Editor’s Note: In response to Josh’s recent article, Post Viewing Captain America: Civil War Follow Up: Who Was Right?, in which he outlines why Iron Man was right, guest writer David DeMesquita provides an opposing point of view asserting why Captain America was right.
Whether you’re going into this Team Iron Man or Team Captain America, all I ask is you go into this, as with anything, with an open-mind, and consider carefully what I have to say before making up your mind. Well, after having seen Captain America: Civil War twice so far, I can definitely say that I still have my feet firmly planted on Team Captain America, and I’ll tell you why. Warning: This is going to contain some spoilers, so make sure you watch the movie before reading on. You’ve been warned.
Let me tell you where I draw the line between Team Iron Man and Team Captain America so there’s no question of what siding with one team or the other means. To me, siding with Iron Man doesn’t mean siding with being regulated, and siding with Captain America doesn’t mean siding with being a rogue vigilante that does what they want, when they want, without any thought of consequence, and doesn’t care who they have to go through to do it. To me, the line is clear: The Sokovia Accords. Siding on Team Iron Man means signing the Accords as is, and siding with Team Captain America means not signing the Accords as is. With that out of the way, let’s continue on.
Look at your Leader
As an audience, unfortunately, we really don’t know what the Sokovia Accords say specifically in those 1,000 or so pages. I think this would be a much easier discussion to decide on if we did. All we really know about it is that it has to do with the UN regulating which missions the Avengers will and will not go on. So the first (and I think one of the most important) point you have to look at and consider is who the two people that DO know exactly what the Accords specifically say are. And of those two, who do you think is more qualified and capable of making the better judgement call on whether these Accords are the right course of action right now (not the issue of having a regulating body, more on that later, but the specifics of these Accords as they currently are)?
Let’s look at Captain America. From the beginning, he was basically vying for the title of “World’s Greatest Human” from before he had superpowers. He’s honest and courageous. He’s self-sacrificing to the point where he would die for what he believes is right. Remember at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier when he’s trying to convince Bucky that he’s not his enemy to the point of putting up absolutely zero resistance (STEVE: I’m not gonna fight you. You’re my friend. BUCKY: You’re my mission. *Steve drops his shield* STEVE: Then finish it. Because I’m with you till the end of the line.) He’s loyal and brave. He does have a healthy dose of rebellion and skepticism of having someone else make decisions for him. Especially after the last time he found out that the good guys he’s been fighting for turned out to secretly be the bad guys all along. But all in all, he has a good head on his shoulders, he has proven himself to be an effective leader. Even Iron Man said “Actually he’s the boss” (pointing to Captain America). “I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler.”
On the flip side, Iron Man is extremely emotionally unstable. He always has been, but it’s even more the case in this movie. He’s recently suffered very traumatic PTSD, he’s guilt-ridden over essentially single-handedly causing the entire Sokovia incident, his relationship with Pepper Potts (essentially his Lois Lane) is over, and he’s being guilted by the mother of someone that died in Sokovia. Take all that, and mix it with what we know of Tony Stark’s personality previously, he’s arrogant, he’s selfish, he’s stubborn, he’s manipulative, he’s brash, he’s amoral, and while I do think he has good intentions, a lot of times even his good intentions are misguided and end with destructive and catastrophic incidents. Just like I think he had good intentions when he was creating artificial intelligence that led to Ultron. Just like I think he had good intentions(?) when he broadcast his home address for the Mandarin on live television. He doesn’t have a track record of making the best decisions, especially on his own. And don’t forget that he made up his mind on these Accords on his own BEFORE presenting them to the team. Amp all that with the personal demons he’s fighting in this movie, and I wouldn’t trust him to decide what I should have for lunch today, let alone decide if I should essentially sign away my freedom as a viable superhero.
So be honest, bearing in mind, we don’t know what the Accords actually say, when Captain America says this is a bad decision, Iron Man says this is a good decision, knowing their characters, personalities, and current emotional state, who do you really trust is more qualified to clearly and effectively make the right judgement call in this situation?
Who Watches The Avengers?
Without knowing what those 1,000 pages say, and aside from knowing the personalities of the flag bearers on either side, we’re also given some information about the contents from some of the dialogue in the movie from both sides. For instance, Tony says “There’s no decision-making process here. We need to be put in check!” (When he says WE need to be put in check, really I think he means HE needs to be put in check, but that’s beside the point.) “Whatever form that takes, I’m game. If we can’t accept limitations, we’re boundary-less. We’re no better than the bad guys.” Keep in mind, that I do believe that both of our proponents have read the Sokovia Accords and know what they entail (in fact, we actually see Steve reading it in the movie, but I do believe that Tony has also). But based on what he says here, it almost seems like a formality. “There’s no decision-making process here. We need to be put in check! Whatever form that takes, I’m game.” Meaning essentially, whatever the UN put together and put in front of him, he’s going to agree to it and sign it, no matter what.
Compare that to when Captain America says “I’m not saying it’s impossible. But there would have to be safeguards.” This shows me first, that Captain America is not opposed to signing these Accords. He’s not opposed to the idea of having restriction, having supervision, having oversight. He’s keeping an open mind. He’s willing to compromise. But he’s just not willing to sign it as is. He’s looking out for what’s most mutually beneficial for the world, the countries, the citizens, and the Avengers.
