The Star Spangled Man

Contains: a short rant, Chris Evans thoughts, and imaginary people.

Hanna is once more joined by her imaginary friend Theresa as she chats about Captain America in the MCU before Civil War comes out!

Hanna: Hello!

Theresa: Hi.

Hanna: We’re supposed to talk about Captain America of the MCU.

Theresa: Yes. Because…?

Hanna: Because Captain America: Civil War is about to hit!

Theresa: There you go.

Hanna: To be fair, we were not all that jazzed about his first movie when it came out.

Theresa: Our mother had to sit us down and make us watch it.

Hanna: At which point, we were charmed.

Theresa: Why not talk about those first reservations?

Hanna: Yes. Well. I’m not a reader of the comic books, but Captain America seems like it could easily fall prey to a jingoistic song and dance centered on individualism, grit and nostalgia for the good old days. Which, among other things, sounds dull.

Theresa: And wasn’t the case.

Hanna: Indeed. The song and dance is played for comic effect, Cap’s first priority once he’s gotten back from his ‘I need to save Bucky mission” is to put together a team. There’s a light touch to his underdog-ness in the beginning. Partially, perhaps, because he doesn’t think of himself as incapable at any point. And Peggy’s pretty great.

Theresa: A touch ham-handed in her characterization.

Hanna: The “Punching a Guy” to establish a strong female character thing is rather played.

Theresa: And can we please find something more interesting for Natalie Dormer to do in the MCU?

Hanna: Amen.

Theresa: Speaking of actors, how much do we attribute the success of this character to Mr. Chris Evans?

Hanna: No idea. Though I think he makes an excellent Cap. He’s occasionally stepped into other superhero movies before becoming Captain America. He’s eminently charming in both Losers and Scott Pilgrim — though in entirely different ways. The shift from those goofier roles to the totally straight-laced Cap almost makes me a little sad. He’s so good in the smaller, quirkier roles.

Theresa: Hmm. Now. The plot for Captain America: The First Avenger

Hanna: Hydra Nazis!

Theresa: Sigh…

Hanna: Nazi’s are evil. So they make easy villains. They also usually make boring villains for the same reason. Casting Hugo Weaving goes a long way towards countering that. And the shorthand of “NAZI’ is useful, when really, this is an origin story and the villain is there to provide a climax rather than a plot.

Theresa: That’s a cynical way to put that. I’m proud of you.

Hanna: Um. Thanks? Given the use they’ve gotten out of Hydra in future films and in Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I find that the lack of a single compelling villain less annoying than in other superhero movies. But–

Theresa: Wait… Don’t–

Hanna: — A hero’s ability to be heroic is directly related to the competence/dangerousness of their antagonist/obstacle. When we are lazy with our villains we limit heroes. As much as I generally enjoy the MCU work, they are at their best when the hero’s obstacles are personal differences. This generally undercuts the finales emotionally, since personal issues are usually resolved before the end of the movie so that the finale can be a battle sequence. If that’s the point we’re aiming towards then the villains need to be better in order to support this. In the case of the two Captain America movies — much as Robert Redford and Hugo Weaving are great actors — I don’t particularly care what happens to them. And the Winter Soldier is an anti-hero, not a villain. I’m not opposed to anti-heroes — those the MCU does quite well usually — but I want more interesting straight-up villains than treacherous suit guy and dude with a red face.

Theresa: Are you done?

Hanna: No… But I will stop for now.

Theresa: Good enough.

Hanna: Moving on from First Avenger to the The Avengers… Okay. So, in traditional Robin Hood ballads —

Theresa: Stop.

Hanna: What?

Theresa: There will be a time and place for you to rant about Robin Hood narratives and their modern interpretations. I already let you get away with a villains rant, since it’s tangentially connected to the MCU. You are not allowed to spin off into Robin Hood commentary.

Hanna: But–

Theresa: No. You will refrain, dammit.

Hanna: Harumph. Fine. I will just say that Captain America is not the most powerful Avenger. He has neither god powers nor scientific genius. He is not the Hulk. He’s the leader, not because he is the biggest, baddest or the best but because the others can trust him. Not enough stories go that route and I respected the hell out that movie for the moment in the final battle when Iron Man says “Call it, Cap.”

Theresa: Your self-restraint is admirable. That’ll do.

Hanna: I suppose it’s time to talk Captain America: Winter Soldier then.

Theresa: Sure. You liked a structure thing here.

Hanna: I did! This is something others have commented on, but… Captain America’s significant “developing” relationships in this movie are with Black Widow and Falcon. But! Black Widow gets all the “best friend” beats and Falcon gets all the “romantic interest” beats. Whether or not you ship Cap and Falcon, giving them the meet cute freshened the dynamics of the movie. And I’m super glad they didn’t go with romantic tension between Cap and Black Widow.

Theresa: And the Winter Soldier himself?

Hanna: I love his fight work.

Theresa: That’s not exactly a character endorsement.

Hanna: Well, he doesn’t have much of a character to endorse yet. He’s been brainwashed. It’ll be up to Civil War to see if I can be made to care about Bucky.

Theresa: Which seems like a good place to stop.

Hanna: It does. I’m looking forward to Civil War. Until next time, m’dears!

Theresa: Bye!