Anyone who’s read my ongoing commentaries, like “This Week on TV,” for instance, has doubtless come across one or two moments where I talk about what I would do if I were in the characters’ place. Sometimes it’s long. Sometimes it’s short. According to my mother, I’ve been doing that since I was little, which, it’s nice to know I was always applying what intelligence I had to my entertainment. 😛
So, knowing that what I’m about to say may rub some people the wrong way, what with taking apart what our beloved, iconic heroes do and putting forth what I would do instead, please keep in mind that I’m commenting for no other reason than because I want to. I’m not trying to judge anyone, or cast dispersion on anyone, be they real persons or fictitious. This is simply me doing what I do, what I’ve always done, and likely always will do: thinking about what I’m watching and putting my thoughts into words before they drive me nuts. 😉
(the disclaimer is my literary version of a bomb shelter, which I am now crawling into)
Now, with that out of the way, let’s dive right into this, shall we?
In Captain America: Civil War, we see the Avengers divided and fighting each other. This may be the desired end result of the villain’s machinations, but it is highly unlikely that it would have gotten so bad so fast, if at all, without the UN’s ratification of the Sokovia Accords. This is a very important document, one which has vast and varied ramifications for the future. The initial conflict between the Avengers, which sets the stage for the climactic battle between friends, is in their response to these Accords.
As I was watching Civil War, I couldn’t help but think about how I would respond to the Accords in their place.
I conclude that the entire Civil War could have been avoided if the Avengers had just been a bit smarter about all this.
And there’s the first dispersion, but, please, allow me to explain my position before you all crucify me, yes? …please?
Let’s review the entire situation.
The Accords are primarily an attempt to leash and muzzle the Avengers, but they’re also an overarching response to the rapid rise of superhumans across the globe, both when they enter the spotlight and when they creep around behind it. The world is changing, rapidly, and when chaos spreads, people crave order. The Accords are theoretically supposed to be the touchstone that lets peoples and governments maintain order.
That’s quite a mess to deal with. And as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is well aware, the Avengers have blood on their hands. More specifically, Stark himself has blood on his hands. He can’t seem to get things right, can he? He made weapons to protect America and America’s soldiers, but then they were used against them and him in particular, so he became Iron Man. He tried to shoulder the entire world’s security on his own, refusing even to consider giving the US government his technology, and eventually he accidentally created a robot that nearly destroyed the world. Not a stellar record, that!
Though they won, in the end, Age of Ultron was one prolonged effort to limit the damage Ultron did. But there was damage. There was terrible loss of life in several locations around the world, and the world learned that dangers do not only come from aliens, but sometimes even from their own would-be protectors. All of that, because Stark tried to do everything himself. So it makes sense, really, that his guilt would compel him to finally submit to a higher authority. The problem was that he gave this authority, the UN in this case, a blank check, and blank checks are dangerous things, especially when the fate of the world is at stake. He hoped to amend the Accords as things progressed, but it all went to crap incredibly soon.
So, yes, there is definitely a need to make the Avengers accountable for their actions. Between them and everything else happening around the world, it is a simple truth: something must be done.
But what, exactly, is the best thing to do?
Are the Accords right? Can the Avengers, collared by the Accords and with a UN panel holding their leash, truly safeguard the world? Can they safeguard anything if they don’t have their autonomy? That autonomy, by the way, is exactly how they were able to stop Loki in Avengers, how Captain America and his comrades were able to stop Hydra in Winter Soldier, how the Avengers were able to act swiftly to counter Ultron… basically, every crisis they’ve stopped has been due to their ability to operate freely and swiftly.
Steve Rogers, Captain America, is more of my own mind in this. He’d rather trust himself and his team than some UN panel, slow to act – as in, slower to move than freaking glaciers and continents – and easily influenced by murky, international politics. As things are, when the Avengers see a crisis, they can simply act. But if they surrender their independence as a private organization, they can be held back, or sent where they shouldn’t go, used and sacrificed like pawns in a very complicated game of international chess, with an unlimited number of players using them as they please to serve their own interests instead of world security.
Basically, while something needs to happen, the Accords, as they stand, are simply too dangerous. And that’s only for the Avengers themselves and the world they protect. We haven’t even gotten into anything more far-reaching and tyrannical, like, say, requiring every superhuman in the world to register, be placed on a list, just waiting to be stripped of their humanity. Heck, General Ross compared Thor and the Hulk to nuclear weapons, demonstrating that the dehumanization has already begun. People are not things and should never be compared to such in any legal or political sense. That is extremely dangerous and immoral ground.
In short, the Avengers are caught between a rock and a hard place. If they support the Accords, they’re signing up to be the tools of tyranny, and if they oppose them, they’ll practically be outlawed if they so much as raise a finger in the midst of a crisis. It’s quite the trap, especially since the UN could just send their collared Avengers after any defiant rogues, which is exactly what happened. When you want to fight an Avenger, you use another Avenger. That’s how Hydra nearly won the day in Winter Soldier, by sending their superhuman into battle.
