Captain America: Reinventing the Patriot

Captain America: Reinventing the Patriot


“I could do this all day.” Captain America’s name announces to us
that he’s the spirit of the USA in superhero form —
he’s American values embodied. “Let’s hear it for Captain America!” But this raises the question —
what America does he represent exactly? The comic book character began in 1941
as a Hitler-punching propaganda figure, and throughout history he’s reflected
various aspects of the US zeitgeist, from Cold War paranoia
to post-Watergate doubt. When it comes to the MCU’s
modern incarnation, the character is not fueling any nostalgic
or nationalistic image of our country. Cap’s a maverick, a rebel. “We’re outside the law on this one.” And strikingly, in today’s
contentious times, he sends a message about
what it means to be a patriot. He tells us serving your country does not
mean blindly adhering to any label or agenda, but serving the moral principles
you believe in before all else. “The price of freedom is high. It always has been. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay.” As Chris Evans winds up his role in Avengers
4, let’s look at the character’s legacy and how he takes a stance on
what it means to be a modern American hero. “Suit up.” Before we go on, we want to tell you
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to make your internet connection secure. As Marvel director Joe Russo put it, “You cannot have a character
called Captain America without examining the politics
of what that means, especially in this day and age.” So how accurately does Cap represent
the country’s character? Tony Stark — the ambitious,
egotistical narcissistic capitalist — is probably a more honest reflection
of the powers that dominate the USA today. “I’ve successfully privatized world peace.” Cap represents what America should be. “A symbol to the nation. A hero to the world.” Just as the American Dream has always been
more idea than reality, Cap is an ideal to aspire towards. “And I’m always honest.” Yet we might argue
that this most virtuous superhero is also the Avenger it’s most
in our power to emulate. We can’t all become genius
billionaire playboy philanthropists, kings, or world-class spies — but we can strive to be
morally steadfast people. “If I see a situation pointed south,
I can’t ignore it. Sometimes I wish I could.” “No, you don’t.” “No, I don’t.” Steve Rogers was chosen for his role
out of so many men because of his unique moral character. “I am looking for qualities
beyond the physical.” That’s why Tony’s assertion that:
“Everything special about you came out of a bottle.” doesn’t really hold up. Cap’s physical strength — which comes from
the Super Soldier serum — is not that special; most superheroes are strong. What sets Cap apart is
his abiding sense of right and wrong, his courage, his willingness to
sacrifice himself for a greater cause — all qualities he had
before he transformed and which we come to see
are extremely rare. “That you must stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier. But a good man.” So if Captain America’s essence
is his moral code, that tells us that,
according to the MCU, the core of the American identity
should also be our morality. What, then, are the tenets
of Cap’s code? Most fundamentally, his inner moral compass
is stronger than his allegiance to any law or government. “S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the world as it is,
not as we’d like it to be. And it’s getting damn near past time
for you to get with that program, Cap.” “Don’t hold your breath.” He believes one’s
inborn sense of right and wrong comes before everything else. He’s opposed to limitations
or restrictions on freedom, “This isn’t freedom,
this is fear.” he trusts individuals
over institutions, “My faith’s in people, I guess. Individuals. And I’m happy to say that,
for the most part, they haven’t let me down.” and he’s automatically against anyone
dictatorial or power-hungry. “They almost have what they want —
absolute control.” Cap’s iconic shield represents
his philosophy on war — shields by nature are defensive,
not offensive. His goal is to stop violence
and protect people. “I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.” Overall Cap’s code encourages us
to distrust people in power, to uphold moral order
and come to the aid of the defenseless, and to always put “the right thing”
before loyalty to any organization. “The story of Captain America
is one of honor, bravery, and sacrifice.” It’s significant that Captain America,
both the comic and the superhero, is born during WWII. “You were the world’s first superhero.” Steve becoming a superhero in that war mirrors
how the U.S. emerged from the conflict as a global superpower, and this historical moment set the foundation
for the country’s self-image ever since. Many of us tend to look back on WWII
as a relatively clear-cut showdown between good and evil, and The First Avenger is
a morally black and white film — the traditional hero personifies
bravery and goodness, “Get back!” and the villain is a Nazi. “Heil HYDRA.” “HEIL HYDRA!” Steve begins as such a patriot
that he keeps trying to enlist in the army even though he’s told
