So, apparently, there’s a big deal coming about, maybe you’ve heard of it (and no, for once it’s not me). There’s a new Captain America movie coming out soon, and you can watch the trailer for it here. Now, like his goody-too shoes DC compadre Superman (who Harrison Cooper talks about very eloquently at his blog The Hummus Offensive) the Cap gets a lot of flak for being an evidently simple character that is easily summable: America, fuck yeah; and you can’t beat my invincible shield. I think that this line of thinking is, as the Chinese say, wei wong (I’m going to Hell for that…) Captain America is my favorite superhero. Albeit, my view may be skewed because I’ve yet to actually read a Cap comic, but I’ve seen plenty of excerpts, read through plot lines, etc. I’ve done my research on the guy. And I love him, more than any other. But let’s get back to the purpose of this post, of which there are two primary lines of thought: to discuss how the character is incredibly deep, moving, and dynamic in comparison to static and simple; and my hopes, dreams, and fears about the movie that will come soon.
First, allow me to do this – the Captain is dead. The entire “time sync” shit Marvel is throwing out there is dumb and I believe (though have little evidence other than the author who killed him intending him to be dead forever as a statement) that it is a simple marketing ploy. Which is a shame. If the Cap solely belonged to the author, then he could kill him, and it would be terrible but it would give the final message. Instead, he and everything he stands for is being raped for a profit because why sell a superhero that is just going to die (see the whole movie thing and all the revenue it will generate from ticket sales and merchandise alone). Please keep that in mind if you read on. In fact, that arc (as well as his founding) will be the basis for my argument (as it is probably the best arc of his, from what I can tell). What matters is his potential, which I feel typically has been underutilized. Anyway, off we go.
So the Captain started as a skinny white kid who just wanted to kill some Nazis. But in the end, he was just too small and frail and wasn’t allowed to simply enlist. But then he was allowed to participate in a program that would make him stronger, faster, bigger – in essence, the perfect soldier. Which he became. Obviously, that is what he became, but I’ve heard some flak because he sort of just “got” better. I would disagree. Steve Rogers was a man with a goal, with a mind-set – to help people. That’s why he wanted to enlist – not because Nazi’s are anti-American or fascist or whatever, but because they were hurting people (most famously the Jews, but don’t forget the large number of blacks, gays, gypsies, and basically anybody in Europe who wasn’t a German) violently. They were waging a war of domination by any means necessary, especially if inhumane. And he wanted to help stop it.
But he can’t. He was, for all intents and purposes, bound to a wheel chair. Imagine being Doctor X, but without the mental superpowers. But instead, this was a metaphor, for finding that one opportunity. Over and over he enlisted and he tried again and again and again to help, but he simply couldn’t. And finally, he got his chance, his one chance, to be able to do what he felt he needed to do. It’s as if somebody had offered this normal Doctor X the powers he has (which, I might add, anything with the mind is more metagming than anything physical (unless you’re the Juggernaut, but then, fuck you, cuz HE’S THE JUGGERNAUT!!!)) I won’t even cede the awesome shield. It too is a metaphor, and a simple one at that – his code. The morality, his ethics, his driving nature than inspired him to become the Captain protects him. Nothing can stop a man driven to help people – be it bullets, lasers, or even death itself. His shield allows him to accomplish the impossible, or at least attempt it without fear or hesitancy.