And let’s not forget how Ross would have happily thrown Stark, his lead Avenger in support of the Accords and his lead enforcer against the rogue Avengers, into a cell alongside his former comrades just for a little bit of property damage at an airport, without even any loss of life to consider. Heck, in New York, Washington, and Nigeria, among others, the Avengers were not remotely liable for any damage or loss of life, what with how they kept saving everyone. It was enemy action, all the way, from the alien invaders to Hydra’s flying fortresses to a single deranged madman choosing to blow himself up, the Avengers have almost never been culpable for what their enemies have done, with exception to Stark’s responsibility for the international Ultron debacle.
The Avengers are basically innocent of any wrongdoing, yet the world’s governments are practically trying to enslave them after having all been saved by them multiple times.
So, the Accords are necessary, yet they are also unacceptable.
What, then, is to be done?
…well, when dealing with two extremes, you find a middle ground. Ross referred to the Accords as “the middle ground,” but that’s not remotely true. They’re the proposed ground, the first idea to be offered, the first that gained such traction, likely because of how it so heavily favors the nations instead of the Avengers. The Avengers found out about their impending servitude, what, three days before it became official? This has to have been building for months or maybe even years, and they get three days notice to either sign on or be ejected? That has all the hallmarks of skillful, conniving puppet masters, who expect the Avengers to pick either one option or the other, and either way, the puppet masters win. But I am digressing into speculation, so back on point: what is the middle ground?
That would be: revising the Accords into something more mutually beneficial, instead of something so one-sided.
Now, that might seems fairly mundane, and yet perhaps impossible considering the length and breadth of the Accords themselves and the three-day deadline, but I submit that it would be possible for Earth’s mightiest heroes to pull off, and it would be worth the effort.
Not to say it would be easy, of course! I mean, it’s turning the UN’s own strategy against them, and that is a rather demanding task!
The very first and most important thing the Avengers would have to decide is this: whatever they do, they must do it together.
I get that from the history of my own country, and from the musical 1776.
(oh shush, I think we’ve well-established by now that I regard entertainment as a perfectly valid source of guidance! 😛 )
To explain: in 1776, John Adams is trying to get Congress to declare the Colonies’ independence from Great Britain, but he is blocked at every turn. He finally gets Congress to at least discuss the idea, but the opponents to independence put forth the motion, which carries, that any declared independence must be pass by unanimous vote. The vote to decide whether or not this motion will pass comes down to a tie, with John Hancock deciding the deadlocked vote in favor of unanimity. Adams is crushed and outraged, believing the goal to be impossible to achieve now, but Hancock has his reasons. One, in fact, and it’s very simple: to do otherwise will be to force the Colonies to fight each other. Anyone who does not actively support independence will be Britain’s ally, Britain’s foothold, Britain’s lapdog. From the very start of their new nation, they will be setting brother against brother, an ill beginning which would likely result in a most rapid end. So, no, there will be no “majority rules” or “minority rights” to declare independence. There will be unity. Either they must move together or together stay where they are.
Similarly, if the Avengers simply chose to make their decision as one, the entire conflict among themselves could have been avoided. Those that signed were sent after those that did not, and that was only in place of sending an entire military or ten. Divided, they fell.
If, instead, they were united… well, not only would the danger of being sent after each other be virtually nonexistent, but they could stand together as one and present a united front to the world, especially to the UN. Either they would sign and serve as one, defeating any attempt to set them against each other – imagine if there had been half a dozen Avengers to hold Tony back when he flew into his rage at the end of the movie – or they would stand in defiance, saying, “No, you cannot treat us like this, because we will not accept it short of open war.” Whatever choice they made, they could certainly stand their ground much more firmly if they stood together.
That is the first, the most essential, the absolute necessity that I would propose to my fellow Avengers, if I were among them: Unity, no matter what.
Of course, Stark would likely balk at that idea, at least at first, driven by guilt as he was. But the others would likely be more open to it, and all Stark would need, really, to get everyone to sign on is to make the Accords more acceptable to them. Thus, the need for revision. If Iron Man and the world are going to insist on this and not back down, short of the same brute force Captain America would use to protect their freedom, then that would have to be the first compromise: if they are to sign them, then the Accords would have to be altered, not later, but now, before ratification.
Thus, in exchange for Stark’s acceptance of unity, the other Avengers would sign the Accords once they could all agree on them. Which means they would have to work together to revise them.
With that established, and with an imminent deadline, this is where things would get tricky and technical and very demanding. The Avengers might be able to fight entire armies of aliens, robots, and well-fortified people with super-weapons, but all that is easy compared to paperwork.
