Monday, May 16, 2016

Analysis: Captain America: Civil War (spoilerrific)

So, I finally (I only say that because I've been dodging often untagged spoilers all week) saw Civil War.

The movie was touted as being about accountability - but others said it was all about Bucky Barnes.

Well, it was in no small part about Bucky Barnes, but...

The MCU has touched on issues that we face in reality before. Mass surveillance and machines in law enforcement, for example, in Age of Ultron. The bogeymen match what we're afraid of today.

So I'm going to stick my neck out here.

Civil War was not about accountability at all.

Yes, on the surface, that's what the Sokovia Accords were supposed to be - making the heroes accountable to somebody.

But the conflict between Steve and Tony ran deeper.

The theme of the movie is "Are they people or weapons?"

We don't have people who can throw cars with their mind in reality. But we do have a world in which it often seems that, more and more, employees are interchangeable numbers. We have a world in which slavery still exists.

The relatable theme is "Are we people or property?"

And Tony is a one percenter. How does he feel about the thousands of people who work for Stark Industries? He probably doesn't. He can't afford to - he's running a business. And thus, the attitude that people are there for what value they can give?

Spills over.

He's the one who says "They don't give passports to weapons of mass destruction" when talking about a teenaged girl. (Yes, Ross is far worse, but Tony's following his line).

Tony doesn't see the team as his equals. He sees them as his employees.

Except Steve.

Steve is the one person Tony Stark sees as an equal. Because, well, you can't face down Captain America and not see something better than you.

And Steve sees the team as his squadmates. He sees them as the people he trusts the most to watch his back. He sees signing over control over them to the UN as a risk - a risk that they will become "showgirls" as he was forced to be during the war.

And above all, he sees them as people. His anger about Bucky being framed is almost equally matched by his anger at the way Tony treats and talks about Wanda.

She's a kid.

And, tellingly, when Rhodes augurs in, Tony doesn't shout "Rhodey!" he shouts "My Rhodey!"

That speaks of a certain possessiveness. (Or perhaps it's just that RDJ can convincingly be many things, "Straight" is not one of them. Ahem). Possibly even a trace of unconscious racism. Rhodes is his friend, but not his equal.

Which is how Steve and Tony could hurt each other so badly. But it also shows that you can't treat people like weapons. It shows that attitude is wrong.

I can think of a few real life CEOs who need to learn that lesson.