“People might just need a touch of old-fashioned” ~Agent Phil Coulson
(Spoiler Alert for events in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “The Avengers,” and Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier”)
I didn’t grow up with my nose buried in comics, rather I have always been a video game player, but being in that “nerd” world I have always known enough about comics to know the major characters and a few story lines. As I grow older, and with superhero movies entering what could be considered a golden age, one of these heroes continues to jump off the screen to me and has quickly moved to the top of my favorites list:
Why? He doesn’t have a high tech “Iron Man” suit, he isn’t a ninja like Batman, and he doesn’t have the super powers of heroes like Thor and Superman. However, that is also his best advantage and why it is easy to develop a personal connection to “The First Avenger.”
When most think of the Captain they turn to the famous shield, the stars and stripes costume, or the super soldier that looks the part of a hero. Yet even while he is saving the world, I still see the small kid from Brooklyn.
Maybe it’s the way the character has been written for the big screen, the way Chris Evans plays the part, or the combination of both that leaves me loving the cinematic version of the character. When we are first introduced to Steve Rodgers in The First Avenger, he is this skinny, little man who was willing to stand up to a loud-mouth in the movie theater. In the scene we see plenty of people that want to tell the guy off, but the man who probably shouldn’t is the one who steps up. His thanks? Getting roughed up in a back ally.
This character trait of standing up to a bully is what I love and relate to the most, when Rodgers is finally asked about his multiple attempts at getting into the army he answer to the doctor is simple, “I don’t like bullies.” An interesting answer when most men his age would have taken the “I just wanna kill Nazis for ‘Merica” (i.e. Brad Pitt in Inglorious Bastards).
This attitude is what makes this character special – in World War II, Loki’s attack on New York, and in the fight against a compromised S.H.I.E.L.D. – Captain America is a front line soldier. However, if you got to ask him about it, I bet he would say he is more like a first line of defense against these threats. Cap’s famous shield isn’t just his weapon of choice but also the perfect metaphor for this view.
Why do I say this? Examine his actions in the movies, his first real combat action isn’t to take the fight to Hydra, but to save and protect dozens of captured soldiers. During the attack on New York his first action is to coordinate with police to protect civilians in the areas facing the heaviest fighting. Finally in The Winter Soldier his reaction to the helicarrier fleet is “this isn’t freedom, its fear.”
This cinematic version of Captain America is only at his best when he has someone to protect and is standing up to a bully. This simple approach is what I love about the character. There are superheroes from both Marvel and DC that will always overshadow Cap, and we all love stories like “Batkid” in San Francisco, but to paraphrase Agent Coulson, we might just need a touch of Steve Rodgers’ old fashioned approach.
Batman, Superman, and the others are good role models, but at some point we have all run into a bully, and Steve Rodgers is the hero we could all take a lesson from, when someone starts trying to push you around, simply pick up your shield and push back.
I know to the mainstream Captain America will probably always be on the second level of comic and movie superheroes, but I don’t mind driving the bandwagon, and I’ll be sure to leave room for you.