adam in 52. So, I really don’t see any of them going in for registration. Least of all Guy, though I assume that’s a typo since he’s on both lists.

The other one on your list that I find very curious is Nightwing. As a member of the Bat-Family, I think he’d have a lot of the same concerns as Batman, and for a lot of the same reasons. On top of that, his connections with the Titans mean that he’s got an interest in making sure they don’t get screwed over by the act. What would the government do if they knew who Raven is and where her powers come from? What if Wally had to unmask? What if they found out about Roy’s history of drug abuse? Nightwing would be betraying two different families by going pro-reg, and to what gain? To support an act that puts him in as much danger as any of them and doesn’t actually accomplish all that much in the DC Universe?

Actually, that’s another point: the DC superhero community polices themselves much more rigorously than the Marvel one, and most of the young heroes are under the direct training and mentorship of more experienced ones. There’s less chance that an incident like Stamford would happen, and less need for the government to do something that people like the JLA already have a vested interest in keeping under control. Plus, the public already trusts their heroes a lot more than their Marvel counterparts. That means the SHRA would already have a lot less popular support, and might not be passed to begin with.

Oddly, on your anti-reg list, I think there’s actually a convincing argument that Green Arrow would be for registration. He’s always supposed to be the champion of the little guy, and so his position would depend on who he actually sees as the “little guy.” Maybe he’d think the superheroes aren’t accountable and the “little guy” is the people like the kids who got blown up at Stamford, and the superheroes are the “fat cats” by comparison. That sort of thing is exactly why he’s usually written as very reluctant to work with the Justice League. Now, I think even he would see what an overreach the SHRA is, but one could sensibly write him as supporting it.

If I wanted to write a DC version of Civil War, I’d have to assume the act’s provisions are fairly mild and interpret characters as generously as possible to bolster the pro-reg side. I’m also splitting some characters who’d more likely be on the same side for drama’s sake. I’d draw up these battle lines (also non-comprehensive) :

Batman (For the reasons I mentioned in my first post - might change sides)
Martian Manhunter (unlikely, but he could be interested in the safety of the country/planet over that of the superhero community)
Aquaman (Again, I think he’d stay out of it, but I’ll give you this one for the sake of argument)
Green Arrow (See above)
The Atom
Elongated Man (Would probably side with Barry regardless)
Red Tornado
Captain Atom
Doctor Fate
The JSA (I don’t necessarily see this happening, but it seems more plausible than splitting the Titans, and I needed a similarly powerful team on this side to balance them out)

Wonder Woman
All Green Lanterns
Black Canary
Blue Beetle (any - Ted might go pro-reg, though)
Booster Gold
Plastic Man
Either Question
All Bat-Family other than Bruce and Kate
The Titans