Tag Archives: Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvels of Marvel: Captain America

Captain America

My reviews of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continue this week, coming back down to earth to look at the two (going on three, soon, hopefully, please?) Captain America movies. Let’s go punch some Nazis.

Of course, as I said in my other long and adoring post about the characters of Steve Rogers and co., Marvel has made great and effective strides to have Captain America grow from his flat beginnings as a fun propaganda tool into a three-dimensional, likeable and interesting heroic figure. Short of shying away from his message-selling past and perhaps brushing over it to give him a more mature and modern incarnation, Marvel has latched onto it, explored and affectionately taken the mickey out of it in full. Remember what I said before about Marvel not giving a crap and setting out to enjoy themselves, inherent silliness be damned?

But, I’m not just going to sit here reiterating everything I examined in that post, but take a look at the movies as a framework for these characters and these stories and what it all means. Captain America, naturally enough, thrives in plots where he represents a figure of hope versus a contemporary fear. We see two instances of this in both The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier—in the World War II era he was created in, the threat was Nazis, in modern day, it’s terrorism and weaponised misuse of information. Interesting to note that the function of Captain America, as used here, is not only to fight these threats off as protector of the people but, in a way, to represent them as well.

Think about it—blonde, blue-eyed Steve, turned into a supersoldier and perfect human being by many standards (including being magically/scientifically cured of all his ailments. Disability erasure? Discussion for another day), is certainly a nice example of the Aryan ideal. And what does he do? Fights against the enemy who would revere him. The same kind of thing goes for The Winter Soldier, where it’s revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. is inherently a corrupt mess—well, Cap’s tied in with S.H.I.E.L.D., thus now also HYDRA, and on a better day for them could have been their perfect attack dog and/or poster boy. But once again he throws that back in the enemy’s face. Even if it involves dismantling S.H.I.E.L.D. itself and kind of shooting himself and the rest of the Avengers and that whole dealio proverbially in the foot. Hey, he’s “not a perfect soldier, but a good man.” Continue reading

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Hope, Symbolism & Why Steve Rogers is Still Our Hero

Chris Evans as Captain America

This is his patriotic judging face

If you knew absolutely nothing about comics or superhero movies and just heard the words “Captain America”, what would be your first thought? Possibly “Sounds like nationalist military propaganda” or “I bet he’s a real dick”. Well, in the case of the former, you wouldn’t entirely be wrong, and the latter isn’t an unfair assumption considering how self-congratulatory the embodiments of a country’s values can turn out to be. Yet here we have Marvel’s Steve “Captain America” Rogers, and company, one of the most three-dimensional and heart-tugging batches of supersoldier beefcake I’ve seen on a big screen recently.

I wasn’t particularly interested in Captain America (he seemed fairly ridiculous, and that’s even next to Thor), but you know, made sure to see The First Avenger so The Avengers would make sense, and went to see The Winter Soldier with WB because she half-dragged me there to the tune of the internet’s wailing about it. I don’t live under a rock. I’m not some old academic fuddy-duddy that thinks superhero movies (especially ones that dare to be fun. Yech!) can’t give you a poignant emotional reaction or possibly contain any value beyond passing a few popcorn-flavoured hours. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has generally swept me off my feet with how consistently good it is. Nonetheless, I’m still really impressed with the latest Captain America offerings, and everything they’ve done with the character and movies in general.

True to the aforementioned internet wailings, among other things The Winter Soldier successfully makes the viewer form an emotional attachment to a ruthless assassin who has about six spoken lines. The Marvel writers are wily—they make you love a human weapon, the same way they made you love a propaganda tool. Yes, Captain America has his roots in World War II morale-boosting. He is a Nazi-punching, golden-haired, wholesome as farm-baked apple pie sales tool to give people something to enjoy in frightening times. He seems pretty dated now, laughable even, yet Marvel made the decision to bring him back. And it really, really worked. Continue reading

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