In a movie entitled Captain America: Civil War, it’s easy enough to throw your support behind the guy whose name is in the title. Many people probably chose Team Cap over Team Iron Man for this simple reason. If the movie is named after him, he must be right. However, after actually watching the Civil War, it actually became harder to decide which side was truly right. At one point, Vision, while trying to make an argument for oversight, actually goes one step further than that, and makes an argument that the Avengers very existence may be a danger to the world. After watching Civil War, I’m not entirely sure Vision isn’t wrong.
It's difficult to argue that the Avengers aren't dangerous. Iron Man isn't wrong in that opinion. They have done damage. Hell, some of the adversaries that the Avengers have had to take down, they created themselves. However, at the same time, there have also been moments when terrible things were going to happen whether the Avengers were there or not. Having the Avengers there certainly saved lives, but the battles have also cost lives. Maybe the Avengers saved more people in the long run, but human life shouldn't be a math equation.
While the inciting incident that leads to the Sokovia Accords is a terrible accident, it’s not the only one that the Avengers are guilty of, instead, it’s simply the first one that can be easily attributed to them. When Secretary Ross is showing the Avengers clips of their previous exploits, we see a street level perspective of the damage. That classic scene of The Hulk flying into the side of a building to take down some aliens from the first Avengers film? Yeah, debris falling from that impact landed on a guy on the street below. Falling helicarriers caused waves that took out civilians. It's chilling to see things from this perspective.
We get to see the face of a young man who lost his life in Sokovia, but he was far from the only one. Helmut Zemo lost his entire family due to the battle between the Avengers and Ultron. It’s this loss that leads him to take the steps that he does in Captain America: Civil War. While the Sokovia Accords are the thing that puts the initial stress on the Avengers, Zemo is the one who ultimately breaks them apart. Both are a result of the events in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
And let’s not forget that Ultron himself is entirely Tony Stark’s fault. Stark creates Ultron with the best of intentions, but the road to hell is paved with them. Without asking for permission or forgiveness Tony Stark creates an artificial intelligence who spends five minutes on the internet and decides it all has to burn. Stark creates Ultron. Ultron destroys Sokovia. By the transitive property of superheroes, Iron Man is responsible for Sokovia.
These are just the instances where the Avengers own actions have directly led to negative consequences. This doesn’t even delve into Vision’s initial theory, that simply by existing the Avengers invite challenge. The idea is that essentially anybody trying to challenge the Avengers has to up their game to a dangerous level to be a threat. Is there evidence of this? Possibly. Would Ivan Vanko have built himself an Arc Reactor to take on Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 if Tony didn’t already have one? Would Aldrich Killian have gone to such extremes if he didn’t deem it necessary to beat Iron Man? Would Daren Cross have done his own research into shrinking technology if Hank Pym hadn’t done it first? It’s difficult to say, but certainly there’s an argument to be made.
At the same time, there are clearly threats that none of the Avengers had anything to do with. Hydra and the Red Skull’s existence predate that of Captain America. They were going to be a serious problem anyway, and without Captain America, it’s likely Hydra would have succeeded. Thanos was going to go after the Infinity Stones regardless, so his alien attack on Earth would likely have still taken place. If the Avengers hadn’t been there, perhaps the destruction would have been much worse.
In the final analysis, it’s difficult to argue that the world would be better off without the Avengers. At the same time, they have been directly responsible for some pretty terrible events. Whether the solution is oversight or simply punishment after the fact when they screw up, it seems that the Avengers should be held accountable for their actions.
Ultimately, the world still needs the Avengers, something they will likely learn during the course of Avengers: Infinity War, if not before, but just because the world needs them doesn’t mean they should be written a blank check. They need to do better as an organization in order to reduce collateral damage as much as possible. The power they have is extensive and it can be dangerous.
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