Captain America Vs. The Tyranny Of "Dark"

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Captain America Vs. The Tyranny Of "Dark"

Is the Star Spangled Avenger too nice? Hell no. Wishing he was meaner is failure to grasp the concept.

Read Full Article

Ha, I guessed correctly that the buildup of this article was to namedrop MovieBob's description of William Burnside. I don't think it needed three pages to do so, but they didn't go wasted.

I had this same feeling. As a 'haven't-read-the-comics person,' when my wife first told me of Riesman's complaint the first words out of my mouth were "but that is THE ENTIRE POINT of Captain America. He's not a military fighter; he's a social justice warrior."

TiberiusEsuriens:
Ha, I guessed correctly that the buildup of this article was to namedrop MovieBob's description of William Burnside. I don't think it needed three pages to do so, but they didn't go wasted.

hahaha, quiet you!

Fun article Ross, and well said. Captain America does NOT need to be gloomy. That crap ruined the X-Men and it pooping all over Spider-Man.

You are correct, the asshole characters get boring FAST. Besides, can you even have a character now who IS gloomy who won't get called a Batman clone?

Thank you for this article, it echos my thoughts on the character quite well. I have been impressed with how well the Marvel movies have kept the Captain America true to his principles.

One of the reasons I'm enjoying the Marvel movies and not the DC movies is because Marvel movies remembered they can have FUN with their colorful characters, AND they can stand for high ideals without compromising their integrity with traumatic backstories and moody self-loathing.

And what do we have here...

A noble, heroic, selfless, incorruptible symbol of America truth and justice, trying to find his place in a modern world of shady governments and moral ambiguity... Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a better Superman movie than Man of Steel.

Cap is a boy scout and a goody two shoes. Like so many have said, that's the point. People nowadays don't grasp certain traits of characters, and they throw around the "Mary Sue" label so much it's starting to lose all meaning. There are paragons of virtue and good in the world. I've met some. I've met people who haven't done a single evil/bad/regrettable thing in their lives. They are rare, exceedingly rare, but they exist. People like Cap and what he represents can and do exist.

To the claim that they aren't interesting, well, perhaps to certain people who like to see flawed characters all the time. But flaws =/= interesting or good characters. I'm tired of cynicism and brooding antiheroes. They have their place, I watch and enjoy Game of Thrones. I liked the Dark Knight films for what they offered. But having dark characters all the time wil saturate the landscape with them and THAT will make THEM uninteresting and boring. Hell, it's already happening.

Trishbot:
One of the reasons I'm enjoying the Marvel movies and not the DC movies is because Marvel movies remembered they can have FUN with their colorful characters, AND they can stand for high ideals without compromising their integrity with traumatic backstories and moody self-loathing.

One thing I'm particularly happy with is how the MCU has for the most part rejected The Hero's Journey as the go-to guide to character creation. In addition, they don't rely on Destiny as the reason they've managed to do heroic deeds. WB's increasingly bland take on the DC universe characters, plus the way the Xmen and Spider-Man are being treated contrast poorly to that.

RossaLincoln:

Trishbot:
One of the reasons I'm enjoying the Marvel movies and not the DC movies is because Marvel movies remembered they can have FUN with their colorful characters, AND they can stand for high ideals without compromising their integrity with traumatic backstories and moody self-loathing.

One thing I'm particularly happy with is how the MCU has for the most part rejected The Hero's Journey as the go-to guide to character creation. In addition, they don't rely on Destiny as the reason they've managed to do heroic deeds. WB's increasingly bland take on the DC universe characters, plus the way the Xmen and Spider-Man are being treated contrast poorly to that.

Very much agreed.

A friend of mine pointed out how all of the Avengers have origins that supplement each other.
Iron Man is a self-made superhero, using cunning and ingenuity. He becomes a hero after his own creations were used against him, showing him the error of his ways.
Thor is a literal god of Asgard, cocky and confident with a might makes right mentality until his father humbles him without power on earth, forcing him to develop the skills and humility to be a true leader who uses his power to protect those weaker.
Captain America is a man who was a pure hero in everything but body, who would lay down his life for others but had to fight to even get that opportunity. He earns the right to become Captain America and then further uses that status to protect a world from bullies, both outside of and within his own country.
The Hulk is a man who played god and paid the price, forever in battle with a rampaging monster vying for control of his body and fearful of whether the monster within is a mindless beast of destruction or something he can guide and control to save others.
Black Widow is a former KGB spy with an apparent history of murder and espionage who had her fill of it and now seeks to atone and put her skills towards protecting the world.

And on and on it goes. While there is a "hero's journey" in the purest sense (a potential hero needs to learn a lesson, a big event transforms their lives, they become a hero after learning this lesson), it's done so in a more organic and less predictable way.

But, I think most importantly, the people they were "before" their transformation remain AFTER as well. Iron Man is still cocky and arrogant, but he redirects it. Captain America is still heroic and selfless, but now can apply his skills. Bruce Banner is still brilliant and smart, but he now applies it towards controlling what he unleashed. Black Widow is still a cunning and seductive spy, but she uses it to benefit others. Only Thor, I would say, matured out of hotheaded arrogance and faith in power.

I agree with the premise that Captain America is a better and more interesting character for not being a cynical, conflicted brute who refuses to let anyone get close to him. One of the more interesting character notes in Winter Solider is that in his proximity to Nick Fury and Black Widow, his optimism seems to rub off on them rather than their more cynical/pragmatic approach on him.

...But I don't necessarily agree that "dark" characters need inherently be boring. I think the key word is not "dark" but "predictable"- when Ross mentions "you start to realize you know exactly how the story is going to turn out", that's the real issue. "Dark" becomes a problem when it prevents the character from growing or the plot from branching out; it's like a noir detective who you know in the end will be broke, bruised, and not have the girl. Not all "dark" characters are so predictable, nor need they be, nor should they be.

Things move in cycles. When the Comics Code was more of a threat, there were plenty of square-jawed heroes who you knew beyond doubt would catch the bad guy (gently, please!) and turn them over to the cops, all the while instructing their ward or other youthful "this could be you, kiddies" characters about sticking to the straight and narrow. Now, more things are Batman- but more to the point, one interpretation of Batman.

We'll weather this, too.

Let me offer some international perspective. The American Way doesn't mean to us what it means to you. To the third world it means bombs and threat. The American Way is our Smaug. I (as well as my friends) loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America suddenly became my favorite movie theater superhero. How are both of the latter sentences not contradictory? The answer to that is simple, and just like Captain America, simple doesn't mean plain or stupid. It means earnest.

We don't hate Captain America for representing America, we don't hate America. The all encompassing entity named America really has two distinctly separate, opposing components. The people, who work hard to make it by, and the government who profits in war and lies to its people. Being in the third world doesn't make you a stupid cliché villain who hates everything associated with America. We are able to see the dichotomy in your identity as America because we also suffer from such dichotomy. In every single country we have people on one side and government on the other. Those who want to live and be fulfilled as humans, and those who are psychopathically addicted to power. Justice against Corruption. Which is what defines Captain America as a character. At least in the movies.

It's that sense of justice, of being a shining beacon of respect for human life, that we all love in Captain America. I've said the word America now about seven hundred times in this three paragraphs, not once with an ounce of hate, maliciousness or wishing ill on its people. Because the values Captain America stands for transcend our primitive notions of nationalism and borders. What matters is that at least on the screen we can count on someone that has the character, the moral strength and specially the resilient courage to stand for what is right. No matter allegiances, race, country or flag.

That particular scene when Nick Fury stares down at Captain America "to get with the program" rather now than later, if you put it in context, realizing the events that just unfolded in The Avengers, who Nick Fury is, represents and what he has done for all of them, then it's easy to see why that scene has so much impact when Captain America answers back "Don't hold your breath." and walks away. Not even the display of disproportionate firepower in front of him (which actually made me say,"Cool! The Earth is getting its own space army!" Silly, sod.) nor Nick Fury's severity made him flinch or doubt for a second. That to me is way more impressive (and downright bad-ass!) than toppling building after building.

These matters of ethic fiber are done without any cheap pathos or emotional string-tugging, it's just a moral stand off, based on arguments, and for the sake of superhero movie delight, actions. Captain America puts his money where his mouth is. You gotta respect that.

It is fun being in a world in which the childlike idealism of "don't be a dick" is seen as the more mature option. I think what it is is that it is easy being a dick. People go to these movies and want to relater to the characters, but when the characters don't take the easy path people think it is unrealistic and too much sunshine and rainbows.

Callate:
I agree with the premise that Captain America is a better and more interesting character for not being a cynical, conflicted brute who refuses to let anyone get close to him. One of the more interesting character notes in Winter Solider is that in his proximity to Nick Fury and Black Widow, his optimism seems to rub off on them rather than their more cynical/pragmatic approach on him.

