Man, every time I get suckered into reading a Salon article I read someone who does not seem to get it.
In contrast to what he writes, I believe it is obvious that neither side successfully provides the answers to the underlying questions posed.
If you’re a fan of movies and haven’t visited Red Letter Media’s website, you should. The critics there are among the funniest and smartest on the Internet, as evidenced when they started joked about the geopolitics of “Captain America: Civil War.” Founding member Rich Evans summed up the punchline best: “Strangely everyone seems to think that the UN has actual powers. That was the most jarring thing for me.”
No one wins in Captain America – Civil War. Every Avenger is pretty much physically or emotionally wounded by the end.
And Civil War does not show either side – Cap America or Iron Man – winning. It is like the Kobayashi Maru – there is no winner. Both sides are right and both are wrong.
And neither answered the question posed:
Who decides what the Avengers avenge? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
The authoritarian approach (Team Tony) – Have a global agency like the UN decide. We have seen from SHIELD’s infiltration by Hydra what can happen here. A corrupt outside organization could do more harm. Does an unelected bureaucrat have to sign off on everything they want to do? Or does a single military leader get to decide? But how can the Avengers respond rapidly in any case?
The democratic approach (Team Cap) – Have the Avengers themselves decide. As we see from the movie this has lots of costs to those outside the Avengers, people who are responsible for cleaning up the wreckage left behind. Not only physical but emotional wreckage, Should these people have NO say in what the Avengers do? Do the Avengers simply get to act like gods and decide by themselves who lives and who dies? What happens when the Avengers themselves cannot decide which of the multiple global threats needs to be addressed?
Of the two choices presented, both have benefits and both have problems. And neither works.
This destroys the Avengers, both sides. The Avengers as a group are no more.
And the movie portrays it that way. The author of the Salon piece, however, personally thinks that there is only one real choice, that Iron Man is right and Cap is wrong. Since Iron Man did not obviously win, he must have lost. And thus, Cap must have won.
Spoken like a true authoritarian (Life is black and white. “If I lost, then you must have won”). Which is why he sides with authority.
But the world is not black and white, even the fantasy world of the MCU.
I expect there is an answer* and it might well come from finding a balance between the two approaches. Some Team Tony and some Team Cap.
Maybe something like the Roman dictator.
Perhaps the full Avengers should only be called when something really global is going down. Something that cannot be dealt with by one or a couple of superheroes. Some extinction level event. The UN asks for the Avengers and the Avengers get to decide whether to help.
But if they say yes, they have full operational oversight.
They only work if asked but once asked have full autonomy.
Thus they would be able to fight Thanos when he shows up. Otherwise they simply work locally, not globally.
*And anyone watching “Agents of SHIELD” knows that the US is busy creating its own secret Avengers-like team to fight what it wants them to. Which is a whole other layer of complexity when the world can have multiple Avenger-like teams. What happens when the Avengers find out about the Secret Avengers? Or the world finds out?
Image: Roland Molnár