Captain Gullible

Movie review time! Or at least, here's my review of the latest comic book flick, Captain America. To put it bluntly, thumbs down for Captain America because the main character is an idiot.

He's an idiot because to impress people, he agrees to be a guinea-pig for extremely dangerous medical testing that he knows nothing about.

The movie is about a scrawny asthmatic kid Steve Rogers who wants to enlist in the army but is repeatedly rejected because of his health issues. Desperate to help with the war effort, Rogers decides to volunteer for a dangerous experimental medical treatment that turns him into the "super soldier" Captain America.

Which brings me to the first reason Captain America is an idiot: He gives himself up for medical testing without knowing (a) the consequences; (b) the purpose or (c) the value of his contribution. The lesson this teaches is that if you're a "good guy", maybe even a "good American", you'll listen to your superior. If your boss tells you doing X is good for America, you should do X because you're a nice guy and nice guys like helping America. Never mind the irony that the movie suggests the best way to fight a racist regime that believes in Aryan Supremacy is to create Aryan super-soldiers like Captain America himself. Is the lesson really that you fight fire with fire?

Captain America is an idiot for volunteering for the experiment because he has no idea what it could do to him. The movie portrays his eagerness as being due to his desire to impress a pretty lady who was nice to him and the creepy scientist who let him enlist. I would have liked to see him question his superiors a bit more before agreeing to be their guineapig. I guess I just don't buy that a "hero" is a guy willing to sacrifice his life for a cause, any cause, that some big-shot in the army says is important. I think a "hero" is a person who doesn't shy from asking hard questions and sticking to his moral principles.

Captain America is also an idiot because after he develops superhero powers, he decides to save his buddies instead of killing Hitler or saving concentration camp prisoners.

After he transforms into Captain America, his first order of business is to save his captured buddies from the Nazis. This is WWII, and I have trouble believing that captured POWs were worse off than starving inmates in concentration camps. Heck, I even doubt if captured POWs were worse off than harassed civilians subject to bombing raids and other atrocities. Yet rather than consider what purposes his skills should be put to, Captain America decides to just save his buddies.

Maybe it seems I'm being picky here: Can you really blame a small-fry guy wanting to save his friends before he thought of the greater good of humanity?
I guess this boils down to a personal preference. To quote another superhero movie, "with great power comes great responsibility". In a nutshell, saving your buddies is acceptable if Captain America is just an average Joe; but when you have superpowers up the wazoo, you should do more. While you could argue that the whole point of the film is that it shows an everyday nice guy can be a "hero", I think being a "hero" depends on what you do AND what you are capable of doing. Our understanding of hero is an ordinary person who perseveres and does extraordinary things beyond their skillset. The quintessential example may be David taking on Goliath. For that reason, I don't see Captain America being a "hero"

The story is redeemed somewhat when after saving his buddies, Captain America decides to go after the evil Red Skull to foil plans to launch weapons of mass destruction. Too little, too late , given that this happens only after spending ages saving his buddies.

All in all, what I expected from Captain America is a story of a young man who questions authority and has strong moral values that even a military machine and war mongering cannot taint. Instead, I saw a story of an obedient little kid who accepts what people tell him at face value and is incapable of thinking big.


MartaB said...

Sounds like Captain America and Homer Simpson are related.

Luc von Carrot said...

captain america is a perfect reflection of our times :)