...But I don't necessarily agree that "dark" characters need inherently be boring. I think the key word is not "dark" but "predictable"- when Ross mentions "you start to realize you know exactly how the story is going to turn out", that's the real issue. "Dark" becomes a problem when it prevents the character from growing or the plot from branching out; it's like a noir detective who you know in the end will be broke, bruised, and not have the girl. Not all "dark" characters are so predictable, nor need they be, nor should they be.

Things move in cycles. When the Comics Code was more of a threat, there were plenty of square-jawed heroes who you knew beyond doubt would catch the bad guy (gently, please!) and turn them over to the cops, all the while instructing their ward or other youthful "this could be you, kiddies" characters about sticking to the straight and narrow. Now, more things are Batman- but more to the point, one interpretation of Batman.

We'll weather this, too.

Yeah, I tried to make it clear that I wasn't writing off darkness period, (and I like A LOT of the dark titles I mentioned) but pointing out that it became the single overriding cliche of our time. It's everywhere, regardless of whether it even fits. Bleak meanness for its own sake. "I'm the goddamned batman" indeed.

TheMemoman:
Let me offer some international perspective. The American Way doesn't mean to us what it means to you. To the third world it means bombs and threat. The American Way is our Smaug. I (as well as my friends) loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America suddenly became my favorite movie theater superhero. How are both of the latter sentences not contradictory? The answer to that is simple, and just like Captain America, simple doesn't mean plain or stupid. It means earnest.

We don't hate Captain America for representing America, we don't hate America. The all encompassing entity named America really has two distinctly separate, opposing components. The people, who work hard to make it by, and the government who profits in war and lies to its people. Being in the third world doesn't make you a stupid cliché villain who hates everything associated with America. We are able to see the dichotomy in your identity as America because we also suffer from such dichotomy. In every single country we have people on one side and government on the other. Those who want to live and be fulfilled as humans, and those who are psychopathically addicted to power. Justice against Corruption. Which is what defines Captain America as a character. At least in the movies.

It's that sense of justice, of being a shining beacon of respect for human life, that we all love in Captain America. I've said the word America now about seven hundred times in this three paragraphs, not once with an ounce of hate, maliciousness or wishing ill on its people. Because the values Captain America stands for transcend our primitive notions of nationalism and borders. What matters is that at least on the screen we can count on someone that has the character, the moral strength and specially the resilient courage to stand for what is right. No matter allegiances, race, country or flag.

That particular scene when Nick Fury stares down at Captain America "to get with the program" rather now than later, if you put it in context, realizing the events that just unfolded in The Avengers, who Nick Fury is, represents and what he has done for all of them, then it's easy to see why that scene has so much impact when Captain America answers back "Don't hold your breath." and walks away. Not even the display of disproportionate firepower in front of him (which actually made me say,"Cool! The Earth is getting its own space army!" Silly, sod.) nor Nick Fury's severity made him flinch or doubt for a second. That to me is way more impressive (and downright bad-ass!) than toppling building after building.

These matters of ethic fiber are done without any cheap pathos or emotional string-tugging, it's just a moral stand off, based on arguments, and for the sake of superhero movie delight, actions. Captain America puts his money where his mouth is. You gotta respect that.

Quoted for truth. Hopefully my similar thoughts came through in this article. As I said, Cap doesn't defend American power, he defends American values.

The whole "heroes must change to fit the fanon conception that they are all dark and gritty" strikes me as something like a reverse Draco in Leather Pants.

It comes down to what you really want out of your heroes I guess. Do you want noble archetypes to aspire to or more relateable figures to project your fantasies on?[1] Deep down a lot of people want to be a Frank Miller Batman. Powerful through wealth, nasty and able to scare and beat up others while always being morally "right", that's their ideal power fantasy. And as long as it's a fantasy there's nothing wrong with that, though I think it's unfortunate that they don't aspire to more.

Personally I like my Batman like I like other superheroes, as a decent person trying to do the right thing. As I saw recently pointed out this version of Batman was summed up perfectly at the end of the Batman:TAS episode "Harley's Holiday"

"Harley Quinn: There's one thing I gotta know. Why'd you stay with me all day? Riskin' your butt for someone who's never given you anything but trouble?"

"Batman: I know what it's like to try and rebuild a life. I had a bad day to, once."

[1] Often misidentified as "realistic". If years of brown and gray video games have taught anything it's that "realism" is boring, and ultimately unattainable in fantastical situations anyway. A truly realistic Batman would just be a rich guy who donates lots of money to the Police.

The mistake people make is assuming that a "character flaw" must mean that the character is an asshole in some situations. Sure a character without flaws is dull but Captain America does have flaws, he's sincere to a fault and won't make compromises in situations where it is arguably a more prudent option to do so.

The idea that a good guy has no struggles is silly. It isn't easy to stick with principles especially when you have to call out people who are essentially your allies.

I think it is easier and more satisfying to imagine that you are justified in pummelling your enemies to death than it is to imagine giving them a fair trial and a full list of human rights. The latter is far more heroic but the first may be a more appealing power fantasy.

RossaLincoln:
Captain America Vs. The Tyranny Of "Dark"

Is the Star Spangled Avenger too nice? Hell no. Wishing he was meaner is failure to grasp the concept.

Read Full Article

I will admit I just quoted you in the off chance that you also have quote notifications enabled so I might get a faster response, but here we go.

Let me tell you about literally the WORST CHARACTER I have ever encountered in ANY FICTION.

Max Payne 3's Max Payne. I have never met someone more cynical and yet more uninteresting than max payne. When he's not making social commentary, he's constantly constantly CONSTANTLY (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!) calling himself a loser or wishing to die or wishing to die or wishing to die and DID I MENTION HE LOVES WISHING TO DIE!? I stopped playing because of him. Right after I saved that one girl. Because after that, you have to figure out this conspiracy to make you a fall guy, and the next chapter is sarcastically titled "The Great American Savior". At that point, I said "No. I cannot take this anymore". Why should I waste my time on a guy who will probably kill himself after the game's ending? Why should I waste my time on some guy who manages to fix his alcoholism but doesn't ever fix his attitude because he's so fucking above everything.

People think captain america is an uninteresting character? No! No, I say. Max Payne 3's Max Payne is an uninteresting character. He's so uninteresting and so unlikable that I no longer wanted to play a game with some of the best shooting mechanics I've ever seen. He's that bad. I'm hoping that when I stopped playing, one of the guards in that hotel found him and shot him. It's apparently what he fucking wants anyways.

I agree with you to an extent, and your overall sentiment about there being nothing wrong with super heroes who are just plain out nice guys is spot on.

That said your point sort of falls apart when you start getting into specifics where your by and large equating left wing morality with "what's right" when 50% of the population disagrees with that just for a start. It should be noted that the big trick in a lot of cases to doing genuinely good characters is to have them be good without being stupid. This goes back to the old joke/point that "evil will always win, because good is dumb" in pointing out reality vs. fantasy, or more realistic fantasy situations that get ultra-dark because of it. For example in "Winter Soldier" part of what's wrong with Captain America is that the guy is by definition part of what started as a covert government program. World War II wasn't morally ambigious because of civil liberties issues at home, but because like most things we won largely by being the bigger bastards. We dropped more bombs and massacred more Germans than the Nazis did during the "horrors" they inflicted in London during "The Blitz" thanks to guys like Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, who are the reason we won the war (like it or not), people who were decorated heavily by the US and Britan alike, yet were reviled as the same kinds of war criminals as the ones we tried and convicted by the other side. The winners get to write the history books. The purpose of Captain America was actually the opposite of what a lot of people here seem to think, he's a dude who ran around calling Nazis "Krauts" and other slurs that could make it into print to dehumanize them, and he did very much enter the military to act as a weapon against it's enemies. Conceptually he's sort of an answer to left wing isolationist sentiments at the time, and those in the US who were very pro-Nazi (Hitler was an international man
of the year).

Later generations of creators, especially after they retconned away from the whole "commie smasher" days by saying it was never *really* Captain America started using him as a social critic, and a way to attack those that didn't have a left wing idealogy. Forget the whole "William Burnside" thing, it becomes somewhat difficult to reconcile him with the character from World War II he's allegedly still supposed to be.

What's more look at what he did in say "Winter Soldier" where he destroys the three Helicarriers at the end. Okay, granted, maybe him being as pessimistic as Nick Fury doesn't work (they exist to play off each other to an extent, even in the comics, we have two separate characters for a reason), but when he wrecks these weapons as opposed to simply disabling them so Hydra can't use them, he goes from being "moral" to "stupid" especially in a world where things like Hydra exists, and the planet was already invaded by aliens once. It's a case where the writers lust for smacking down the US military/industrial complex trumped any kind of good writing for the character.