This is also where my opinions might really begin to differ from that of my readers, in regards to my exact approach and especially the policies I might advance. Remember, this is all just my own opinion! 😉
Looking at the Accords… that really is a thick document, isn’t it? All sort of rules and caveats and policies elaborated on in twisting international legalese. It’s a massive amount of high-level reading to get through, let alone properly revise, within such a limited time period, right? Well, in addition to using Stark’s best legal teams – notice how I’m making the guy most in favor of signing these work the hardest at convincing the rest – there are some basic tricks one can use. Such as, and I take a sort of primal pleasure in this particular thought, cutting the document up. (mwahah!)
Divide and conquer, right? So, cut it apart into its individual sections, have each Avenger (and whatever help they can get) go through one section on their own, then explain it to the other Avengers, with special attention paid to the risks these rules could put them at. That ought to lighten the load and hasten the pace through this thick document, eh?
Heck, maybe even Stark would start reconsidering his blank check for the Accords if it was given to him in plain English. Not that I would root for that, or anything! 😉
The basic idea in all of this would be to 1) simplify the document, 2) make the terms less victimizing of Earth’s defenders, 3) protect superhumans’ human rights worldwide, and 4) make the Accords something more like an equal partnership than legal enslavement of any party.
So, some random ideas I’m just tossing out:
As a general idea, perhaps the Accords could be shortened and simplified, thus cutting through the dangerous bull crap of double-speak, special exemptions, and hidden dangers.
Also a general idea, the Accords could be reformatted. The beginning of the document could be a short group of simple pledges, the general rules the Avengers agree to live and act in accordance to, and each section of the Accords could then elaborate on what each pledge specifically entails, and what they get from the UN in exchange for their service.
A very specific idea: any country that ratifies the Accords must allow the Avengers to operate freely within their borders. That seems only fair, but it’s something that would get the point across to these oh so eager nations: the Avengers will not be the only ones giving ground here.
Of course, it goes without saying, while within your borders, the Avengers obey your laws and abide by your customs. They are not to judge and interfere just because it strikes their fancy. Of course, it only makes sense, then, that said laws and customs be aligned with standing UN policies, the higher law of the land. Where these conflict, then the Avengers are bound to the UN, not the local powers that be.
It should also go without saying that the Avengers are under the official protection of the UN and all the nations who support the Accords. You mess with their elite, you mess with their armies. If the Avengers need help, they get it.
If the Avengers’ activities are to be curtailed by rules and panels, then their jurisdiction needs to be set. The FBI can’t interfere in every single local case they want, and neither may the US military do as it pleases, so, set some clear definitions for what they are authorized to become involved in, like, say, things dealing with extraterrestrial or superhuman threats, international terrorists, crises that could do massive amounts of harm to cities or nations, etc. And once their jurisdiction is set, let them operate freely within such. They will account for themselves before the UN, and they will obey the UN, but they need to maintain elements of their autonomy, especially their swift response time, if they are to protect an entire planet.
Speaking of, while the registration of superhumans simply has to go, there might be some opportunities here. First there were six Avengers, then there were nine, now there is a loose dozen or so here and there, though, by the end of the movie, they are vastly scattered and divided. What if the Avengers were able to recruit and expand their ranks? Have multiple teams operating simultaneously across the world? Perhaps be permitted to train the emerging superhumans with the possibility of admitting those who are interested into their ranks when they’ve achieved some proper self-control? With the world’s resources at their disposal, they could seriously bolster their ranks into something more like a worldwide peace-keeping elite.
On which note, if the Avengers are no longer private, then they should no longer be privately funded, should they? If the UN wants to run them, they better cough up the cash to pay for their operations as a whole.
Those are just a few thoughts, ways I would change the Accords.
Again, this certainly looks to be a whole darn lot to do, doesn’t it? So, in addition to burning the midnight oil, eating lots of junk food to stay fueled up, and getting as much help as possible, one last thing I would add to my approach.
Obviously, creating an exact peer of the original document within three days would be next to impossible. That, I do not dispute. But what they might manage to pull off is producing a much simpler version to present to the UN. If they were to all come, together, they could present that united front I mentioned earlier. They could formally reject the Accords, explain their reasons, and offer their own document, raw as it might be, as an alternative. They could beg the UN’s pardon for it’s roughness, making it clear that they want and intend to work with them, not against them. Even if the UN were to reject their first submission, it would buy them some time. With that time, they create a more revised and detailed option. Heck, they could invite/request the UN to appoint a committee to work with them for just such a purpose: to create a version of the Accords that allows everybody involved to walk away a winner.
To wrap this up – and if you are still reading, thank you for putting up with this for the previous three thousand-plus words – my response to the Sokovia Accords, as an Avenger, would be to acknowledge the need, point out the flaws, and try to get my fellow Avengers to work together to create something better so we could work with the world to do the same.
What do you all think? Am I right? Where am I wrong? Anything to add? Questions? Suggestions? Do I think about this stuff far too much? (probably! 😛 )
Sound off in the comments below! 😀