Captain America, The American Dream, and the American Reality

Captain America may be a Super Soldier wearing the red, white and blue, a symbol of American power in World War Two, and a defender of the weak and oppressed. But what does he mean in the modern age, and why does he matter today?

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By bropous - 2/1/2014


With the upcoming release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, once again Cap will be marketed overseas, and it will be interesting to see how international audiences embrace, or avoid, this iconic All-American superhero.

But is Captain America more than just a Super Soldier, draped in Stars and Stripes, than just a visible symbol of American superiority and a reflection of America as it is today?

Or is he more a reflection of the American heart as it SHOULD be, the America that many Americans still hold dear, and not just American power cast large to force the rest of the world to bend the knee, as SOME in our shared history have attempted to make it?



Captain America has not been just an extension of American government foreign policy since the early days of the comic in WWII. He's pretty much evolved into someone who DOES stand for The American Ideal, the freedom of the individual over the demands of the collective, and the moral choice of the strong sacrificing much, if not all, for the weak and suppressed.

He is not another two-dimensional propaganda recruitment poster for the nearly-nightmarish caricature the American Experiment has become, having been used repeatedly VERY stupid men for VERY stupid reasons.

Cap has been a Marvel character who has sided with the downtrodden and the out-of-luck, a kid of the Depression yanked forward forty years or so to see how life in America changed in the blink of an eye for him, and not in the ways that he, or others who saw his experiences in the Second World War, would have ever imagined.



No, Captain America is not so much about the modern America, as it is, but the America of seventy years ago, as it WAS when it was the last hope of a planet facing true domination by evil collectivism, and sacrificed so much to help small nations and weaker peoples throw off the yoke of dictatorship and despots.

In the end, I have the feeling that this film will not be seen so much as an "America, phuck YEAH" movie, but a reminder to a lot of people, here and abroad, of what America really is SUPPOSED to be about, has appeared to have forgotten, but which remains an ideal in the hearts and minds of a few people who actually hold that dream and spirit dear. Captain America reminding us of what America was SUPPOSED to be, a beacon of hope and a light in the darkness, leading by example.

It is not, and never was meant to be, a self-absorbed, self-obsessed and one-dimensional empire that strides the Earth like a colossal Sentinel sent by Bolivar Trask to remake every corner of the globe in its own distorted image.



And THAT is why I think this film will actually make a LOT of money overseas.

You can agree with me, or disagree. That's cool.

But I'd also like to hear what YOU think Captain America means, to YOU.

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16 Comments
marvelstudios - 2/1/2014, 9:04 AM
I never saw Captain America as solely a American hero but a hero for all of mankind. He always fights for what's morally right no matter who it is he is fighting. He says it best in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when he said "I don't like bullies, I don't care where they're from."

I think we might see Cap fighting against Americans in the sequel because what they're doing is morally wrong.
marvelstudios - 2/1/2014, 9:04 AM
BTW, nice article.
Pasto - 2/1/2014, 9:07 AM
At least you closed the article with a nude chick and Cap's shield. For that, you get a thumb.
Alphadog - 2/1/2014, 11:35 AM
Cool article. Word of advice, don't put so many pictures in your articles. I think that at most they should ocupy a third of the article (in space not quantity) and that's streching it a lot already. Idealy they ocuppy a quarter of an article if it is long. If you have a small article than just post one small picture like the you're first one.
Praetorian - 2/1/2014, 11:49 AM
The American Beauty, The American economy, the American society, the American Horror Story, the American deficit, the American people, the American Mutant Ninja Turtles.
LoudLon - 2/1/2014, 5:35 PM
Cap's an embodiment of the WWII generation, "The Greatest Generation," which was a well-deserved title. People back then were just...better. Less selfish, less indifferent, less vain, less self-possessed. They actually believed in the ideals this country was founded on. Now we're a nation of jaded, self-important mouthpieces who talk a great game but take nary a single step to back it up. I guess folks are too busy twerking and taking selfies to help their fellow man or truly fight for what's right and fair.
GliderMan - 2/1/2014, 7:19 PM
To me, Captain America is just downright GOOD. He's even a Christian for goodness sakes.