What's more while Captain America shouldn't be quite as jingoistic as he is in the "Ultimate" version, one point that version does make is that realistically Cap *would* be invading Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia, and other places opposed to the US. Indeed part of the point of Captain America, and him being "super" is specifically that he can be dropped behind the lines of places like that and say taken down Iranian nuclear programs, or thwart the schemes of the KGB or Kim Jong Un's tech divisions, without actually having to send in the military... and if they DO send in the military, he'd be right there with them. I mean let's not forget the whole "War On Terror" did start with an attack on US soil, against both military (The Pentagon) and Civilian targets. Properly Captain America would be critical of say The Bush administration for war profiteering, but he'd be just as critical of the left wing stupidity in how to conduct a war and not focusing on a practical method of winning... and yep, in wartime Cap would dehumanize his opponents, and start screaming racial and cultural epitats, not because he's racist, but because it gets under people's skin, and also makes it easier to brutalize people you dehumanize. If you think that doesn't sound like Captain America, then you don't know Captain America, as both him and Nick Fury used terms like "Krauts" and the like for the Germans for the same reason, he wasn't racist, he was just a warrior who knew what he was doing.

That said, the bottom line is that a character like Captain America was created largely for military-type stories and to focus on duels between nations and such. A lot of what causes the concept not to work is when you start involving him too much on a domestic level, which inevitably leads to the writers (currently dominated by the left wing) using him to make very one sided political points which don't always work for a character who is by definition the embodiment of America's military industrial complex, and using overwhelming force for the right reasons (with right being American principles, or the defense thereof).

In short Captain America should be a nice guy, but he shouldn't be dumb about it, and in writing this character in particular it's important that he doesn't become an embodiment of one side of the political spectrum, like he has been for the left wing. Right now Captain America has arguably become a parody equivalent to if he was say a defender of the upper 1% of American society, and spent all of his time punching people in the name of economic theory on behalf of bankers and corporations. Socially Captain America should be VERY militant, but he should also be someone who doesn't exactly act as a tool of the upper class either. When it comes to more social issues, gay rights, racism, etc... he doesn't belong there even if he's long since been used in those kinds of stories by those with an agenda. Those kinds of issues are things he as a super hero is supposed to exist above, as that is exactly the kind of garbage people read comics to get away from.

See, right now I think Captain America should be say punting Kim Jong Un and his ilk, much like his old "Hitler Punching Days", along with the regular super hero stuff. The problem is left wing writers and their "peace at any price" agenda prevents them from acknowledging any group as a real enemy of the US, and treating it that way, and honestly that kind of enemy (originally the Nazis) was what Cap was intended to fight, and arguably be a counterpoint/shaming influence on people like the current left wing who refused to accept those threats, or believed the US should stay out of such events and remain isolationist/it's their own business. Cap was designed as "the guy who goes to war" *NOT* as "the guy who whines about wars and tries to undermine them".

That was a really great article! I like Captain America the way he is. In my eyes the "dark" has already damaged the "Amazing Spider-Man" storyline and I am not willing to see that one in the cinemas anymore. But it could really be that the mass market is quite fond of such darkness... Let's hope there will be another shift in the entertainment industry as a whole.

Racecarlock:

RossaLincoln:
Captain America Vs. The Tyranny Of "Dark"

Is the Star Spangled Avenger too nice? Hell no. Wishing he was meaner is failure to grasp the concept.

Read Full Article

I will admit I just quoted you in the off chance that you also have quote notifications enabled so I might get a faster response, but here we go.

Let me tell you about literally the WORST CHARACTER I have ever encountered in ANY FICTION.

Max Payne 3's Max Payne. I have never met someone more cynical and yet more uninteresting than max payne. When he's not making social commentary, he's constantly constantly CONSTANTLY (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!) calling himself a loser or wishing to die or wishing to die or wishing to die and DID I MENTION HE LOVES WISHING TO DIE!? I stopped playing because of him. Right after I saved that one girl. Because after that, you have to figure out this conspiracy to make you a fall guy, and the next chapter is sarcastically titled "The Great American Savior". At that point, I said "No. I cannot take this anymore". Why should I waste my time on a guy who will probably kill himself after the game's ending? Why should I waste my time on some guy who manages to fix his alcoholism but doesn't ever fix his attitude because he's so fucking above everything.

People think captain america is an uninteresting character? No! No, I say. Max Payne 3's Max Payne is an uninteresting character. He's so uninteresting and so unlikable that I no longer wanted to play a game with some of the best shooting mechanics I've ever seen. He's that bad. I'm hoping that when I stopped playing, one of the guards in that hotel found him and shot him. It's apparently what he fucking wants anyways.

So much truth contained here. I couldn't decide what I hated more, the fact that he was essentially Jack Bauer combined with Bad Lieutenant, or the fact that spending even an hour with him is the most tedious thing in the world.

Therumancer:
I agree with you to an extent, and your overall sentiment about there being nothing wrong with super heroes who are just plain out nice guys is spot on.

That said your point sort of falls apart when you start getting into specifics where your by and large equating left wing morality with "what's right" when 50% of the population disagrees with that just for a start..

I would argue that believing in fair play, equal rights, personal liberty, not being scared into submission by ominous national security paranoiacs, and not being an asshole are "what's right", unambiguously, and further, they aren't, or they shouldn't be the exclusive property of the left. If the other 50% believes otherwise, that says more about them than it does about the left.

I would also like you to describe some of these so called liberals who supported Hitler. Because in the US, the nazi sympathizers were all right wingers like Charles Lindberg who opposed things like unions, rights for minorities and equality for women. Sorry, but this is history. The leftists were, regrettably (and I am deliberately understating here) far far more likely to idealize Stalin's USSR precisely because communism and fascism were diametrically opposed to one another.

I'm sorry, but this is history. The nazis were right wing ideologues, not leftists. National Socialism was an artifact title that obscured the roots of the party having coopted an angry quasi-socialist organization and turned it into a xenophobic, anticommunist (which meant anything up to and including new deal style ideas), pro war and racist paramilitary group. They opposed liberals in their own country and once in power ruthlessly destroyed them, sending artists, gay people and dissenting intellectuals (some of whom to be fair were also conservatives) to death camps along with Roma and Jewish people. Liberals- like the ones in the US government at the time, were very much interesting in fighting hitler. The isolationists who also didn't like anything remotely commie-sounding, were the ones who wanted to stay out of it.

EDIT: just to be fair, let me note that I think that tied for worst president of the 20th century (and it's a three way tie for the country's history as a whole) is Woodrow Wilson. And not because of his attempt to create the League of Nations (because I support international cooperation and nations working together to prevent wars and so forth. I am no isolationist), but because he was a liar who gunned the country into going to war after campaigning on his record of keeping us out of WWI, he actually jailed or deported people for speaking out against the war (or for being socialist, and this was before the USSR so the only argument against was that he didn't like uppity workers), unconstitutionally limited freedom of assembly, he was opposed to women's suffrage, and was an enormous racist the likes of which hadn't been seen in the White House since before the Civil War. Just so we're clear I'm not reflexively team Democrat.

Therumancer:
I agree with you to an extent, and your overall sentiment about there being nothing wrong with super heroes who are just plain out nice guys is spot on.

That said your point sort of falls apart when you start getting into specifics where your by and large equating left wing morality with "what's right" when 50% of the population disagrees with that just for a start. It should be noted that the big trick in a lot of cases to doing genuinely good characters is to have them be good without being stupid. This goes back to the old joke/point that "evil will always win, because good is dumb" in pointing out reality vs. fantasy, or more realistic fantasy situations that get ultra-dark because of it. For example in "Winter Soldier" part of what's wrong with Captain America is that the guy is by definition part of what started as a covert government program. World War II wasn't morally ambigious because of civil liberties issues at home, but because like most things we won largely by being the bigger bastards. We dropped more bombs and massacred more Germans than the Nazis did during the "horrors" they inflicted in London during "The Blitz" thanks to guys like Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, who are the reason we won the war (like it or not), people who were decorated heavily by the US and Britan alike, yet were reviled as the same kinds of war criminals as the ones we tried and convicted by the other side. The winners get to write the history books. The purpose of Captain America was actually the opposite of what a lot of people here seem to think, he's a dude who ran around calling Nazis "Krauts" and other slurs that could make it into print to dehumanize them, and he did very much enter the military to act as a weapon against it's enemies. Conceptually he's sort of an answer to left wing isolationist sentiments at the time, and those in the US who were very pro-Nazi (Hitler was an international man
of the year).

