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Captain America: The First Avenger

Yeah.  That worked about as well as anything I was expecting possibly could.  He’s never been Jewish.  That’s just me thinking wishfully.

First pass; intense satisfaction, patience fabricated from pure Wakandan vibranium, and ridiculously keen anticipation.

Tutonic legend freak, The Red Skull, gets Cosmic Cubed (perhaps) to Asgard, meets Loki, Tutonic legend, and a pair of fascinatingly-complex villains devise new junk that merits endless speculation.  Good Golly this stuff is fun, but it needs lots more Agent Coulson.

Third pass 30OCT2011:  The Red Skull is an antiquarian.  He’s Indiana Jones, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joseph Campbell — dusting off the cobwebs to reveal long-forgotten practical power.  During their climactic fight, he accuses Captain America of pigheaded, myopic, nationalistic imaging of their common Destiny; a future in which there are no flags.  He may well be a ruthless egomaniac, but the Skull is, nonetheless, interesting, visionary.

Steve Rogers (the sickly, undersized, constant victim of other people’s abuse of superior power) suddenly beomes The First Avenger because all the other Avengers were born later (with the probable exception of THOR), but the suddenly-mighty Captain America isn’t remotely interested in wreaking vengeance on the many individuals who victimized weak Steve Rogers (most of whom probably died during his 70year nap).  Captain America’s mission is (chivalrously) saving the planet from the abuses of superior power, he’s the prototype, the foundation upon which S.H.I.E.L.D. was built from the Strategic Scientific Reserve, the primary narrative representative of which is Peggy Carter:

Courtesy of Wikipedia, actress, Hayley Atwell;

An officer with the Strategic Scientific Reserve and the love interest of Captain America.  Regarding her preparation for the role, she said,

“I’m training at the moment six days a week to make her a bit more military and make it convincing that I could kick butt.”[8]

About the character Atwell stated,

“I likened her character to that famous Ginger Rogers quote. She can do everything Captain America can do, but backwards and in high heels. She’s an English soldier through and through, although she always looks fabulous. She might stand there with a machine-gun shooting Nazis, but she’s obviously gone to the loo beforehand and applied a bit of lipstick. She doesn’t need to be rescued.  That’s exciting to me – her strength”.[9] “I think she’s quite stubborn, a slightly frustrated woman who struggles with being a woman in that time. But more importantly she’s a modern woman and she sees something in Captain America that she relates to, and becomes kindred spirits. He treats her very differently to how she’s been treated by lots of men, in this kind of dominated world she lives in. So she’s very much a fighter.”[10]

The transition from one secret government institiution, S.S.R., into another, S.H.I.E.L.D., is an intriguing thread of continuity (across fascinating decades of recent [male-dominated?] adversarial history) made manifest in the point of view of Peggy Carter, who appears in 2011 at the end of this film looking almost exactly as she did in 1942.  I wonder why.  If Peggy Carter lost Steve Rogers to his noble decision to sacrifice himself (or New York), that choice had deeply-tragic consequences, for her.  If, in 2011, Steve Rogers awakens in a simulated 1942 hospital bed, greeted by the (identical) granddaughter of Peggy Carter, true love gets fucked.  If it’s The Original Peggy, fresh out of preserves in 2011, there‘s a shitload of valuable personal (gender-polarized) history sacrificed in the name of the Carter/Rogers romance.  Ginger wasn’t Fred’s automatic, natural doppelgänger, maybe that was Hermes.  They worked (choreographed, tried, failed, revised, rehearsed beyond exhaustion) until they worked like nobody else.

There’s an enormous body of unproduced (perhaps unwritten) masterwork detailing The Potts Perspective on Stark, Carter on Rogers, Watson on Parker…It’s written from the shadowed, ordinary side of unqualified, superheroic celebrity, and it hands the bullhorn to people who REALLY know how to communicate something all of us will eventually come to regard as invaluable.  How to thrive while being eclipsed.

