I never cared for Captain America. Ever. I was always an X-Men guy, not an Avengers guy, and I was as surprised as anyone else when Marvel Studios spun a world-beater out of the latter after selling off the film rights to the former. Even among the Avengers, I was definitely more in the Iron Man camp than anything else (it was 1985, I figured I’d have my own armor within thirty years, right?) but Captain America was a big red white and blue Boy Scout who seemed like the most likely cop/narc/whatever to a teenage mind that identified far more with mutants than the government’s sanctioned superhero team.
The MCU portrayal softened that a lot, to be honest. I wrote about how seeing Cap starting his life over in DC as a man out of time rang true to my own experience. I appreciate the difficulty that comes with seeing things crumble under you and finding out that people – and employers – are not what you thought they were, or worse. I get it. I’ll buy it.
And then along comes Civil War. In which Steve Rogers somehow manages to take the eulogy for Peggy Carter – in fact let me just block-quote the whole thing, because this is what made me snap:
I asked her once how she managed to master diplomacy and espionage at a time when no one wanted to see a woman succeed at either. And she said, “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No, *you* move’.”
So…what Steve Rogers manages to do is take a riff on how tough it was to be a pioneering woman in a male-dominated field and fight for your own worth, and turn it into “I’m going to do what I want to, in the face of opposition from my friends, my teammates, and the government and country I was pledged to defend, and instead I’m going to substitute my own judgement for the law and my obligations as an Avenger.”
What. A. Dick.
Seriously, Tony Stark has some pretty major personality flaws, but he’s seen the results of his arrogance, and paid the price, and realized that there have to be controls and checks on what he and his fellows do. He’s reacted out of a place of fear and trauma, and paid the price for doing so, and been humbled as a result. It’s a reckoning that should be coming for Steve Rogers, but I don’t know if it’s going to. I don’t know how much Captain America is meant to be an allegory for the country as a whole, but damned if they didn’t nail just exactly that. And now, with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, it might be time for Steve to take a seat and let someone else do the heavy decision-making for a minute. Because I don’t trust him at all to think of anyone but himself.
Right now? Giant purple strength coach threatening the world? Put me on Team Tony.
Now…let’s see where it goes.