Team Cap VS Team Iron Man
Who Is The Real Villain?
So, it’s safe to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about as mainstream as a franchise gets nowadays. With the influx of new Marvel fans, I’ve been thinking a lot about the movies and certain characters, especially because the newer fans have different perspectives than us who experienced a lot of the movies at their initial release. This blog post isn’t going to be some superiority thing or gatekeeping thing because I see more fans as an absolute win, rather I just want to analyze the MCU now that I’m older and (mostly) wiser.
I want to talk about Captain America: Civil War.
It’s no secret that Civil War is different in the MCU versus the Marvel Comics that they’re based on. However, they do have their similarities.
In the comics, Tony Stark is in support of the Superhuman Registration Act as he’s concerned that certain superhumans might make a colossal mistake that will cost hundreds of life (specifically referencing Young Avengers and the Runaways). His predication was partially accurate thanks to New Warriors (another team of young superheroes) and the supervillains they fought against, resulting in an explosion that killed hundreds. Following that event, the United States quickly enacts the Superhuman Registration Act.
Who was required to sign the Act?
- Those with naturally occurring superhuman abilities
- Superhumans with abilities acquired through science or magic (including extraterrestrials and gods)
- Non-superhumans with technology
Those who signed the act were registered as “living weapons of mass destruction”. In signing this act, superhuman identities were revealed to the government, effectively getting rid of their secret identities. From there, they had a lot of hoops to jump through to even try to resume their activities.
Steve Rogers actively opposed the Act, citing it as a violation of civil liberties. The Superhuman Registration Act took its inspiration from the Mutant Registration Act which was a violation of mutant rights. Additionally, keeping superheroes and their secret identities on a database could ultimately endanger the heroes and the people they love if a villain were to get a hold of it.
This Act spilt the entire superhero world, from mutants to Inhumans to every enhanced individual there was. Each person either took the side of Tony Stark, the supporter of the Act or Steve Rogers, who opposed it.
Now, Civil War in the MCU was much smaller and seemed to mostly impact the Avengers. Instead of the Superhuman Registration Act, the MCU created the Sokovia Accords, named after the events of Age of Ultron.
The events in question are Tony Stark and Bruce Banner accidentally created a murderous AI that tried to wipe out the entire planet and then Thor assisted in creating a secondary AI who aided in defeating the first AI. So, unlike the comics, it turned out the threat to the MCU was not young and potentially reckless heroes but scientists blinded by the desire to build new technology to protect the world. So, good intentions but catastrophically bad consequences.
However, a catalyst for the creation of the Accords had to do with an Avengers mission gone wrong in which Wanda Maximoff attempted to contain an explosion which still resulted in casualties.
The Sokovia Accords were drafted and enacted by the United Nations which consists of 117 countries. Now, let’s talk about the specifics of the Accords. Of which, there are many.
- Those with secret identities must register their legal names and true identities with the UN
- Those with powers must submit to a power analysis and following the evaluation wear tracking bracelets at all times
- Any enhanced individuals who sign are prohibited from taking action without approval from their country’s government or a UN subcommittee
- Governments can’t deploy enhanced individuals outside of their borders without clearance from the UN
- Enhanced individuals cannot take part in espionage, police or military activities
- Enhanced individuals who use their powers to break the law can be detained indefinitely without trial
- Those with technologically enhanced abilities are closely monitored and the creation of self-aware AI is prohibited
- The Avengers are no longer a private organization and operate under the United Nations
By submitting these Accords to become part of international law, the UN was effectively leaving the world’s heroes with their hands tied behind their backs. Thanks to the Accords, enhanced individuals can’t breathe without the UN’s sayso and as we all know, it takes a lot of red tape and debating for the government to get a cup of coffee, let alone decide whether enhanced individuals should be allowed to help in dire situations. Also, can we talk about the massive infringement on human rights by tracking those with abilities at all times?
In case it isn’t obvious, I’m team Cap but that’s part of the reason why I wrote this article. I think back to the marketing campaign for Civil War which was largely based around the question of whether you were on Team Captain America or Team Iron Man. Now that I’m older, I just don’t think it was ever that simple. So we’re going to get into the nitty, gritty of it, of why people chose the sides that they did and more importantly, why we hate governments.
If any government employees are reading this, that was a joke. I love the government.