Later generations of creators, especially after they retconned away from the whole "commie smasher" days by saying it was never *really* Captain America started using him as a social critic, and a way to attack those that didn't have a left wing idealogy. Forget the whole "William Burnside" thing, it becomes somewhat difficult to reconcile him with the character from World War II he's allegedly still supposed to be.

What's more look at what he did in say "Winter Soldier" where he destroys the three Helicarriers at the end. Okay, granted, maybe him being as pessimistic as Nick Fury doesn't work (they exist to play off each other to an extent, even in the comics, we have two separate characters for a reason), but when he wrecks these weapons as opposed to simply disabling them so Hydra can't use them, he goes from being "moral" to "stupid" especially in a world where things like Hydra exists, and the planet was already invaded by aliens once. It's a case where the writers lust for smacking down the US military/industrial complex trumped any kind of good writing for the character.

What's more while Captain America shouldn't be quite as jingoistic as he is in the "Ultimate" version, one point that version does make is that realistically Cap *would* be invading Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia, and other places opposed to the US. Indeed part of the point of Captain America, and him being "super" is specifically that he can be dropped behind the lines of places like that and say taken down Iranian nuclear programs, or thwart the schemes of the KGB or Kim Jong Un's tech divisions, without actually having to send in the military... and if they DO send in the military, he'd be right there with them. I mean let's not forget the whole "War On Terror" did start with an attack on US soil, against both military (The Pentagon) and Civilian targets. Properly Captain America would be critical of say The Bush administration for war profiteering, but he'd be just as critical of the left wing stupidity in how to conduct a war and not focusing on a practical method of winning... and yep, in wartime Cap would dehumanize his opponents, and start screaming racial and cultural epitats, not because he's racist, but because it gets under people's skin, and also makes it easier to brutalize people you dehumanize. If you think that doesn't sound like Captain America, then you don't know Captain America, as both him and Nick Fury used terms like "Krauts" and the like for the Germans for the same reason, he wasn't racist, he was just a warrior who knew what he was doing.

That said, the bottom line is that a character like Captain America was created largely for military-type stories and to focus on duels between nations and such. A lot of what causes the concept not to work is when you start involving him too much on a domestic level, which inevitably leads to the writers (currently dominated by the left wing) using him to make very one sided political points which don't always work for a character who is by definition the embodiment of America's military industrial complex, and using overwhelming force for the right reasons (with right being American principles, or the defense thereof).

In short Captain America should be a nice guy, but he shouldn't be dumb about it, and in writing this character in particular it's important that he doesn't become an embodiment of one side of the political spectrum, like he has been for the left wing. Right now Captain America has arguably become a parody equivalent to if he was say a defender of the upper 1% of American society, and spent all of his time punching people in the name of economic theory on behalf of bankers and corporations. Socially Captain America should be VERY militant, but he should also be someone who doesn't exactly act as a tool of the upper class either. When it comes to more social issues, gay rights, racism, etc... he doesn't belong there even if he's long since been used in those kinds of stories by those with an agenda. Those kinds of issues are things he as a super hero is supposed to exist above, as that is exactly the kind of garbage people read comics to get away from.

See, right now I think Captain America should be say punting Kim Jong Un and his ilk, much like his old "Hitler Punching Days", along with the regular super hero stuff. The problem is left wing writers and their "peace at any price" agenda prevents them from acknowledging any group as a real enemy of the US, and treating it that way, and honestly that kind of enemy (originally the Nazis) was what Cap was intended to fight, and arguably be a counterpoint/shaming influence on people like the current left wing who refused to accept those threats, or believed the US should stay out of such events and remain isolationist/it's their own business. Cap was designed as "the guy who goes to war" *NOT* as "the guy who whines about wars and tries to undermine them".

Wow... That is easily the smartest thing I've read on The Escapist in...a very long time indeed. For a long time, Captain America has been Captain Liberal America. Now granted, I'm not surprised the author of this article finds no fault in Cap only representing his side of the political spectrum. And while it was good to see Captain America kicking the hell out of nazis, I don't see why it was such a bad idea when he went against communists. More people have been killed in the name of communism than by the Nation Socialist German Workers Party by far. I mean, the nazis were pikers compared to the soviets and the communist Chinese, and they were our allies (sadly) in WWII. Most of the biggest mass murderers in the 20th century were communists. In the real word, there are evil people. Sometimes these lunatics lead countries and they warp the minds of their people. Why is it bad to point that out, and to have a superhero to fight against them in comic books?

On the other hand, I have to say that I agree when it comes to using comics (though in my case video games and anime more often) to escape from all the crap of the real world and all the issues and baggage it has, I think it's a good thing. Not everything needs to have politics injected into it. Not every game, book, movie, TV show, comic book, etc. needs to bash the viewer/reader/player over the head again and again with heavy-handed moralizing (mostly of the left-wing variety). Can't we just have at least a few things that are apolitical? And no, I'm not being hypocritical by asking to not have everything be political after talking about Cap's politics, because he's already being used for an agenda (like most superheroes).

And I'd like to at least congratulate Mr. Lincoln on not using any derogatory and offensive language this time around. I'm sure it was difficult for you not to insult people who don't believe the same things you do.

LysanderNemoinis:

Therumancer:
I agree with you to an extent, and your overall sentiment about there being nothing wrong with super heroes who are just plain out nice guys is spot on.

That said your point sort of falls apart when you start getting into specifics where your by and large equating left wing morality with "what's right" when 50% of the population disagrees with that just for a start. It should be noted that the big trick in a lot of cases to doing genuinely good characters is to have them be good without being stupid. This goes back to the old joke/point that "evil will always win, because good is dumb" in pointing out reality vs. fantasy, or more realistic fantasy situations that get ultra-dark because of it. For example in "Winter Soldier" part of what's wrong with Captain America is that the guy is by definition part of what started as a covert government program. World War II wasn't morally ambigious because of civil liberties issues at home, but because like most things we won largely by being the bigger bastards. We dropped more bombs and massacred more Germans than the Nazis did during the "horrors" they inflicted in London during "The Blitz" thanks to guys like Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, who are the reason we won the war (like it or not), people who were decorated heavily by the US and Britan alike, yet were reviled as the same kinds of war criminals as the ones we tried and convicted by the other side. The winners get to write the history books. The purpose of Captain America was actually the opposite of what a lot of people here seem to think, he's a dude who ran around calling Nazis "Krauts" and other slurs that could make it into print to dehumanize them, and he did very much enter the military to act as a weapon against it's enemies. Conceptually he's sort of an answer to left wing isolationist sentiments at the time, and those in the US who were very pro-Nazi (Hitler was an international man
of the year).

Later generations of creators, especially after they retconned away from the whole "commie smasher" days by saying it was never *really* Captain America started using him as a social critic, and a way to attack those that didn't have a left wing idealogy. Forget the whole "William Burnside" thing, it becomes somewhat difficult to reconcile him with the character from World War II he's allegedly still supposed to be.

What's more look at what he did in say "Winter Soldier" where he destroys the three Helicarriers at the end. Okay, granted, maybe him being as pessimistic as Nick Fury doesn't work (they exist to play off each other to an extent, even in the comics, we have two separate characters for a reason), but when he wrecks these weapons as opposed to simply disabling them so Hydra can't use them, he goes from being "moral" to "stupid" especially in a world where things like Hydra exists, and the planet was already invaded by aliens once. It's a case where the writers lust for smacking down the US military/industrial complex trumped any kind of good writing for the character.

What's more while Captain America shouldn't be quite as jingoistic as he is in the "Ultimate" version, one point that version does make is that realistically Cap *would* be invading Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia, and other places opposed to the US. Indeed part of the point of Captain America, and him being "super" is specifically that he can be dropped behind the lines of places like that and say taken down Iranian nuclear programs, or thwart the schemes of the KGB or Kim Jong Un's tech divisions, without actually having to send in the military... and if they DO send in the military, he'd be right there with them. I mean let's not forget the whole "War On Terror" did start with an attack on US soil, against both military (The Pentagon) and Civilian targets. Properly Captain America would be critical of say The Bush administration for war profiteering, but he'd be just as critical of the left wing stupidity in how to conduct a war and not focusing on a practical method of winning... and yep, in wartime Cap would dehumanize his opponents, and start screaming racial and cultural epitats, not because he's racist, but because it gets under people's skin, and also makes it easier to brutalize people you dehumanize. If you think that doesn't sound like Captain America, then you don't know Captain America, as both him and Nick Fury used terms like "Krauts" and the like for the Germans for the same reason, he wasn't racist, he was just a warrior who knew what he was doing.

That said, the bottom line is that a character like Captain America was created largely for military-type stories and to focus on duels between nations and such. A lot of what causes the concept not to work is when you start involving him too much on a domestic level, which inevitably leads to the writers (currently dominated by the left wing) using him to make very one sided political points which don't always work for a character who is by definition the embodiment of America's military industrial complex, and using overwhelming force for the right reasons (with right being American principles, or the defense thereof).

