ByDanny Birdsall, writer at

Well, I spoke about Iron Man rather negatively before, I guess it's only fair to talk about his opposite, both politically and for me personally, because I love Captain America, but to explain my love for him, let's go back to his conception. When Captain America first appeared back in the 1940's, his character was there simply as a piece of propaganda, sock ol' Hitler in the jaw and all that good patriotism that America is filled with. As the years went on, Captain America in a way remained a piece of propaganda, his character acted as a reflection of the American dream, his idealistic nature, strong belief in basic humans rights and his actions, no matter how destructive always having the best intentions at heart. But then we get to the movie version who is both a faithful retelling of his traditional origin, but also adjusting him for a post-modern world. In Captain America; The First Avenger the role that Captain America plays in the film, is initially that of a piece of propaganda; despite his amazing abilities, the American military used him as a marketing tool, like I said, staying faithful, while also giving it a post-modern twist. As for his personality, it is mostly intact, he still holds true to his values, represents to idealistic nature of the American dream and always stands up for the little guy, the biggest difference that I can note is that this version of Captain America seems more light-hearted and sympathetic, while the comic book counterpart (At least these days) seems more aggressive and worn down by the cruel reality of the world. That is most likely because comic book CA is more worn down than his movie version, but nevertheless, I personally prefer the more open-minded CA rather than the comic book version.

But that's all good as an adaptation, but how is Captain America used as a film character, what do we understand about him and what can we learn from looking deeper into the films? Like I said, Captain America is the representation of the American Dream, he wants nothing more than to do good, and while most films would have their character go through an emotional arc and have their protagonist be a better person by the end, Steve Rodgers really doesn't need to go through one, he's already got the perfect mindset, his challenge in the first film is entirely physical. He wants to do good but doesn't have the means to do so, once he does have the means, he doesn't know how to direct it and by the end he is the hero he wants to be. For me this makes him a much more likeable character, the people that are set in their ways and even when they don't have the means, they still want to fight the worthy fight, my favourite line that sums up his character is "I don't wanna kill anyone, I just don't like bullies".

Then there is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a movie that had a tough task of giving us themes and ideas to challenge both Captain America and us the audience. By this point Captain America is by all means the perfect man, he has the perfect ideals, the perfect body, in all ways he is the living embodiment of the American dream, so what could be powerful enough to challenge the American dream? Well America of course. I don't think it's any secret that most people see the American dream as nothing more than that, a dream. In our post-modern, Internet blessed, invasion of privacy world known as the 21st century, America has become far more self-reflexive and much more cynical, all the theories and fears of the past based around government are right, corrupt police, government invading privacy and bearing down on you with the ideology of "if you've got nothing to hide, then you've got nothing to fear". Again, Steve sums it up with one line "This isn't freedom, this is fear". Working as both a critical view on a modern day American society, a little too on the nose, but nevertheless effective and relevant, a film that tries harder than most in it's genre to actually say something important.

But it's not just America being challenged, it's Captain America, his patriotic, god fearing and optimistic society of the 1940s is gone and now he is really a man out of time, with his traditional beliefs now seen as dated and unrealistic. He now has to acknowledge the possibility that what he's always held true may not be a fight worth fighting, and again, it's not Captain America himself that needs to change, but rather the world around him, here we have an honest man who wants to do good, and a system that has been filled with secrets and bureaucracy and questionable morals and finally have it all collapse in on itself. Of course there is still a physical challenge present, that being The Winter Soldier, also a man out of time, but one who has forcefully been adapted into the corrupt system, losing his old ways. Now admittedly he's not as interesting as a villain could be, mostly because his change was forced upon him and he acts as nothing more than a puppet, but nevertheless there is still that conflict present.

While Iron Man's answer to fighting a corrupt system is to straight out reject it for his own system which is equally questionable, Captain America rather seeks to improve the system and even when he does things by his own accord, it's never for his own benefit, nor risk the lives of innocent people. Captain America is an idealistic character in a corrupt world, which is always something that I love to see and is one my favourite characters and is a hero worth looking up too.


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