What if…? revealed once that an onslaught of a major cosmic threat could have completely upended the superhero civil war and made it redundant.
Heroes of the Marvel Universe have a habit of turning on each other in dire situations, perhaps the most famous being the central plot of Civil war by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. Despite their common heroism, the great figures of the Marvel Universe often don’t have the chance to solve their problems together, instead being forced to either come to blows or find common ground while at the same time. confronting an external threat together.
What if…? introduces a reality where the superhuman civil war ended not with violence or speech – but thanks to a massive alien invasion that forced the heroes to unite against their common enemy: Annihulus.
At the heart of Earth-616’s Marvel Universe, the Superhero Civil War has been one of the most monumental events of the 21st century. The conflict over the implementation of superhero registration with the United States government has resulted in a full-scale conflict between Iron Man’s pro-registration allies and Captain America’s anti-registration underground resistance. The battle eventually spilled over into the public forum, and it wasn’t until he realized how much damage they were doing to the world that Captain America surrendered – creating the circumstances that led to events like than Secret invasion, Reign of Darkness, An extra day, and even Captain America’s own death.
At the same time, the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe has been absorbed into an entirely different (and much larger-scale) conflict. In Annihilation, the Fantastic Four’s longtime enemy Annihiulus broke free from the negative zone and, with a massive army of monstrous beings from that dimension, waged war on the positive energy dimension. Fortunately, heroes like Nova and Moondragon were able to help save the day, in part by saving Galactus from Annihulus’ grip. However, in the reality revealed in And if… ? : annihilation # 1 of David Hine, Mico Suayan and Rafael Kayanan, the plan to save Galactus was cut short, resulting in the deaths of Galactus and the Silver Surfer. Without their help, the cosmic heroes were forced to retreat to Earth, where the heroes were unaware of the cosmic danger.
Crash to Earth just at the nominal high point of Civil war, Nova reveals how dire things have become in the Great Galaxy. Realizing the full extent of the threat posed to the universe, Captain America and Iron Man quickly put aside their differences and work together to fight Annihulus.
The wave of annihilation reaching Earth more or less removed any need for the heroes to fight each other, as recording became an afterthought while full eradication was the alternative. The Avengers have banded together, uniting despite their old internal battles. Even the long-simmering hatreds have been brushed aside in the name of a common struggle against the global threat – with longtime enemies like Daredevil and Bullseye fighting and even dying side by side on the battlefield.
In the end, Captain America and Iron Man both volunteered to hold the final line against Annihulus together alongside Nova, making their conflict moot. They even jokingly refer to the final battle of the Civil war, showing how little they care about this personal debate when faced with a threat like Annihiulus. It’s a reminder that the heroes of the Marvel Universe don’t always resolve all of their conflicts in the healthiest way – with the heart of the Marvel Universe spending years in jeopardy due to the fallout of Civil war as the universe at large simply ignores the recording debate in light of the threat that is Annihilation. Heroes have yet to learn how to resolve their conflicts in an authentic and civil manner, as they cannot always hope for an alien invasion to simplify their own conflicts.
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