“not if it was your switch”
If the MCU is America’s collective post-9/11 id-fic (and it totally is), Cap 2 is already starting to look like an artifact of the Obama era. Because if Cap 2 has a fatal flaw, it’s failure to grapple head-on with the seductive, numbing fantasy that something like Project Insight could be a necessary evil–even a justifiable evil–as long as it stays in the hands of responsible, measured, well-meaning people who have no interest in abusing their power and really, truly are only in it to protect others.
I think the movie does ultimately reject that fantasy, at the moment where Nick Fury responds to “it’s the next step, if you have the courage to take it” with “no, I have the courage not to.” But it chickens out of explicit condemnation and leaves a lot of mixed messages and easy outs for self-justification. More than that, it never quite lands on a resolution for the tensions it raises between “power that no men can be trusted with” and “power that only good men can be trusted with.”
Given what 2016 hath wrought, it’d be interesting to see an alternate take on Project Insight. One where SHIELD is entirely responsible for its development and initial operation, and manages to keep their own use of it moderately dubious rather than outright evil–but once HYDRA set their sights on taking it over, SHIELD’s unaccountable security culture is a hideously effective vector for HYDRA’s brand of totalitarianism. Set up the infrastructure for a police state, and every jackbooted thug in the vicinity will be salivating for a chance to control it; even if it’s possible to use it responsibly, that doesn’t mean squat if you can’t shut out the opportunistic maniacs working the system from the inside for a chance to get their finger on the switch.