The Tragedy Of Heroism (Vance)

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway

 

It’s come to my attention that one of my favorite heroes has recently come under scrutiny. He is either considered boring or outdated by many people. So why is this? I think it evolves from a central problem of the world changing over the years but then we have to ask the questions of “Is this characters not to be considered timeless?” Well of course he is, yet for some reason, he’s become a target for massive amounts of hate from this community of fans.

This hero is Captain America.

Yup, Captain America. Let’s go over his list of accomplishments :

  • Leader of The Avengers.
  • Fought in World War II.
  • Doesn’t have as many special powers as you might think.
  • Defends freedom no matter what.
  • Always tries to make the right decision.
  • Punched Thanos in the Face. Thanos as in Thanos : The Mad Titan.(The Purple guy at the end of Avengers and he’s in Guardians Of The Galaxy)
  • Always the first to rush in and defend everyone.

The people who dislike Cap as a hero perplex me so much that I can’t talk to them half the time about it. He’s always getting complaints of being “Useless to the Team“, “Boring to watch/read” or the craziest of all : “Not conflicted enough to be interesting/Too Good”

Just let that one sink in for a second…

Now imagine that you’re a brave soldier, you’re fighting for a great cause and somehow you die but instead of going to an afterlife you wake up 70 years in the future. All of your friends, all of your family even the world you thought you knew is gone. How would you feel? What would you do? Would you lay down and give up on life? What would most likely happen would be a psychological breakdown.

Still think he’s not compelling? Does he have these soliloqies about his mistakes like Iron Man? No. Does he have a constant fear of not being worthy like Thor? No. No, Steve suffers silently.

I’m not saying that the other Avengers aren’t phenomenal complex characters and I’m not saying that their individual issues are to be tossed aside but don’t mistake Steve’s silence for a lack of complexities…much like Tony did in Age Of Ultron…

In Avengers : Age Of Ultron there are points where our heroes see all different kinds of visions and Steve’s involves Peggy Carter. Peggy is his lost love and people are constantly saying that he’s just hung up on her and needs to move on but that’s not the point. Peggy was everything to him and she is the personification of the life he never had. He sees her and her last line to him in the vision is “We can go home, Imagine it” and then the dream fades. A few scenes later, Tony and Steve are having an argument over Tony’s attempt to use Ultron for good  while they’re cutting firewood and the last thing that Tony says is “Isn’t that why we do this? So we can end the fight and go home?” Steve breaks a log in two and offers his rebuttal but he doesn’t lash out at Tony, he doesn’t need to. Steve is stronger than that.

Losing someone is a terrible tragedy and the one’s who grieve loudly are deserving of sympathy but it’s the ones that are silent and stalwart that you need to look for. They can only be strong for so long.

So we’ve covered his complexity as a character so let’s move on to his abilities.

Cap’s Abilities

Now there is a common misconception that Captain America does have super powers but honestly…he doesn’t. He has enhanced abilities, a super powerful shield and an iron will. Most people think that when got the serum that he gained super speed, strength and agility but he didn’t. Instead, he gained what is basically the pinnacle of human physique. It’s something that he has to work at and keep in shape. I’m not saying that if he eats a burger then he’s gonna die or anything like that but if he didn’t work out and keep his body up then he would lose his abilities. That’s one of the reasons I love him as a character.

What’s weird is I’ve heard a bunch of people say they like Batman cause he doesn’t have superpowers but those same people say they don’t like Captain America. He is literally charging against a demigod in Avengers, goes one on one against Ultron in Age Of Ultron and fights off countless people in both of his solo films. Bottom Line is he’s willing to go places that no one else will and do things that no one else will and he’s willing to do this even if he has to do it by himself. If you want proof of this then look no further than Captain America : The Winter Soldier. Until he gets in contact with Black Widow and Falcon he has no help at all but he refuses to give up…Which leads to my next point…

Origin

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were both young Jewish men in those dark times so when they were coming up with a new character, they wanted to make a statement, only one problem though : America hadn’t entered into World War II yet so when their first cover involved Cap literally punching Hitler in the jaw it made a few waves. Of course just a few months later was the tragic attack at Pearl Harbor which prompted us to officially enter into the war. We had our soldier with the bright cause but it was less about who he was and more about who he could be.

Back in 2011 was Cap’s 70th anniversary and Marvel did a bunch of different covers for their books entitled “I am Captain America” and it was very simplistic but it just showed a bunch of regular people and their clothes matched up with Cap’s costume. There was a firefighter, a police officer, a truck driver and many others. I loved those covers because anyone can truly be Captain America. It’s not about the serum in him, it’s about his heart. As cheesy and cliche as it sounds it’s true, anyone who is willing to put aside their wants, their needs or even their lives for the betterment of someone else then that person could be Captain America. Because that’s exactly what he stands for.

Conclusion : True Conflict

*Potential Spoilers for Captain America : Civil War*

I’m gonna cut this article a little short but I have to make this last point. When he is presented with a difficult situation in Civil War he chooses to do what he knows to be right instead of what someone says is right. He makes the hard call and chooses to fight against his best friend. That’s not easy to do but what’s even more difficult is admitting your faults. When Cap is stopped by a group of firefighters and police officers he realizes that he has to stop the war the only way he knows how. He knows there wouldn’t be a victor in the end by just endlessly fighting with each other Which is why he chooses to end it by surrendering to the authorities.

As he is being take to his trial, a sniper shoots steve and mortally wounds him. In his last few moments he asks “Is everyone safe?” This is a man who being berated by these people just minutes before. He’s hated by half of the country but he chooses to ask and make sure everyone is safe. Wouldn’t you like that kind of strength? That’s why he’s my hero and his strength is what I aspire to.

-Vance McCarty