About Steve Rogers letting/telling his Secret Avengers torture people:
I'm not a fan.
I read a review (Chad Nevett's) where he said that was something Warren Ellis had been exploring throughout his stint on Secret Avengers. Not torture, per se, but forcing characters to make choices that conflict with their typical morals, or straining those morals, something to that effect. I can see how this would fit that idea, but I can't help feeling Steve Rogers would find a way without actually resorting to torture. Sorry, letting his associates torture people.
Then again, I'm the guy who didn't have a problem with Gruenwald's assertion that Cap didn't kill anybody during the war*, so I'm willing to accept my idea of Captain America is a bit, unrealistic? Antiquated? Something.
I get where the people saying "Commander Steve Rogers can do things Captain America can't," are coming from, but I disagree with that, too. Yes, Captain America is a symbol, and so there are certain things he couldn't be seen (or be known) to have done, but I feel it's flipping things. It suggests being Captain America makes Steve Rogers who he is, when I think it's the other way around. Steve Rogers was a character that was supposed to represent the best things Americans believed their country was about (or liked to believe their country was about, depending on your level of cynicism), but wasn't able to do anything. He wanted to protect those who were weak, at least partially because he knew what it was like, but also because he thought it was the right thing to do. But he couldn't. Spirit willing, flesh weak, as it were.
So he took the Super-Soldier Serum, taking the chance it wouldn't kill him or drive him nuts or whatever, and used the power from it to fight those who abused their power. He still believed the same things as before, but now he could do something.
I got a bit off track, but the point was I think Steve Rogers would be opposed to torture whether he was wearing his Captain America uniform or not. The clothes don't make the man, the man makes the clothes**. Now if you figure Steve would be OK with torture under certain circumstances, then I could follow the idea he still wouldn't do so as Captain America, because that's something larger than him.
For myself, I don't agree with Warren Ellis' idea of Steve Rogers. Especially given they know only one person in there is actually involved with this evil organization they're hunting. They're going to stab and zap people who are most likely completely innocent and unaware of anything they're interested in? That's people with power abusing those without, which feels like exactly the sort of thing Steve Rogers ought to be preventing. I suppose you could have Steve try friendlier methods, fail, leave in frustration because he won't cross than line, then have Black Widow and Moon Knight torture them without his knowledge. Natasha strikes me as "ends justify the means" sort and Moon Knight's crazy, there's not much I'd put past him as this stage. The issue there is it makes Steve look incompetent, his subordinates doing this without him knowing it, maybe even going against his orders.
Which is kind of a problem with him being boss of all superheroes. Before, if the Widow did some periodic ops for Russia, Quicksilver went crazy and turned on the Avengers because his sister married an android, or Wolverine killed 50 guys 'cause it's Tuesday, well, that wasn't great for relations between superhumans and the everyday chuckleheaded morons who inhabit the Marvel Universe, but Captain America wasn't directly responsible for it. Now (in theory) he's their boss, they take marching orders from him. When they screw up/disobey orders/go crazy/get mind-controlled, it makes him look bad. Like he can't control the people working for him. Steve Rogers ends up looking ineffectual if he says anything against their actions, because why didn't he stop them in the first place? But if he says or does nothing, he could be seen to be tacitly endorsing said actions. As we've discussed before, nothing good happens for the person in charge in the Marvel Universe.
One thing I should have realized before that I hadn't was how differently Captain America could appear to someone who isn't from the United States. That shouldn't have been a surprise, since even people in the U.S. don't agree about the character, but the blinders are on sometimes. It wasn't that Warren Ellis hails from the British Isles, it was an Australian commenter on David Brothers' post on the subject. The commenter said prior to the movie, he thought of Cap (paraphrasing) as representing US hegemony, or the current mindset of the country, rather than being a guy that represents some ideal of decades past. I hadn't thought of that before, so it was a perspective I was glad to read.
There are some other thing I want to get into, but they aren't strictly related to Steve Rogers' character, so I'll save them for a later post.
* Though depending on how it's presented, I don't have a problem with saying he did take lives in combat.
** It's kind of funny, I'm typing this while reading a Grantland piece about Bernard Hopkins, and he said the same thing about a shirt he was wearing while training. He makes the shirt, it doesn't make him