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Captain America Brings Civil Liberty Concerns to Big Screen [Video]

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

For those who have seen the new Captain America movie and follow current events closely, especially the growing concerns over civil liberties in the U.S., it is obvious that there are more than a few political overtones in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. According to investigative journalist Ben Swann, it is not simply a handful of libertarians trying to politicize the move, either, but intentional parallels to real life events used to structure the story of the film.

Without spoiling anything for those who have not seen the movie (not too much anyway),

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is about an intelligence and defense agency within the U.S. that plans to launch a new program which would allow the agency to not only spy on people around the world, but would target and take out individuals the system considers potential threats using unmanned air carriers (giant drones). The targets of "Project Insight" may not even be proven threats to national or global security. It is up to Captain America and a small group of heroes, most of whom work(ed) with the agency, to stop it.

Essentially, the biggest civil liberties issues raised over the last few years were combined to provide the foundation for the storyline: government spying, data collection, UAV targeted-killings, and kill lists.

Now, some people may rebuke this and say that Swann and others are looking too deeply into the film -- that it is just a movie and a few libertarians are just trying to politicize it. Not true.

"[Marvel] said they wanted to make a political thriller," director Joe Russo said in an interview with Mother Jones.

"So we said if you want to make a political thriller, all the great political thrillers have very current issues in them that reflect the anxiety of the audience...That gives it an immediacy, it makes it relevant. So [Anthony] and I just looked at the issues that were causing anxiety for us, because we read a lot and are politically inclined. And a lot of that stuff had to do with civil liberties issues, drone strikes, the president's kill list, preemptive technology."

The creators of the film intentionally raise a moral issue with modern U.S. foreign policy: We must take out our enemies before they take us out.

"The question is where do you stop?" Russo asked. "If there are 100 people we can kill to make us safer, do we do it? What if we find out there's 1,000? What if we find out there's 10,000? What if it's a million? At what point do you stop?"

The lingering question, which the movie addresses head-on, is how much freedom are we willing to give up to feel safe? And, at what point have we sacrificed everything America is supposed to stand for?

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