he’s too sickly. “There are men laying down their lives. I got no right to do any less than them.” Then once he becomes Captain America,
he’s trotted out to sell war bonds as a kind of Uncle Sam figure. “Series E Defense bonds. Each one you buy is a bullet
in the barrel of your best guy’s gun.” At the end of the first movie
Cap crashes into the future — he doesn’t age slowly into the modern era. He literally wakes up in the present day. “You’ve been asleep, Cap,
for almost 70 years.” And he maintains a kind of square,
vanilla 40s American personality. “Shit!” “Language!” As Joe Russo said, Cap, quote “escapes sort of the deflowering of America,
as we slowly were beat into a cynical state as a culture — he missed Watergate, Vietnam,
he missed everything.” “Internet. So helpful. I’ve been reading that a lot,
trying to catch up.” So what becomes so interesting
about Cap is the way he brings this traditional
good-versus-bad-guys mentality into the 21st century. He can’t shake values his wartime experiences
have instilled in him — a strict view of right and wrong,
a commitment to fighting evil, and a wariness of any person
amassing too much power. “You know, the last time I was in Germany
and saw a man standing above everybody else, we ended up disagreeing.” “In the comic books, he spent the majority
of his time in modern time, in the comics, so most of his stories take place
in the modern day but they’re always informed
by his early experiences in the past.” Cap’s enduring loyalty to Bucky Barnes — “I’m with you to the end of the line.” especially demonstrates the way his morality was formed in
this black-and-white period. “Look, whoever he used to be
and the guy he is now, I don’t think he’s the kind you save. He’s the kind you stop.” “I don’t know if I can do that.” Captain America may not fully fit in the present,
but he’s very much needed — and that tells us that, if there’s one thing
from the past that we should keep around, it’s precisely this
unbending sense of morality. That ideal of clear-eyed,
uncomplicated goodness that once upon a time
we pinned our American identity on, really should never go out of style. “Everything that’s happening,
the things that are about to come to light — people might just need
a little old-fashioned.” Waking up in the present day,
Cap has to adapt his moral code to a more ambiguous world. “I went under, the world was at war,
I wake up, they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost.” He no longer finds it so straightforward
to decipher the good. “For as long as I can remember,
I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I’m not quite sure
what that is anymore.” And serving his country
gets more complicated when he doesn’t agree with
what his leaders are doing. “And I thought I could throw myself back
in and follow orders. Serve. It’s just not the same.” So Cap’s arc becomes a progression —
as Joe Russo put it — from “patriot to insurgent.” In the first movie, his country’s actions
were in sync with his morals. “Do you want to serve your country
on the most important battlefield of the war?” “Sir, that’s all I want.” But by Civil War, we see him
dropping his shield — an action that,
as Anthony Russo has said, “is a rejection of
the Captain America identity.” Cap and Tony have a showdown over the revelation
that Bucky killed Tony’s parents, “Did you know?” “Yes.” and it ends with this: “That shield doesn’t belong to you. You don’t deserve it. My father made that shield.” Cap’s shield represents
that time in his life when he was on the same page
as the U.S. government, when it was still possible to
see things as black and white — and that’s far from
where he finds himself now. “He’s my friend.” “So was I.” By the time Infinity War picks up,
Cap’s uniform has gotten darker and he eventually gets a different shield
in the form of arm guards, representing his new,
unapologetic vigilante identity. “I’m not looking for forgiveness. And I’m way past asking permission.” So Cap’s progression reflects the question
of what does it mean to be a patriot — or a “good guy” —
in today’s complex world? “We try to save as many people as we can. Sometimes that doesn’t mean everybody.” Cap’s patriotism at its core is
not about paying lip service to a particular word or ideal — it’s about staying true to the deepest values
that America at its best has represented. He affirms that dissent can be patriotic. Serving your country means
different things in different times — sometimes it’s falling in line
and other times it’s challenging tyranny — but always the patriot is guided by an unswerving sense of
what they believe is right. “We compromised. Sometimes in ways that made us
not sleep so well, but we did it
so that people could be free.” One of the most interesting contradictions
of Captain America is that this character who was conceived as the image
of allegiance to the US, eventually rejects the idea that he should be regulated
by any governing body whatsoever. “If we sign this,
we surrender our rights to choose.” After he finds out that S.H.I.E.L.D.
is using the tesseract to make weapons, we never see him blindly trusting
