Captain America: That Was Friggin’ Awesome!!!

I need to make a couple disclaimers here. First off MAJOR SPOILERS. Second, I’m a huge superhero fan. We’re talking, I watched Sky High. Twice. I’ve gone to midnight premieres for superhero flicks going back to the first Spiderman. I love oversimplified stories, characters who blindly adhere to the stereotypes of good and evil, and mind-bending action that is literally impossible for obvious reasons. You may disagree with my opinions for very good reasons, yet will be unable to convince me to join your side because of my complete abandon for logic and realism. That being said: HOLY FRIGGIN’ CRAP ON A CRAP SANDWICH THAT WAS AWESOME.

I was skeptical of Captain America. I was! Captain America came out at a time when being patriotic and loving the red white and blue plastered all over everything meant you were a hero, not only in your country, but to the world. Nowadays, plastering red white and blue over everything likely identifies you with the Tea Party, or Kid Rock. We love our country, sure! But more often than not, we’re more excited about criticizing our political leaders than joining their war cries. “Support our troops” is about as patriotic as we get, and even most folks I’ve met who take that seriously still have some gray-area beliefs about our wars.

Which is why it’s great that Captain America takes place back in the 40s. If there’s one thing we can accept, it’s that Hitler was a douche. So the movie slides right by that problem by keeping us in the romanticized era where it was still cool to be gung-ho for your flag.*

We’re delivered the typical little-guy-gets-power story. Naturally, a scientist happens to overhear a noble speech, and decides, solely on this speech, that he’s got the strength and the character to be Hugo Weaving’s philosophical counterweight in the super soldier program. And really, how many of us haven’t wished someone could see us at our best and elevate us to the position we feel like we deserve?

Brief romantic hints are sprinkled on top of a heaping helping of action, heroism, and grandstanding confrontation. We’re introduced to HYDRA, as well as Hugo Weaving’s real-life bone structure Red Skull. HYDRA, as some of you comic fans may know, is one of the worldwide organizations of evil that habitually fights against S.H.I.E.L.D., which we’ve been getting glimpses of for a while. The Cosmic Cube (or as Hugo Weaving calls it, a tesseract) is at the center of the story.

This movie continues the tradition that Thor began with merging the realms of science and magic. Up until this year, most superhero movies have chosen to either indulge thoroughly the world of the impossible (The Green Lantern), or to dilute the fantastic into merely incredible feats of human achievement, not impossible, but impressive (The Dark Knight). Thor and, now, Captain America have chosen to go in a third direction. To say not merely broadside us with the fantastic, nor to ignore it, but to suggest that both exist, simultaneously, in our world. That the impossible and the possible are one and the same. Is it science? Is it magic? Yes.

Not that the Cap cares about that. He just want to fight. And that he does.

There are two parts of this movie that sum up why I love superhero movies so much, and just how incredible this movie is. At one point, early on in the movie, we see Steve Rodgers, better known as Captain America, pathetically trying to keep up with the PT of his more fit colleagues, while Tommy Lee Jones rambles on to his scientist buddy about how he’s clearly unfit for the super soldier program because he’s skinny. To demonstrate that this little wimp is unqualified, he pulls the pin on a dummy grenade and tosses it at the feet of his soldiers, expecting him to run like the rest. Instead, Rodgers without hesitation covers the grenade with his body to save his fellow men.

Later on, after the transformation, Captain America hears that several dozen troops are being held prisoner at a HYDRA facility about 30 miles behind enemy lines. He is ordered to leave them, as a rescue mission would cost more lives than it would save. He disobeys orders, gets his love interest, Peggy Carter, and the father of our collective love interest, Howard Stark, to fly him in and single-handedly rescues his men, obtains several key pieces of enemy tech derived from the Cosmic Cube, intel on HYDRA’s other weapons manufacturing facilities and even manages to save his best friend before taking a three-day hike back to camp to parade in triumphantly.

These two scenes are fantastic, and I’ll tell you why: because they’re both suicide. This is not bravery in the way we’re used to seeing it in Hollywood. It’s not the kind where an elite figure is going in to a situation where he’s well-armed, has a plan, but it’s scary, so it must be crazy to do it. No, both situatons are actually suicide. In the first, taking a grenade to the gut is instant death. There’s no question. Sure it was a dummy grenade, but he didn’t know that. In the second, we’re shown that HYDRA men are all equipped with an energy weapon that will vaporize an enemy on contact. There are hundreds of men with these weapons, as well as bombs designed to blow up entire cities in these facilities. Again, the Captain doesn’t know this. He just knows it’s a heavily guarded facility where his friends are, and he’s going to save them.

This is what heroism is. And the fact that they pulled it off is impossible. And yet, possible. This is why I go see superhero movies. Because deep down, underneath all the cynicism and jaded disillusionment that I, and you, feel, we still want to believe in the impossible. We still want to believe that stuff is gonna work out and that we can finally win.

Oh yeah, and we want to see stuff blow up. There’s tons of that!

I won’t spoil everything for you guys, but go see it. Go enjoy it. And dare I say it, go be inspired.

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