We’re going to start with Team Iron Man, specifically its guilt-ridden leader, Tony Stark who, I think, gets a bad rap in the general sense of the MCU. We all know that Tony’s arrogant and egotistical, but a lot of the time, those traits are only the shallowest part of who Tony Stark is. The arrogance and ego are just a front to cover up Tony’s generally poor mental health which consists of depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and a great deal of PTSD. It’s only after Wanda forces Tony to confront his worst fear that Tony even gets the idea for Ultron. What is Tony’s worst fear you ask? Failing the people he loves, watching them die with him stuck on the sidelines, unable to do anything. Tony’s actions directly lead to the collateral deaths of many, and in Civil War, he’s confronted by a specific example, a mother who accuses him of being personally responsible for her son’s death.
Tony Stark struggles with crippling guilt in the movie which makes him ready to claim responsibility and sign the Accords. He feels responsible in a way that is statistically backed up by Vision who informs everyone that since Tony publicly revealed he was Iron Man, there was an exponential increase in opponents and villains that one might call evil. In Tony’s head, all of this is his fault and he needs to fix it, so for once, he’s willing to follow some rules so he can hopefully do better.
Vision sides with Tony because he believes in the statistics. He thinks that it makes sense to have government oversight because it might reduce the likelihood of bad outcomes in events that they interfere with.
In a twist that a lot of people were confused by, Natasha also sided with Tony. Natasha Romanoff, who told the world to kiss her ass just two short years ago after she publicized every SHIELD and HYDRA file in existence, agreed to sign the accords and have the entire UN hovering over her shoulder for the rest of her life. However, Natasha’s stance wasn’t about the Accords, it was about keeping the Avengers together. A group of people that had become her family. In the Black Widow movie, we learn about the first people that were Natasha’s family. A family that she was ripped away from. With that context, it only makes sense that Natasha is so focused on keeping the Avengers together, however, she can.
James Rhodes or Rhodey has worked for the government essentially his entire adult life. Even as War Machine, Rhodey had a great deal of oversight as the missions he went on were usually ordained by the Airforce. So, to Rhodey, the concept of not only government oversight, but the oversight of the United Nations seems like a natural progression of things. Rhodey believes in the system and so far in his life, he has no reason to believe differently.
Now, we have to talk about T’Challa. His support of the Sokovia Accords seems a little strange because, at this point, Wakanda is a humble country in Africa to the world and not the incredibly advanced, high-tech society that it is. Then again, T’Challa is the government in Wakanda. He doesn’t need to jump through any hoops to get permission, he can just put on the Black Panther suit and do what he needs to. However, T’Challa’s decision to be a part of Team Iron Man has less to do with the Sokovia Accords and more to do with the fact that he believes Team Cap is harbouring a fugitive who was responsible for a bomb at the UN meeting, a bomb which killed T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka.
The last member of Team Iron Man is something I might go on about for a while. Peter Parker AKA Spider-Man who was an actual child at the point of his recruitment. Though Tony Stark was the biggest advocate for the Sokovia Accords, an act that was supposed to apply to not only the Avengers but ALL enhanced individuals, he recruited a child to stop Team Cap from defying the Accords to go on a mission that they thought was important. Peter did not register with the Accords and the reason why I know that to be a fact is that it is illegal for a child to consent and sign legal documents like the Accords. His identity remained a secret, a secret that Tony kept despite advocating for the Accords.
This part is even more mind-blowing when you recall that in the comics, the reason WHY Tony advocated for the Superhuman Registration Act is that he worried that the younger heroes would find themselves in situations that could create catastrophic consequences and collateral damage. He worried about their immaturity despite their incredible abilities.
So, Tony was willing to recruit a child and keep his identity a secret, which is probably at least a minor violation of the Sokovia Accords, but when his team didn’t feel the same about the Accords, he was ready to arrest them all without question. Additionally, because Peter Parker was A CHILD who was meeting one of his idols, he didn’t get a chance to form his own opinions in this instance and operated as a pawn for Tony Stark. I’m saying this as someone who does like Tony Stark, but he was so deeply, massively in the wrong for this.
Now before we get to Team Cap, we’ve got to take a break to talk about Baron Helmet Zemo, a contributing factor to the Civil War between the Avengers, outside of the Sokovia Accords. Zemo framed Bucky Barnes for the aforementioned explosion at the UN and continued to manipulate events to make it seem like Bucky was still the Winter Soldier even though Bucky had been living under the radar for two years straight. Zemo even managed to find the code words which would turn Bucky into the Winter Soldier persona that HYDRA had programmed into his brain.
So, in that context, Team Cap not only opposes the Accords, but now they are protecting someone who is allegedly a criminal.
