The last thing an audience wants from a Hero is for them to be perfect. No one can be good at everything all the time, it simply isn’t realistic. So Tony Stark needs to have a problem with arrogance, Batman is obsessed with his past and even Kalel needs to be an Alien who struggles with really understanding who humans are.
At least, that is what I thought until the MCU gave me Captain America.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It was 2011 when Cap first visited our screens, before the Ole US of A turned itself into the laughing stock of the globe. Even then, however, most of the world was tired of the idea of “The American Dream” still being promoted (especially as, in the middle of the GFC, it was becoming obvious that the dream had died). Parker and Stone had satirised the uber-patriotism of the country through the hilarious puppetry of “Team America” and even Iron Man did not paint the Military in a kind light (oops, we gave our guns to Terrorists!).
So, why am I not disgusted by Steve Rogers? Why is it, in fact, that he is one of my favourite MCU characters?
I think two things make this movie, and Chris Evans’ Captain America, so successful is that there is sincerity in everything that happens, and it doesn’t shy away from our own failures.
Steve Rogers is an idealist. While the early scenes before the Super-Soldier serum look like Chris Evans is only to be filmed in front of one of those curved fun-house mirrors, they do a great job of showing that Roger’s believes in his country and his fellow man. The training scenes with Tommy Lee Jones quickly portray the man as someone who may not look like a hero (yet) but is someone to look up to. Then, of course, he is injected with stuff by Tony’s Dad and a German scientist, becomes superhuman (bulletproof? Unsure. But definitely very strong, fast, and pretty nice looking), and then….well…then he goes on show.
This is what makes Captain America so good for me. The decision that parading around the freak in red white and blue to sell bonds was the decision the military took when it was at war. The idea that the troops themselves found his performance to be mockable because war isn’t glamorous (ignoring how glamorous Marvel still made it, wanting to keep their ratings). The idea that the man who loved his country enough to be experimented on would have an issue with that. This is where the movie gets good.
From the moment Steve gets to actually go to war, the film becomes a little more so-so. An Uber-Nazi bad-guy who has a funky space-cube (“The Tesseract”, which we only know at this point as something with immense energy) is a pretty cool supervillain, and his organisation, Hydra, will do to replace the Nazis as time moves forward, but are not highly attention-grabbing. Agent Carter is beautiful and tough enough to get her own TV series but, of course, she just has to fall in love with him.
It’s only that we know Steve Rogers is an anachronism back in 1945 that makes the knowledge that he will be in the present all the more delicious. If the boy with the heart of gold was frustrated by Military decisions then, what will he think of now? How will Captain America handle knowing that his country is no longer seen as the beacon of hope it once was?
Rating: 9th of 18.