In short Captain America should be a nice guy, but he shouldn't be dumb about it, and in writing this character in particular it's important that he doesn't become an embodiment of one side of the political spectrum, like he has been for the left wing. Right now Captain America has arguably become a parody equivalent to if he was say a defender of the upper 1% of American society, and spent all of his time punching people in the name of economic theory on behalf of bankers and corporations. Socially Captain America should be VERY militant, but he should also be someone who doesn't exactly act as a tool of the upper class either. When it comes to more social issues, gay rights, racism, etc... he doesn't belong there even if he's long since been used in those kinds of stories by those with an agenda. Those kinds of issues are things he as a super hero is supposed to exist above, as that is exactly the kind of garbage people read comics to get away from.

See, right now I think Captain America should be say punting Kim Jong Un and his ilk, much like his old "Hitler Punching Days", along with the regular super hero stuff. The problem is left wing writers and their "peace at any price" agenda prevents them from acknowledging any group as a real enemy of the US, and treating it that way, and honestly that kind of enemy (originally the Nazis) was what Cap was intended to fight, and arguably be a counterpoint/shaming influence on people like the current left wing who refused to accept those threats, or believed the US should stay out of such events and remain isolationist/it's their own business. Cap was designed as "the guy who goes to war" *NOT* as "the guy who whines about wars and tries to undermine them".

Wow... That is easily the smartest thing I've read on The Escapist in...a very long time indeed. For a long time, Captain America has been Captain Liberal America. Now granted, I'm not surprised the author of this article finds no fault in Cap only representing his side of the political spectrum. And while it was good to see Captain America kicking the hell out of nazis, I don't see why it was such a bad idea when he went against communists. More people have been killed in the name of communism than by the Nation Socialist German Workers Party by far. I mean, the nazis were pikers compared to the soviets and the communist Chinese, and they were our allies (sadly) in WWII. Most of the biggest mass murderers in the 20th century were communists. In the real word, there are evil people. Sometimes these lunatics lead countries and they warp the minds of their people. Why is it bad to point that out, and to have a superhero to fight against them in comic books?

On the other hand, I have to say that I agree when it comes to using comics (though in my case video games and anime more often) to escape from all the crap of the real world and all the issues and baggage it has, I think it's a good thing. Not everything needs to have politics injected into it. Not every game, book, movie, TV show, comic book, etc. needs to bash the viewer/reader/player over the head again and again with heavy-handed moralizing (mostly of the left-wing variety). Can't we just have at least a few things that are apolitical? And no, I'm not being hypocritical by asking to not have everything be political after talking about Cap's politics, because he's already being used for an agenda (like most superheroes).

And I'd like to at least congratulate Mr. Lincoln on not using any derogatory and offensive language this time around. I'm sure it was difficult for you not to insult people who don't believe the same things you do.

In my defense, I did insult people who think Captain America should be an asshole - I compared them to Harry Potter slashfic writers after all. Also, I compared Batman to patchouli. That's pretty insulting.

I will say that if Captain America doesn't belong "there" with regard to racism, hatred of gays and the like, then what is he fighting for? Why bother caring about America if you don't want America to be a better place? Captain America is a symbol, but our country isn't, it's a real place.

Also, I should think we can all, right and left, agree that bigots are bad people, especially bigots who seek to codify their prejudice into law, right?

EDIT: I'll add that I can see the appeal of art that functions only as escapism. But I also would suggest that the majority comics readers would like the art they like to aspire to more than simple escapism. And so too do the creatives toiling behind the scenes. If you think comics *should* only be escapist, that's fine, and there are plenty of comics out there that do just that. But overall, comics have rarely been just that for the last 50 years. We live (as we always have) in interesting times, and it's often fun and enlightening to see how those interesting times play out in our entertainment. If we ignore the clear zeitgeists as they happen, we render whatever art we make as pointless as Lawrence Welk. Captain America is a perfectly cromulent vehicle for finding ways to discuss hot button issues of the day, and the comic has been for decades. What I mean to say is, that ship sailed long ago.

And again, I don't think having a character designed to be the embodiment of All That Is Right About America also be opposed to discrimination and dealing head-on with the big issues actually happening in America is particularly contradictory. It'd feel a bit weirder if, say, Ambush Bug had a storyline about Kony.

Abraham Riesman comes off as the worst "comic fan" you NEVER want in your local comic book store, in your convention hall, anywhere near your friends and family, or even in your life for a brief second. Anyone who honestly believes characters like Duke Nukem and Lobo are the pinnacle of characterization and demands that all characters should follow their lead should be immediately be placed in a psychiatric ward for the rest of their lives. It's that kind of antisocial douche-bag mindset that poisons and corrupts any form of entertainment, be it comics or movie or video games. Personally, the world can do with less Abraham Riesman's and more Steve Rogers. People who are kind, compassionate, and selfless are a rarity to meet in life. Also, it tends to make them more well-rounded as a person and as a character. Being a total douche-bag 24/7 only makes you as compelling as a rotting 2x4. But, anyone who survived the hellish experience of comics in the 90s can testify to that.

As for characters who act like dicks, allow me to introduce you to one dick in particular that stars in one of my favorite comics-Guy Gardner. Early in his career, during the Justice League International era (the one by Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire. Not the New 52 knock-off), he was the atypical jack-off no one on the team liked. He was sexist, rude, cocky as all hell, and worshiped Reagan and Rambo like they were Moses and Jesus. But a funny thing happened when he pushed the buttons of one Dark Knight too many times. Guy Gardner challenged Batman to a fair fight. No power ring, no gadgets. Just man-to-man fisticuffs. Batman agreed to the fight and the rules.

You wanna know how well that went?

And, for your viewing pleasure, here's that epic battle from a different angle.

And, for the record, I love JLI. Mostly because it remembers to add the one thing the New 52 comics tend to leave out... levity.

Mr. Q:
Abraham Riesman comes off as the worst "comic fan" you NEVER want in your local comic book store, in your convention hall, anywhere near your friends and family, or even in your life for a brief second. Anyone who honestly believes characters like Duke Nukem and Lobo are the pinnacle of characterization and demands that all characters should follow their lead should be immediately be placed in a psychiatric ward for the rest of their lives. It's that kind of antisocial douche-bag mindset that poisons and corrupts any form of entertainment, be it comics or movie or video games. Personally, the world can do with less Abraham Riesman's and more Steve Rogers. People who are kind, compassionate, and selfless are a rarity to meet in life. Also, it tends to make them more well-rounded as a person and as a character. Being a total douche-bag 24/7 only makes you as compelling as a rotting 2x4. But, anyone who survived the hellish experience of comics in the 90s can testify to that.

As for characters who act like dicks, allow me to introduce you to one dick in particular that stars in one of my favorite comics-Guy Gardner. Early in his career, during the Justice League International era (the one by Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire. Not the New 52 knock-off), he was the atypical jack-off no one on the team liked. He was sexist, rude, cocky as all hell, and worshiped Reagan and Rambo like they were Moses and Jesus. But a funny thing happened when he pushed the buttons of one Dark Knight too many times. Guy Gardner challenged Batman to a fair fight. No power ring, no gadgets. Just man-to-man fisticuffs. Batman agreed to the fight and the rules.

You wanna know how well that went?

And, for your viewing pleasure, here's that epic battle from a different angle.

I LOVE THIS MOMENT. Now i need to dig through my crates to find the issue.

And, for the record, I love JLI. Mostly because it remembers to add the one thing the New 52 comics tend to leave out... levity.

Thoroughly enjoying the increasing coverage of comics on the site. It's also really gratifying to have high-quality written content that isn't Critical Intel, Experienced Points or Extra Punctuation; don't get me wrong, I like the videos on the Escapist, but I miss the days of weekly issues and lots of great articles to read. This seems to be a step back in the right direction to me.

Unsurprisingly, I wholeheartedly agree with this article. It's a lot of the reason why I love Kingdom Come so much: showing how much better stories can be when they're populated by actual heroes instead of just assholes who like fighting. It's pretty much the perfect example of how to make Superman work - even if that isn't anywhere near as hard as many would have you believe - by showing him, like Cap in The Winter Soldier, as a good man in a time when good men are considered weak because they refuse to kill the bad guy.

I love Watchmen (though I despise The Dark Knight Returns), but Kingdom Come coming along and repairing the damage the Dark Age inflicted on superhero comics was a wonderful thing.

RossaLincoln:
No, I'm not evaluating these comics on an artistic basis - many of them are in fact extremely excellent, and remain so today. Definitely not Lobo, or The Punisher however.