Anyway, here’s your daily reminder that James Buchanan Barnes is a VICTIM. That he would never willingly hurt innocent people and he sure as shit would NEVER work for an organization that was born out of Nazi ideology. A reminder that the only reason the Winter Soldier could even be created was through regular electroconvulsive therapy treatments which inflicted serious brain damage on him, making him a shell of a human being highly susceptible to programming and suggestion.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk Team Cap stances.
Steve Rogers IS the moral compass. As we all know, the super serum only enhances a person’s pre-existing personality and ideology. So, there is seldom an instance where Steve Rogers takes a side that is wrong because he was a man who already had a concrete, exceptional moral compass that was enhanced by the super serum. When Steve takes his initial stance against the Accords, it’s because he doesn’t trust the government to make the right decisions regarding what they could do and when they could do it. Steve doesn’t need someone else to tell him when to help people. He’s going to do it either way. That’s not even mentioning the gross infringement on human rights that the Sokovia Accords is proposing, especially for individuals that are Wanda Maximoff’s degree of enhanced. Additionally, Steve believed that Bucky was not guilty of the explosion and he was also willing to follow Bucky’s lead to deal with the other Winter Soldiers that were still in cryo. This was just the first instance of the government not wanting to permit something that could be a very bad situation.
Sam Wilson, who I love with all my heart, is a ride or die for Steve Rogers and I respect that. But in the short debate seem, Sam brings up an excellent point that soon the government would be tracking them all (clearly he didn’t get to the point that said people with powers, like Wanda, WOULD be tracked at all times). Sam trusts people, not organizations, a stance that we see him take again and again since we’ve seen him in the MCU. Sam is also a really interesting contrast to Rhodey as, although they’ve both served in the airforce wearing experimental technology, their values are entirely different. Rhodey believes in the systems in place, the red tape, the exhaustingly long debates, all of it, while Sam has a healthy skepticism, recognizing how the government ultimately treats people who are different (knowledge that extends into 2020’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier).
Speaking of The Winter Soldier, we need to talk about Bucky Barnes. Bucky’s participation has almost nothing to do with the Sokovia Accords. He’s only in this situation because of Zemo’s interference. Bucky does not want to be an enhanced individual because as that individual, he had zero agency or control over himself for decades. However, despite that, Bucky has enough remnants of who he was that he knows he has a responsibility to deal with the other Winter Soldiers in the program. Not only because of the destruction that they could generate but because he was in the same situation as them.
Now, here’s the thing. Bucky maintains that he did not blow up the UN and T’Challa asks him, why did you run? I think we can all figure out that answer. For two years, Bucky was able to live under the radar and not have anything to do with any of this shit. It stands to reason that he simply did not want to fight. He just wanted to be left alone. Also if T’Challa came at you in the Black Panther costume with those vibranium claws, wouldn’t you also run?
Out of all the Avengers, Wanda Maximoff is the person who is the MOST affected by the Sokovia Accords (well, who’s on earth at the moment). Wanda’s abilities are relatively new to her still and she has undiscovered potential, but what she has demonstrated is phenomenal. If Wanda were to sign the Accords, she would be tracked at all times. Like Sam was worried about, Wanda would be living an extremely limited and monitored life. As we already saw, Vision had been ordered to keep her on lockdown after she tried and failed to contain the explosion. It’s fucking important to point out however that had Wanda not been there, there would be a lot more collateral damage.
While we’re talking Wanda, we have to bring up Clint Barton who takes the side of Team Cap even though until the airport battle, he’d been minding his own damn business, probably hanging with his family. Clint is one of my faves because his reaction to anything that happens is about the equivalent of “I just sat down”. You just know that Clint hates the government and no, I don’t have to elaborate why. I just know he does. Wanda is a part of Clint’s family now because he basically adopted her in Age of Ultron. I feel like I don’t have to explain more about Clint.
Scott Lang is just there for vibes, I’m pretty sure. He heard Captain America and leapt, as any of us would do.
I believe that Team Cap is absolutely in the right, but I still don’t think that means that Team Iron Man is to be villainized. They are objectively in the wrong, but that doesn’t make them evil. As we see at the end of the movie, Natasha ends up betraying Team Iron Man and then breaking the Accords herself. Additionally, we see T’Challa break the Accords in secret, providing aid to Team Cap and taking in Bucky Barnes to be deprogrammed.
I think that Civil War is a situation in which people are just trying to make the best of a situation for which they are massively responsible. Though I will say that Tony recruiting a teenager and then keeping his identity a secret is not only hypocritical but wrong on so many levels.
There wasn’t a big point or revelation that I had while composing this blog post, I’ve just been thinking a lot about Civil War lately, so I wanted to talk about it.