So an actual lawyer has pointed out that Tony Stark (of Marvel movie and comics fame) would be liable for e.g. that damage done by Ultron, his psychopathic, murderous AI that escaped the lab. Color me stupid, but would Civil War been a better movie if Tony Stark needed to sign these regulations to escape a business-destroying legal judgment?
I wish there were more movies about how people use circumstance to guide their opinions. In Iron Man 3, Stark boasted he privatized world peace. Wouldn't it be excellent to show why that's bad? And what better way to do that than to show someone applying insane pressure on him to comply with their demands? In this case, they were even asking for things like indefinite trial-less detention of his friends in exchange. Now that's a movie about what it means to be a hero. Standing up to that, choosing self-destruction, choosing to fight against people who don't want good to be done.
Of course, I'm a weirdo, perhaps. I like these movies about superheroes when they also contain things about what it means for anybody, powers or no, to be a hero. Plenty of them do – there isn't just one answer to the question. But it's also a question we should feel comfortable answering more directly.
I'm a little concerned there aren't many depictions of heroes in media outside of superheroes. The recent book review got the phrase "ordinary act of courage" in my head, and it's pretty surprising how rare that is – those events just barely occurred in that book (although, in that case, it was parents risking their lives for their children, which is probably one of the better ways to depict this).
But heroism isn't something we learned from fantastical stories. We learned it from the people who did the thing no one else could, who sacrificed something to let someone else live free. They saw a Prisoner's Dilemma out there and someone had to be the first to cooperate, at enormous personal cost. They led, they built, they did the hard work everyone always leave to someone else. And probably a dozen more archetypes. But those are things we see every day. And we learn villainy from a thousand small inconsequential things that bother us and teach us not to be as bad as them. And we learn people can be redeemed when we see just how petty those annoyances were.
Being able to punch really hard is kind of a stinker, storytelling wise. I do love me some Captain America, though. That scene, where they're talking about the small Steve Rodgers, how he'll never make it, but when they throw the fake grenade he jumps on it – what a statement about heroism. That strength doesn't matter. Makes me tear up a bit just remembering it.