Captain America is a traitor, and other narrative problems in the Winter Soldier

April 7, 2014

cap-america

As pretty much all of the fandom is aware, Captain America 2 opened in theatres last week to much fanfare. The live-action adaptation of Ed Bruebaker’s acclaimed Winter Soldier storyline had the loins of virtually all fanboys everywhere a-quivering, and nerds of colour hotly anticipated the introduction of Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, who would join the highly-selective ranks of superhero movies’ sidekicks of colour alongside Terrance Howard Don Cheadle’s War Machine and Tadanobu Asano’s Hogun.

As has been made pretty clear in my writing, I’m not a huge fan of Marvel Studios’ superhero movie franchise. I despise the Thor movies with a passion, and am convinced that the success of The Avengers is ruining the superhero movie genre. I’m a Nolanverse girl still looking for someone to make another thinking-man’s comic book movie; and as the years drag on, I’m increasingly convinced I’ll be sorely disappointed until Joseph Gordon-Levitt completes his Sandman adaptation.

Yet, last week, I gamely shelled out my eleven bucks, and went to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Snoopy Jenkins.

And, yes, I walked away with the typical warm-and-fuzzies that come with lots of brainless explosions and high-octane action. And then yes, as soon as the adrenaline wore off a few hours later, I realized how totally and utterly brain-dead that movie was.

Spoilers ahead – please don’t read on unless you’ve watched Winter Soldier

I do love Sebastian Stan, but god this Fabio hair was absurd.
I do love Sebastian Stan, but god this Fabio hair was absurd.

Let me first give credit where credit is due: The Winter Soldier was clearly Marvel Studios’ attempt to make a thinking-man’s superhero movie. With all the auspices of a spy film, Winter Soldier was like a really, really, really dumb version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, where the double-agent turns out to be some absurdly accented suicidal Nazi AI who is housed in the hard-drives of 4,000 Commodore 64s. But, hey, at least Marvel tried. They gave us intrigue, drama, angst, and even a few weak stabs at romance and sexual tension — and then they threw it all away for more explosions and CGI fight scenes.

Perhaps the highlight of the film was, for me, the elevator scene. No, not the one where Cap beats the shit out of 30 guys. The first one: the one where Nick Fury invites Cap to ride an elevator with him and then gives his back story. Here, nestled into a superhero movie is perhaps one of the best examples of Marvel Studios adding racial nuance to a character of colour: Fury reminisces about how his grandfather worked as an elevator operator in (presumably) 1920’s or 1930’s New York City, and then walked home with his tips in his lunch bag along with a .22 handgun. The scene works on a few levels. On the surface, it introduces Fury’s near-universal distrust of everyone around him, a distrust that features later in the film.

But, reading slightly between the lines, Fury’s distrust of others becomes a racialized behaviour: a justifiably learned reaction from a patriarch who grew up in the segregated North; who works one of the best jobs available to Black men at the time; who nonetheless still works in the service industry in proximity to, but never a part of, the White man’s world; who walks home from the wealth of Wall Street to one of several all-Black enclaves in the city; whom we could imagine maybe even living in Harlem during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, only to watch the neighbourhood deteriorate in the subsequent decades due to redlining and other damning forms of economic violence enacted against Blacks during this era.

Nick Fury never says the word Black, and never makes mention of any of this history — yet, his Blackness informs his distrust of the world in a way that feels realistic and whole. Later, Fury’s Blackness is again invoked during the scene where he is subjected to the World’s Worst Stop-and-Frisk Stop Ever.

This entire scene was like one big PSA on racial profiling and police brutality.
This entire scene was like one big PSA on racial profiling and police brutality.

These brief moments of subversive racial invocation are, and should be, the template for comic book diversity — the desired middle-ground between the overt stereotyping of superheroes of colour we’ve seen in the past that would define every minority character by his or her race alone, and the ridiculous post-racial fantasy advocated by some that would leave race a meaningless costume detail.

