There are a lot of things to like about Captain America: Civil War, one of which is how it successfully portrays both sides of the superhero conflict in such a way that neither side appears to be completely right or wrong (at least from the perspective of the majority). However, I also can’t say that both sides had an equal number of valid points and compelling arguments – it’s not a complete deadlock. If this were a debate competition, I would have to award one side the victory.
And that’s what this is all about. I’d like to present the two (yes, there are two) conflicts, the arguments of the two opposing sides, and who I think had the better argument and why. Of course, this is only my opinion, and I’m sure that there are others who see things differently.
Oh yeah, this is a spoiler-heavy article. If you haven’t seen Civil War yet, well, this article will spoil details about the film for you.
CONFLICT # 1: “Do we sign the Sokovia Accords?”
Before we even consider the arguments that each side puts forward, we must first consider the issue or the question – the Sokovia Accords. I don’t have a copy of the full Sokovia Accords (I’m not even sure it exists) so we’ll have to rely on what Sec. Thaddeus Ross says about the Sokovia Accords:
“Approved by a hundred and seventeen countries, it states that the Avengers shall no longer be a private organization. Instead, they’ll operate under the supervision of a United Nations panel, only when and if that panel deems it necessary.”
Basically, the United Nations wants full control over the Avengers. The argument against it is pretty straightforward – that they can’t be governed by people whom they can’t trust. And the Avengers have several reasons for not being too quick to trust any governing body. Even looking past the possibility of Hydra infiltrating the upper ranks of the United Nations, there’s the issue of competent decision making.
Captain America captures this in one sentence: “What if this panel sends us somewhere we don’t think we should go? What if it’s somewhere we need to go, and they don’t let us?” If the people assigned to oversee the Avengers simply weren’t competent enough to make sound decisions, then that would seriously handicap the Avengers. Just imagine how many approvals it would take for the Avengers to do something as simple as enter a foreign country?
The side that’s for the Sokovia Accords bring more points to the table. First, the public perception of the Avengers has been going down due to all the casualties and they need to do something to win back the trust of the people. There are also some who simply believe that the Avengers need oversight from something like the United Nations because they do not fully trust their decision making anymore.
The way I see it, the strongest case for those who are for the Sokovia Accords is that it is inevitable. The United Nations want this to happen and the Avengers simply cannot refuse, as refusal would result in giving up any “superheroing” or else they would be branded as fugitives.
WHICH SIDE AM I ON? Team Iron Man
I find this very surprising but after having some time to process the issue, I think the Avengers should in fact, sign the Sokovia Accords. The points made by those on Team Cap are valid, but are worst case scenarios. What if the United Nations Council is made up of incompetent people who cannot be trusted with the fate of the world? What if the Council gets infiltrated by Hydra, or is populated by people with nefarious agendas? All valid, but also all what ifs. What if the appointed council members are actually competent and trustworthy?
Meanwhile, signing the Sokovia Accords still gives the Avengers some legroom to operate in. They can find opportunities to bend the “rules” or maybe even change them once they’ve earned a few brownie points. If they don’t like the direction being given by the United Nations council, they can simply step down and retire. By not signing the Sokovia Accords, they not only did not give the system an opportunity to see if it works, they also automatically put themselves in direct opposition to what the United Nations (and more than a hundred countries) want.
This is actually supported in the film when Steve Rogers was almost convinced to sign. Tony Stark intended to go with the flow and then change the system from within once the opportunity presented itself. Captain America didn’t give the Sokovia Accords a chance. Maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad as he expected or even turned out alright if he did.
Unfortunately, Captain America: Civil War wouldn’t have been as interesting as it was if the situation was as simple as this. Complications had to happen.
CONFLICT # 2: “What do we do with the Winter Soldier?”
The Winter Soldier coming into the picture threw the Avengers in a loop because Steve Rogers was forced to take action despite not having signed the Sokovia Accords. And why wouldn’t he, after hearing that there’s a shoot on sight order on Bucky? After figuring out that someone wanted to draw Bucky out from hiding by framing him, Rogers couldn’t let the United Nations have custody of him again. And when Bucky revealed the existence of five other Winter Soldiers, they thought that there was a plan to take control of them, resulting in Rogers forming his own team of Avengers. The pro-Accords Avengers, on the other hand, were tasked by Secretary Ross to bring in not only Bucky but Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, who understandably is perceived as accomplices in Bucky’s “escape”.
WHICH SIDE AM I ON? Team Cap
The sudden power outage and a psych evaluator who suddenly went missing should have been enough to clue all the Avengers in on the idea that someone was indeed setting Bucky up, that there are machinations happening behind the scenes. Yet, Tony Stark was unwilling to hear Rogers out, insisting to bring the rogue heroes in.
Had Stark listened to all the details that Rogers had, maybe they could have found a compromise. Check out this abandoned Hydra facility together and get to the bottom of things, then bring in everyone as instructed. Hand out whatever penalties were necessary later on. This isn’t a foreign concept in law enforcement as it is depicted in movies, with a lot of rule bending and breaking happening. This would have prevented that airport battle and Rhodes’ debilitating injury. Heck, if the Avengers went to that Hydra base together, there would have been more people that could have tried to calm Stark down once Zemo makes his big reveal.
Instead, Stark insisted to do things his way and we all know what happened. He realized the error in his judgment once he found out that the real guy assigned to do Bucky’s psych eval was murdered – that’s why he followed Steve Rogers and Bucky without official approval from Ross or the U.N. Council.
In the end, neither sides were completely right. As someone who doesn’t want the Avengers to break up, I wished that Cap wasn’t as closed-minded as he was when it came to signing up for the Sokovia Accords. And I also wished that Stark wasn’t so insistent in following the Accords to the letter. Both sides had valid points and both sides could have handled the situation better, but I’m leaning more towards Steve Rogers simply because the movie eventually proved that it was a bad idea for the Avengers to be supervised by Secretary Ross.
It’s a good thing that both sides did what they did though because if they acted ideally, we wouldn’t have had a story worth telling through film.
Have you seen Captain America: Civil War? Which side did you choose? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment or two below!