Illustration for article titled How Should Fictional Universes Deal With Real Wars?

Fictional universes occasionally cross paths with the real world, borrowing histories, people, and sometimes even tragic events. But what obligations come with borrowing from history?


In response to a post on whether Captain America's portrayal of the title character's experiences as a solider during WWII strayed too far, a discussion began over just what it meant for movies to borrow from history's tragedies — and just what more they might owe than usual in doing so:

Jane, you ignorant slut:

"I'm active duty military, which colors my views of movies that deal with war, admittedly. There were a number of things in CA:TWS that rubbed me the wrong way a bit - the VA group therapy session, for example, with the absolutely most cliched description of post-Iraq PTSD imaginable (swerving to avoid a plastic bag in the road).

I get what you're saying about movies being escapism, to some degree. But I keep thinking back to a movie, like, Inglorious Bastards, which while obviously alternate history violent escapism and revenge fantasy, still managed to depict how absolutely serious and deadly that war was. So I think if movies are going to use real world elements as settings for their fictional universes, they owe at least a tip of the hat to the real stakes which were present.

I'll compare the Captain America movies to the first Iron Man movie, where we see airmen die in an ambush. That felt real to me, in a way that Captain America's deathless exploits don't."


What do you think? How should fictional universes deal with war in the real world? Tell us in the comments, along with examples about some of the movies that got it right and some of the movies that got it wrong.

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