Based on the box office returns, everyone in the United States has seen Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier about eight times. The Czar did not do a review for this film, nor will he discuss the numerous surprises in the picture. By this point, you are either aware of the story or you’re simply never going to see it. That’s fine.
The movie is a big hit with libertarian-minded Americans, to be sure. Many conservatives loved this movie’s thematic elements: government is too big, and when it thinks it needs to protect you, it does the most harm. Most viewers associated this ideapresent in Marvel’s films since Iron Man 2, the whole sword versus shield debatewith the NSA scandal. Indeed, when the movie was being written and filmed, the NSA scandal had not been fully exposed yet. As a result, it can apply to everything from the IRS scandal to liberalism in general.
Other folks on our side say no: many see the film as a typical Hollywood mess of liberal thought masquerading as populism. The idea that Fear is the real enemy comes straight from FDR’s mouth. That anything that opposes the government machinery must be eliminated immediately. Heck Jonah Goldberg wrote a spoilery screed about the movie’s failure to address real libertarian concerns.
So which is it? Is this movie pro- or anti-libertarian? How about this: it doesn’t matter what we think. It matters what the filmgoers think.
The bottom line here is that Captain America 2 shows a government gone amok, with the real victims being ordinary Americans. It shows that a distrust of governmentat all levelscan keep you sane. Whether or not this film addressed the need for reform at the Federal Reserve is unimportant: what matters here is that pro-libertarian themes were built into a film that is grossing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Successful films sell culture. Hollywood knew this in the 1980s, and it is realizing that drippy America-is-the-real-enemy films like The Hurt Locker lose money. When Steve Rogers says that government concern for the public looks a lot like Nazi oppression, it makes libertarian ideas palatable without handing the audience a badly typewritten pamphlet.
The Czar gets it: there were some bogus ideas in the film that will appeal to Progressives, but overall there were no libertarian ideas that looked foolish. And Progressives probably will not realize that their ideas about control, uniformity, protection, security, and government power are the enemy in this film without anyone having to point it out. When a villainous character in the film admits with some pride that world order can be achieved by killing only about 20 million Americans, Progressives know that’s not a line pulled from the air but a quote from one of their very own.
The end result is that regardless of whether the overt political shading of this movie is conservative or liberal, the covert underpinnings sell conservative libertarianism in a positive light. Certainly more so than any Tea Party politician has done. Because this movie gives libertarians a lot of ground previously held by the Left in their so-called Culture War, it makes a difference.
Cultural victories matter, and Hollywood is a great barometer of what people think. By putting even a small amount of your ideals into the heart of a major character, you sell it to the world.
Heck, the Left has been doing that for decades.