the powers that be again. “For once, we’re way ahead of the curve.” “By holding a gun to everyone on Earth
and calling it protection.” The Winter Soldier encourages us to
take action against corrupt institutions — just as Cap does. “If you launch those helicarriers today,
HYDRA will be able to kill anyone that stands in their way. Unless we stop them.” But by the time we get to Civil War,
the set-up is far more complicated. The Avengers are divided over
whether they should allow themselves to be overseen by a UN panel —
and both sides have a point. Now Cap’s enemy is essentially
the establishment itself, the very concept of an establishment, even if that establishment
hasn’t been proven to be bad. “We may not be perfect,
but the safest hands are still our own.” He can’t accept the idea of being restricted,
because he fights for good itself — not for a specific party that might not
always fall in line with his moral compass. “This is the United Nations
we’re talking about. It’s not World Security Council,
It’s not S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s not HYDRA–” “No, but it’s run by people
with agendas, and agendas change.” If we look back at the earlier movies, we see clues that Cap has always been
an individualist to the core. From the start, he’s had no qualms
about breaking the rules to do what he thinks is right — as we see when he disobeys orders
to rescue Bucky and other captured soldiers. Cap’s staunch individualism is
very recognizably American. “We’re already putting together
the best men.” “With all due respect, sir,
so am I.” And his attitude can be seen as
either admirable or arrogant, depending on your point of view — his ethos is to do
whatever he thinks the right thing is. “Stark told you anything else?” “That you’re wrong, you think you’re right,
and that makes you dangerous.” “He has the capacity to be selfish. In every other incarnation
of the character we’ve seen he always fight for
what other people need, now I think in this one
he fights for what he wants.” Cap embodies American exceptionalism — the idea that the U.S.’s unique national
character sets it apart from other countries. “You were meant for
more than this, you know.” There’s a dangerous potential
in this philosophy for a superpower to overstep boundaries, just as the US has been accused of
viewing itself as the world’s policeman. As Joe Russo said, quote, “There’s a certain level of imperialism
that we’re examining — what right do those that have power
have to use that power, even if it’s to do good? How do you govern that kind of power?” So in addition to
embodying America’s best self, Captain America reflects some of the struggles
and dangers of America’s role in today’s world. When taken to extremes,
our national spirit of individualism, distrust of institutions,
and global exceptionalism can get in our way. Cap’s journey reveals
that our national shortcomings are intrinsically related
to our core principles — and this goes some way
in explaining, perhaps, how today’s nation can be
so polarized between two sides who passionately believe
they stand for the “right” America. “We’re trying to keep you
from tearing the Avengers apart.” “You did that when you signed.” Chris Evans’ public persona
adds another interesting reflection of what it means to act like
Captain America in our modern life. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige
put it this way: “Even when you look at his Twitter account
and taking a stand on things, it’s like, ‘Is he becoming Captain America?’” Evans’ political tweets reinforce
the idea of speaking up when you think your country is
moving in a direction you don’t agree with. His political consciousness seems
very in line with Cap’s stance in The Winter Soldier that maintaining American values means
going against powerful institutions that have taken a wrong turn. Even though Evans is a voice
of liberal dissent, he avoids being a divisive figure
and makes an effort to promote unity. First and foremost, Evans comes across
as a good, humble guy underneath his celebrity status — “He’s very hug-able. He’s very very hug-able.” “Look at that, look at that.” just like Cap. “What made you so special?” “Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.” Evans also embodies a fundamentally decent,
positive masculinity. He called out Piers Morgan for make fun of
a picture of Daniel Craig using a baby carrier. He’s also spoken about the need for men
to listen to women in this #MeToo moment. So he plays against the stereotypical,
defensively macho version of the strong American hero — instead putting forward a warm,
more nurturing idea of what it means to be
a strong modern guy. Through Cap we see how the meaning
of being a patriot evolves over time — in WWII serving your country meant
enlisting to fight fascism; in the modern day it’s about holding your
country to a high moral standard, and taking action
when it fails to live up. So as Evans hangs up his shield,
the legacy of his character reminds us that being a hero means
thinking for yourself and swearing to uphold
the principles you believe in, no matter the cost. “If you need me,
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100 thoughts on “Captain America: Reinventing the Patriot

