Saturday, April 30, 2016

"Captain America: Civil War" (2016)

The comic book event of 2006 that brought all of Marvel’s super heroes into conflict with each other was amazing for a couple reasons. It stayed true to the characters. It didn’t have to rely on anyone being possessed or hypnotized to fight each other. And, it came up with a scenario that had two well thought out, compelling arguments driving both sides. Even though you probably came down on one side or the other, you could understand the other side’s reasoning.

Well, the movie version of the story doesn’t quite pull off the nuance, but it is still a film that explores real issues with real consequences. This is no superhero vs. superhero story will all style and no substance. But try as they might, there is one right side here.

For starters, this is being called a Captain America film, even though it is ostensibly an Avengers film. Just looking at the stories leading up to this film, it is clear which side has the moral foot to stand on.

Iron Man started out sounding a lot like Captain America. Early on in the Iron Man films, he refused to give his tech to governments because he knew such institutions were not constant or trustworthy. He wanted to prevent war and help people, not protect one nation’s interest over another’s. However, we have also seen that he is ultimately weak in character. He has ultimately selfish motives. He wants to save people so that he can be the one that saves. He is driven by what feels right. So, in this film when he is confronted with the collateral damage of what he has done, he is quickly ready to turn over responsibility to another. He wants governments to call the shots--and—take the responsibility for the fall-out.

Captain America, on the other hand, is a man driven completely by principle. Even when it costs him or leads him to the harder option. We have repeatedly seen him chose things that will cost him because it is the right thing to do. He doesn’t care about recognition, comfort, or keeping the status quo happy. He sticks by his friends, but not at the cost of what he understands as right. He won’t sacrifice freedom for security.

The film goes on to prove Captain’s fears right and Iron Man’s trust misplaced. And it is not subtle about its message. To paraphrase Peter Parker in the film, recasting his paramount life-lesson: When you have the ability to do good and don’t, and bad things happen… they are your fault. It may not be as snappy as “with great power comes great responsibility” but it is the same idea cast into the context of this film.

Doing the right thing is not easy. We often make mistakes or unintentionally cause harm in an effort to help. That does not mean we should not do good. We certainly shouldn’t just let the government take care of all the hard stuff and live our lives in comfort. And while we may not have superpowers, we all have our part to play. The values that America used to espouse involved a freedom laced with responsibility. People saw their liberty as a responsibility, not a license. It is high time we got back to that mentality.

So, like the movie I side with Teamcap.

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