Editor’s Note: Spoilers ahead!
Captain America: Civil War is the reason why going to the movies is one of my favorite pastimes. Certain movies, when done correctly, invoke a sense of inspiration when you leave the theater that make you contemplate morality, characters, philosophy, politics and the parallels of art imitating life. And the fact that this is an epic comic book movie with crazy battle scenes, eye-candy superheroes and bad-ass female roles, work in its favor to make you want to watch it a second time.
The story begins after telekinetic superhero Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), causes collateral damage in Lagos, Nigeria after trying to stop HYDRA villain, Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), from blowing up a populated area, ironically. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and in turn makes the United Nations bring forth the Sokovia Accords—ratified by 117 countries—which will place The Avengers under their control and will no longer let them operate independently. The accords create a rift between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as Stark, who once enjoyed his independent vigilantism, is hit with a deep sense of guilt when a mother confronts him for being responsible for her son’s death in Sokovia. Stark believes the heroes should now act with oversight while Rogers believes the U.N. will always have their own agenda and that he must do what he feels right—taking lessons learned from when HYDRA took over S.H.I.E.L.D in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
There are many angles to consider when watching the movie, but one that stood out is the questioning of the moral authority of well, authority. In real life, we are made to believe that the U.N. has the moral high ground as it is a “democratic” entity comprised of countries around the globe that want to do good like end world wars, combat global warming and recognize human rights worldwide. And while it does create a venue for change and good , it cannot always be blindly followed because history shows that vertical control from a far-away entity with little oversight will eventually lead to overreach.
Regarding war, presently we can look to a country like Libya where NATO bombed the country while supporting radical opposition networks, which in turn created a civil war, which in turn led to the U.N. putting in the undemocratically elected Unity Government, which is said to possibly obtain billions of frozen Libyan assets. And let’s not forget about the U.N.’s tarnished involvement in other countries like Haiti or the Congo. Regarding environmentalism, instead of promoting alternative energies, a carbon tax was pushed that would have not only hurt the third world but put money in the creators of said tax, Goldman Sachs’ David Blood and Al Gore. And finally regarding human rights, well, Saudi Arabia sat as chair to the Human Rights Council of the U.N. last year. And while the U.N. can legitimately be a venue for positive change, historians and writers such as G. Edward Griffin and H.G. Wells have marked it as a collectivist take over with disregard to individual rights. Democrats like Rosa Koire—author of “Behind The Green Mask”—have also warned of the agency’s use of eminent domain and the overthrow of land usage rights.
So, to circle back around from that tangent, Captain America is weary of being under the control of an authority whose agenda he is not certain of—sounds a bit more reasonable—while Iron Man believes The Avengers need the oversight and accountability to act more responsibly and avoid collateral damage—also sounding reasonable, but diving deeper; will authorization provided from the U.N. for the superheroes to fight or not fight a certain way, achieve this goal? If they decided Rumlow should not have been gone after, how would the outcome have looked then? Perhaps if they worked more closely with The Avengers (hopefully not in the slow, bureaucratic fashion certain things work today) would certain battles against alien super powers have a more positive outcome?
I don’t pretend to have the answers, but one thing I am more sure of is to not so easily take the bait when something sounds too good to be true—in real life. In the end of the movie, as Iron Man sees his colleagues behind bars—who did not get a trial, yet—he realizes he is wrong and when he finds out Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) was set up, he also ends up breaking the accords. The writers and directors of the movie don’t have a clear answer of which hero’s side to take in the end as both have their merits, but rather wanted to open the film up to debate.
If there is one thing that these super hero movies do right is that they present deeper levels of thinking to a possibly unsuspecting public and give warnings about certain organizations or ideas that claim to have all the “good will” behind them. But when it comes to wiser decision making that is least likely to get someone killed, I’m going to have to go with Team Cap on this one.