Saturday, November 12, 2016

Captain America is a badass: What Capheads have known for years

It seems the general public have finally caught up to my way of thinking -- that Captain America is a badass.

You see, I watched "Civil War" this morning and it got me thinking (again for the hundredth time!) why Cap is such a fantastic character. It's not for such obvious reasons as being a leader, but he's a badass who is a role model.

In fact, I'm sure you superhero movie fans have seen evidence of that in "Captain America: The Winter Solider" and in "Captain America: Civil War." Not only does Cap show off his amazing fighting skills, Steve Rogers reveals why he is such a great person with the strongest moral fiber of anyone in the Marvel Universe.

Sharon Carter eulogizes her aunt, Peggy Carter, Rogers' first love, during her funeral in "Civil War." When she "asked her once how she managed to master diplomacy and espionage at a time when no one wanted to see a woman succeed at either," Peggy's response is true to how she worked. But it also speaks to the heart of who Rogers is -- and why he's such a badass: "And she said, 'Compromise where you can. Where you can't, don't. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say, 'No, you move.'"

Only a true badass is willing to live his life embodying such a philosophy.

Steve Rogers is every bit that man; he has an unshakable moral center. He tells Tony Stark in "Civil War" he's unable to look away when he sees something "turned south." Even if that means rebelling against what most of the governments in the world want (having some sort of control over the Avengers). Rogers truly wants liberty and the freedom of choice beyond anything else.

Nowadays it’s less and less common for people to really dig straight-arrows like Rogers.

Just as some misguided women tend to be attracted to “the bad boys,” so do fans. Wolverine, Batman and The Punisher are indeed rough customers and badasses. (If you want to know why I say “Batman is the ultimate badass,” click here for my March 2012 op-ed. You may be surprised at some of my reasons!)

Even actor Stephen Amell’s conflicted Arrow on the CW TV series of the same name and actor Robert Downey Jr.’s snarky take on Stark (aka Iron Man) are attractive to fans who prefer their heroes to be a bit edgier.

But I’m here to tell you Cap is the real deal and in fact, it’s more than OK to be a Caphead (this blogger's longtime nickname for dedicated Captain America fans).

What’s not to love about a man of conviction dedicated to spreading the principles of the country he adores? Let’s look at what the onscreen Cap does to see why the Star-Spangled Avenger is such a principled badass and well, also a hardass.

The first solo Cap film, 2011’s “The First Avenger,” was a chance of lifelong Capheads for me to finally see the Star-Spangled Avenger get the big-screen treatment he deserved. But more importantly, "The First Avenger" opened the door to let other people figuring out what I’ve known for decades — that Rogers is one of the greatest superheroes around.

Rogers grabs the attention of scientist Abraham Erskine as the perfect person to become America’s first Super Soldier when he attempts to enlist in the Army to serve in World War II — despite being an undersized asthamtic who was turned down multiple times. It's the young man's character that Erskine respects.

“Whatever happens tomorrow you must promise me one thing — that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man,” Erskine tells Rogers before the Super Soldier procedure.

“First Avenger” is an ode to “the little guys,” as I said in my first review.

Granted, female fans took more notice of hunky actor Chris Evans’ ultra-buff bod and jacked-up arms, but anyway. … After Erskine is murdered, the Army relegates Rogers to traveling across the country in musical revues to sell war bonds. But when he learns his best friend, James “Bucky” Barnes, is a prisoner of war, Rogers takes matters into his own hands.

And Rogers' unwavering dedication to his lifelong best friend continues through "Civil War," often bringing him to butt heads with his fellow Avengers.

Cap/Rogers remains dedicated to Barnes even when it's revealed that as the Winter Soldier, Barnes fulfilled an assassin's mission of murdering Stark's parents. It doesn't matter that in WWII, Rogers was friends with Stark's dad, Howard Stark, the man who designed the first Captain America costume and created his iconic shield; Rogers remains Team Bucky over siding with Tony Stark, his Avengers teammate. What a badass friend!

After Barnes is taken prisoner, Rogers skips his next performance, takes a military helmet adorned with an “A” from a showgirl and has Stark’s father fly him behind enemy lines. Wearing his Captain America stage costume and armed with his patriotic shield prop, Rogers doesn’t just rescue Barnes; he breaks out nearly 400 other P.OW.s.

Soon thereafter, Cap (now in a patriotic paratrooper’s suit and armed with a nearly indestructible, vibranium shield) is leading missions with his hand-picked P.OW.s — essentially the Howling Commandoes of the comic books. They take down bases used by Hydra, the experimental scientific division of Nazi Germany, which is equipping the Red Skull and his Hydra soldiers with high-tech weapons.

Just as any classic and memorable CAPTAIN AMERICA comic book, the final battle of “The First Avenger” comes down to Rogers vs. the Red Skull. What’s a patriotic hero to do to stop the Skull’s bombing of America’s biggest cities but crash-land his enemy’s ship?

Cap, in “The Avengers,” squares off against Loki, Thor’s power-hungry Asgardian half-brother. And despite being a god, Loki is unable to get the upperhand on the Star-Spangled Avenger. Later in the film, Cap breaks up a doozie of a throwdown between Iron Man and Thor by barking a short command: “That’s enough.”

The “Living Legend” (as Stark calls Rogers) finishes the blockbuster film by leading the Avengers to victory against an alien invasion, despite facing seemingly hopeless odds. And don't forget how in "Age of Ultron" that Cap fights the powerful robot to a standstill -- on top of a speeding semi. Or that in the climax of "Winter Soldier," Captain America is willing to bet his life that the Winter Soldier deep down is still Bucky Barnes and won't kill him.

How is that for being a badass?

“Winter Soldier” isn’t just a reference to Rogers being in suspended animation from the end of WWII to just prior to the events in “The Avengers.” As you know by now, it’s the code name for Barnes, who re-enters Cap’s life as a programmed killer/terrorist.

So what should we expect from Cap in Marvel Studios films beyond "Civil War"?

As always, Rogers puts the super in Super Soldier. He will be partnered with Black Widow and Falcon -- who remain loyal to him -- and he’ll make sure liberty and justice get their due. And there's no doubt Rogers will find a way to once again reassemble the Avengers and fix his broken relationship with Stark.

Because that's what a badass leader with great principles does.

Meme by CARY ASHBY/CARY'S COMICS

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