Monday, May 9, 2016

Captain Libertarian

     So, I haven't read too much of the Marvel comicbooks, but am a fan of most of the MCU movies. I thought Captain America: The Winter Soldier was quite possibly the best movie of that year. The anticipation for Captain America Civil War was high.

     It seems CACV had a foreign release a few weeks earlier than the US release. Not sure if that's normal; especially a movie about Captain AMERICA to not release first in AMERICA. I was kinda pleasantly surprised it was a huge freakin hit all over the world; the hype and buzz was ablaze before it even hit US theaters. So, what is it that resonates with foreign audiences? Well, yeah, it's a great action FX movie, a well-written script and plot (a 90% on the Tomatometer), and I believe the political issues are something the rest of the world are more knowledgeable about than the average American. The movie revolves around the issue of collateral damage from the Avengers fighting evil throughout the years. And, here in the real world, people see the "police of the world" US warring for over decades and decades, sees all the collateral damage it has wrought, and it seems that maybe possibly this movie is a sympathy card or apology card to the world, an acknowledgement on behalf of our controlled biased corporate news media, the deaf and dumb so-called leaders that really don't acknowledge the truth of what their neocon foreign policy does (well, maybe a few politicians do complain), that yes, we understand our (well not our, it's the undemocratic US military/CIA's) actions have consequences. That, since the anti-war liberals have all but disappeared because no one wants to criticize Obama and his kill list, art can be a way the filmmakers can express these issues to possibly trigger a dialog, because there isn't much dialog in mainstream media. Art should reflect the times. At least I hope that's what the screenwriters are saying. That's what I hope the global audiences find so compelling to buy tickets for. Yes, they're buying entertainment, but it's entertainment that means something. By comparison, Batman v Superman -- which had similar collateral damage themes -- was perhaps entertaining or set out to be, but certainly didn't amount to anything in plot or characters. The issues didn't mean anything; it meant jack shit. CACV showed how it's done.

     Here are a few articles about CACV that sort of express some of the sides and issues audiences have pulled from it:
     But some are confusing. One liberal writer calls Cap anti-liberal and libertarian, confuses Cap's libertarianism with anarchy. But others are Bernie supporters, who I'm sure are liberal, who support Cap. So, which is it -- is Cap liberal or anti-liberal? Another article says the writers tested the movie as they were making it, to mold it to get audiences split down the middle between Cap and Iron Man. Then the writers also then pretty much say they are pro-Cap. Others call Iron Man the capitalist, but I think of him really as the war profiteer 1%er establishment (or maybe I'm lumping the Starks together); as in, he sides with government regulation, the establishment. Sigh...What's in labels, anyway...

     Who's side are you on?  I still gotta say, I'd go with my initial reaction after seeing CACV -- I'd side with Cap. He's been called the libertarian, as he stands for non-regulation, but here's why: Cap sticks up for the people, not bureacracy. Liberals for some reason equate libertarians with anarchists, but libertarians do want law and order, want regulation, but it depends what kind of regulation that is and from whom. Stark says he wants regulation in "whatever form that takes, I'm game." Uh, see...that's the rub. Who's regulating the regulators? Because in Winter Soldier, SHIELD was infiltrated by HYDRA. Who's to say the UN wouldn't be, or hasn't been? As Cap says, "it's run by people with agendas and agendas change." And Iron Man trusts his judgement, but he created Ultron, for chrissakes.

     I'm for accountability, but, if you follow politics at all, how many times have we seen the foxes guarding the hen house, with bailouts and revolving doors, or the foxes investigating the foxes and letting white collar and war criminals go with hardly a slap on the wrist. Libertarians believe in state's rights, a country's sovereignty, the separation of powers -- not centralized power, not one fox guarding the foxes. Just because you trust the current benevolent king, the next successor could be an insane inbred. You gave obamadrones a pass, horrible and inaccurate as they were, but do you trust Hillary or Trump with the keys?  A ship is built with compartmentalized sections, for if one section floods, it won't bring down the whole ship. I mean, the metaphors could go on and on, throughout history.

