There was one theme that really sticks out after seeing "Captain": selflessness. Steve Rogers is rejected by the Army five times before he can successfully enlist. He then does everything in his power to win the war and save the lives of his comrades, risking his life on a number of occasions. But he is not alone in his actions. Peggy Carter stands in front of a car driven by a Nazi spy, shoot at it repeatedly and is almost hit by the vehicle before Rogers forces her out of the way. Those who are doing their jobs still manage to go above and beyond the call of duty. Howard Stark, despite being a very wealthy civilian who is the biggest defense contractor for the government (and supplying half the genetic code for his initially egoistic son, Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man) violates military regulations by personally flying over enemy territory to drop off Rogers in order to save 400 Allied POWs. Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones' character), despite being of an advanced age, leads a charge into the headquarters of Red Skull (who says that this is no country for old men?). Even the minor characters seem to get in on the act. When Rogers tries to apprehend the Nazi spy I mentioned earlier, the villain throws a kid into the water in an effort to divert his attention. However, the kid quickly stops Rogers from aiding him, shouting out that he can swim and does not need assistance. Seriously, how many other movies can you think of where a kid says "It's not a big deal, I got this covered! Now keep chasing after the bad guy!" Not enough, I tell you!
These actions and feelings in "Captain" due to the fact this was taking place during World War II, where everyone had a sense of common purpose. Granted, "The Good War" has always had a tendency to be romanticized by the general public, but given that this is a superhero movie, this can be excused and you cannot help but get caught up in the unabashed red-white-and-blue patriotism on display. Despite this fact, we have and still see a lot of the bravery depicted in the film that actually takes place in real life. In a scene that is shown in the trailer, Tommy Lee Jones throws a fake grenade among his troops to test their dedication and while the rest scatter, Rogers jumps on it without hesitation (Jones then walks away saying he's still too skin). This scene is actually very similar to an 2006 incident in Iraq where Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis jumped on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers. Tragically, this one was real and he died when it exploded; he was posthumously given the Medal of Honor. The end of the film also mirrored real-life. I will not spoil it, but I will just say that it has similarities to the heroics that took place on September 11th (the tenth anniversary will be shorty upon us). I do not think that either of the comparisons were intentional and people might be offended that I am drawing parallels between real-life deaths to what happened in a summer popcorn flick based on a comic book hero. Comics, particularly back in the Golden Age, set high moral standards for everyone to achieve. But while they may have been and are more idealistic than realistic, as we have seen, some people actually live up to those standards. And even for those who do not, the heroics that take place in both popular media and reality can still be used to remind people that they can overcome great obstacles in order to achieve a level of greatness and improve the world around them.
Now, a lot of you will read this and think: wow, The Observer is really preachy, what has he ever done to make a difference, all this stuff is not going to happen, blah blah blah. I admit that I am a realist; I believe people are naturally self-interested and that to ask for them to be unselfish is very impractical and presumptuous. I also by no means the most generous person around. So why am I doing this? Because I am looking at what is happening in this country and this world right now, and I believe we are right at the moment of something happening that will change how we live and who we are, and if we do not adapt in a certain way, we are going to be in serious danger. But I am optimistic enough to think that we can get threw it and be better off as a result of it, and selflessness can help lead the way.
Now that is an ideal to aspire to.
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