#1 HIGHEST-GROSSING FILM OF 2016
When political pressure mounts for the Avengers to submit themselves to UN control, Captain America refuses, leading to a violent split among the superheroes. Captain America: Civil War credits: [Dir: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo/ Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson/ 147 min/ Action-Adventure, Sci-Fi/ Individualism, Anti-Regulation]
As soon as I read the Salon review of Captain America: Civil War – the critique complained bitterly that the movie’s storyline had turned Steve Rogers into an “Ayn Randian libertarian douchebag” — I knew I had to see this film. What could have happened in it to upset Salon so much?
That question gets answered very early in the movie. It seems that in the course of the Avengers’ heroic derring-do, innocents have inadvertently been killed and property damaged. Now the UN wants to “oversee” Avenger activities, because it goes without saying that being under the control of a committee chaired by, say, Saudi Arabia is sure to make things better.
Tony Stark thinks oversight is a necessary concession, and wants the Avengers to submit. But Captain America (a.k.a., Steve Rogers) disagrees, and he expresses that dissent in words that could eloquently sum up libertarianism itself: “We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.”
That line in particular, and what it implies about the main hero’s character, is what drove progressive reviewers to distraction. They had assumed Steve Rogers was a New Dealer returned from the dead to teach the world the glories of that liberal high water-mark. But instead (horror!), he’s someone who is deeply suspicious of concentrated power, even to the point that he would use his red, white, and blue shield to shove back at it. One almost gets the impression that it’s, well, patriotic to question state control.
In any case, the division between Stark and Rogers establishes two opposing groups of superheroes: those leaning collectivist join with Stark, and those leaning individualist join with Rogers. Goaded by a UN deadline to formally submit, civil war between them ensues.
I don’t want to give away any more of the story, but let’s just say libertarians will certainly enjoy this film. I would add, in artistic terms, it’s a sheer, uh, marvel of special effects and well-choreographed action scenes, with plot twists and turns around every corner. Audiences clearly approved, as it ended up being the #1 global blockbuster of the year.
External Reviews of Captain America: Civil War
“Captain America earns its place among libertarian-leaning cultural offerings that ‘our side’ would be well to use in bringing people towards a limited government/limited authority viewpoint. A government with the power to protect you absolutely is also powerful enough to deprive you of everything that makes life worth living.”
“Captain America’s a douchey libertarian now: Why did Marvel have to ruin Steve Rogers? Steve Rogers is an icon of liberal patriotism, and his newest movie turns him into an Ayn Rand acolyte.”
“Yes, we do get a bad-ass libertarian Cap, who makes his own judgements and fights for his own sense of justice. He tells the UN pansies to eat it and prevents his friend from being executed without trial by extra-judicial government agents. Captain America is an American and reflects the values of individualism not liberal collectivism.”
“The liberty movement must decide now, once and for all, where our allegiance truly lies: Team Cap or Team Stark. We are talking, of course, about the new summer blockbuster Captain America: Civil War, and the epic showdown between Captain America and Iron Man.”
–Foundation for Economic Education
“The Avengers should agree to be placed under UN supervision.”