The Corny Captain

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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!

Duh…

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…

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8 thoughts on “The Corny Captain

  1. Hi Again –
    Well, I guess I’ll read as many posts as I’m able to and then come back later (or tomorrow) and read more.

    We just saw this Captain America last week – my son, the very progressive one, said it was quite good and even my husband, the ‘Publican (my term for him) loved it, too.

    Interestingly, my son made the comment that Chris Evans has a very difficult task for an actor because the character is so pure of heart and I agree with his assessment. We’re not used to such uncomplicated heroes. One of his best skills is that he brings out the best in those around him, too – and engenders such a loyal following for it. Like you said, the days when people literally “shook on it” and a man’s word was his bond – well, nowadays those agreements are backed up with 100-page contracts with every escape clause imaginable.

    Oh well. We’re not going back to the past and mostly I’m glad for it, but there are some things we’ve thrown over the lifeboat (to mix my metaphor and bring in Miss Scarlett O’Hara here . . .) in the move into the present.

    Perhaps with the success of this movie we’ll see a resurgence of these types of wonderful heroes. Here’s to hoping that happens!

    Laura

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    • I love being on a first name basis! Agreed, agreed, agreed! I usually go to the movies for escapism. I like light, funny movies that help me forget how much sincere sadness there is in the world. I certainly didn’t expect to be captivated by a comic book character (I only read Archie and Veronica growing up – what does that tell you about my taste? Ouch!) How do you pull a character like that off both in the script and in the delivery without sounding totally cornball? But they did it and it was entertaining, surprising and inspiring. Hence the blog post. Plus Chris Evans is pretty hot (but I tried not to let that influence me…)

      I think we did throw the baby out with the bathwater to some extent. I hope you’re right… Maybe we can bring back the notion of a hero who is direct and sincere and honest and focused. I don’t think it’s that he’s uncomplicated – I just think he believes in what is nobel and true, and he allows that to set the course of his life without distraction. The character is an archetype that touches something deep inside of us.

      Again, I appreciate you sharing and reflections!
      Marge (oops – am I giving away too much? I was getting attached to the idea of Ms. My Ass!)

      Like

  2. Pingback: A star is Photoshopped | Aging Gracefully My Ass

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