[Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) is one of the first superhero films to pit heroes against heroes instead of heroes against villains. Though Batman v Superman appears to do this too, it looks as though the villains will still play a strong role. On the other hand, Civil War follows only the heroes, having the villains play very minor parts only to move the plot along.
The side effect of pitting heroes against heroes is having to choose which hero you want to side with. Though it's easy to simply choose Captain America because he is your favorite, or Iron Man because he is your favorite, that's not how it is supposed to be viewed. Civil War isn't going to be a popularity contest between the top two Avengers — it's a fight over an ethical decision, which really can be a lot more controversial when it comes down to it. Have you been following the U.S. Presidential debates?
In the comics, the ethical dilemma that sparked the 'War' was whether or not to enact the Superhero Registration Act (S.R.A.) into law or not. The S.R.A. made it law for those with superhuman abilities to register under the S.H.I.E.L.D. database in order to use their abilities. S.H.I.E.L.D. then decided if they were allowed to use their abilities or not. If a person was well trained or responsible, they often allowed them approval to use their abilities. If their abilities weren't safe, they weren't trained, or they had a very negative record and they were often denied the right (or privilege, more so) to use their abilities.
There was a third option for those who were not fully trained but showed potential. These people were offered the chance to go through an 8-week training course to use their abilities, and if they passed they would be allowed to use their powers freely. The S.R.A. not only helped with registration, but it also helped form new superhero teams — one in every state! It brought forth a new time of peace and prosperity across the United States, allowing the heroes to track down the villains in half the time with almost no collateral damage.
Though not all of the information for what we will see in Captain America: Civil War has been released, we do know quite a bit from the trailers and plot summaries. From what we can tell, the film version of the S.R.A. will be brought forward by the U.S. government to try to hold the Avengers accountable for any damage they cause in the line of duty. Also, it will work to keep the them under government control to reduce any collateral damage.
Furthermore, it appears as though those who try to work as vigilantes will not be respected as much in the eyes of the law, especially if they don't run themselves through the government's system. Though this may seem like a drastic change from the way the Avengers acted in previous films, it really is for the greater good of the world.
Government regulation could have helped save lives in the past
This new regulation from the government on the superhuman community is actually a huge plus for the planet's population. At the beginning, superheroes seemed cool to the people of the world, but lately you can see their impact is becoming overwhelming. The Netflix series Jessica Jones shows how fed up some people are getting with the heroes being able to do whatever they want.
Though the Avengers often mean well, they don't always have the proper means of achieving a 'happy ending.' Take for example the incident in Africa during Avengers: Age of Ultron with the Hulk. Dr. Bruce Banner is often unable to control his green side, so when Hulk does break out without Banner's control, the results can be devastating. Though the Hulk coming out was not the fault of the Avengers themselves, the damage from how it was handled was.
Instead of having government agents ready and on the clock to keep the Maximoff twins away from Banner, or to keep the Hulk away from civilization, the Avengers worked solo. In fact, Stark even pulled out an enormous suit even larger than Hulk, which did arguably just as much damage to that poor city as the Hulk did.
The result of their incompetence was the destruction of numerous buildings, half of a city, and presumably countless lives. Though it is hard to place the blame on the Avenger, it would have ended a lot smoother had the U.S. government been involved.
Another example of how the regulation of the government could have helped was during the events of Ant-Man. Instead of trying to alert the proper authorities of Darren Cross's plans (or even the Avengers!), Hank Pym and Scott Lang chose instead to deal with the problem themselves. Their solution? Blowing up a building that probably still had innocent people in it.
Had they contacted the proper authorities (perhaps the C.I.A., or even the remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), they could have worked out a much better plan that didn't involve shrinking, ants carrying explosives, or the destruction of an entire building. Though the Ant-Man suit itself is not a superhuman ability, it grants people superhuman abilities, so therefore would still fall under these new regulations.
The third example, quite possibly the most detrimental, is the creation of Ultron. Instead of turning Loki's scepter in to the government, or even having Thor take it directly to Asgard, the Avengers foolishly left it lying around their HQ. This not only resulted in Stark and Banner foolishly turning the 'brain' of the scepter into a 'murder-bot,' but it also led to it being taken — again!
Had the Avengers been government regulated (like they were in their early days), the scepter would have been properly handled, meaning the incident with Hulk in Africa would have been avoided, all of those murdered by the Ultron bots would not have been murdered, and the massacre in Sokovia would not have ever happened! Hundreds, if not thousands, of people would live to see another day if the government had at least partially been involved with the Avengers' actions.