(Never mind that suspended animation wasn’t widely known to be an available option in 1942.  Steve hops into a few utterly-unfamiliar, foreign cockpits and flies expertly, too.  This film is richly-inlaid with the usual bullshit, but the stink is offset by the ennobling charm of noticing at The Red Skull’s Flying Wing [the MacGuffin that opens the film] is buried in snow and ice, very like the saucer in The Thing, and that David Niven’s introduction into Powell & Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death resonates beautifully with Steve’s and Peggy’s radio conversation as both guys plummet fearlessly to their respective deaths in their respective films.

And champions of the myopic view of culture pigheadedly wave copyright pennants as an impediment to Progre$$, while the biggest A-List creators in Hollywood are also the biggest fans/tributers/borrowers [“pirates”] who ever studied pedicure at the feet of recognized masters.)

The point I’d like to make here is that Captain America:  The First Avenger isn’t just mindless, escapist entertainment.  Its excellences, failings, quirks and logical inconsistencies point directly at stuff that’s worth thinking about and fixing in real life while waiting for the next Marvel spectacular to hunker down on our faces and bathe us in its investors’ ecstatic delight (on its way to the bank).  It’s also a crucial installment in an ongoing cultural event that may provide significant and valuable information to Schmidts and Jonses and Tolkiens and Rogers (both Steves and Gingers) in centuries to come.

Something about this particular time in American history smells like it was accurately predicted from between the dusty covers of quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore.  To misquote Livia Soprano, “Poe us”.

Fourth Pass 07APR2012:  So!  Steve Rogers wakes up almost 70 years into his future and isn’t greeted by Peggy Carter, but a very attractive young woman who resembles her a lot — and I totally missed that obvious fact.  Never mind.

Fifth Pass 06MAY2012:  After seeing The Avengers in a local theater on the evening after its domestic release.  I noticed that Loki elaborates on the Red Skull’s vision of OneWorldOrder in which there are no flags of nationalism/division by positing his curious and interesting belief that humankind naturally belongs on its knees devoting unqualified, obsequious homage to one superior individual, naturally, that’s him.  Say now, that’s a fun idea for tying together the underserved notions of Captain America as the amplified version of the iconically-naive anti-bully, Steve Rogers, and for providing insight into the Red Skull’s character, and The Hulk’s and Thor’s and…y’know, I wish I’d spent less time dawdling over homework, so I’d know lots more about the characters played by Scarlett Johanssen and Jeremy Renner.

Hanging around in my theater seat, clear to the end of credits for The Avengers isn’t optional. It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings or Thor chews, whichever comes last.  Hanging, I noticed the names of Jenny Agutter and The-one-and-only,  J. Michael Straczynski (in a construct-authorial-homage cameo), whose faces I didn’t recognize, unlike Stan Lee, Powers Boothe, Harry Dean Stanton, Paul Bettany and Lou Ferrigno (these last two were employed as voice talent), and cruising IMDb today, I see Alexis Denisof as The Other, whoever the fuck that may have been.  I never knew how much I loved falafel until it was time to get up from my theater seat, steal the 3D glasses (for the hell of it) and go home to re-refresh my memory of the elements I already own of this kinda-wonderful-deeper-than-expected saga.  It’s fuckin’ aht! or an incredibly-reasonable facsimile thereof.

26 Oct 11 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Having just purchased Iron Man 3 from iTunes, I noticed (among its “EXTRAS”) the Agent Carter promo for the next Captain America film…and realized how much I want more of Peggy’s story commanding my attention. She provides the evidence I desperately needed in 1959 to support my flimsy faith that girls were valuable people (for an infinite variety of reasons). The truths I believed to be self-evident weren’t particularly expressible in a Wonder Woman context, but Peggy Carter links matrices of common sense I never found validated in Diana Prince.
    The ridiculous-willful association of Peggy Carter and John Carter is just sizzle on the liver pill. She may also be the phantom element that can impel me to give a flying fuck about The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a television show I can’t seem to watch, no matter how much I’d like to; insufficient Coulson, and a simple excess of mumbling young people.

    Comment by Scott Ellington | 27 Nov 13 | Reply


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