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21 November 2014 @ 12:09 am
There's Something About Steve Rogers  
I recently saw the film Dear White People which in turn got me turned onto NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast as they did a review of said film. I found their comments about this movie pretty interesting so I started to listen to some back episodes and came across their one for the 2nd Cap movie. To give a brief summary, all three contributors to the podcast did not like the movie that much. A lot of the criticism was somewhat subjective. If you're just tired of big action Marvel films then sure, you're not going to like this movie as it's another of that type. They also felt like there was too much plot shoved into too little a time which okay, fair. But I did disagree quite readily about one point they made.


The podcasters seemed disappointed but resigned to the fact that it's rather impossible to give Steve Rogers a Journey. And by Journey they're talking about it in the Nolan Batman-esque sense. And they're right. If you're talking about the kind of internal, hero or villain or just citizen identity questioning journey Bruce Wayne takes in his franchise, then no, you can't give that kind of story line to someone like Steve. From the moment you meet his skinny self, Steve has always known who he is. He's a guy who doesn't like bullies and feels it's every human's duty to try and do the right thing and help one another. Even if the odds are completely stacked against you. Hence him fighting people twice his size. Sure, yes, he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about the whole size thing but ultimately, Steve knows who he is. He doesn't need an identity journey.

However, he totally has a Where Do I Belong? journey in the second movie. He questions his loyalty to SHIELD at the start of the movie and flat out states that both SHIELD and Hydra are going down after he learns about how compromised SHIELD has become. Steve knows who he is but the more pertinent question for him might be if given who he is, can he belong in the current world where the lines of "good" and "bad" are so blurred. Peggy in the present time said it best that things didn't turn out the way they had all expected. Winning the war just meant there were more enemies cropping up in unexpected places.

I can believe how at the end of the Avengers, Steve chose to go work for SHIELD rather than hang out in New York. I mean, one, the earth isn't going to be in need of avenging every week. But also two, SHIELD is Peggy's legacy and so Steve has more of a connection to it and wanting to believe it can do good. At the end of Cap 2, Steve's lost the one place that was sort of a home base for him but he's gained a few friends and can perhaps shift his focus to considering how he can still belong in the new world through the connections he can make to others. Which in turn would then make sense that he rejoins the Avengers for their second movie outing. So all that's to say that I think Steve Rogers did get a Journey. It just wasn't one where he questioned himself but rather the world around him and the people in it.

I'm not entirely sure how much time is supposed to have passed between Cap 2 and Avengers 2 or how long Steve and Sam tried to find Bucky before giving up. I mean, I've written my own fanon fic about that Steve and Sam Roadtrip which explains that. I broke my own rules and gave plenty of angst to Steve Rogers. Because I can't help it.
 
 
 
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on November 21st, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
Amalie and I had a discussion like this once. The reason she doesn't like Captain America (and she hadn't seen the first film at the time, but I think she did later see the second one) was that he was 'too bland'. Boring, because he was nice and so, basically, that you could always count on him to do the right thing because he was Captain America, so there was no suspense or drama because he would do the right thing. Also, there was a touch of her not caring because he was Captain America and as a non-American, I think she found that...pretentious maybe, I'm not sure. Just 'not made for me' was how she put it.

I didn't really have an argument at the time, other than 'I like Captain America because he's nice and that's refreshing', but I feel like for Steve, he doesn't go on much of an individual journey, but he makes the characters around him develop because he's a strong leader who can inspire others to be better. What he leaves behind when he crashes in the ice is a desire in everyone who knew him to make the world a better place, which ultimately drives most of the modern day heroes arcs, as they are affected by what those people did in the 1940's in Cap's memory. For better or worse.

If they had decided, as they originally were going to do, to have the first movie largely concentrate on Cap waking up in modern times, he would have had more of a journey. But Thor took up the 'fish out of water' bit, so doing that with Cap would have been repetitive, and his adjusting to modern life is largely done off-screen.

