I felt it would be good to delve into the complexities of the film, Captain America: Civil War. I have no doubt many will come in to this film blind, looking forward to seeing heroes beat each other up. Some may have looked in to the back story to some degree to get a feel for the plot, and a few will have read the comic series from years ago that the film is born from. This post is for those that either have no idea what it is all about, as well as those who have a cursory understanding. The basic premise in this film is that there are many beings with powers coming out of the wood work. There are volatile loose canons doing what they wish, unchecked by a moral code, let alone accountability to peers. Other are heroes, but still unchecked in the decisions they make. This is very similar to the mutant scare in the X-Men comics, and films. The government has decided that there has to be accountability for those with powers, seen as vigilante’s or not. So the Mutant Registration Act is born. As you might imagine, the superhero world is divided on this . Some see this as necessary, because if nothing else there are villains out there that need rounded up, and others who have no oversight that need to be registered, so their identities, powers, and weaknesses are known. This endeavor is meant to bring safety and security to the everyday citizens of the US. However to some, this smacks of tyranny, and oppression reminiscent of diabolical powers in the historic past, ala Nazi Germany, and Communist Russia.
A very specific incident occurs that moves Tony Stark to see this as the only viable option. When some young, rash superheroes who are doing a reality show, decide to apprehend some super villains, things go very wrong. An elementary school is destroyed in the battle, leading to an epic public outcry. Stark emphasizes with those who are mourning the disaster, and agrees there is no choice but to bring order to those with powers. Iron Man becomes the face of this Utilitarian movement, being the first to expose his identity and be registered. Stark, with much congressional funding, builds a giant prison in the Negative Zone, for those that refuse to cooperate. In the beginning Cap has issues with the freedoms being taken away, and the power given the government over their lives. But after Iron Man and others round-up superheroes, and imprison them, the gloves come off and it is all out war. While Tony’s stance has some merit, his narcissistic viewpoints color the issue further. Spider-Man , Black Widow, War Machine, Vision, Black Panther join the side with Iron Man supporting the Registration act.
Captain America finds himself on the other side of the conflict. I think you have to remember Steve Rogers history to understand his POV. Steve Rogers fought with many who died to protect America from the villainy of corrupt and evil governments. He fought to preserve the rights and freedoms of its citizens. He is a true Patriot. Captain America has no issues with accountability, but he sees the dark side of the direction they are going. Big government is never a good thing. Cap has a very deontological POV, and to him beings should act out of a personal duty to what is right. To him the ends never justify the means. He and the other heroes joining his side believe registering takes away freedoms, and the rights they deserve given them by the Constitution. Having all of their secrets revealed, exposes them to greater scrutiny and complicates the ability for them to live a normal life . The biggest issue with this viewpoint is that without a strong plan of action there is chaos. Steve simply is unable to provide a better answer that is satisfactory to the public at large. Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye join Captain America in combating the registration act.
In conclusion there are no easy answers found here. Both sides have very good reasons for believing as they do. This subject is not unique to the Marvel universe. These ethical and moral struggles are reflected in many examples of our own world history. So, which side are YOU on?