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  2. Nice breakdown, and I agree with most of it. But there's one crucial flaw as I see it – Cap doesn't hold his own morals above everything else. To do so would be egotistical and arrogant. Instead, he holds sacred the values America was originally founded on, and while individualism's a big component, its not the totality of those morals. Don't forget that America was founded by British people who fought a war to escape the clutches of their tyrannical government. As depicted in the MCU, Cap's very much a person who bases his actions on what's happening around him; he doesn't respond well to preventive measures ahead of schedule. He even tells Tony point-blank, "Every time someone tries to stop a war before one starts, innocent people die." Chris Evans has gone on record, to say he wishes he could be as good as Steve Rogers.

  3. I actually teared up watching this. I’ll miss Cap, he reminded all Americans that challenging and questioning your government is a vital part of being patriotic 🇺🇸

  4. Who knew one the goofiest character concept(not that there's anything wrong with being goofy imo) from 40s would be such an icon in this current modern superhero movie universe. I only first knew him from a spiderman game, and wondered back then on what he would look like if he got his own movie, well now I know, and he's great.

  5. As someone that sees too many problems from the outside of the US, Cap's integrity is certainly an admirable nod to the values that seduced so many to the idea of the American Dream. If only more of it was seen more frequently…

    And I also feel that is a reason so may countries are becoming allergic to US foreign policy: the ideals are so beautiful and worthy yet the execution is so debatable the disconnect is, at the very least, alienating. I think cynicism we are living in many countries are justified for existing, but are really not helpful moving forward. Some ideals are needed for raising strong flags, but most important, we need Integrity to follow the discourse.

  6. I've always thought of hulk as my favorite avenger, but now I think Captain takes the cake. Especially since Banner just had ED the whole recent movie.

  7. Hard to think there was a time when people questioned the casting choice of Evans as Cap. I can't think of anyone who could do the character justice in his place.

  8. Love the video but it does show the genuine flaw of fighting for what you believe in. Yes Captain America is a great morally just character that we can all take a lesson from. But from Tony's perspective Cap is becoming a rogue terrorist, and even selfishly protecting his friend when Bucky is the one who killed Howard Stark. Fighting for what you believe in is admirable, but the hardest part of that is whether what you believe in is right. Yes fight for what you believe in, but please take the time and thing about if what you fight for is truly right. Every great villain believes what they do is right and just as well.

  9. I always thought Captain America was the worst, but every single time I see him on screen he makes me change my opinion of him. You just can't help but be spurred into action. Everything he says and does makes you want to stand behind him and help him do it. Very good character.

  10. Cap was always one of the most interesting Avengers in 616 history. the MCU has given us a version that differs so little from his traditional character yet is entirely relevant, complex and makes for the most engaging of all their current big screen roster.

  11. I would love the ending for Cap as he is dying, Scarlet Witch creates memories for him of a life with Peggy with kids and grandkids. The last line would be Thank You.

  12. And this is Captain America is my second favorite Avenger. The first will always be reserved for Spiderman. I will fight you on that.

  13. I'm so worried that hes gonna be fighting Thanos in Endgame, and he'll keep getting back up after being knocked down. Again and again. Just like in that alleyway. And Thanos will tell him to "Stay down captain Rodgers". But hell get back up and say. Like he always does, "I can do this all day". And then hes gonna fucking die and I'm not ready for it

  14. 14:38 because when we aren't the worlds policeman, rwanda happens and we get pointed at as to "Why didn't you do anything!?"

  15. Thinking for yourself isn't something required for being a hero, it's required simply to BE human. You can't just go along with what everyone else thinks all of the time. This is fundamental to being human in general.