Must disagree with you on that last point, I fear. Have you ever read Garth Ennis' run on the Punisher? Because it's phenomenal, undoubtedly the definitive version of the character. He's a horrible, horrible person, a bloodthirsty psychopath who simply enjoys killing people - but Ennis is aware of this.

The stories acknowledge that the Punisher's methods are abhorrent even if it's enjoyable to watch him murder sex traffickers, and the only reason he's not the villain of his own book is because the people he kills are even more evil than he is. The ending of The Slavers openly acknowledges that his way of fighting crime doesn't work. These stories actually deconstruct the concept of the violent vigilante in much the same way Kingdom Come did.

Maybe it doesn't make him a great character, but it makes for amazing stories. Punisher: Born, which chronicles his origin in the Vietnam War, is a war story worthy of being ranked alongside Platoon and Saving Private Ryan, in my opinion.

RossaLincoln:

LysanderNemoinis:

Therumancer:
I agree with you to an extent, and your overall sentiment about there being nothing wrong with super heroes who are just plain out nice guys is spot on.

That said your point sort of falls apart when you start getting into specifics where your by and large equating left wing morality with "what's right" when 50% of the population disagrees with that just for a start. It should be noted that the big trick in a lot of cases to doing genuinely good characters is to have them be good without being stupid. This goes back to the old joke/point that "evil will always win, because good is dumb" in pointing out reality vs. fantasy, or more realistic fantasy situations that get ultra-dark because of it. For example in "Winter Soldier" part of what's wrong with Captain America is that the guy is by definition part of what started as a covert government program. World War II wasn't morally ambigious because of civil liberties issues at home, but because like most things we won largely by being the bigger bastards. We dropped more bombs and massacred more Germans than the Nazis did during the "horrors" they inflicted in London during "The Blitz" thanks to guys like Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, who are the reason we won the war (like it or not), people who were decorated heavily by the US and Britan alike, yet were reviled as the same kinds of war criminals as the ones we tried and convicted by the other side. The winners get to write the history books. The purpose of Captain America was actually the opposite of what a lot of people here seem to think, he's a dude who ran around calling Nazis "Krauts" and other slurs that could make it into print to dehumanize them, and he did very much enter the military to act as a weapon against it's enemies. Conceptually he's sort of an answer to left wing isolationist sentiments at the time, and those in the US who were very pro-Nazi (Hitler was an international man
of the year).

Later generations of creators, especially after they retconned away from the whole "commie smasher" days by saying it was never *really* Captain America started using him as a social critic, and a way to attack those that didn't have a left wing idealogy. Forget the whole "William Burnside" thing, it becomes somewhat difficult to reconcile him with the character from World War II he's allegedly still supposed to be.

What's more look at what he did in say "Winter Soldier" where he destroys the three Helicarriers at the end. Okay, granted, maybe him being as pessimistic as Nick Fury doesn't work (they exist to play off each other to an extent, even in the comics, we have two separate characters for a reason), but when he wrecks these weapons as opposed to simply disabling them so Hydra can't use them, he goes from being "moral" to "stupid" especially in a world where things like Hydra exists, and the planet was already invaded by aliens once. It's a case where the writers lust for smacking down the US military/industrial complex trumped any kind of good writing for the character.

What's more while Captain America shouldn't be quite as jingoistic as he is in the "Ultimate" version, one point that version does make is that realistically Cap *would* be invading Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia, and other places opposed to the US. Indeed part of the point of Captain America, and him being "super" is specifically that he can be dropped behind the lines of places like that and say taken down Iranian nuclear programs, or thwart the schemes of the KGB or Kim Jong Un's tech divisions, without actually having to send in the military... and if they DO send in the military, he'd be right there with them. I mean let's not forget the whole "War On Terror" did start with an attack on US soil, against both military (The Pentagon) and Civilian targets. Properly Captain America would be critical of say The Bush administration for war profiteering, but he'd be just as critical of the left wing stupidity in how to conduct a war and not focusing on a practical method of winning... and yep, in wartime Cap would dehumanize his opponents, and start screaming racial and cultural epitats, not because he's racist, but because it gets under people's skin, and also makes it easier to brutalize people you dehumanize. If you think that doesn't sound like Captain America, then you don't know Captain America, as both him and Nick Fury used terms like "Krauts" and the like for the Germans for the same reason, he wasn't racist, he was just a warrior who knew what he was doing.

That said, the bottom line is that a character like Captain America was created largely for military-type stories and to focus on duels between nations and such. A lot of what causes the concept not to work is when you start involving him too much on a domestic level, which inevitably leads to the writers (currently dominated by the left wing) using him to make very one sided political points which don't always work for a character who is by definition the embodiment of America's military industrial complex, and using overwhelming force for the right reasons (with right being American principles, or the defense thereof).

In short Captain America should be a nice guy, but he shouldn't be dumb about it, and in writing this character in particular it's important that he doesn't become an embodiment of one side of the political spectrum, like he has been for the left wing. Right now Captain America has arguably become a parody equivalent to if he was say a defender of the upper 1% of American society, and spent all of his time punching people in the name of economic theory on behalf of bankers and corporations. Socially Captain America should be VERY militant, but he should also be someone who doesn't exactly act as a tool of the upper class either. When it comes to more social issues, gay rights, racism, etc... he doesn't belong there even if he's long since been used in those kinds of stories by those with an agenda. Those kinds of issues are things he as a super hero is supposed to exist above, as that is exactly the kind of garbage people read comics to get away from.

See, right now I think Captain America should be say punting Kim Jong Un and his ilk, much like his old "Hitler Punching Days", along with the regular super hero stuff. The problem is left wing writers and their "peace at any price" agenda prevents them from acknowledging any group as a real enemy of the US, and treating it that way, and honestly that kind of enemy (originally the Nazis) was what Cap was intended to fight, and arguably be a counterpoint/shaming influence on people like the current left wing who refused to accept those threats, or believed the US should stay out of such events and remain isolationist/it's their own business. Cap was designed as "the guy who goes to war" *NOT* as "the guy who whines about wars and tries to undermine them".

Wow... That is easily the smartest thing I've read on The Escapist in...a very long time indeed. For a long time, Captain America has been Captain Liberal America. Now granted, I'm not surprised the author of this article finds no fault in Cap only representing his side of the political spectrum. And while it was good to see Captain America kicking the hell out of nazis, I don't see why it was such a bad idea when he went against communists. More people have been killed in the name of communism than by the Nation Socialist German Workers Party by far. I mean, the nazis were pikers compared to the soviets and the communist Chinese, and they were our allies (sadly) in WWII. Most of the biggest mass murderers in the 20th century were communists. In the real word, there are evil people. Sometimes these lunatics lead countries and they warp the minds of their people. Why is it bad to point that out, and to have a superhero to fight against them in comic books?

On the other hand, I have to say that I agree when it comes to using comics (though in my case video games and anime more often) to escape from all the crap of the real world and all the issues and baggage it has, I think it's a good thing. Not everything needs to have politics injected into it. Not every game, book, movie, TV show, comic book, etc. needs to bash the viewer/reader/player over the head again and again with heavy-handed moralizing (mostly of the left-wing variety). Can't we just have at least a few things that are apolitical? And no, I'm not being hypocritical by asking to not have everything be political after talking about Cap's politics, because he's already being used for an agenda (like most superheroes).

And I'd like to at least congratulate Mr. Lincoln on not using any derogatory and offensive language this time around. I'm sure it was difficult for you not to insult people who don't believe the same things you do.

In my defense, I did insult people who think Captain America should be an asshole - I compared them to Harry Potter slashfic writers after all. Also, I compared Batman to patchouli. That's pretty insulting.

I will say that if Captain America doesn't belong "there" with regard to racism, hatred of gays and the like, then what is he fighting for? Why bother caring about America if you don't want America to be a better place? Captain America is a symbol, but our country isn't, it's a real place.

Also, I should think we can all, right and left, agree that bigots are bad people, especially bigots who seek to codify their prejudice into law, right?

We can certainly agree that bigotry is wrong, regardless of what side one is on politically, but it comes down more to who you call a bigot. Just about every conservative in politics (except for liberal republicans) are called bigots all the time, but very few say or do things that actually display a sense of hatred for people. But calling someone a racist is a good way of shutting down opposition. One example I can easily think of welfare. Anyone who wants welfare to be lessened or for there to be more efforts to get people out of work to find a job is automatically called a racist. Not implying you do it, but many liberals do. The vast majority of conservatives see welfare as necessary (at times) but not a good thing for people to use in the long term as it makes people dependent on government. Not everyone on welfare is just looking for a check, but it makes quite a few to make less of an effort to find a job, especially if the various food stamps, mediciad, unemployment and such combined allow them to live at or near the same level they were when working (mostly lower-middle class). It, like many issues, has nothing to do with race, but anyone who says such things will be called racist.

