Captain America: Civil War - How Rogers Betrays His Legacy and Becomes a Trump Libertarian

   Captain America is an illustration of how, sometimes, we get the hero we deserve, not the one we need.

   The erstwhile Steve Rogers, revived from stasis, has become very much a citizen of his time. In his original incarnation, the Avenger once fought for the truths, justice and American ways established by the FDR administration - the good of the community prevailed over the selfish desires of the individual, people still asked what they could do for their country and not vice versa.

   In Captain America: Civil War, Rogers is now situated in contemporaneous society and is seen as man whose spirit has very much caught up with the ideologies of our age. "I have faith in individuals," he pronounces at one point, an utterance which proves more profound, perhaps, than he intended. We now live in a neo-conservative world where the sovereignty of the individual is seen as more important than any other factor.



   A recent trend in superhero films (including in Batman v Superman). has seen our heroes deal with the fallout, collateral damage and consequences which stem from their deeds. Civil War is no different - as the Avengers attempt to subdue would-be terrorists in Lagos,  Wanda accidentally causes the deaths of multiple civilians with her powers. Horrified governments across the world agree that something must be done to prevent such tragedies occurring again - the group need to be held accountable for their actions and, as such, a universal accord should be signed by the heroes. The treaty suggests that, rather than run wild as vigilantes, the Avengers will now work as agents of the international community and under a universally agreed remit.

   Tony Stark, a one-time uber-capitalist, witnesses the destruction caused by his peers and experiences something of a guilt-inspired Damascene moment. The Avengers, he believes, should operate to enhance the world's security rather than jeopardise it; under what authority did the group invade foreign countries "for their own good" anyhow? Surely it is entirely undemocratic, and thus anti-American, to decide for one's self whether the law should be applied to them? His reason and rationale is accepted wholesale by many of the team including, to his surprise, the Black Widow.



   One mind shut off from reason is "Cap" - in polemic to Stark's political lurch to the left, Rogers has very much embraced the values of the new right. FDR and his New Deal seem as far removed as possible from our protagonist's thoughts - apart from fear itself, Rogers believes, we now have the tyranny of central government stampeding on our dreams of "freedom" to contend with.

   When asked to sacrifice personal autonomy for the good of the people, for democracy and international diplomacy, Rogers neglects his role - he knows his rights but straight-out refuses to accept his responsibilities. Why should he sign a contract which states he will be held accountable for what he does? What happens if he believes he knows better than the masses - surely Cap should be allowed to sidestep any rules society wants to impose on him if he chooses so? In this respect Rogers is an anti-authoritarian very much in the libertarian mold of a Donald Trump or a Rand Paul. When Margaret Thatcher declared "there's no such thing as society", she could have well been distilling Captain America's frame-of-mind into a six word slogan.

   As Rogers battles with the decision of doing the right thing or doing the thing he wants to do most, an important element from his past silently slips away into the night. No links or ties to his former, virtuous self bind him and Cap is free to follow his insatiable Id. He's now an entitled, selfish citizen of the post-Baby Boomers world where there's no such thing as "too much". What, now, can incentivise Rogers to act ethically or appropriately? A sudden, lustful embrace with a woman he shouldn't morally be involved with is the last nail in the coffin in which Rogers' integrity is buried. At this point, the only thing driving Captain America is his own self-regard. Damn the world, damn accountability, and damn decency.

 
   Stark, having seen the literally destructive nature of capitalism, has invested himself in making the world a better place rather than chasing any further dirty riches. His philanthropic actions, funding scientific research through multiple grants to students, mirror Tony Benn's dedication to "the white heat of technology" as too, do his denunciations of hereditary privilege and his march to the political left. If Captain America is Trump in this allegory, then Stark is the Bernie Sanders of this story.

   Rather than an action movie, the narrative found here is closer to a tragedy. The fall from grace, and catastrophic embrace of individualism and greed, the sovereignty of the self above all else, position the story as not only one of vicissitude for a post-FDR Captain America but, more pertinently, of America herself. Steve Rogers, a man who tries to evade international law and who provides himself with his own, ever-shifting moral barometer no-one else can hold him to, is the hero our times deserve.
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3 comments

  1. What the?!! Trump is nowhere near a Libertarian! I'm so face palming over this socialist propaganda of an article.

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    1. Thanks for your comment sir/madam.
      The article is written from a left-wing perspective indeed - good spot!
      Not sure how you'd say Trump wasn't a Libertarian though - I'd genuinely like to hear it. He's for a small government but all for personal freedom (see his statements on trans rights, etc).
      If it made you face-palm, I'd love to hear why.

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  2. I should further point out that even though I did say this was from a "left wing perspective", it is my humble opinion that the two best presidents in American history were FDR and Richard Nixon.
    I doubt many in the UK would call me a socialist either with my belief that our two best politicians have been Tonys Blair and Benn.

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