Captain America: Civil War is an incredible superhero smackdown with a thorny political/moral question at its core.
I loved the film. I loved seeing Spidey, and Black Panther, and every Avenger that I’ve spent the last eight years with beat the snot out of each other for our amusement.
But unquestionably, not everyone will be entering (or leaving) the cinema with same opinion, which leaves the burning question – are you Team Cap or Team Iron Man?
I’m here to talk about why I’m Team Cap. Obviously, I can’t do that without taking a sharp turn down spoiler lane. If you haven’t seen the film yet, come back later.
Let’s assume you listened to my advice and have in fact seen Civil War before continuing. So, Tony Stark/Iron Man believes that super powered humans should be held accountable by some kind of governing body (the United Nations in this instance).
Steve Rogers/Captain America meanwhile, maintains that The Avengers should have the power to act independently. Naturally, much wackiness and fighting ensues.
Now, I don’t believe that there is a “right” answer here. You’ll never hear me say that Steve is right or that Tony is wrong. That (among other things) is what makes Civil War such a captivating watch.
Regardless, I remain firmly on Captain America’s side.
Should The Avengers be held accountable for any collateral damage they cause while they’re off saving the world? Maybe. Certainly, they shouldn’t be able to fly off without looking back at the consequences. Is there an easy way to make that happen? No. Is making it so that The Avengers answer to a governing body the answer? Definitely not.
Considering what Scarlet Witch does at the start of Civil War, I would agree that perhaps superheroes need some kind of training in damage control/general help getting a handle on their powers, but the government are no more qualified to do that than I am (ie. not at all).
And anyway, you can’t blame Cap for being twitchy about the government, especially after learning in his previous film that a Nazi criminal organisation had essentially been running S.H.I.E.L.D for the duration.
Putting politicians in charge of The Avengers would be disastrous. As Cap himself says – people have agendas, and agendas can change.
How many more lives would have been lost in the New York attack seen in the first Avengers movie if the team had to wait for authorisation from the U.N to actually go in and do something about those pesky aliens?
If The Avengers remain independent, they can act as soon as a situation starts to head south. They don’t have to wait for a bunch of men in suits to finish debating whether or not it’s time to send the heroes in.
And this brings me to my most crucial point, and why The Avengers should never be beholden to a Government body.
The Avengers, for all their powers and perfect teeth, represent the people. They were formed to save the world and to keep people safe, acting in the interests of the common man – the man who is about to get crushed under a building.
If people can start telling The Avengers when they should get involved, then it wouldn’t be long before they can tell them when not to get involved.
Regulation follows registration – and don’t superheroes do what they do because nobody else will? Because nobody else cares? The Avengers, for all their swanky towers and jets, are – and should always be – vigilantes.
The entire point of a vigilante in comic book land is that they go to places and do things that the established order can’t (or maybe even won’t). From Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Spider-Man, right through to big hitters like Cap and Iron Man, they fight outside the law, but unmistakably they fight for truth, justice, and all that other good stuff.
Hell, in the first Iron Man, Tony decides to take matters into his own hands and save a village in Afghanistan, and I would imagine those fictional characters are glad he did.
And now, let’s look at some of Tony’s decisions in Civil War. One thing that just doesn’t sit well with me is the fact that he drafts Spider-Man into his fight.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m over the moon that Spidey made an appearance, but does it not strike anyone else as a bit weird that Tony asked a fifteen year old kid to come and fight his battle?
Okay, so Tony probably knew that the young webhead would be relatively safe, considering it was a good guy vs good guy kind of deal, so fair enough in that respect.
But really, for all Mr Stark’s talk in Civil War of superheroes having to be more careful, was it the best idea to go and encourage a teenage kid to continue on as a vigilante? Would it not have made more sense to tell him to pack it in, maybe get back to it when he was a bit older and could register with the government?
Then, of course, there’s the fact that Tony was complicit in locking a group of heroes away in an underwater base, without a trial. Not cool, man.
So those are the broad strokes, but as we know, the rift in Civil War is further complicated on a personal level by Bucky, who has been running around killing people for the last 60 odd years. Iron Man wants to take him, Cap sees the good in him.
Again, I side with Cap. If the past few films and decades worth of comic book history have taught us anything, it’s that Steve Rogers is an outstanding judge of character. He wants to protect his bro (who is technically innocent, I should say), and all of The Avengers should have rallied around him.
Public opinion be damned. What has that ever done for superheroes? Just ask Spider-Man.
Again, I don’t think Tony is entirely wrong by any stretch, but Steve has his heart very much in the right place on a personal level and in terms of the big picture.
And, as a massive comic book nerd, I think it’s fair to say that being a superhero is pretty much entirely about having your heart in the right place – although powers or vast wealth don’t hurt, either.
Oh, one last thing. Just in time for the last set piece, Iron Man basically decides to go against General Ross to help Cap out, thereby explicitly proving my earlier point that sometimes the heroes have to go where the system doesn’t allow them to.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.