Yet, while I think the sophisticated treatment of Nick Fury’s race in The Winter Soldier is the film’s major strength, I also think it also highlights the film’s chief weakness: the apparent wariness Marvel Studios has in fully tackling uncomfortable complexity in its storylines. In the same scene where Nick Fury recounts his grandfather’s life as an elevator operator in 1920’s and 1930’s New York City, the film deliberately stops short from reminding Cap, Nick Fury or the viewer that the segregated America of Nick Fury’s grandfather is also Steve Rogers’ America.

And so it goes with the whole of The Winter Soldier: in the same film that introduces Nick Fury as a distinctly racialized up-by-my-bootstraps executive with one foot still firmly planted in Black America’s segregated past, and in the same film that introduces the gamely loyal Falcon who is about a stone’s throw from being Steve Rogers’ manservant, yet also clearly smart enough to know it; Marvel flatly refuses to let Captain America (or Steve Rogers) explore his own racial baggage. The viewer is treated to two wildly different depictions of Black male America including one who invokes the racial history of 1920’s segregated America, yet we are expected to simultaneously believe that Steve Rogers, who grew up in that segregated America, has no commentary on this whatsoever?

Instead, we are expected to believe that Steve Rogers, who came-of-age in a world where Black men as elevator operators and stevedores was both commonplace and expected, has no issue taking orders from a Black man serving as his superior? We are expected to believe that Steve Rogers, who enrolled in the military prior to racial integration, has no concerns about calling a Black man his wingman? We are expected to believe that a man who grew up in 1920’s White America will not find it mildly shocking that the culture of the intervening years since his hibernation was defined predominantly by Black musicians?

And so, The Winter Soldier displays an exceptional cowardice:  in multiple instances, the film dips a toe into a muddy grey area of racial politics, but then flees back to the shallow waters of post-racial fantasy amidst low-brow explosions and a girl doing backflips when the grime threatens to dirty the image of its protagonist, Captain America. I do not assert that Steve Rogers should be a flaming racist; but the complete absence of culture shock he exhibits in racially integrated 21st century America is disconcerting. How this man could have missed the entirety of the Civil Rights Movement with no lasting consequences is the single primary conceit of the Captain America movies … and one that deserves to be corrected or addressed at some point.

Harold Hancock, an elevator operator. Throughout the early twentieth century, the most high-paying jobs that African Americans could attain were as ceremonial servants for White America -- doormen, butlers, stevedors, and elevator operators. This is an image of Black America that Steve Rogers would be used to; how he missed the entirety of the Civil Rights Movement with no lasting consequences is the major conceit of the Captain America movies ... and one that needs to be corrected or addressed.
Harold Hancock, an elevator operator. Throughout the early twentieth century, the most high-paying jobs that African Americans could attain were as ceremonial servants for White America — doormen, butlers, stevedors, and elevator operators. This is an image of Black America that Steve Rogers would be used to.

So, too does The Winter Soldier mess up its major storyline regarding government spying and geopolitical threats. While the film attempts to incorporate the standard government spying vs. Edward Snowden freedom of information storyline we’ve now seen repeated ad nauseum in multiple films over the last year and a half, The Winter Soldier set a complex political stage, but then abandons it mid-movie in favour of cheap explosions and high death counts. Rather than to discuss the necessity of a covert federal agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. in a globalized world where, apparently, Nazis lurk around every corner, the film makes a few faint stabs at the power of the helicarrier technology to do good, only to assert within 20 minutes that it’s a clear example of government overreach. By the second half of the movie, there is no doubt in the mind of any viewer that the triple helicarriers have got to go.

And why? Because Captain America said so.

