Karl Gallagher (selenite) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

Captain America's Decision

We watched Captain America: Civil War this weekend. Fun movie. The central argument is a good question, and I'm not going to spoiler cut it because they put it in the trailers.

Should the Avengers be totally unsupervised or obey a government agency?
(We'll assume here that the Marvel-UN is composed of democracies and enlightened monarchies such as Wakanda, not the tyrants and kleptocrats of ours)

Tony Stark/Ironman, reeling with PTSD and guilty over collateral casualties, decides to give up on privatizing world peace and sign up for adult supervision. Steve Rogers/Captain America isn't willing to subordinate his conscience to anyone else's. As superheroes do, they settle this by punching each other.

Tony's issues are clear (and were outlined very well in DrNerdlove's "Tony Stark Needs a Hug"). Captain America is the interesting one for me. The magic potion given to him in WWII boosted his attributes. In D&D terms he has maxed out Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution (for brawling) and Charisma (for leadership and selling war bonds). He didn't get max Intelligence--he doesn't challenge Stark and Banner on facts and he accepts Fury and Romanoff's plans, so he's fine with deferring to smarter people. So the question for this movie is: What did the potion do to his Wisdom score?

He's certainly acting like he has max Wisdom. He has no doubts, he's always making the right choice, he doesn't need to ask any advice about the goal should be. So Cap won't subordinate his conscience to any government, no matter how much popular support it has. If you're on the side of the Truth, you stand still and tell the whole world, "No, you move."

Inspiring. Of course, that depends on him actually being right, and his obsession with protecting a reprogrammable assassin makes me doubt what his actual Wisdom score is. But I won't get into the spoilers.

When it comes to choosing Team Cap vs. Team Ironman I don't have to put much thought into it. I wrestled with that decision some 26 years ago. The Air Force assigned me to my chosen career field and let me go play with satellites. But one of the other duties of that specialty was launching ICBMs. So I had to face the question: Would I launch a nuke if I was ordered to?

I decided yes, I would. And conversely I wouldn't launch a nuke without orders, regardless of how much I thought the target deserved it. Because my Wisdom score isn't maxed. I make mistakes. And history has plenty of examples of why letting armies pick their orders is a bad idea.
Tags: science fiction
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  • 1 comment
I see your analogy but I think it's pointed in the wrong direction. Cap trusts people not organizations. Remember he joins SHIELD and then the Avengers based on personal appeals from people he trusts. In Winter Soldier he's taking Natasha's advice and he's hurt when he finds she has a second mission from Fury that she hasn't told him about. I think he has plenty of doubts, and he's often winging it. But he's doing so based on the personal relationships he's built. I think even Iron Man realizes that because when Cap defends Bucky by saying that "he's a friend", Tony's response isn't "but we're supposed to be on the same side." Instead Stark says, "I thought we were, too."

I'm also not convinced that the (movie) Marvel Universe is fully populated by the positive government types you mention. We're told that X (a large number) countries signed the accords. But they use a number rather than "all" or even "most." And we've already seen one instance of a government council being subverted (by Hydra). I don't think Cap is able to believe that - even if this Council was good - it wouldn't be subverted in the same way. It's not that he doesn't trust as an element of his innate character so much as he's had plenty of object lessons on why he should not trust.