So, I feel like I need to be very upfront about something before starting this post: I can’t stand Captain America. I just…ugh…I can’t stand him or characters like him in general. That being said, I went into Civil War pretty objectively. After watching the previews I actually expected to (begrudgingly) be on Team Cap. I even thought that this movie might get me to change my mind about Captain America in general.
It did not, and here’s why:
I will concede that giving a panel of government agencies the authority to dictate whether or not, and to what extent, The Avengers can intervene in certain situations is not ideal. Especially since I feel that The Avengers have historically made the right calls to the best of their ability. However, Sokovia was kind of a major PR nightmare and I don’t really blame the UN for wanting something like The Sokovia Accords put into place. Again, don’t really like it, but see why it might be necessary to rebuild trust between the global community and The Avengers.
I completely understand why the lovely J.J. is so adamantly against the idea behind The Accords. Governments are run by people and people are fallible, corruptible, and selfish. Unfortunately, governments are a necessity. Social contracts are a necessity. A system of checks and balances is a necessity. A way to hold individuals and groups accountable for their actions is a necessity. Human beings cannot live in small groups, let alone a global community, with out any of these things. We just can’t.
I feel about The Accords the way I feel about employment agreements. They’re more like guidelines, suggestions really. I sign things that I don’t 100% (hell even 70%) agree with so that I can work, earn money, and live my life. I ‘agree’ to fully abide by my employment agreement which makes my employer feel comfortable enough to hire me. I follow the agreement enough to not get fired. I feel like The Avengers agreeing to sign The Accords is like any of us signing an employment agreement. There is room to wiggle, bend, and negotiate because, at the end of the day, it’s more a show of good faith to put the other party’s mind at ease than anything else.
I’m Team Iron Man because Tony understands this. He realizes that their actions have consequences and they need to be held accountable for those consequences because, if they aren’t, they’re “no better than the bad guys.” He also realized that The Avengers lost the publics trust to an extent. The Avengers are part of the global community and they can’t function effectively, or safely, if a good portion of the community is afraid or mistrustful of them. Tony realizes that The Accords is a means of rebuilding the trust they lost in Sokovia and then in Lagos. Given everything we know about Tony, I do not think for a second he was willing, or suggesting, to give total decision making power to the UN. He intended on working in safe-guards and protections for his team, but Cap was too naïve and idealistic to really listen.
One could argue that all actions stem from selfish motives. In fact, J.J. and I did argue this at length. Maybe it’s true; I like to think it’s not. J.J. and I do not agree on everything, especially when it comes to this movie, but we did agree on what we thought motivated Tony and Cap in making their decisions.
Tony decided to agree to The Accords because he felt guilt over the innocent lives that were lost in Sokovia and Lagos.
Cap decided against The Accords because he believed the best hands were still their own because Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. Also, Bucky.
While it could be, and was, argued that these are both selfish motivations there are two key differences that put me firmly on Team Iron Man.
1. Tony’s motivation may have started off as ‘selfish’ in order to assuage feelings of personal guilt, but it led to self-reflection and a realization that they were operating with out any accountability. That realization led him to enter into The Accords for more altruistic reasons, namely rebuilding trust and making a show of good faith to prove that they are better than the bad guys.
2. On the other hand Cap’s motivation starts off as more altruistic, but turns completely selfish. After Cap finds Bucky and helps him escape, only to be caught after a super awesome chase scene, Cap’s decisions are purely motivated by his desire to protect his best friend. It stops being about The Accords and protecting his team from the pitfalls of government involvement and becomes all about putting Bucky’s well-being above literally everybody else’s.
While I understand Cap’s flip in motivation, I don’t agree with it at all. I’m a “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” gal. Sorry, J.J., you’re in trouble if I ever need to choose between you and the wellbeing of the rest of the world. That being said, I would be VERY disappointed if a loved one chose me over the rest of the world…not cool! Sweet, but not cool.
Through out the entire movie it is very clear that Tony is working towards protecting and keeping his team, his family, together. He tries to work out a deal with Cap when Bucky is fist brought into custody. He negotiates with Secretary of State Ross to let the remaining Avengers bring in Cap, Bucky and the rest of the rogue Avengers instead of sending armed forces after them. Tony actively and blatantly disregards Ross’s wishes when he realizes he was wrong about Bucky so he can go give Cap backup!
Tony’s goal is to protect his family and his community. Are The Accords the best option? No. But as Natasha and Tony point out, if they do not enter into something like this willingly and take the opportunity to be active participants in it, something more restrictive and worse WILL be done to them *cough mutant rights issues cough*. It is also obvious that Tony still views Cap as a friend and member of his family by recruiting Spiderman to help bring Cap and Bucky in. Where Cap was ready to punch his way out of things, Tony just wanted to bring Cap in with the least amount of fighting possible.
Then there’s Captain freaking America.
His goal starts off as simply wanting to adhere to his moral code. J.J. did an amazing job examining and detailing exactly what that is in her post so I am not going to go into it in mine. Because, in all honesty, it will just make my face turn red with rage. Super honorable-to-a-fault types just…MOVING ON!
When he made that initial choice to help Bucky escape the apartment his goal became protecting his best friend at all costs. His mentality flipped and it became Steve and Bucky vs. The World. He chose sides and put one person over the rest of his team, over the rest of the world. While this is something I don’t agree with on a very fundamental level, what really bothers me is that he never admits his motivations and goals have become selfish. He never owns that this fight went from being about differing ideologies to being about defending his friend. Cap told Tony at the airport that Tony was responsible for the rift because he signed The Accords. Cap even maintains that The Accords were at the center of their split in the letter he sends Tony (which don’t even get me started on that pansy-ass move). However, it is very obvious that his true goal is protecting his best friend and last living link to his old life, Bucky.
Iron Man and Captain America were never BFFs and they were never going to be. During our discussions, J.J. pointed out that this would be impossible because they are both, at their core, leaders. Because of everything I’ve mentioned in this post I feel that Tony is a better leader and I trust him to make the best decisions for the unit.
Tony is not perfect, and he has made his fair share of mistakes. However, he does own them and then take action to course correct when necessary. He knows that he is not infallible and can recognize when he is making selfish choices. I trust and respect people who can do that.
I do not trust Cap as a leader because I feel he has lost the ability to recognize when he is acting selfishly. I think he is so steadfast in his beliefs and convictions that he is not able to even entertain the idea that he might be in the wrong. And that is a very dangerous thing.
As always, be excellent to each other and geek on,