The Political Overtones of Captain America: Civil War

By: Tyler Allen

It’s hard to imagine a time before the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) absolutely took over the box office. Their newest film, Captain America: Civil War, has taken the country by storm. It has recently become the highest grossing film worldwide this year and will continue to bring in even more money.

Civil War is not a typical comic book movie. While it does have the huge action scenes and awesome special effects, the movie spends most of its time fleshing out a deep plot and asking some serious questions for the heroes and audience members alike. Some of these questions have political roots and I will be discussing these questions further in this article.

While this is not meant to be a review of the movie, some of the major plot points will be mentioned so SPOILER ALERT.

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Captain America crew. Photo Credit: nsa38.casimages.com

The movie begins with the heroes having to face some of the unintended consequences of their previous actions and governmental responses to such actions. The governments of the world all agree to a series of accords that are designed to force superheroes to register with the United Nations and to provide oversight and regulation of superhero activity.

One of the first heroes to agree to these accords is Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Overcome with grief for previous massive loss of life and property destruction brought on by his (and others’) actions, Stark argues that the heroes need to be put in check. This sort of position is a more liberal or big government approach. It is the natural reaction of any governmental institution to attempt to put some sort of regulation over certain things as powerful as a team of superheroes would be. As depicted in the movie, there has been a large amount of collateral damage associated with these heroes and they do in fact need some sort of oversight to lessen the potential for such future destruction. However, such governmental oversight can be a slippery-slope and isn’t without its negatives. Which leads me to the position of Captain America.

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photo credit: screencrush.com

Captain America, or Steve Rogers, comes out against the accords and argues that the heroes must be able to make their own decisions and exercise some free-will. His position is that of classic Libertarian-ism. He defends the ideas of individual liberty and anti-big government. To Captain America, these accords are an attempt to control them and force them to submit to the will of governments’ ever changing agendas. While this position has its merits, it too can be dangerous. The lack of any established safeguards can and would lead to catastrophic tragedies that would destroy lots of lives and properties. In the short-run, these accords would place some barriers on our heroes and could lead to an occasional mishap. But in the long-run, I believe that the accords would be the right thing to do in a real world scenario.

Although the debate over the regulation of superhero activity was a great part of the movie, the part that stuck with me the most was the symbolism at the ending. After the climactic battle between the two main characters, Captain America reaches out to his long-time friend, turned adversary, Tony Stark and offers an olive branch of sorts. This scene literally comes right after the two had just battled to the brink of death. Instead of continuing the fight, Captain America decides to agree to disagree and instead offers to assist Stark if ever necessary. This in my humble opinion is the most important political lesson of the movie. It should be an example to our political leaders that it is okay to respectfully disagree with each other but still find ways to be able to work together.

There are some serious issues and discussions that we as a nation are facing, but in the end we need to be able to set our differences aside and work together. Because, much like the MCU, our country will face serious threats in the future that will require the brains and talent of the entire population. The difference is there might not be a cinematic happy ending in real life.

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