On Sunday, I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In 3D no less. Chris Evans on a big screen in 3D – a glorious sight! I feel a little odd saying that – I’m more than old enough to be his mother. Hmmm…I guess there’s still some life in the old girl yet!
Aging gracefully my ass.
I like all of the movies in Marvel’s Avengers franchise. They’re fun, fast-paced, and clever without being too graphic in any of the areas it’s possible to be too graphic in. To me, movies are pure escapist entertainment. I don’t want to pay $15 for a ticket to see trauma, sadness, graphic violence and chaos. I can watch the news for that anytime. I want to walk out of a movie theater smiling and The Avengers movies make me smile.
But the Captain America movies are special. I find it really interesting that this second installment in the Captain America series has broken all previous April box office openings taking in something like $96 million in the first 3 days in the U.S. Worldwide, it has taken in $330 million in 10 days. That’s a lot of movie tickets! The execs at Marvel and Disney are exceedingly happy.
Yes, Chris Evans is hot. Did I say that already? And Scarlett Johansson is hot. And it has great special effects and action scenes. And everybody wants to have wings like The Falcon. Hell yeah! But I think there’s more…
The character of Steve Rogers (aka Captain American) is a throwback to a simpler, less complicated time and place. A time where honesty and trustworthiness and integrity and a concern for the greater good were highly regarded values. Remember when deals were done on a handshake and people like Jonas Salk freely shared their life-saving knowledge with the world without charging $1500 for a dosed sugar cube?
I’m not one to idealize the past. I’m well aware of the evils and injustices that were present back in “the good old days”. And I would never wish them back. But I do long for the days when people kept their word, took pride in their work, and money wasn’t the only motivation for doing anything and everything. Certainly, there were many back in the day who let greed and power corrupt them, but it wasn’t condoned, worshiped and glorified like it is now.
We have lost our way and the Cap knows it.
I believe the popularity of Captain American reflects the unconscious longing of our society to return to values that are, in a word, corny. I mean, look at how corny the Cap is… He hasn’t really kissed a girl since 1943, he never lies, he is loyal to his friends and he believes in sacrifice for the greater good. What a sucker! The Marvel script writers did a wonderful job writing dialog for an “old-fashioned values” character that doesn’t come off as cartoonish or judgmental – just sincere and human.
There’s a great scene in Winter Soldier where it becomes clear to Steve that, in the world today, it’s infinitely more difficult and complex to tell the good guys from the bad guys than the world he left in 1943. He wonders, not if he will ever fit in, but if he really wants compromise what he would need to compromise in order to even begin to try to fit in. And of course his answer is no because, after all, he IS Captain America!
We all long for a hero. We all need a hero. We want somebody to look up to who is so good and so honest and so trustworthy that they are above corruption. Somebody to give us faith in the human race again and the assurance that goodness will win out in the end.
The bad news is that Captain America is a fictional character.
The good news is that the Cap is alive and well in digital media and old school comic books to remind us that those values are still noble and worth pursuing. And I have hope because a whole lot of people lined up this weekend to shell out good money to get their dose of corny!
Or in my case, corny and Chris Evans…