Netflix’s new military science fiction thriller, Combat Zone, tells the story of a super soldier who is similar in many ways from MCU to Captain America, and the two share the same mistake.
The Combat Zone tries to be a complex and nuanced view of the modern war and the various forces that run it, but many of these ambitious themes fall by the wayside at the end of the film.
Although the Netflix movie (directed by Michael Hoffstrom) opens up conversations about the morality of war that even the MCU has not actually tried, both stories fall victim to the same web.
The War Zone focuses on Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie), a role model cyborg with inhuman abilities. Leo is disappointed in his role as a coke in the American war machine, which he considers to be an immoral company that uses as a false flag for peace-killing and destruction.
Leo decides to free himself from his controllers and retaliate, attempting to launch a nuclear attack on the United States, which is interrupted at the climax of the film.
At some point, the war zone provides a successful and complex view of the complexities of war and the often devastating consequences of US military intervention in foreign affairs – how to blame all sides when innocent lives continue to be destroyed as the fire passes.
Leo’s desire to get rid of that machine is completely understandable, but the intensity of his plan (see, Atomic Armageddon) is so unbearable that it destroys any sense of sympathy for his situation.
Despite the gray shadows that appear briefly in the second act of the film, the film ends with him being the Light Villain and the U.S. Army Light Heroes.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier the MCU fell into a similar trap. In Captain America’s second solo film adventure, he begins to get frustrated with Shield’s plans for a fierce global surveillance and prevention crime fight.
These are real-world issues that have been hotly debated in the 21st century, and could have been an interesting environment to explore the storytelling of the film and the discipline of technical military strength. However, that energy is wasted by the Hydra actually taking control of the shield from the inside.
The film’s almost critical critique of modern government agencies and the military is accomplished by a quick “Aw, they’re secretly Nazis,” which turns what might have been a story in shades of gray into black and white.
Of course, this is to be expected from a Marvel film that targets families and children just like anyone else.
The war zone is at least trying to start a more complex conversation about the military industrial complex, but nothing more can be said beyond the “war is bad”. If Netflix finishes making a Combat Zone sequel, we hope it will work where the first movie and Captain America failed.
Battlefield is now available on Netflix.