So, while I feel like the 'where do I belong arc' is present and the point of the film--I certainly picked up on that--I do also feel like Cap creates an anchor point around which a plot is carried along, whether it revolves around him or whether we experience it through him and have the characters around him develop because he's there. Cap isn't one man against the world, like Iron Man or Thor. Cap has a team, because he's the Captain.
aelfgyfu_mead: Winter Soldieraelfgyfu_mead on November 22nd, 2014 01:19 am (UTC)
I thought the first movie was kind of boring and Steve was kind of bland too; in the second movie, I was really surprised to find him interesting! Then I could see all the stuff I'd missed before. Yes, Steve is generally good and nice—but he's also an idiot who seems constitutionally unable to back down. He's honest except about his repeated attempts to enlist.

I expected TWS to be a fun ride, but I mostly watched it because I knew I had to see it to make sense of Agents of SHIELD; I was shocked to find myself sympathizing with Steve from very early in the movie and then more and more! His unhappiness at being alone in the twenty-first century gave the character that edge I didn't feel before, and his frustration with the uncertainty about who the enemies really were and why SHIELD was doing things won me over entirely.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on November 22nd, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
His unhappiness at being alone in the twenty-first century gave the character that edge I didn't feel before, and his frustration with the uncertainty about who the enemies really were and why SHIELD was doing things won me over entirely.

The Man Out of Time concept appeals to the history buff in me (which might be why I enjoyed the first film, I find the War at Home and Military Intelligence aspects of WWII very interesting). It definitely gives him more of an edge to be a guy who woke up to a world with radically different ideas and morals, and having to decide whether to hang on to what he believes in or go along with a more modern view of things.

I think I liked Steve's origin story because I just really liked that he started out as someone who, rather than having the abilities and lacking the heart, had all the heart he needed but couldn't physically do what he felt was important. Both Tony and Thor had to be knocked down to their knees to learn how to be heroes, but Steve was always a hero. Which makes me like him more as a human being, even if it makes him blander as a superhero.

And I think that his ability to make people believe in and follow him makes for interesting side characters, because they rise to their best to support him. Which gives them all mini-arcs that your typical side characters don't get.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 22nd, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
And I think that his ability to make people believe in and follow him makes for interesting side characters, because they rise to their best to support him. Which gives them all mini-arcs that your typical side characters don't get.

This is true and I always wonder how it feels from Steve's point of view. Steve never really was a person who wanted to be a leader, per se. But he was always about encouraging people to do the right thing. However, the issue with him being that person in the modern world is that 95% of it is shrouded in this, "He's CAPTAIN AMERICA OMG!" allure which usually means Steve is distanced from connecting with people on a more personable level. He's seen as an icon first.

Other than Peggy and I guess eventually Bucky, no one is around anymore who knows Steve as a person and whom they could believe in and follow despite his flaws as a human.

I like his friendships with Natasha and Sam because neither is starry-eyed by Captain America. They see and like Steve. In that sense, I also feel like Steve can get a lot out of being friends with them rather than others getting things from Steve but him always feeling a little removed.

I particularly felt bad for him in the 2nd movie when it was revealed that his neighbor was Agent 13. It seemed like for once on his own steam, Steve was going to make a friend with someone who seemingly treated him as a normal, average person but it ended up being she's literally there to watch over Captain America.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on November 22nd, 2014 02:26 am (UTC)
I like his friendships with Natasha and Sam because neither is starry-eyed by Captain America. They see and like Steve. In that sense, I also feel like Steve can get a lot out of being friends with them rather than others getting things from Steve but him always feeling a little removed.

That's really what I liked about Sam--that his focus is not 'hey, you're Captain America' but 'hey, you okay over there?'. He's more concerned with Ateve being happy than what Steve can do for him, which is what Steve is dealing with from everyone else, even those who worship him as a hero.

It seemed like for once on his own steam, Steve was going to make a friend with someone who seemingly treated him as a normal, average person but it ended up being she's literally there to watch over Captain America.

Well, provided they're keeping the origins of the character the same, there's a very good reason why Agent 13 might view Steve as more of a human than other people, so perhaps in the future they might be able to be friends.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 22nd, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
That's really what I liked about Sam--that his focus is not 'hey, you're Captain America' but 'hey, you okay over there?'.