That’s right, folks. Rather than invoke the uniquely American system of checks and balances to create a system of government oversight in the use of the helicarrier technology (which, let’s face it, is a powerful tool that could be used to establish world peace), Captain America casts himself as judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the US federal government’s entire intelligence apparatus. Captain America in The Winter Soldier takes it upon himself to circumvent the explicit will of America’s elected officials — which, lest we forget, approved of the helicarrier project at every stage of its formation. Instead, Cap decides to singlehandedly alter the course of America’s political future. When Captain America and Nick Fury discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by H.Y.D.R.A., their solution is to blow S.H.I.E.L.D. up.

The film has no room for discussion of how Captain America’s decision to take up arms against the Marvel Universe’s version of the C.I.A. is clearly treasonous. They don’t talk about how Cap, Black Widow, and Falcon took it upon themselves to steal top-secret Falcon technology from the U.S. Army, which they then used against American citizens. They don’t discuss the aftermath of releasing S.H.I.E.L.D. state secrets to the international community, and how this could empower and embolden America’s foreign enemies. They don’t discuss how their plan to replace the helicarrier targeting chips to cause project-wide self-destruction resulted in the waste of trillions of taxpayer dollars, along with the implosion of the entire industrial complex that otherwise would have centred around maintenance of these hovercrafts. And, worse yet, our stalwart heroes seem unperturbed by the fact that H.Y.D.R.A. has only infiltrated an unknown subset of S.H.I.E.L.D.; instead, all S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel who man the helicarriers are targeted by our “heroes” for destruction.

“How will we know who the bad guys are?” asks Falcon at one point.

“They’ll be the ones shooting at us!” quips Cap. Of course, they wouldn’t be shooting at Cap and his manservant sidekick wingman because they just declared war on an American intelligence agency.

And, when the helicarriers go down in flames, the people who died weren’t H.Y.D.R.A. agents; they were predominantly the hundreds or thousands of support staff whose only crime might have been that they were hired to mop floors on decks 29-35 of Helicarrier #2 on that fateful day.

Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon weren’t American heroes in The Winter Soldier. They were domestic terrorists.

cap-falcon

And, perhaps their actions were just. Perhaps, under different circumstances that maybe involved some sort of Congressional approval, Cap and company would have pursued the same final solution. The problem is that the film never interrogated that. Cap et al. just skipped all the boring discussion over the morality and ethics of their actions, and went straight to the blowing shit up.

At the end of the day, we are left with the vaguely smug feeling that Captain America once again was on the side of the righteous, and now he’s got a new friend with a super-lame power (yes, I said it — Falcon is super-lame) to go fight Nazis with. Never mind that he basically committed a military coup of America’s intelligence community.

So yet again, as with all Marvel Studios films, we were left with yet another flashy, explosion-filled testosterone-fest, that offers high-flying action and cheap thrills at the expense of intelligent story-telling. Screenwriters shirked away from the opportunity to dissect the mythos — and pathos — of America’s Greatest Generation in favour of yet another cardboard cut-out of a superhero doing superhero things that are as beautiful as they are substanceless. The movie further fails to give Falcon sufficient humanity to push back against the film’s repeated ham-fisted, white supremacist insistence that this proud African-American sidekick is inferior to Steve Rogers in every way; a point that actually underlies the visual sight gag that opens the film. And, yes, the eponymous Winter Soldier — and all that he represents in the Captain America canon —  is completely wasted.

In short, if you wanted explosions and high body count, The Winter Soldier is definitely the movie for you. But, when that theatre darkens and you get reminded to please silence your cellphones, don’t forget to turn your brain off as well.

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  • the Asian business guy has been typecast into his same role as in The Dark Knight.

    Actually, Chin Han is a great actor. He also has a name.

    Does it anger you a white guy can outrun a black guy?

    Not really, no.

    It does bother me that people watch a movie like Captain America and pretend that the narrative choices aren’t racial. If you want to watch a movie like this and think there isn’t a way to engage it on a higher level, that’s your choice. But recognize that you are choosing to ignore a bunch of stuff that the movie is telling you, like in this case, how Falcon is introduced as inferior to Cap before he is introduced as anything else. The first thing you learn about him is that he’s no threat to Cap, physically or intellectually. That is a movie-making choice that you are choosing to ignore.