This concept isn't even that unheard of
Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a fictional universe, do you mind if I compare it to another fictional universe that we all know and love? The wizarding world of Harry Potter is a fictional universe that carries a law similar to the S.R.A. from the 'Civil War' comics, yet it is much more extreme.
Many people try to defend allowing Marvel superheroes the 'right' to use their powers simply because it is part of them. However, in the Harry Potter universe, every witch and wizard is born with magic in them, just like many superheroes, yet their 'right' to use these abilities is much more limited.
- First, wizards and witches are not allowed to use their abilities until they reach a certain age, unless they are in a specific location.
- Second, they are not allowed to use the abilities once they reach that age unless they complete seven years of intensive training in magic (a bit more drastic than eight weeks, wouldn't you say?).
- Third, they are not allowed to use their magical abilities anywhere near people who do not have these abilities.
- Fourth, the Ministry of Magic has a way of tracking every spell someone ever uses through their wands (or in some cases, just by tracking their wands) and can use this against them.
- Fifth, there are even some spells and abilities that are strictly forbidden by law, whether you do it to a person, a fly, or a dandelion.
Though the S.R.A. from the comics and the government regulations in Captain America: Civil War may seem strict, they are nothing close to how strict the Ministry's regulations are in Harry Potter. The laws in that universe even keep Hagrid, one of the franchise's most lovable characters, from using magic!
I use this example to prove the point that just because one has an ability, doesn't make it their right to use it. If a man is extremely ripped and has the ability to tear anything in half, it doesn't give him the right to vandalize property or tear innocent people in half. Almost all of us have the ability to do remarkable and dangerous things, but it doesn't mean it is our right to do so, especially if it brings harm to others.
What caused this regulation in the first place?
The causes of the S.R.A. in the comics and the regulations in Captain America: Civil War are in some ways different, yet at the same time quite similar. From what we can tell, the need for regulations in the film arose after the Sokovia incident. Countless people died after Ultron literally lifted a city hundreds of feet into the air in an attempt to destroy the world.
Though the Avengers eventually saved the day, the whole incident was utterly avoidable (as mentioned earlier) and was an enormous tragedy. As seen in papers and dialogue in Ant-Man, the world cried out, looking for someone to blame for the incident — and the Avengers were the ones they pointed to. Hatred for the super group rose after the incident, blaming them for the deaths in Sokovia. This incident alone was a big red flag to the government, showing them that the Avengers cannot be left unregulated anymore.
In the comics, the need for the S.R.A. arose after the tragedy in Stamford, Connecticut. A team of untrained and unqualified heroes decided to invade the home of multiple strong, rogue supervillains. The heroes were unprepared, and this incident led not only to their deaths, but to the destruction of half of the city, taking the lives of almost 1,000 civilians. This incident was a big eye-opener to the world that heroes can't go around unregulated anymore.
For those claiming that this should not be an deciding factor because it is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who says it can't become part of it? With the superhero and villain community constantly growing and rising in the MCU, who says it's not possible? According to Murphy's Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. If superheroes continue to be allowed to roam freely, when will superheroes blowing up buildings escalate into superheroes blowing up half of a city? For the safety of the people in the MCU, government regulation may be the only way to maintain the world's well being.
But really, can anyone really argue with Vision?
One of the main points about why Team Iron Man is in the right during Civil War is the fact that they have Vision on their roster. From what we learned in Age of Ultron, Vision is a massively intelligent android who only has one goal in his existence — to protect life and doing what is right for the world.
In the matter of the Civil War, Vision presumably follows his basic principles and does what he knows will protect the world — siding with government regulation. When it comes down to it, Vision is the source of all reason, intelligence, and purity among the Avengers now. He is worthy of wielding Mjolnir, so clearly he must be good. If Vision says that regulation is right for the world, that is good enough for me.
Contrary to what many people argue, superheroes do not have the 'right' to use their abilities freely simply because they can, just as a wizard or witch in Harry Potter does not have the right to use the Cruciatus Curse simply because he or she can, and just as I do not have the right to knock my neighbors's poorly painted mailbox down simply because I can. America may be a free country, but it doesn't make people free to do anything that they want simply because they can.
Personally, my favorite Avenger is Captain America, so siding with Iron Man was a rather tough decision for me. But when it comes down to it, the government regulation is what is most important for the people in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If restricting a deadly superhuman from using their abilities saves the lives of even one person, the regulations have already proven themselves worthwhile. Hopefully Cap will see this by the end of the movie, as he did in the comics. I love Captain America until the end, but he is wrong this time. I am with #TeamIronMan.
Whose side are you on? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!