Iron Man's rage proves the need for government scrutiny

Captain America: Civil War. Movie review.

Review of the movie Captain America: Civil War

In the 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers are threatened by a United Nations resolution intended to scrutinize and control superhero activities. By a frenzy of vindictive rage, Iron Man actually proves them right to do so — and he shows no understanding of this.

Ever Young. Supernatural fiction by Stefan Stenudd. Ever Young
Supernatural fiction by Stefan Stenudd
Caroline meets those who do not age, and this ability can be transmitted. But there are grisly downsides. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).

       It took me almost five years to watch this movie, which premiered in 2016. I am ambiguous about the superhero movie genre. These gargantuan productions sure have a lot of spectacular action and special effects — but beneath the fireworks of it all are sloppy stories, haphazardly put together only to lead from one battle scene to the next. The producers obviously don't care, if they are at all giving it a thought. They only go for the fireworks.

       In the case of Captain America: Civil War, I was also hesitant because of the chauvinistic name of that Captain and the theme of a civil war. I thought it would be yet another American self-glorification. But I was wrong about that. Rather than some patriotic parade, it parades the consequences of a chauvinism of another kind: male chauvinism. It's about what men might do when they are out of control.

       In the movie, the US and United Nations push for a Hero Registration Act to supervise and limit the activities of superheroes. It is initiated by a lethal tragedy the Avengers are accused of causing, but that is questionable since it happened while they tried to avoid an even bigger tragedy. Still, what happens later in the movie gives several solid reasons for the UN Act.

       The Avengers are split into two teams in strong disagreement on the UN Act, and the hostility between them increases. When superheroes get aggressive, albeit towards each others, the whole world is in peril.

       The superhero battle centers on the Winter Soldier, a former supervillain struggling to overcome the brainwashing he was the victim of by a militant government. He is wrongly accused of additional mayhem. One group of Avengers believes in his innocence and tries to protect him, the others do not and want him incarcerated. In their agitated state they don't even try to sort things out.

       Iron Man is leading the side of the latter, and also sort of a supporter of the UN Act. He believes to follow it by pursuing Winter Soldier. At a climactic scene close to the end of the movie, Iron Man finds out that Winter Soldier, when still under brainwash control by the vicious government forces, was the one who killed his parents. That revelation makes Iron Man completely lose it and with all his power try to kill him, even if it means killing his defender Captain America in the process.

       Iron Man's rage is certainly understandable, but not his refusal to listen to explanations and his willingness to be both court and executioner without hesitation. That is a monster. He was lucky not to succeed, but it was not at all thanks to him. And he still committed a bundle of serious crimes in any nation's law.

       Most of all, he proved what he had earlier himself agreed on — that there was cause for the UN Act. Superheroes, like any member of society, should not be above the law and not be exempt of the social control all citizens also in democratic societies need to abide by.

       The one who protected Winter Soldier from Iron Man's rage, Captain America, actually had the opposing view that the UN Act was a mistake. So, in his actions he proved himself wrong, whereas Iron Man in his failure proved himself right.

       That's really a good plot and plot twist, but watching the movie I had the feeling that this was unintentional. The story seemingly just sort of happened to form this message.

       On the other hand, I have learned through the years never to distrust authors' awareness of every apect of their stories. In the process of writing, every detail and angle is examined, contemplated, and reexamined. There is rarely something unintentional in a story. So, by this benefit of a doubt I must conclude that this story was unusually intricate and thought provoking for a superhero movie.

Stefan Stenudd
February 13, 2021

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Stefan Stenudd

Stefan Stenudd

About me
I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both English and Swedish. I'm also an artist, a historian of ideas, and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.