I Like My Captain America To Be A Symbol

Disneyland announced today that Captain America will start meeting guests at Innoventions in Tomorrowland on March 7.  The exhibit area where he will be meeting will be entitled Captain America: The Living Legend and Symbol of Courage, which got me thinking about a conversation I got into many months ago in which the person I was speaking exclaimed that Captain America was boring because he was morally infallible being a symbol of America.  And that got me further thinking about how Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, had recently said how he'd like to see his character “Make a mistake. He's so concerned with being right. Even the struggle in [Winter Soldier], it's about how to be right. His biggest struggle is just being the best he can be, and if he doesn't achieve that, he really beats himself up. His moral compass is so sound, you rarely see him make a mistake. It's everyone around him dropping the ball. So it would be nice to see a little bit of human error or a human flaw, just immaturity or foolishness, an ego, something.”

I've heard people say that heroes like Superman and Captain America, in this day and age, can no longer just stand for truth, justice and the American way.  But, I say, why not?  And, frankly, I think it's more of a challenge to write a character like this.  It's like a classic film that had to be more creative when they had all the Hayes Code restrictions on what could be portrayed on film.

Marvel characters have always been rife with personal complexities that often make them prone to mistakes.  Tony Stark was once an alcoholic, the X-Men have to deal with a world that discriminates against mutants, the Fantastic Four is the ultimate dysfunctional family, and so on and so forth.  But, Captain America is the anomaly.  A hero born in a different time and placed in this more complex new world, Captain America is an icon.  He dons a costume with the symbols and colors of the American flag.  For him to do wrong would be a pock against the country he stands for.

Some people might find this boring, but, as a person who reads comics to escape from the reality in which we live, I've always loved the fact that Captain America is a symbol.  He does not fall into the trappings of the divisiveness of American politics.  To me, he embodies what I love about America - its spirit.  He's not a jingoist.  He is a patriot.  He just stands for what is right.  He is the firefighter who risked his life to save lives on 9/11, he is the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina, he is the carpenter building homes for the poor.  He is somebody to look up to.  And, for me, I like the fact that that we have at least one hero that stands as a beacon of light amid all the chaos and darkness.


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