Now having much more information about the movie’s premise/debate, this is a follow up to our previous post, stating what side I was on prior to Captain America: Civil War‘s release.
Keep in mind, this post will have spoilers mentioned throughout, so if you have not seen the movie, abandon this post now!
Tony Stark is Still Right
So now finally having seen Captain America: Civil War, having to wait till Saturday due to work-related tasks, I was relieved when I saw the movie. I had thought that in Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark was going to be portrayed as a villain, trying to convince the rest of the Avengers to sign the Sokovia Accords for his own personal gain, given this is a Captain America centric movie. While Tony has some vested interest in getting these signed — to relieve his own conscience — he does believe in what he is doing for the right reason. As I mentioned in the previous post, I was on Tony Stark’s side. Now seeing the movie, I can definitely say that I still am.
After the events of Lagos in Captain America: Civil War, the US and the world were even more skeptical of the safety that the Avengers were actually creating. Scarlet Witch’s actions caused the death of hundreds of people. Captain America makes a point to tell Scarlet Witch when she is doubting herself after the mission that essentially in their line of work, they do the best they can do, but there will be casualties along the way. As an Avenger that makes sense. They tried to do the very best they could do, but they are not perfect, and mistakes will happen. However, looking at it from a citizen of Nigeria’s perspective, are they going to say, “Oh well, these heroes were trying to do the right thing. They had the best interest of the world at heart”? Clearly no. These Avengers are a US based team of heroes. The Nigerians have no idea for what reason the Avengers came into Nigeria. Then they lose 200 citizens because Scarlet Witch makes a “mistake.”
The Avengers are Still (Mostly) Human with Human Tendencies
My point is this: there is not one person, no matter how righteous or good that person is, that has the right to decide the outcome of events that have a national or global impact. No matter if the decision this hero wants to make is the best one possible, when possible it should be overseen by some sort of group of people.
What The Sokovia Accords Seem to Say
So, having established that I believe that the Avengers need to be overseen, let us look at the details of the Sokovia Accords. We know it is a thick document, but unfortunately we do not have the exact details held within. There are a couple lines we know though:
“In accordance with the document at hand, I hereby certify that the below mentioned participants, peoples, and individuals, shall no longer operate freely or unregulated, but instead operate under the rules, ordinances, and governances of the afore mentioned United Nations panel, acting only when and if the panel deems it appropriate and/or necessary.”
This would presume that missions would have to be sanctioned by the United Nations in order for the Avengers to act. What would be nice to know is how these missions would be decided. Can the Avengers present missions to the U.N.? Do the Avengers have a vote in the matter? I would be curious to get a look at a larger summary of what exactly these Sokovia Accords state. However, regardless of what they say there is one clear piece of evidence that really puts the nail in the coffin for Captain America: They are already breaking the law before this conflict arose. Let me explain.
Superheroes Are Already Breaking the Law Without the Sokovia Accords
Superheroes are quite honorable in nature. But by their very actions, they are committing crimes. As Ross pointed out in the films, they are acting as vigilantes. Sure, if these heroes stop a bank robbery in progress, they might get away with saying they are making a citizen’s arrest, or plead self defense, but anytime they track down a criminal who is not an imminent threat, they are clearly breaking the law. This document essentially legitimizes their vigilantism.
The point of this document is to calm down the people of the world. Not only the US but especially the foreign countries who have no trust for “enhanced beings” that are from America. They also would prefer to handle their own issues rather than have these foreign heroes come in and (supposedly) save the day. If there was a Russian Superhero named Comrade USSR who came over here to stop a “terrorist attack” there is no way I would believe it, and I would want to know why he is meddling in US affairs. Sure, he might have had completely good intentions in mind, but I nor the American people would know that.
Another aspect to this I eluded to earlier, is that the burden of decision making when trying to resolve conflicts should not be left to one man or one small group of people, when the situation affects the world. The U.N. consists of hundreds of countries with even more representatives. Sure, corruption in governments is always a risk, but with so many hands in the pot, the likelihood of a bad action being taken is extremely low.