    Get over yourself and stop looking for deep philosophical meaning in a damned movie based on a comic book character.

    Like I said, it’s your prerogative to watch a movie based on a comic book and not hold it to a standard of needing to be an intelligent and internally consistent film. But that’s the point of this review — it’s a good movie, if you choose not to actually think about it.

    If people want to explore the struggles of black people in American History, Levar Burton is outstanding in a movie called “Roots.”

    Right, because the only relevant thing about Black people and race is slavery.

  • Hi Johnny, your comment was not approved and you have banned for clear use of misogynistic slurs.

  • I’m not a fan of Nolan’s movies, but I like your criticism of Winter Soldier all the same. I have a question about your interpretation of Fury’s grandfather monologue, though. You say it is a justified distrust based on the racist reality of NYC in the early 20th century. Does that mean Fury’s grandfather carried a loaded gun to protect himself from rich white people? I think Fury’s grandfather carried a gun to protect him from poor black people: Yes, their poverty was largely a result of racism, but this adds a stereotypical gangsta element to Fury’s narrative. In all honesty, what are the chances that a black man in the 1930s would be allowed to come to work in a white neighborhood with a loaded revolver? What I think Fury’s narrative does is rewrite black history through an unrealistic gangsta lens. I would have appreciated a more racially sensitive depiction. In any case, you are absolutely right that they dropped the ball by not making Captain America’s culture shock a salient part of the story. They could have challenged harmful stereotypes instead of propping up Fury as a two-dimensional gangsta.

  • Jason:

    Very good points. It has been a little while since I saw the movie so I’m going to have to draw from my memory of the monologue.

    Yes, their poverty was largely a result of racism, but this adds a stereotypical gangsta element to Fury’s narrative. In all honesty, what are the chances that a black man in the 1930s would be allowed to come to work in a white neighborhood with a loaded revolver? What I think Fury’s narrative does is rewrite black history through an unrealistic gangsta lens.

    From what I remember, the story about Fury’s grandfather draws upon the increasing poverty and economic blight of his neighbourhood, which was a documented phenomenon as the effects of redlining took hold. Although Blacks were excluded by redlining from integrating traditionally White neighbourhoods, it was only after years of this practice that ethnic enclaves became institutionalized and could be subsequently disserviced. Police were less inclined to venture into those areas, etc. As you note, this poverty and soaring crime rate is a result of racism; for me, this is why the monologue doesn’t invoke a gangster narrative — for me, it was a reference to the effects of redlining and the consequent socioeconomic problems that arise. But, you’re right that this could be a projection of mine based on having spent more time thinking about institutional racism. You raise the interesting point: what would the average, non-social justice audience member, think of this monologue? Does this prop up a gangster motif, particularly if the redlining reference soars over the heads of most (as it probably would)?

    I also much appreciate your point on the loaded gun issue, which I hadn’t considered. There is absolutely no way that a Black man in the 1930’s could take a loaded gun to his job in an all-White neighbourhood. Really great point!

  • I’m not sure how or why we disagree. You’re saying that, if we see that the trust problems that Fury is talking about were real, and the result of racism, then his monologue does not have a gangsta motif? I disagree.

    I just transcribed the scene:

    Captain America and Fury are in the elevator and Fury has just given C access to Project Insight. They’re riding down towards the hellicarriers.

    C: You know, they used to play music.

    F: Yeah. My grandfather operated one of these things for 40 years. My granddad worked in a nice building, got good tips. He walked home every night, a roll of ones stuffed in his lunch bag. He’d say hi. People would say hi back. Time went on. Neighborhood got rougher. He’d say hi, they’d say, “keep on steppin.” Granddad got to grippin’ that lunchbag a little tighter.

    C: Did he ever get mugged?

    F: [laughs] Every week some punk would say, “What’s in the bag?!”

    C: What’d he do?

