“Captain America” sequel: The first libertarian popcorn movie

by Chris Reed | April 14, 2014 6:45 am

cap.am[1]The stars and heroes of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” may be government employees, but the messages of the movie amount to entry-level libertarian thinking — messages with massive resonance for current policy and political debates. Among them:

1) Don’t trust a state that gathers secrets on everyone.

2) Really don’t trust a state that has remote killing powers and gathers secrets on everyone.

3) And really, really don’t trust a state that thinks killing people without due process is OK if the national security machine says so.

Some of the movie-biz trade coverage seems faintly surprised[2] that “Captain America” was still a gigantic worldwide blockbuster after its first 10 days:

“Captain America which stays at the Top of the box office world and continues to rack up dollars; it’s total cume domestically will be about $158M after its second weekend. The Winter Soldier, which had A CinemaScores across the board, dropped less than the first Captain America did in 2011, which was 61%. And, because of its equally strong presence in international markets (about $60M more from this past weekend), Captain America: The Winter Soldier now stands tall with a $476.1M worldwide cume with one more territory to open – Japan. It’s 163% ahead of the first Cap which made, all in, $370.5M worldwide.”

That’s from Deadline Hollywood. Its author shouldn’t have been surprised. In the movie, the U.S. is depicted as being borderline-fascistic because of Total Information Awareness[3]-style info-gathering and a much-more sophisticated version of the present U.S. programs which kill perceived enemies with pilotless drones.

Worldwide popularity reflects anti-Americanism

That depiction tracks semi-precisely with the low opinion of America held by much of the world[4] over the past decade, at least after the Obama honeymoon ended overseas. (Will it ever end[5] here?)

The Bush 43-Obama zeitgeist is in trouble if pop culture sides with “Captain America” the movie and the superhero. Pop culture is very much like the domestic version of “soft power” — as the Obama team showed when it actually got tons of traction for its insane argument that Romney’s 2012 comment about “binders full of women” was somehow a sexist “Mein Kampf.”

Don’t trust the government is a powerful argument to many of the people who pay close attention to how the world works. If it becomes a message that pop culture explains and amplifies to those who pay less attention, hallelujah.

And it seems unlikely that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is an outlier in the ever-growing Marvel cinematic empire. “The Avengers” certainly brought up the don’t-trust-the-government theme.

More more more!

Can governments kill their citizens without a trial?

A final note: When Sen. Rand Paul demanded a year ago that Attorney General Eric Holder say American citizens couldn’t be killed unilaterally by government drones, it was widely derided[6] as a stunt. A few more movies like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and that question will become a staple of press conferences involving presidential candidates for the rest of time.


  1. [Image]: http://calwatchdog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/cap.am_.gif
  2. faintly surprised: http://www.deadline.com/2014/04/box-office-rio-2-runs-afowl-of-captain-america-blasts-to-no-1-oculus-runs-over-disappinting-draft-day/
  3. Total Information Awareness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Information_Awareness
  4. much of the world: http://www.pewglobal.org/
  5. ever end: http://video.foxnews.com/v/3463702846001/sharyl-attkisson-on-leaving-cbs/#sp=show-clips
  6. widely derided: http://www.mediaite.com/online/calm-down-senator-wall-street-journal-slams-rand-pauls-filibuster-stunt-lacking-serious-argument/

Source URL: https://calwatchdog.com/2014/04/14/captain-america-the-first-libertarian-popcorn-movie/