Tag: government

Why Superheroes need to conceal their identity

Superheroes might live among us. Your mail carrier could be one. Or maybe it’s the nerdy IT guy.

After all, many famous comic superheroes have alter egos. This identity conceals their true abilities and after-dark pursuit of justice.

If they didn’t live double lives, they would be considered vigilantes. Even the men and women of the Avengers who saved Earth from alien domination on two separate occasions were seen as vigilantes by some.

Because they worked outside the law to apprehend criminals.

But they always brought them to the authorities for prosecution (if they lived). Just like the A-team of 80s television, the Avengers never planned to use deadly force. Would they? Sure, if the criminals pushed them into it.

The Avengers were a special task force. And while they answered to a government agency (SHIELD), this was acceptable. Once that agency disappeared, people in power started feeling threatened.

It’s about Controlling the Power

There’s a fine line between being powerful and having control.

The Lamborghini is powerful. The driver leashes that power with a steering wheel and brakes. But what if the little plastic line carrying the fluid to those systems is cut? The power is out of control.

In the newest Captain America film, the governments of the world don’t like the idea that a powerful group of trained soldiers can fight crime and terrorism without paying homage to the local authorities.

Secretary of State says, “Where are Thor and the Hulk? If I misplaced two 30 megaton warheads, you can bet there’d be an investigation.”

So Thor and the Hulk are weapons of mass destruction? Wanda is even called that by her own team member. They aren’t people anymore. Only resources to be used by the powers that be.

And those in power are determined to control them. Were the Avengers out of control? Had they overstepped their mission?


Civilians perished. It was tragic. In the process, a terrifying biological agent was kept from the hands of terrorists who would have used it to kill thousands, or even millions.

But no one’s talking about that.

In past movies, the Avengers kept each other in check. They answered to the team collective.

The Avengers were visible. Everyone knew who to blame if things went awry during the display of superhuman abilities. This visibility acted as accountability.

But that wasn’t enough. Politicians saw them only as a weapon, a tactical force to be deployed. Governments wanted a say in where they would go and who they would dispatch.


It’s all in the Media Spin

The media spins the stories in our world (and the comic realities). One day they’re hailing the hero who stopped an insane murderer. The next they scream about stopping the vigilantes who are taking the law into their own hands.

In many places, the government controls the media. They can put the spin on the story so it reads like they want. Focus on the few innocents killed in a bad situation rather the thousands saved from something worse.

Superman, Spider-Man and Batman saw their heroic persona degraded and maligned. Is this why they hid behind Clark Kent, Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne? As long as no one knows who the man behind the mask is, media can only speculate and criticize.

Did they watch the news with the same hurt as Wanda and Cap? Did the fact they weren’t named keep them from feeling responsible when bystanders got hurt?

The writers make it sound like they keep their secrets to protect those they love from retribution. But is that the only reason? Is there ever only ONE reason?

After seeing the way media hype caused problems for the Avengers, it seems obvious that there are other reasons. Having a secret identity keeps them from being controlled by the powers that be.

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

Should they answer to someone? Most of these superheroes do have contacts on the police force. The masked men and women see themselves as a “special operative.” They must. Why else would they leave those they apprehend trussed up and ready for a reading of Miranda rights?

It’s not super to be a hero in our world. People are threatened by the unselfish pursuit of justice. The media is concerned about twisting things into a story that gets attention.

My hero, Captain America, would’ve been better off flying under the radar. Hard to do when the government creates you specifically to wear the face of their ideal soldier.

There’s no going back now. Cap can’t hide in anonymity.

The real losers in the situation are all the innocents he can’t protect.

Captain America: Vigilante or Hero?

On May 6, 2016, the newest Captain America film hit local theaters. People were challenged to choose a side in this Superhero Civil War. Would you be #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan?

If you read my post after I watched the second Captain America movie, you recall that I dubbed Captain America the perfect superhero. I will be quoting that post here.

After Marvel’s movie makers changed the terms of being a hero, do I still believe Cap is a model superhero? Did the signing of some UN treaty suddenly make following his own moral compass illegal?