As for America being a better place, that's entirely subjective. Your version of a "better place" is most likely probably isn't the same as mine, or a lot of people. Not on The Escapist, mind you, but elsewhere in the country. For example, no one wants African Americans to be discriminated against, but my "better place" would be one where race hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton go get real jobs and not continue to further inflame racial issues by always portraying white people as horrible individuals (and especially Sharpton with Jews) and causing riots. The KKK, the Westboro assholes, and the Black Panthers, these are people who need to go the hell away and stay the hell away. But I think that many of the perceived "bigots" are just people that have been impugned because they have a differing opinion.

As for the insulting remark, I meant more your use of the T-word in that post you wrote about the politician being slammed for his LARPing. And in case people are wondering why I won't say it, I just figure if victim groups can pick and choose which words they can ban and disallow people to say because they now find them offensive even if they didn't previously, then so can people like me.

LysanderNemoinis:

As for the insulting remark, I meant more your use of the T-word in that post you wrote about the politician being slammed for his LARPing.

I know. I was using self-deprecating humor.

Well said. I think "darker and edgier" comics can be good if done right... but when it goes too far.l. well... just look at the comics of the 90s and see how well tat turned out. And it can be argued that the new DCU is going the same route.

That's why we need more heroes like Captain America. More optimism and less cynicism, if you catch my drift.

Therumancer:
That said your point sort of falls apart when you start getting into specifics where your by and large equating left wing morality with "what's right" when 50% of the population disagrees with that just for a start.
...
In short Captain America should be a nice guy, but he shouldn't be dumb about it, and in writing this character in particular it's important that he doesn't become an embodiment of one side of the political spectrum, like he has been for the left wing.

All-American values like equality, privacy, due process and personal freedom, don't automatically become "left wing morality" just because they're rejected by the the right. I think one would have to be pretty cynical to hear quotes like these and think only 50% of Americans would agree with them :

"This isn't freedom. This is fear."
"I thought the punishment usually came after the crime."
"I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies; I don't care where they're from."

Therumancer:
Right now Captain America has arguably become a parody equivalent to if he was say a defender of the upper 1% of American society, and spent all of his time punching people in the name of economic theory on behalf of bankers and corporations.

Actually a better example would be the Captain America that you describe above. One that "*would* be invading Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia" and "would dehumanize his opponents, and start screaming racial and cultural epitats". If you think a racist war-monger represents American values, then we can agree to disagree. Personally, I'm glad we get the Captain America we see in the Marvel movies and not some Captain "Stand Your Ground" who shoots first without any regard for who he's attacking or the consequences of his actions.

Therumancer:
Properly Captain America would be critical of say The Bush administration for war profiteering, but he'd be just as critical of the left wing stupidity in how to conduct a war and not focusing on a practical method of winning...

Not focusing on a practical method of winning is an example of "left wing stupidity"? If we're going to have a conversation about recent history, try Googling the name "Donald Rumsfeld" sometime. Bush and co. conducted two wars and never gave more than a passing thought to "practical method[s] of winning", which is why we've still got tens of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Therumancer:
In short Captain America should be a nice guy, but he shouldn't be dumb about it...
...
The problem is left wing writers and their "peace at any price" agenda prevents them from acknowledging any group as a real enemy of the US, and treating it that way, and honestly that kind of enemy (originally the Nazis) was what Cap was intended to fight, and arguably be a counterpoint/shaming influence on people like the current left wing who refused to accept those threats, or believed the US should stay out of such events and remain isolationist/it's their own business.

To echo Ross's point, it was right wingers who were isolationists in WW2, not the left. Moreover, if you want to go back to your point about the war on terrorism, it was Bush Jr's administration who refused to take the threat of terrorism seriously pre-9/11. Only after 9/11 happened on their watch did they do anything and then they were "dumb about it" by redirecting resources away from the actual threat toward Iraq. You paint this straw man picture of the weak left versus the strong right when the reality is much different. The right is filled with war-hungry idiots who start wars and don't know how to finish them. For the left, it's not that we're anti-war in all situations. It's that we're against "dumb wars" (to quote Barack Obama). When there's a legitimate humanitarian threat that can only be resolved through military action, the left usually either falls in line or leads the charge (Rawanda).

Therumancer:
When it comes to more social issues, gay rights, racism, etc... he doesn't belong there even if he's long since been used in those kinds of stories by those with an agenda. Those kinds of issues are things he as a super hero is supposed to exist above, as that is exactly the kind of garbage people read comics to get away from.

Jeez. You must have the most boring comics collection ever. Do yourself a favor and never read anything by Alan Moore. You'd hate his work. Also, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica? They're also "garbage".

RossaLincoln:

Therumancer:
I agree with you to an extent, and your overall sentiment about there being nothing wrong with super heroes who are just plain out nice guys is spot on.

That said your point sort of falls apart when you start getting into specifics where your by and large equating left wing morality with "what's right" when 50% of the population disagrees with that just for a start..

I would argue that believing in fair play, equal rights, personal liberty, not being scared into submission by ominous national security paranoiacs, and not being an asshole are "what's right", unambiguously, and further, they aren't, or they shouldn't be the exclusive property of the left. If the other 50% believes otherwise, that says more about them than it does about the left.

I would also like you to describe some of these so called liberals who supported Hitler. Because in the US, the nazi sympathizers were all right wingers like Charles Lindberg who opposed things like unions, rights for minorities and equality for women. Sorry, but this is history. The leftists were, regrettably (and I am deliberately understating here) far far more likely to idealize Stalin's USSR precisely because communism and fascism were diametrically opposed to one another.

I'm sorry, but this is history. The nazis were right wing ideologues, not leftists. National Socialism was an artifact title that obscured the roots of the party having coopted an angry quasi-socialist organization and turned it into a xenophobic, anticommunist (which meant anything up to and including new deal style ideas), pro war and racist paramilitary group. They opposed liberals in their own country and once in power ruthlessly destroyed them, sending artists, gay people and dissenting intellectuals (some of whom to be fair were also conservatives) to death camps along with Roma and Jewish people. Liberals- like the ones in the US government at the time, were very much interesting in fighting hitler. The isolationists who also didn't like anything remotely commie-sounding, were the ones who wanted to stay out of it.

EDIT: just to be fair, let me note that I think that tied for worst president of the 20th century (and it's a three way tie for the country's history as a whole) is Woodrow Wilson. And not because of his attempt to create the League of Nations (because I support international cooperation and nations working together to prevent wars and so forth. I am no isolationist), but because he was a liar who gunned the country into going to war after campaigning on his record of keeping us out of WWI, he actually jailed or deported people for speaking out against the war (or for being socialist, and this was before the USSR so the only argument against was that he didn't like uppity workers), unconstitutionally limited freedom of assembly, he was opposed to women's suffrage, and was an enormous racist the likes of which hadn't been seen in the White House since before the Civil War. Just so we're clear I'm not reflexively team Democrat.

Umm, no, not even close. The Nazis were a left wing movement based on workers rights and the forcible overthrow of the upper class. A lot of the anti-Jew bigotry came about due to a lot of the upper class happened to be Jewish, and extremely racist themselves, getting into that position largely due to an entire era where Jews had a monopoly on money lending due to Christian religions forbidding it. Not all Jews were involved or were the problem of course, but they did symbolize the upper class and top 1% of the day. Indeed when you get down to it a lot of liberals in the US right now are starting just like the Nazis, albeit without the racial overtones, demonizing the top 1% and working towards tearing it down. Indeed the reason why nations like Romania got in bed with the Nazis was specifically because Germany provided muscle to assist with the "Re-romanianization of property", namely they went in, killed a lot of the top 1% (many of whom were Jewish) and then gave the land and wealth to the people through the government.

Hitler was an international man of the year because of his economic theories and the way he presented himself as a man of the people, what was appealing about him was that he envisioned/promised days when every man could have a "Volkswagon" putting cars, which were still the stuff of the upper class, into the hands of the everyman.

Now to be fair with you, Hitler was right about a lot of things, indeed a lot of the areas I go left wing on are similar to some of the areas where Hitler leaned that way. I myself tend to be very big on worker's rights, unionized labor, and limiting how much power groups of businessmen can directly leverage in society. The thing was that those things Hitler wasn't right about were absolutely bug nuts crazy. This was a guy who turned strong handed reforms into ethnic genocide, and had an agenda literally based on the occult where he believed he was going to genetically restore a race of giant, blonde-haired, psionic supermen that he believed went extinct to become our leaders. The thing was though that he got to the point of being able to indulge that insanity because he was incredibly popular and charismatic on a global level, and very much following an extremely liberal agenda assuming you weren't say a Jew or a Gypsy and on one of his genocide lists. The guys who followed Hitler in the US were pretty much the everyman, the guys who liked the ideas presented by the dude who was telling them that he could build an economy which would let everyone have a car, along with greater equity between the rich and poor.