  16. I think Captain is fine the way he is because he’s consistently valuing freedom above all else which includes freedom of choice like shown in Civil War, which in the end is why America was founded in the first place.

  17. Capt's strong morality is rooted in his faith in one God. I may not have been mentioned a lot but his unwavering principles is very Christian.

  18. A man who fights for his principles is admirable, but one who fights solely on his own perception of good whilst pointing out the same flaw in everyone else is on the fastrack to becoming a villain. Cap’ suffered a fall from grace when he decided he was the sole arbiter of good and evil.

  19. Petition to make it a tradition here in the US to have someone dress up as Captain American at the polling stations to hand out the “I Voted” stickers or something like that. The reason I say this is because Captain America is a symbolism of not only a patriot, but a representation of America’s pop-culture.

  20. My favorite Marvel character and this video did a great job of explaining why. Chris Evans brought Captain America to life. If we say goodbye to Cap in Endgame, Marvel will soon realize the big hole the MCU has.

  21. 16:20 Oh yes darling, he is very, VERY hug-able. And touch-able. And kiss-able. And… yes, all that, he totally is.

  22. I read a great comment about Cap. It said Steve Rogers isn't great because he is Captain America, Captain America is great because he is Steve Rogers. I would take that one more step: Chris Evans isn't great because he plays Steve Rogers, Steve Rogers is great because Chris Evans plays him.

  23. We're told that the serum made everything 'more'. This means that all his opinions and believes were augmented too. Just like Red Skull got nastier, Cap got more arrogant. This will always be his weakness; where before he always sought to do the right thing, he is now blinded to other people's reasoning.

    As much as I liked CA+Winter Soldier and Civil War, I have to say that Iron Man is a more relatable and likable character.

  24. Now I've got a secure VPN for 3 years! And all from watching a loving tribute to my favorite Super hero! Thanks, ScreenPrism!

  25. "I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from."

    If there's one line that better illustrates Cap's character and his arc, I'm not sure what it is.

  26. This was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL analysis!
    SO Encouraging and actually Inspiring.
    It's in my favorites. Gonna revisit your statement of Responsible Citizenship through the character of Captain America!!

  27. That's about 90% Superman's character right there. Nothing wrong with that of course. I love them both.

  28. Captain America is not only the ultimate man but the ultimate human. An ideal we should all strive for.

  29. Captain America has always been my hands-down favorite comic book character, since I was a kid 30+ years ago. And that was one of the eras where they were still awkwardly struggling to determine how to tell good stories about a super-patriot when patriotism was already beginning to be seen as old-fashioned and hokie. But that idea, that what America is is a nation of principle, that without our principles we are nothing, is what I have always loved. Cap isn't just a hero, he's an idealist. For all the edgy-cool-dark-and-gritty anti-heroes out there, I think an idealist is still the best kind of hero.

  30. People would lose their minds if they found out Captain America would be considered a Conservative, perhaps even a Libertarian. I'm not talking so much of the parties related to those terms, but the true essence of what they stand for. Individualism over the collective? Check. Personal responsibility? Check. Patriotic when the cause is just and right? Check. Stands for American exceptionalism? Check. Wary of authority or big government? Check. Distrust of institutions? Check. Anti-Establishment? Check.

  31. Sneaky/clever agenda pushing at the end.
    Overall, great video. Got me even more pumped to see him again soon.

  32. Not the new Chrissy Evans, He is a total Soyboy Loser. An Anti-American Socialist wannabe and he has NO Idea whatsoever Patriotism really is!

    The ones that have Fought and Many DIED Defending this Grand Experiment that has both brought more people up out of Poverty than All other forms of Governance Combined … and Codified Individual Rights that until very recently were not known around the World, nearly as much as should be.

  33. Now if "You" are talking only about the Character and NOT the actor that portrays him in any way, than Yea, Ok I can go along with that. The Character is Patriotic. Soyboy is a Douche-Bag Self-Serving 'actor'- Not impressed.

  34. No, he isn't representing Cap in real life. Cap would not stand for the attempts at limiting free speech, nor the identity politics that the left is known for. As the video stated, he is for the individual, not where they fall on the Marxist oppression chart.