Being a Hero

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

In my earlier post, I claimed Captain America was a hero because of these three things:

  1. He fights for justice for everyone
  2. He doesn’t use his power for selfish reasons
  3. He won’t compromise his personal integrity for anyone

However, if the governments of 117 countries decide that he doesn’t have the right to do these things, is he bound to follow them because they are suddenly the majority?

That’s what this movie is all about. Once again, it challenges the idea that a person can be loyal to two people who are at odds with each other. What if they are both right? Whose side do you stand on?

At one point, Iron Man asked Black Widow if she could bring the Hulk in on their team. Her reply, “How do you know he’d choose your side?”

Cap didn’t want his friends to be divided, but they chose to stand with him because they’re friends. This meant friends faced off with friends. Isn’t this something that happens in real life? You side with one friend for whatever reason – and it isn’t just because they’re your friend.

What reason would a hero have for standing against his friends? See number one and three above. He believed it was the just thing and his integrity is not for sale to the highest bidder.

Being a Vigilante

Hero or Vigilante?
Hero or Vigilante?

I’m in the middle of watching the third season of The Arrow on Netflix. The police call him the vigilante. Except for one man – a (police)man who has been rescued by him.

So what does it mean to be a vigilante?

Dictionary.com says a vigilante is “any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.” So a person who seeks their own brand of justice. They take an eye for an eye.

Because sometimes the legal system fails. There is no such thing as a perfect government with only fair laws that are always enforced.

Does that give a person the “right” to take things into their own hands?

Instead of giving you my answer, let me offer up examples. Comic book examples: Batman, Spiderman, Superman and many others. More movies have been made on this topic than almost any other.

In a fallen world, I don’t think fallen people should seek their own brand of justice. I ascribe to this principle “avenge not yourselves, but give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

However, notice that this says to avenge not yourselves.

Captain America did not decide to selfishly help one friend while annoying all of his other friends. Cap saw injustice. He had the power to stop it. So he did.

He minimizes the collateral damage of death to innocents in every way he can. Isn’t that what policemen, and military, and others whose “job” it is to protect the rights of all citizens do?

This is the reason he wouldn’t sign the accord. If he did, suddenly he became subject to a governing authority. Because, let’s face it, those with superpowers are above the average law. We can only hope they’re going to fight on the side of right, because who can stop them?

(More on this issue in my next post.)

No longer without Personal Entanglements

One of my author friends told me that Cap would always put friendship first and that wasn’t always in the best interest of the wider scope of world problems.

And yet…I believe Cap chose only to endanger himself when he went after Bucky. He gave Sam the chance to opt out. When they headed to the final battle, it was only Cap and Bucky facing their foe.

I don’t want to give away anything for those who haven’t seen the movie, so you should stop reading now if that is you. SPOILER AHEAD!

Image credit: technobuffalo

Cap admitted to Wanda that his concern for Bucky compromised the team. He took full responsibility for the collateral damage on the mission where this happened.

Further, he stepped beyond his “no romantic attachments” barrier by kissing Sharon Carter. Whether or not that makes her his Lois Lane, I don’t know. She certainly isn’t a helpless wallflower. After all, she’s a CIA agent with obvious skills. With an aunt like the amazing Agent Peggy Carter, she can probably hold her own against the bad guys who might abduct her to get to Cap.

Still, Cap no longer meets my third qualification. I said heroes with love interests were “forced to choose between their love and the wider world.” When Cap was forced into that situation in Civil War, I don’t think it had to do with his personal feelings. As I said in my earlier post: “he will never compromise his principles and favors no individual as more redeemable than another.”

I don’t believe he favored Bucky above Iron Man in the newest film. They were equally his friend.

However, Bucky needed help because he was being used as a pawn by someone with vile intentions. In this case, what looked like favoritism toward a friend was actually Captain Rogers protecting the underdog.

Because that’s what true heroes do.

**Original image for header on this post can be found here. All credit goes to those artists.

What do you think? Is Cap a vigilante now? Or is he still a hero? Can he be both?