But I'm really scared that some people in our government have pressured CA:TWS to push giving up liberties and privacy for "security."
dethpillow - 2/1/2014, 8:10 PM
right on!! great article.
i love Captain America, and i love America... haha,
and people in the world maybe just casually knowing me, and just getting a take of my political views, my whole worldview the way i live my life and just about everything about me,
would be so shocked to hear "I love America" come out of my mouth with a straight face. even some people who know me really well, too.
but yeah, i really do.
i think one think people don't get right off the bat is saying "I love America" says nothing about how u feel regarding anything else in the world.
it doens't mean "best" or "#1".
and people really love to assume you must mean that. i guess there's good reason for them to, and maybe they're usually right.
i don't care tho, and i say it without qualifications or explanations.

but yeah, i agree with your article, i'm talking about an idea.
(and here's where too, a lot of people will assume that must be me meaning to say, "ideal".)
but no an idea. and America this country has never been America the idea, either, but that doesn't invalidate the idea. the two things are not actually linked to each other. not really they aren't. and America the idea, truly does speak to the world, applies to everyone, everywhere. it's too bad that the idea is so mythologically linked to this country. but at the same time, if it wasn't, why not just call it a bunch of words? why not just say... i believe in freedom, justice, whatever else a person might think America the idea stands for? (i don't wanna get it into what that is personally to me, cuz it's too much and kinda besides the point) but why not just use different words or values? cuz there's something about wrapping those up in a mythology that make it stronger.

so it actualy starts getting a little complicated there, cuz when people start investing in ideas, it's very easy to get carried away or to project your own shape over it. way easier than something singularly defined like say 'freedom'? abstract. 'America'? something to die over. so it's very powerful and this is actually the reason we have mythology and stories i think. a big part of it.

so it's an interesting topic, tons to be said on it too. i think that Cap 2 is gonna be well received worldwide, not becuz people really understand necessarily Cap's relationship to the American mythology, but more, for the 'dumber' reason, i think, that the movie will, like u said, depict the American government and institution as a suspicious and corrupted thing.
ha. just like it actually is. but it's clearly not gonna be any rah rah red white and blue kind of movie, which is the kind of thing that people react against overseas.

i don't understand why people get mad about say citizens of another country not watching thing they don't want to. cuz sometimes there's a exasperation or contempt of the thought that maybe French people would look down on a Cap movie. like people would roll their eyes and talk about the PC police and surrender monkeys and ingrates and all this weird stuff. but what? they don't wanna have an agenda shoved down their throat? hmmmm that sounds like something everyone's felt, you know? let them not watch whatever they want to. i think that's when Americans come off most passively weird and sometimes u just wanna slap em. but yeah, great article. i love Cap.
dethpillow - 2/1/2014, 8:22 PM
@bropous @GliderMan - yeah, i think those things are kinda gonna be superficial elements a little bit, or maybe better said, secondary elements and definitely will be used, like they already are in the trailer being used to project a feeling of empire, violation, ends justify means, and for Cap to introduce the gray areas. there'll be other elements too,
but i don't think the movie will really actually be most interesting at that level. some people like that a lot, and it'll be in there and relate secondarily i think to the main thing in the movie, at least for me, which will be Cap looking inward and being tested and put thru trials. and ultimately, the question i'm already reading the movie as being about, is Cap asking himself, of course, where he fits in this new world order, but more really truly asking himself if he really is who he thought he was?

does he really embody the qualities that he used to believe he stood/stands for? it's like a knight, the coat of arms, the colors he wears for his queen.

his sword for the queen, basically.

so Cap's gonna have to ask himself... who is my true Queen? did she ever exist? was i ever or am i now a worthy knight?