That in and of itself makes him more than just a guy who found his powers. I’ll also note that he actually loses a considerable amount of the time (though I don’t want to take the time to find sources or whatever) in that he gets incredibly wounded or really just holds on, especially against his betters. For example, take Captain America and imagine that we’re in a UFC of sorts, only of other superheroes. Let’s put him against, say, Doctor X. He’d lose, the guy has crazy brain powers that render his physical abilities essentially useless. Wolverine – the guy is a mutant and would simply need to stab him in one of his many squishy spots, whereas the Cap would have to essentially break an unbreakable metal to kill him while outpacing the super regeneration. Gambit, same outcome, he’d lose because Gambit rocks. Thor, he’d probably lose because Thor is a God on Earth with the thunder of the Gods behind him (also a metaphor). Spiderman, he’d lose because of the webs, really. The Captain is not super. He is a man – a strong and powerful one, no doubt, but still, just a man with the same limitations as any. He can still die easily. So what is his only defense against everything, be it bullets, explosive cards, or sharp pointy hand-knives? His shield. And we’ve already talked about what his shield represents. And once he loses his shield, loses his conviction (look up the Civil War plot) he is a weak man again. In fact, once he surrenders during the Civil War arc (which I’ll go into more detail in a second) and gives up his shield, his ability to be Captain America, he dies. He is shot on the steps of a courthouse and dies there (again, fuck the time warp shit).
Obviously, he is not simply a flat character, or at least his origins aren’t. Like Spiderman is a metaphor for puberty (which one could also take this a similar way, really) he is a metaphor for standing behind your beliefs, which are more than just “America, fuck yeah.” My favorite excerpt I have seen from his comics is something I’ll link to right about here. In it, he recites a Marc Twain passage that he has memorized from his childhood and that has influenced him ever since. What I like a lot about it is also how he’s talking to Spiderman, it gives off this great feel and I can’t really explain it. My summation of the passage is: Every person must speak, must stand behind his convictions: to not do so is cowardice. To simply side with the majority is cowardice. If you feel something is wrong in the world, even when everyone else says it is right, you must stand, even if alone.
This is the Captain. He’s not the government’s poster boy. In fact, if you look at the link, he is the exact opposite, saying that the government is merely a puppet of the people. he is the embodiment of what I feel it is to be at least an American, if not a human being. Combine that with the story of the Civil War arc, and it’s like a great novel. In it, the government is making superheroes register themselves so that the government can use them, and the Cap stands against it. He feels that it needs reform, though he is not actually against the idea. Quite simply, it’s too much too soon, and he starts a resistance (against Iron Man, I might add). And he fights, quite valiantly and almost to the point of victory – until he realizes that he what he is doing is hurting the people he so loves. He sees paramedics, firemen, regular, ordinary people fighting and dying alongside the government forces, and it horrifies him. He so cares for people that he must stop fighting them – he physically can’t allow himself to continue. He drops his shield and is arrested. He throws aside his convictions for his love, and in the end, he pays the ultimate price for it.
It’s astounding, really, to think about it. How intense, how provocative everything is – one comic should be required in any American literature class (guess who I would like to be the protagonist). And now, in a gear shift that might kill most transmissions, picture the movie capturing all this. I know that they want to – it’s why the movie is titles “Captain America: The First Avenger.” It’s going to lead into the Civil War with Iron Man and Thor and everything. They are all related. But I sense that this movie won’t be able to fulfill my lofty goals for the Cap. I fear that they will simply make it a display of CGI and explosions, which would ROB the character. There’s so much they can capture with him, but I don’t trust that they can. If they do anything right, it’s keep him in WW2. That’s his time, it’s where he NEEDS to start – Iron Man can be elsewhere because the character allows it (it actually makes more sense in the present). I don’t know, I’m just… wary. I will see it, without a doubt. But will it be good is a totally different question. The trailer showed me explosions and spec effects, along with bad jokes. The actor, though he’s good, just doesn’t seem to fit the bill quite right – combine it with the fact that he’s one of the Fantastic Four and you see my issues already.
But I guess only time will tell. I know that I will see the movie, and I know that I love the Captain. I still want to get a tattoo related to him somewhere, simply because of what he means to me. But that’ll have to wait. For now, I’ll just keep my wall poster of him up and try to find that clock that was at Hastings again. And yes, there are this few pictures on purpose – I don’t want to litter the message with them. There will be more in later posts, though I promise you that.