    And honestly, I'm less with Cap's sense of interventionism and patriotism (because today's extremely complicated war of tribes and factions is not the same war as with the truly evil Nazi's), because perhaps it's more that I'm against Iron Man's sense of restriction on civil liberties ( the internment of the Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and all of Cap's side) and Stark's egotistical trust in his own judgment and centralized power, as explained above. Where is a jury in Stark's world? Also, does it lead to registration of all enhanced individuals, which too often historically leads to harrassment, surveillance, internment, and other restrictions on liberty on all of the same types of people? I mean, we just saw the same issues in Zootopia. Zootopians would've loved this movie. War has turned the population against Jews, Japanese, now Muslims. And everyone that is lumped with them, from Chinese that were mistaken for Japanese, and Sikhs mistaken for Muslims.

     And, my biggest question, who is the next enemy in the UN's view? What would be the next mission for the Avengers? What if it's regime change in another country? Like we've invaded countries that had nothing to do with 9/11, or that had no WMD's. Or what if the targets are political enemies, whistleblowers, one of the Avenger's own -- what if it's something the superheroes don't agree with? Or instead of attacking, what if you're told to ALLY with certain terrorist groups, as the US does when it serves their special interests. Ally with countries with sharia law, like the Saudis, or unreasonables like Israel? Right now in Syria, the CIA is backing one group, the Pentagon backs another group, and they are fighting each other -- how stupid is that. I guess under the Sokovia Accords, the Avengers couldn't disobey the UN, or have much choice in who to fight. They are slaves to the system, they signed their life away with Stark's pen. They'd be beholden to their missions, as Winter Soldiers are to their given missions.

    For Iron Man's reasons, I guess I would agree on the idea of accountability, certainly. He feels guilt, like from Alfre Woodard's character. The movie revolves around all the collateral damage and civilians killed throughout the various Marvel movies that parallels with real life -- i.e. the US's (well, maybe it's the CIA, JSOC, the western world, etc.) horrible actions abroad. Pick anything from the 2% drone bombing accuracy, hospital flattening, wedding parties bombing, etc. It makes Team America's destruction of Paris not really an exaggeration. I mean, this goes way back to Vietnam, with napalm and agent orange. Modern warfare is ridiculous. Well actually, the MCU and the real world are not exactly parallel or comparable -- because in the MCU, it was mostly the bad guys initiating the threats and battles; it was Crossbone's bomb, it was Ultron who levitated Sokovia, Winter Soldier was mind controlled for his missions, it was HYDRA/SHIELD's helicarriers in DC....As opposed to bombs made-in-the USA and dropped by USA vehicles. If we're comparing the Avengers with the US/western world's battle styles, kinda seems to me the US is more at fault for civilian casualities in their battles than the Avengers are for their battles. And ironically, it seems easier to pass the Sokovia Accords than it is to hold the US accountable. But hey, it's a movie.

     Vision brings up that perhaps escalation brought about new enemies, new conflicts, which is also a great theme at the end of Batman Begins when Gordon talks about escalation. So, has the US caused escalation? If the new normal is pre-emptive war abroad, where will this end? Doesn't seem an end in sight. Not to give real terrorism a free pass, but religious extremists have been around for hundreds of years -- why have they escalated now? Because have we? Clearly. We destablized everything from North Africa to the middle east, creating power vacuums, allowing the thugs free reign, and with our fancy weapons and vehicles to boot. That's causality. They fight the US because the US killed their families and flattened their houses. That's causality.

     After he finds that Bucky was framed by Zemo, Iron Man sides with Cap in a way after all and goes secretly against Ross. But then his emotions for revenge flip him again against Bucky for killing his parents. And if emotion and vengence is what rules over judgment, I wouldn't want Iron Man leading the UN's Avengers. When the Black Panther saw that revenge wasn't the answer, it was a glimmer of hope, in my opinion -- war is over, if we want it. I stand with Cap, laying down his shield, effectively handing in his badge like a disillusioned cop, because the system is broken. It was a great end to the movie. What a cliffhanger. What the heck will happen next? What will happen to our country, foreign policy and domestic national security policy? We haven't even begun to have this dialog really.

     In the foreword to the CACV "Art of..." book, the directors write, "His strength and toughness were inspiring, but there was something about his unshakable moral certainty, his overwhelming mix of patriotism and propaganda, that left us wanting a little more complexity and a little more edge....Now we were being given the opportunity to do in a movie what we had dreamt of as fanboys: texturing and even subverting the patriot through a story that led him to question his country and break orders. For us, CACV is the completion of that subversion. The film moves Steve Rogers past the flaws in his country to finally confront the flaws in himself. This is what makes him a true hero in the classical sense. Despite all the greatness he is capable of, he is flawed, and he is human. And this is a Captain America that we can love."