Some spoilers to Captain America 3: Civil War are below.
To quickly clarify before I playfully roll around in all the rage confetti that the Internet has to offer, this is not meant to be taken as a political statement or as an article carrying an underlying motive or message. To think that is to give me far too much credit, this is meant to be a fun look at a recent piece of pop culture and should be taken about as seriously as Red Skull’s cherry lollipop head when he removed his mask in Captain America: The First Avenger. Now with that out of the way I need to say something I’ve wanted to say/type for a long time.
I’m Iron Man.
Well ok, I’m Team Iron Man, but you can’t begrudge my raging geek inclinations to take that opportunity I’m sure. The recent Marvel cash cow led onto the silver screen pastures, Captain America 3: Civil War has been incredibly well received and revitalised the comic gimmick a few years ago of choosing a side between the star spangled soldier or the charismatic chrome crusader. That’s my alliteration quota filled for this piece at least. Now the superhero registration act was never going to be handled as in depth as the comic series which spanned many comic character threads and lasted for months. Also as a Captain America film first and foremost you expect it to be skewed in the favour of Chris Evans’ patriotic powerhouse. In the realm of the film however the accords put our heroes against each other in familiar fashion and force heroes to chose to comply, rebel or retire.
I am team Iron Man. Not because I prefer him as a character, not because he has a snazzy suits, because I prefer the how the hashtag looks on my Twitter feed or because im jealous of his facial hair to a borderline worrying degree. I’m team Iron Man because I believe his way would be the correct approach in and out of the film world. Our world saving Avengers, as well as the less famous lycra-clad warriors have powers that daze, impress, save and excite us but they also have something else, responsibility. A responsibility to use those powers in the best interests of humanity. In the comics the act brings about a recording of secret identities, training and organisation through the government. In the film this is much more about where and when the team of the Avengers are chosen and thrown at problems like superhuman Pokemon.
So why have an act or accord at all? I mean as humans we have an inherent hatred of trees that sustain our life and we do love any extra paperwork we can churn out, but also because no matter who you or what your powers may or may not be there’s one thing that facilitates unity and brings about progression, and that’s accountability. A system put in place where we can justify our actions and also constructively learn from our mistakes. A bridge between the demi-gods clashing I the skies and the people left in the rubble and dirt that our heroes strive to save. With the proper governing, teams, systems, laws can be put into place and the community of this planet informed and supported with greater understanding and efficiency. Captain America’s main argument against this he voices is that “people have an agenda” but of course, everyone does. Everyone including himself and all the Avengers so why should they be allowed to govern themselves and their agendas go unchecked? A governing body at least cause these agendas to go through checkpoints, be discussed and hopefully looked objectively. His view of “the safest hands are our own” has no attempt to substantiate or clarify why this is and although it may sound initially like a bugle sound to begin ‘the land of the brave’ it actually betrays a terrifyingly, arrogant defiance as pointed out by Rhodes.
In military, policing or peacekeeping efforts would you send in an organised unit or let armed individuals run around unchecked dispensing their own interpretation of ‘justice?’. A trained and officiated army with procedure and direction or independent vigilantes, this is the bare faced choice. Without S.H.I.E.L.D or non powered human involvement there’s no Falcon suit, Cap would still be hurling a bin lid or hubcap around, there’s no suit for webs to be slung from and no Black Widow, on our side anyway which is extra scary. You can’t pick and choose humanity’s involvement in their own survival.
The Avengers were happy to be governed by S.H.I.E.L.D but apparently this is too far which would make sense if they referenced this and the infiltration of Hydra as a catalyst for their mistrust but they don’t, they just rebel on principle which seems strange. Tony Stark and committee are shown in a negative light but through movie hi-jinks and general villainy instead of on actual issues. Scarlet Witch is held ‘captive’ in a 5 star, well plumbed prison, and military officials grumble and menace around our heroes who are shown languishing in prison, a shoot to kill order placed on Barnes to upset Cap as he scratches ‘Bucky’ into his pencil case. Tony is also manipulated yet again to appear villainous toward the end but challenged on his emotional state in a confined scenario not his ideals. Scarlet Witch would be questioned, supported and go through more counselling and procedural checks than imaginable. Whether at fault or not actions have consequences, and the same public that correctly outcry for an investigation into an political MP claiming money back on a bag of Hoola Hoops, would sure as sugar want to know how and why Scarlet Witch blew up a diplomatic peace corps. It’s just common sense as well as her protection as any group wanting to make the situation worse, they would surely struggle to resist targeting Witch again as she skips down to Tesco for some vital paprika. It should also be noticed that Barnes is not shot on sight but arrested by Police and Rhodes after Cap and Barnes have unleashed their friendship fury on police officers and high five’d over numerous physically disabled law enforcement officers in the name of freedom. And finally our heroes end up in jail for knowingly breaking the law, I struggle to see the problem with this and even Matt Murdock’s extra blind brand of justice would have a hard time making this right.
The Avengers films have always done a good job of noticing and addressing collateral damage. While Superman sleeps like a Horlicks filled baby after throwing his enemy into a exploding building of innocents, here in Marvel-land we always get numerous shots of Earth’s mightiest going our of their way to save people from ten destruction they inadvertently create or try to stop. Cap pulling a car from a collapsed bridge, Hawkeye heading back into the fray for a child who’s mum decided she maybe wasn’t that keen on him anyway and would prefer more rations. Most of all though is consistently Iron Man, scanning the building before he drives Hulk through it, deploying teams to move away and support people affected by the damage and constructing robots purely for peace keeping purposes.
With our Heroes managed and under an umbrella bad things will still happen, people will die and mistakes will be made. Hydra infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D and turn Hellicarriers against the public, Zemo gets to a guarded prisoner as apparently Marvel organisations run security checks that even Jack Bauer’s CTU would snigger at. But together these get better and the more procedure and fail safes, the less likely things are to happen and the better they get as we learn over time. Together we can count and weigh the cost. The Avenges alone are also no better, Loki’s staff turning hero on hero, Scarlet Witch laying waste to the minds of our team and the Hulk smashing things that he probably shouldn’t, downtown. The difference is that together we can learn to make things better and more transparent to the public as well as among the Avengers themselves. To go unchecked invites fear, instability and opens a chasm between Heroes and the very population that have no choice but to depend on them. Trust should be earned and not demanded. The Avengers should see the accord as a chance and opportunity to make things safer, together and an over defensive reaction of baseless fear is worryingly secretive and disconcertingly arrogant. Tony Stark sees that the world needs heroes but the heroes also need the world to keep them supported, unified and in check, that aimless force makes us a step away from the dangers surrounding this world. The main thing that’s iron clad, is Tony Stark’s desire to makes us stronger, together. Who can’t get behind that?…..oh wait.