Concessions to Make the Sokovia Accords More “Fair”
Captain America has his stance as well, and it should not be completely ignored. The documents seem to hamstring what Captain America would like to do. He would like to stop threats as he sees them. These documents seem to indicate that he could possibly be indicted if he were to rescue a boy from a burning building if he didn’t explicitly have permission to do so. I would have to agree that if this is indeed how the Sokovia Accords would work, that would be a harsh punishment. But I would argue a couple things that should refute this claim.
Firstly, I would have a really hard time believing that if there was an imminent threat to person or persons, and the actions that Captain America took were deemed the most rational method of defusing the situation, I cannot see how the U.N. could try to indict Captain America. The general public would be in an uproar once the media got on this case. Secondly, there is precedence in US law already with “Imminent Danger” which allows the use of deadly force if there is an imminent threat.
So rather than completely refusing to sign the document, there are a couple solutions I would have offered to Captain America that would make the signing of this document more reasonable.
First, I would suggest that there needs to be clause in the document that states that the terms of these documents can be discussed at later time, so in case there is some legalese that severely hamstrings the Avengers, there is a way to change the document.
If this is denied by the government, I think Captain America has a couple other courses of action. One would be to hold a press conference before signing the document stating his intentions, declaring that he does not trust these documents, and is concerned they could be used for less-than-admirable purposes. He could say that at this time he will sign them, but he would only break the Sokovia Accords if he felt they weren’t being used as intended.
Second, the purpose of this document is really to appease the US and other nations’ governments and people. By signing this document, he is essentially telling the world he is not intending to be a tyrant. But again, if the U.N. tried to make Captain America do things he didn’t want to, there is not much that anyone could do about it. He could disappear into the ether, and continue his vigilantism on his own.
Another concern that Captain America has might be the inaction that the U.N. would take. He would have a legitimate concern that the U.N. would have so much bureaucracy that the Avengers would never get to act unless there was a global threat in which the necessity of the Avengers is all but required. Perhaps that is not such a bad thing. Maybe the Avengers aren’t needed for situations like bank robberies, or taking down terrorist groups. Maybe the Avengers should simply be used to take down global threats. As Ross makes the point: The Avengers are essentially nuclear warheads.
Tony Stark Knows the Writing is On the Wall Regardless
Tony Stark has this thing pinned down perfectly. If Captain America had refused to sign the documents, much harsher penalties would be coming down on the Avengers. Tony was doing what I define as a necessary evil — playing politics. Tony knows that Captain America would never intentionally harm anyone, and always has the good people of the world’s interests in mind. But the rest of the world and governments of the world don’t know that.
Thought Experiment: What if this was Scarlet Witch vs Iron Man?
Finally, I would like to leave readers with a thought experiment. Let’s take Captain America out of the equation for a moment. Put an Avenger like, say, Scarlet Witch in Captain America’s side of the debate. If Scarlet Witch had made the request to be allowed to choose what missions she went on, and how she would execute them, would you allow that?
Given Scarlet Witch’s track record as a “enhanced” being, she is essentially responsible for leveling Johannesburg when she messed with Bruce Banner’s brain. She is also highly responsible for Sokovia’s destruction as she had helped Ultron for a majority of the movie. Then you add in the Lagos mistake she had made, so far it is hard to see why she should be allowed to have free-run over her heroic duties.
This thought experiment highlights how some people who would choose Captain America’s side purely because Captain America is the pinnacle of a “good guy.” Not all Avengers currently or in the future will be such shining pillars of the Avengers. Is it fair to regulate some Avengers and not others? It doesn’t seem fair to me…
In a fictional world, where we do not have any skin in the game, it is easy to back Captain America. “Hey, there are bad guys! Captain America needs to take them down!” But in the “real world,” there is a lot more going on, and Captain America: Civil War merely touches the surface of the “real world” implications of a superhero team–that is based in the United States. Being a superhero would not be as cut and dry as stopping the bad guys, as good as that would sound.
But I am curious to see what you have to say. Let us know in the comments below! Are you Team Iron Man or Team Captain America? If you are Team Captain America, let me know why I am wrong! If you are Team Iron Man, did I miss any points? I would be happy to read them!