In the not too distant future we’ll be privy to both Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Overly Long Titles and Captain America: Civility and Zombies. Seemingly, both will deal with complimentary issues pertaining to the culpability of collateral damage surrounding the super-inhabited world. In lesser terms, it’s pretty clear when you level a city (or level half of one, and almost use another as a projectile) someone has to pay. And no, I don’t mean asking Tony or Bruce-Bruce for a spare billion to cover the insurance.
At the core of both movies – and yes, I’m speculating – we’re dealing with the balance of proactive protection versus reactive process improvement. Regulating and regularly checking the populace for gifts is certainly one way to do it. It’s no different, one might postulate, than registering a weapon they own. Iron Man’s stance, as is Mr. Wayne’s, is cemented in fear of the unknown. How are we to protect the ones we love when the man down the street could be a psychopath with a gun or just Mr. Psycho? Forcing the population to divulge their hidden talents by way of polite force might be one way to hedge your bets. Because you don’t know when someone might grow up to be Speedball.
That being said, does creating such a registry or law become a civil liberty issue? In the comics, it’s the basis for Cap’s catharsis. Cry freedom, Mr. Rogers. And to Superman’s point: holding him in check when there’s literally nothing on Earth that can do that is just a waste of resources. The best you can do is trust that Big Blue will keep us safe. Being proactive effectively allows for the proliferation of some unforeseeable doomsday device built to destroy a hero gone wild. And if you build it? Well, it’s inviting someone to fire it – whether Kal-El is cuckoo or not. Better, I suppose, if you make plans to build it after the first building accidentally collapses due to super-fighting? I guess I’m unsure.
The topic is very real when we live in a nation that needs an executive order to help suppress out-of-control gun violence. Could you imagine the field day Fox News would have if New York was actually attacked by invading aliens? I can here the subsequent call of candidate Donald Trump to first “build a wall between dimensions… and make the Chitauri pay for it.” and then “…ban all super powered people from being in our country until we figure it all out”. If not Trump, perhaps a war mongering Chris “The Blob” Christy, Ted “Bomb Them Till They Glow Like Dr. Light” Cruz, or Dr. Ben “Sleepwalker” Carson would chime in with a retort that the destruction of Metropolis occurred not because newly freed political prisoners from the Phantom Zone were exacting revenge for their lost world… but because President Obama didn’t allow the NSA access to General Zod’s Facebook. But I digress.
The truth of the matter is that there’s no right answer. Batman and Iron Man have every right to want to be as informed as possible about the dangers of the world. They are tinkerers and toy-makers of the highest degree. A problem is built to be dismantled, and put back together better; be it your shrapnel-filled heart, or the world at large. So too though is Captain America and Superman’s right to say that our country was built on the ideology of freedom. That a man is innocent until proven guilty. For as much damage that befell Sokovia or Metropolis, there is no blame to be had towards those who tried to protect it. Ultron and Zod pulled the triggers. The heroes merely jumped in the line of fire. They couldn’t help the falling debris. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. Wait, that was Star Trek!
So, whose side will you be on? For me, I’ll be on the side of being entertained. Because my bleeding liberal heart in the real world still longs for the day Scarlet Witch whispers “No more guns.”