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