Yes! I really liked how he sort of casually mentioned that he knows who Steve is when they first met and his immediate next comment was about Steve's mental well being rather than "OMG CAPTAIN AMERICA."
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on November 22nd, 2014 02:50 am (UTC)
He's like you! He just wants to help with your mental health.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 22nd, 2014 02:52 am (UTC)
I wouldn't mind being Fictional Characters' Therapist. But I might need better safety plans with some of them.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on November 22nd, 2014 02:57 am (UTC)
You and I can share an office when I open my Naming and Daemon Selecting business. We'll get a JARVIS to protect the building.
aelfgyfu_mead: Falconaelfgyfu_mead on November 22nd, 2014 02:19 am (UTC)
I like history as well and was interested to see what they'd do with WWII, and then I was kind of repulsed that Nazis weren't bad enough; we needed Red Skull to have a proper villain. Then a friend of mine pointed out that the CA comics date all the way back, so they had Red Skull before we fully realized the depths of Nazi atrocities—but I wasn't thinking of that during the movie.

I think I usually like nice guys in real life—BH is a great example!—but sometimes I like them in fiction, and sometimes I don't. I felt that I ought to like Steve, but I really only liked him in the first movie after he lost Bucky, and that was very near the end of the movie! Then in Avengers he didn't really seem to get a lot of the development I might have expected; it was more arguing with Tony than dealing with being out of time.

So I was totally unprepared to love CA:TWS, and very happy to have found a new fandom. Now I feel like I need to see the first movie again to appreciate it better!

(And maybe muscled Steve is just not my type. When he was scrawny, he looked all wrong to me; when he's really looking, well, like Chris Evans, he's a bit much. His shoulders look impossibly broad for his waist. Lancelot was described that way in at least one medieval romance, so I think Chris Evans should play Lancelot. But I'd rather look at Sam, to be honest! Or Bucky, preferably when his hair has been washed. I'm so picky!)

And I love the other characters and their arcs and Steve's interaction with them, as you may have guessed.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 22nd, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
so I think Chris Evans should play Lancelot.

GET ON THAT, CASTING DIRECTORS!

But I'd rather look at Sam, to be honest! Or Bucky, preferably when his hair has been washed. I'm so picky!

Both Sam and Bucky seem proportionally more even. To be honest, as much as I'm impressed by how much the actors can bulk up for these roles, they all look a bit too much for me. Sam is probably the closest to being within the normal standards of good shape. Like, I can believe an average person can look like Sam with some exercise. Not that insane exercise regime and dietary restrictions Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan went through.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on November 22nd, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
GET ON THAT, CASTING DIRECTORS!

I would watch this. His little concerned Labrador face would do nobly lovestruck very well.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on November 22nd, 2014 02:49 am (UTC)
I don't think Red Skull is a very compelling villain, but I don't know if having Captain America fighting the actual Nazis wouldn't be trivializing the whole thing a little.

Then in Avengers he didn't really seem to get a lot of the development I might have expected; it was more arguing with Tony than dealing with being out of time.

Yeah, most of Cap's adjustment seems to have taken place off screen, I wish we had a little more of him fussing with technology and being a bit out of the loop. Not to a clumsy level, but like they did with Thor where he was a bit out of touch, but not too overawed by what was going on Midgard. Like asking for a horse to ride, but understanding that a car is clearly a form of transportation and not freaking out over it.

And I love the other characters and their arcs and Steve's interaction with them, as you may have guessed.

All of the characters felt like they all had lives off-screen, which I really liked. Everyone felt like a real character.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on November 22nd, 2014 02:04 am (UTC)
Yes, Steve is generally good and nice—but he's also an idiot who seems constitutionally unable to back down. He's honest except about his repeated attempts to enlist.

Steve is a much better person that most of the characters running around in the Marvel universe or even other comic universes. But he's not infallible to the ways that make all us humans idiots sometimes. I liked that in the first movie, Bucky questioned him about how his multiple attempts at enlisting has something to do with Steve's need to prove to everyone that he's just as capable. Steve initially states flat out that it's not about him but it clearly, CLEARLY is.
aelfgyfu_meadaelfgyfu_mead on November 22nd, 2014 02:19 am (UTC)
Steve is a much better person that most of the characters running around in the Marvel universe or even other comic universes.
Yes!