What The Year Of The Superhero Rivalry Says About 2016

  • Iron Man vs. Captain America

When the Civil War comic series was published in 2006, it leaned heavily on post-9/11 paranoia. What do we do about casualties or loss of life? Can we or can’t we trust the government? What is more important – security and laws or freedom and liberty? Iron Man became “the man,” seeking to impose order on a chaotic world and Captain America became a libertarian, defending his personal moral code of loyalty and individualism.

From what the trailers have shown, the MCU version shares very little in common with the comic series. But, in its own way, it organically showcases the conflict between Tony and Steve. Both feel guilt over their actions as superheroes (Tony, for creating weapons like Ultron, Steve for losing Bucky to HYDRA) which drive them to beliefs diametrically opposed to one another. Both have Savior complexes that tells them they know what is right. The irony is that the avatar of state power is the one rebelling against authority and the rebellious Objectivist is putting faith in a governmental institution.

Therein lies the tension at the heart of superheroics; at the end of the day, it relies on someone big and powerful to step in and save that very same day. Those are called strongmen and in our world they are often dictators, enforcing their will on a populace because they think they know what is best for everyone.

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Sam Flynn

Sam Flynn

Sam is a writer and journalist whose passion for pop culture burns with the fire of a thousand suns and at least three LED lamps.