I think we'll see going into this more, and this is speculation but it seems to me the way these stories have to go... is we'll see Cap feel that he's been corrupted. and the primary crisis in the movie is this... Cap vs Cap and all that government spy, empire stuff is just really like a setting for that to happen in.

it's really too bad the way they did Bucky in TFA, cuz i think that theme would be benefitted by a figure like Bucky who could be used as something fundamental to this crisis i'm talking about. maybe they will introduce aspects like that, but it seems like it's too late, Bucky should already be feel important to us going into this movie.

So GliderMan, in short, i mean, i really don't think it's gonna be a Democratic Party propaganda mouth piece, which is what i kinda think you're talking about. at least the extreme of what you're saying.
dethpillow - 2/1/2014, 8:29 PM
it's classic 40's style Chandleresque detective stuff...
and it really applies to Cap too. and that stuff is all built on this whole mythology of knighthood, and purity and more importantly, protecting purity from the corruption of the world. that's what the story in a film noir detective movie always is really about. about the corruption and i guess evil of the satanic world, and the detective is trying to keep one thing pure in it, one clean thing. becuz as things go on, he begins to realize that it is becoming too late for him to ever hope to be saved. that's kind of more the hardened Batman or Punisher take on it. the detective is damned to hell, he's chosen.

the Cap take on it, and i guess not as much used in film noire but in pure knight mythology, is more that this white knight begins to realize he has to enter the filth of the world in order to save it. and inevitably, the white knight realizes that nothing comes without a price to your soul. u can't walk thru hell and come out all peachy clean. so i think that's gonna be the major arc of this, and that's the place we'll find Cap inhabiting in AOU.
dethpillow - 2/1/2014, 8:29 PM
Holden Caulfield is another knight. lots of knights out there.
GliderMan - 2/1/2014, 8:30 PM
@dethpillow Man do you talk this much in real life? Haha!

No I don't feel that it's going to be the theme of the whole movie. I don't even know if it'll be an issue. But I wouldn't put it past people to push their agendas using a widely loved character like Cap. They already hosted an event talking about how they're pushing Obamacare through the media, they'll push other agendas as well.



Anyway, I wasn't trying to start a political debate. Just something that hardly concerns me.

Kill Black Widow in A2

Have Cap use Thor's hammer in A3
Jobin - 2/1/2014, 8:38 PM
What Captain America means to me:




A comic bok hero that is fun to watch and read…that is all.
dethpillow - 2/1/2014, 10:32 PM
@GliderMan - oh totally yeah, i misunderstood u. sure i could imagine people doing that for sure. i think that kind of stuff is ugly too.
i kinda thought what you were talking about was relevant to the article tho, you know? :0)
superpower76 - 2/1/2014, 10:39 PM
Interesting topic.

I don't know camp's mythos well but hasn't his character in the books, and to a lesser extent mccu cap, already been disillusioned to the American dream?

The line "this is fear" leads me to believe that the audience will be continuing the journey that began when cap found the hydra tech and Tony uncovering they lies in avengers.

My question is how far down the rabbit whole will the film makers take us? The farther we go the wider the potential audience becomes. The problem is that it doesn't take very long before Murcia becomes vilified. This puts a film maker in a position of potential loss right here at home.

So I would say cap will have his eyes partially open by events in the movie but in he end he will have faith and keep believing in the American dream.

It's late so this probably makes no sense but great topic to think about.
MightyZeus - 2/2/2014, 2:47 AM
Good effort and good article. I've never been a fan of Captain America until i started reading Civil War. It gave me a better understanding of Captain America and what he was willing to fight for. Captain America is not just fighting for America or against Injustice but he's fighting for freedom and equal rights and the fact that he has moral values and respect for people makes him one of the better heroes on The Avengers or what ever team he's fighting on.

Captain America: The First Avenger the film was a highlight for me and made me appreciate the character even more. Captain America became more relate-able in the film.

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