So I finally got around to seeing one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, Captain America: Civil War. In general, I’m not that into superhero movies, primarily because I find they’re often over-simplistic for my taste: These are the good guys. Those are the bad guys. Now watch them blow stuff up.
Luckily, Captain America: Civil War does not fall into that trap. There’s two opposing sides, but rather than a battle of good vs. evil, it’s a battle between two different interpretations of good. The conflict is introduced when the UN finally expresses discontent with the Avenger-caused destruction of previous Marvel movies, which is best summed up this way:
So the Avengers have a choice. Do they want to give the governments of the world increased control over their operations (#TeamIronMan) or continue to be as independent as they’ve always been, even if that makes them outlaws (#TeamCap)?
Surprisingly, I found myself a lot more sympathetic to the pro-government side than I expected to be. The dispute isn’t necessarily pro-government vs. anti-government. Like I said, Civil War avoids the oversimplifications of morality sometimes found in other superhero movies. No, Team Iron Man is actually quite libertarian in a lot of ways. This is the team that believes we always need to take collateral damage of warfare into account. This is the team that thinks people with the legal authority to kill in the name of safety and security should be held accountable for their mistakes. This is the team that, like libertarians, doesn’t believe the ends always justify the means.
But what’s even more fascinating is that in a lot of ways, Team Cap is libertarian too. This is the team that doesn’t want to get so bogged down in bureaucracy it can no longer be effective. This is the team that trusts themselves to know what is right more than they trust the government. This is the team that understands how regulation can have unintended consequences and is scared of those consequences.
Civil War wasn’t a battle of libertarians vs. statists, which is what I expected. Instead, it more closely resembled the intense philosophical discussions I see between libertarians and other libertarians. This is a more optimistic and arguably more realistic approach than many of the most popular political dramas. As much as we want to see all politicians as evil (especially the ones on the other side of the aisle) that’s not the case. For the most part, humans have good intentions, but we all have different ideas about how to achieve good. Civil War gets that, and I think most audience members will find themselves sympathizing with both sides.