Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Captain America: Hollywood's Unavoidable Patriotism

Is it possible for Hollywood to produce a patriotic movie? In the case of the new Captain America: The First Avenger, yes – but that doesn’t mean Hollywood didn’t do its best to avoid leaving moviegoers with an urge to raise the flag and salute. Not only was Captain America’s title shortened to The First Avenger in Russia, Ukraine, and South Korea, but its director and title-role actor both openly proclaimed Captain America to be anything but patriotic. Nevertheless the American male persona ordered by honor, duty, and patriotic love of country shines through. One critic gives noted how the movie includes themes such as: “self-sacrifice, selflessness, fidelity, manhood, bravery, and nobility.”

This doesn’t mean that movie gets it right on all counts. Captain America could have used a little more back story to show why he was so motivated by his patriotism. There is also a love interest who seems to be as much an out of place heroine as she is a 1940s-era dame in a red dress. In any case, Captain America plays a Christic character, motivated by a willingness to die for others while they, one by one, begin to have faith in him and his selfless courage. The movie hits a high note when Captain America confronts the villain who attempts to convince Captain America to join him as he seeks to conquer the world. “I have seen the future,” the villain declares, “there are no flags.” Captain America boldly proclaims: “Not in my future.” With these words, Captain America becomes the male image of the American protector of nations.

Not bad Hollywood.

Another critic drew on this sense of protection and connected it to the role of the United States in the world, and the natural sense of patriotism which it inspires:

Cap may not run around waving an American flag, but there’s no escaping the red, white and blue of his shield, a symbol crucial to Cap’s very identity, and essentially his sole weapon apart from his fists. Every time he uses that shield to ward off bullets or flame, every time he slams or slices an enemy with it, it’s an unmistakable reminder that he’s wielding American power in the service of Good against Evil.
Captain America might have its share of flaws, but it’s one summer movie worth checking out.

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