All the rest of Tony’s quote about “If we can’t accept limitations, we’re boundary-less. We’re no better than the bad guys” doesn’t apply to Captain America, because he said that he’s willing to compromise on the Accords. He is willing to accept limitations.
My Friend Bucky
Considering it’s arguable that the Winter Soldier (aka Bucky Barnes) is just as important a plot point to both sides as the actual Accords themselves, I suppose it warrants talking about. Truth be told, I like Bucky. Underneath the brainwashing, I think he’s a good guy. In this movie, he would be perfectly content living out the rest of his life in his apartment with newspapers covering the windows, eating plums, and not bothering or being bothered by anybody. Everybody in the world only knows him as the Winter Soldier, but Captain America is the only person that actually knows Bucky as an person.
Some people seem to think that Captain America is letting his friendship and loyalty to Bucky blind him, obstruct justice, and keep him out of the hands of the UN. This isn’t true. In his conversation with Black Widow on the subject, he says:
STEVE: Are you saying you’ll arrest me?
NATASHA: No… Someone will. If you interfere. That’s how it works now.
STEVE: If he’s this far gone, Nat. I should be the one to bring him in.
STEVE: Cause I’m the one least likely to die trying.
So based on this, it’s clear that his sense of loyalty to Bucky doesn’t overshadow or hinder his sense of justice and doing what’s right. He’s willing to help, but on his terms.
Good Guy UN
The purpose behind the UN is to create peace and assist with international conflicts. On paper, that sounds like the perfect gig for the Avengers. They’re both striving towards the same goals. The Avengers working hand-in-hand with 117 nations to maintain peace around the world. But would this really be more of an advantage than a hindrance? It’s like the idiom says, “Too many hands in the pot, spoil the broth” much like having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” And it’s funny that both articles on different sides of the fence ended up using the same idiom to prove their point. But this basically means having too many people trying to do the work of what much fewer people can accomplish will end up taking longer, be messier, and may end up with a less than favorable result. I think T’Challa said it best when he said “Two people in a room can get more done than a hundred.”
Also, in this universe, we’ve dealt with the idea that an evil organization has the capacity to infiltrate organizations, go unnoticed for decades, and reach high ranking, influential levels, and not reveal themselves until the timing is exactly right. And unlike successfully infiltrating a small organization like SHIELD, it would be much easier to slip in unnoticed in a large organization like the UN with hundreds of countries being represented. It reminds me of a game my friends and I play called Avalon, in which some players with dubious loyalties slip in and sabotage the missions of the good players, while trying to go unnoticed as the culprit. It’s extremely difficult to accomplish this when it’s a mission of 3 people. Even harder when it’s a mission of 2 people. Imagine if we were going on a mission with 70 people, or 117 people, how easy it would be to sabotage the mission and slip back into the shadows unnoticed. I’m not saying there is in this fictitious world, but if there was a lingering Hydra or group of Hydra agents that successfully infiltrated the UN through various countries, would it be the best course of action to sign the rights and freedom of the Avengers right back into their hands without these appropriate safeguards that Captain America is talking about including before he’s willing to sign?
Let’s take a look at what this supposedly altruistic, law-maintaining, peace-loving group has done in this movie alone. First, it doesn’t seem like they consulted with the Avengers at all while drafting these Accords that they want them to sign off on, and it shows, based on Captain America’s concern for its lack of safeguards. They put out a shoot to kill on sight order for Bucky based on a grainy, I still say completely unrecognizable parking structure picture, without any sort of confirmation or possibility of a fair trial. Then when he, Steve and Sam are taken into custody and Steve asks “What about a lawyer?”, to which Ross replies “A lawyer? That’s funny.” And they say that the Avengers are the criminals.
A More Reasonable Solution
I kind of feel like the UN is acting like a used car salesman, “This price is only good if you sign right now! It will no longer be on the table tomorrow! If you walk away, this great offer will no longer be good!” Captain America is willing to compromise, but it has to be mutually beneficial for all parties involved. If they have to get SOMETHING signed in the next 3 days, and that’s not enough time to hammer out the (supposed) “amendments” that Tony says they’ll hammer out after they put out the PR, then I think Captain would be perfectly happy signing a document that says that in its current state, he’s not willing to sign the Accords, but once an agreement has been worked out between the UN and the Avengers that’s mutually beneficial for the countries, the citizens, the Avengers, and the world, he will be more than happy to sign off on it.
If that doesn’t work, continue on with what Josh suggested in his article, but that would sort of prove that the UN doesn’t care what the Avengers think or have to say on the matter.
The thing I like most about Captain America: Civil War is that neither side is completely right or completely wrong. It’s not a black and white issue and it shouldn’t be handled as such. Both sides raise good points about issues of great powers and the great responsibilities that come with them. But in the end, taking into account the personalities, history, and emotional states of both parties, if I were an Avenger and it was between siding with Tony and signing right now, as is, or siding with Steve, and not signing until safeguards are put in place, I wholeheartedly would not sign it.
Well, I’ve said my piece, but I’m more excited to hear what everyone else has to say. So if you agree with me that Captain America is right, let me know. If you disagree and still think that Iron Man is right, let me know why that is. I’d love to hear it!