  35. She has explained why Captain America has always been my favorite comics character better than I ever could,and I don’t think Chris Evans is becoming the character I think these characteristics were already his and what made him the perfect actor to bring Cap to life on the big screen. Wonderful video

  36. Captain America is a idealist version of a patriot. In practice though he's not very realistic. And probably would actually be resented by certain segments of the population. Iron Man would have a similar problem, but from a different section of the American populace. The Punisher being lauded is actually more believable than this version of Cap being lauded. Considering The Punisher's Deathhead is found among a lot of military and law enforcement personnel. Much to the horror of Frank's creator. Superman is also in the same boat as Captain America too.

  37. Since captain America doesn’t exist we should at least get a Tony Stark as our president. And we did! Donald Trump is the real world Iron Man

  38. You were doing good until you tried to compare Chris Evans to Captain America. Evans is a far leftist, and it was painfully obvious that you cherry picked a few tweets that you could twist to push your comparison, carefully avoiding his many long winded and hateful tirades against all who disagree with him. Claiming that his tweets that profess that only Republicans that agree with his far leftist ideology are good people and all others are, as he loves to put it, evil and/or nazis, is morally reprehensible. He is an identitarian, whom has professed authoritarian governments, as long as they enforce his morality and beliefs. The fact that he can portray someone so fundamentally different from himself, is simply because he is such a good actor.

  39. Captain America is the bravest of all avengers and he is worthy all the time and he is mighty love you so much cap

  40. I had the opportunity to show one video to my family in order to prove that Marvel isn't all about punching and explosions. You didn't let me down.

  41. Chris Evan's personal stances are in direct contrast to Captain America's. Evans generally supports political figures that seek to expand the power and scope of institutions over individuals. Evans is a liberal or collectivist, Cap is a libertarian or individualist.

  42. Often times America is the bad guy. Winter Soldier reflects that pretty nicely. Honestly, America on the world stage behaves like Cap if he became a bully himself.

  43. Spoilers for endgame

    With caps fight with thanos, thanos chips away at his shield. Like his code you can chip away at it but you can never break it.

  44. I’m of the opinion that good is good and evil is evil, that it is all clear cut. That is what the USA stands for. If our government is in that evil, but I cannot stand for dropping the shield. As if our government falls short and we have to fight it. We are to become the new America with our old ideas

  45. You lost me at Evans’ politics. He consistently supports actions that give stronger powers to the government and take away individual freedoms. That’s pretty far from Captain America. I will agree he’s a generally nice guy, but his beliefs are pretty far from those demonstrated by Captain America.

  46. I love the part about the individualist mindset. Certain people in this country like past atrocities in a single group of people instead of the individual who committed said atrocity. Like what's happening with some of these shootings. People don't blame the person they blame some so-called outside force. My father & uncle told me when it comes to gun crimes don't blame the gun blame the person holding the gun. In other words guns don't kill people, people kill people. If you place a gun on the table & stand back it will do nothing but if you pick it up & point it at someone then it becomes a threat. It takes the person to make the gun a threat. All of you anti-gun idiots probably won't understand what I just said & will probably think that the gun will go off on it's own anyway but you wrong. I want people to blame the bad things people do on the individuals who did instead of blaming an entire group for the actions of one. Before you call me fascist know that I'm neither a Democrat or a Republican. I in fact hate politics. I'm just telling you these things to educate you instead of preaching some misguided ideology. God Bless You & have a nice day.

  47. Nice try. Notice that Cap very specifically is against UN/EU/Hydra politics & agenda. Against a Globalist/centralized world power. Against Socialism. NOT American Idealism & Exceptionalism.. NOT against Capitalism. Cap has NEVER been a SJW. And FYI… Justice doesn't have adjectives. It's just Justice. Period. USA! USA! USA!

  48. "That shield doesn't belong to you, you don't deserve it. My father made that shield." Translation "Give me back my toy, it's mine not yours!"

  49. I always wondered did Steve Rogers or Bucky ever use the N word in light of the fact that they come from a time when blacks had very few rights.

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