See the thing is Hitler has only been made out to be this monsterous nightmare dictator after the war ended due to propaganda. The scary thing about him is that he's the guy you like, the leader who tells you what you want to hear, and happens to be honest about most of it to the point where you kind of miss those insane little points that are going to snowball as time goes on. The funny thing about Godwin's law is how so many people like to compare leaders they don't like to Hitler, when really an appropriate comparison can only be made to a leader which the majority of people actually like. Someone like Hitler will almost always be a "people's champion" as he was. This also means that none of the leaders we have here in the US come close, we're seeing elections resolved by single digit percentages, both Obama and Bush were vehemently hated by too many people to really invite Hitler comparisons... but that's neither here nor there.

What we're actually talking about here is Captain America. On a lot of levels he personifies the idea that "The Price Of Freedom is eternal vigilance", he's about the might and will of the US compared to other ideologies and threats. He was created pretty much to show up the whole "peace at any price" crowd, and the guys with isolationist sentiments which were a big deal during "World War II". Captain America is the "enlist and do your duty" type of guy. As a character he's not really intended for peacetime, which is fine, because in comics your pretty much always dealing with one threat or another.

Your more or less "okay" with the whole "equal rights" and "personal liberty" bit. Your off kilter with "fair play" since Captain America is all about overwhelming military superiority and doing what you have to in order to win. After all the defining power of the character is that he's pretty much better than any human could ever be, he is a super soldier, the very manifestation of a special weapon, and one that proves itself superior to anything else thrown at it. The idea of a "super" anything is to be better than the other guy, not fight on an even playing field. What's more while Cap did lead troops in the trenches, he, like Nick Fury, was big on offensive operations behind enemy lines. Indeed Cap's WWII super team is called "The Invaders" because they invaded other countries for the US (stop and think about this).

Where the real problem is when your talking about people being "paranoid about security", Captain America is pretty much national security incarnate, that's what he's supposed to be about, albeit his approach is by definition pro-active. Indeed the entire point of him being a war time icon is to pretty much shut down the people who just want to sit on their butts, refuse to acknowledge threats, and have the US mind it's own business. Despite how history presents things now, even after Pearl Habour there were a lot of people that wanted to stay out of World War II, that event merely tipped things, to get our intervention through, and it was a constant effort by The War Department to produce propaganda and control the media to keep people on track and on target. Cap is pretty much a manifestation of that, who is also a very effective war machine. Indeed properly portrayed he would BE that paranoid for all intents and purposes. Especially seeing as the threats presented by Middle Eastern Muslims (long history of terrorism, betrayal, failed diplomacy, and of course the 9/11 attacks), North Korea (they are at least trying to build WMDs they can launch into the US), Russia (has now launched two invasions of independent states, has been threatening the US and it's allies), and of course China (massive human rights violations, theft of our copyrights, patents, and IPs, and a massive military build up followed by aggression against US allies like Japan and The Philippines), all of these threats exist, and arguably the left wing's attitude is very similar to that prior to World War II "we should stay out of this kind of thing, and mind our own business", and that is the anti-thesis of the point of Captain America.

Now granted, the thing about Cap is that he doesn't exist in the real world. Rather he's supposed to symbolically confront our enemies abroad. As I said, Cap's place is to be doing things like sticking a star spangled boot up the posterior of Putin or Kim Jong Un (much like he would have done to the Nazis), when he's not fighting more fantastic super villains of course. Granted in real life you can't so stuff like this, there are no real super heroes, but then again the guy is supposed to just point the finger at our enemies and the threat they present in his stories. He wasn't around IRL to almost single handedly turn the tide of "World War II" and floor Hitler with a haymaker either.

My point about the social issues other than that is that they are debatable, and that is why Captain America's stories should generally not involve them. When it comes to something like gay rights, Cap just shouldn't go there, as the nation is divided almost down the middle. His purpose is the big picture and dealing with threats, not to make social statements outside of that arena in order to symbolize one political philosophy or another. Properly used it just shouldn't come up (in either direction) Cap belongs kicking butt, not debating domestic social philosophy, people who use him for that miss the point, and that's the problem. He needs to be above that, standing for America, not your America, my America, his America or the other guy over their and his America. He's the guy who puts his boot up our butts and says "stop fighting about gay rights, we have terrorists to kick butt on, worry about that later", so to speak. He should always be doing something else as opposed to indulging a writer's domestic political axe grinding.

Therumancer:
snip.

With all due respect, and I cannot stress enough I do not mean this personally, there is a vast historical record of what fascism was and is. And it isn't how you're describing it here. Socialists, communists, liberals and so on were the targets and enemies of fascists. Yes, even and especially in Nazi Germany. It's why Hitler was bent on destroying the USSR. Fascism is totalitarian system to be sure, and that means every aspect of the state is forced under the boot of the dictatorship. But totalitarianism isn't the exclusive domain of 20th century communism anymore than awful racism is the exclusive domain of economic right wingers. People suck, people are complicated. But Nazi Germany was not even remotely left wing, nor did liberals in the US support it.

It was, I'll add, completely batshit crazy and did things that made both ardent capitalists and ardent socialists develop migraines from confusion. Because it was batshit crazy and bent largely on eliminating every single undesirable person, first in Germany and then the rest of the world.

I will say this: You really need to know what Time's Man (now person) of the Year is. It's not "international man of the year" like some kind of award for best and most awesome person, it's an issue examining the most influential or newsworthy person in a given year. If you read the actual Hitler article you keep referring to (it's available online, I swear), it's impossible to come away from it thinking Time is lauding nazi germany. There are huge sections about what a nightmare it was for everyone who wasn't "aryan". It is, however, undeniable that in 1938, everyone was amazed that in less than 6 years Germany went from a pauper nation to the bully of Europe. That's why he made the issue.

As for the rest of your points about the Cap, like I said earlier, that ship has sailed. Captain America as more than just an ass kicker for freedom (and if you really read the original Captain America comics in the 40s, his stories are more often than not monster stories or mysteries, and he's kind of nice in those comics too) is almost as old as people who are now eligible to join the AARP.

Finally, "stop fighting about gay rights, we have terrorists to kick butt on, worry about that later." Dude, there wouldn't be a fight if people who oppose equality weren't such jerks about it. The fight didn't start because people who were being oppressed liked it, but one day they decided they didn't. Or more to the point, what you're saying is functionally equivalent to a bully coming up to you, punching you repeatedly, and then you swing back to make him stop and you both get suspended because your response "started" the fight. (Which, by the way, happened to me in 8th grade, until my math teacher intervened and tore the Vice Principal a new one.)

And for what it's worth, the issue where Cap comes out in favor of gay rights involves his old war buddy getting kidnapped by Baron Zemo and brainwashed into hating himself. Maybe you can argue that the story sucked or whatever, but at least they made it make sense in context.

Therumancer:
My point about the social issues other than that is that they are debatable, and that is why Captain America's stories should generally not involve them.

Civil rights was a "social issue" that was "debatable" in the 1960's. Somebody should have told Stan Lee that introducing a black character like Falcon in 1969 was "left wing morality" that had no business in a Captain America comic. He should have been doing something more American like bombing the shit out of a Vietnamese village or something.

I never understood why Ultimate Captain America seemed to have a problem with the French. Even as an asshole from his time period instead of the boy scout we all know and love, that just does not make sense given that American anti-French attitudes developed in the late 80s/early 90s. For hit time period, France should be close to the top of the list of countries he likes because of the long century and a half of good relations coupled with how many shared values there where between the two countries. Then again it is a universe where everyone is written as an asshole where logical actions are abnormal (ex: the fact that Cap is the ONLY person who has a problem with the incest couple on their team).

I salute you for writing this article. Captain America is by far my favorite Avenger, and after The Winter Solider, it is safe to say that he is now my favorite superhero movie character. I am so sick and tired of 'heroes' being nothing but angry, spoiled, and downright rotten. I remember in the Batman cartoon that Batman had a sense of humor, that he could be fun and enjoy life too, but now it's all anger and depression all the time. Same thing with everyone else.

Captain America is a breath of fresh air. I was so worried that he was going to compromise who he is in The Winter Soldier because of people who wrote that other article would complain. And I agree: people like him need to grow up. What about the guy whose head he cut off with his shield? Captain America can still be a 'bad ass' without compromising who he is. His speech at SHIELD HQ showed exactly who he his, what he stands for, and why that makes him so cool. It so much harder to stick to your guns, your morals, when everyone and everything around you is saying you're doing it wrong and you're wasting time.

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