    F: He’d show’em! A bunch of crumpled ones, and a loaded .22 Magnum. [pause] Granddad loved people. But he didn’t trust’em very much.

    They see the hellicariers.

    F: Yeah, I know. They’re a little bit bigger than a .22.

    ———————————-

    I’d forgotten that the hellicarriers were directly compared to the guns in the grandfather narrative. That’s interesting. The idea is that, just as a world-weary black man in the ghetto needs guns to keep his hard-earned money, SHIELD needs hellicarriers to protect the good, honest people of the world from evil. All threats to SHIELD are compared to ghetto thugs. And, like his badass grandfather who wasn’t afraid to pull out a loaded .22 Magnum when confronted with ghetto thugs, Nick Fury isn’t afraid to pull out the hellicarriers.

    It looks like a very strong gangsta narrative to me. The fact that ghetto violence and poverty can be attributed to racism does not make it any less so.

  • Hey Jason,

    I guess I’m a little confused — do you think the interview portrays Fury’s grandfather as a gangster, or the neighbourhood he is in?

  • Hi Jenn,

    I’m using the term “gangsta” (not gangster) loosely to refer to the stereotype of a black, sociopathic inner-city criminal. This stereotype masks the reality of inner-city gang violence, which in reality comes from youths joining together to protect themselves and their communities. I don’t think gang violence is generally sociopathic, so the stereotype distorts reality.

    Fury’s grandfather narrative says that it is not enough if you are an honest, hard-working black man in America. You have to be a badass. Don’t trust anyone, and don’t be afraid to pull out your guns. That seems pretty gangsta to me. The grandfather narrative tells us that Fury sociopathically embraces gun violence because of his inner-city childhood. He was raised to be something of a gangsta. That’s why Captain America walks away from him and the hellicarriers. Captain America wants people he can trust, and who will trust him.

    I like the idea of giving Fury socio-historical roots, and you are right to point out that there are at least some traces of truth to the story. They had an opportunity to explore racial issues. I just think they made it too stereotypical and two-dimensional.

  • Leslie

    I was just on another transcontinental plane ride, so I subjected myself to Marvel fair. This film was an Okay action movie, but that’s about it. I think your analysis of the racial aspects give it far to much credit. Nick Fury might as well not be black. He is post-racial, even if his grandpa was an elevator operator. No context is given to that anecdote, and it’s used in service of an entirely different point.

    On the “Captain America is a traitor” thing, you give the film far too little credit. Many of your objections made about Cap’s actions are the same made about Snowden, and they all turned out to be pretty false in real life so I think we can assume they wouldn’t go far in the Movie Verse, especially when the entire security apparatus there wasn’t just corrupt, but literally more evil than the Nazis.

    Given morality pretty much never come done on the side of “Large, secretive, all reaching, unaccountable security apparatus,” I don’t think the movie needed to spend time explaining that a large, secretive, all reaching, unaccountable security apparatus run by eviler than Nazis shadow orgs about to kill 20 million people needed to get exploded. If all this were being run by a foreign government in the film like the Hydra facilities in Captain America 1, would you have the same concerns?

  • bev davis

    wow I spent most of the movie watching a trio of hot guys beating each other up. I hated Redford for being mean and loved Nick Fury and his suv. I was amazed by the graphics. Made me go read the comics. Falcon has a white girlfriend and a romantic scene worthy of natasha and james. I don’t guess Black women are ever going to be love interests. my first thought was how stereotypical.
    I don’t expect a lot out of comic based movies..I mean Fan 4 has a black brother/white sister team. You can beat that to death or shrug your shoulder and enjoy the movie.

  • SAMAS

    The chief problem with your complaints are Context and Timing. As mentioned before, as nice as it may have been to call up a congressional hearing on Hydra’s infiltration of SHIELD (and hope you don’t get the congressmen that are themselves agents or supporters of Hydra(or did you miss that part where the senator from Iron Man 2 who wanted Tony to give up the secrets of his suit to the US government turned out to be a Hydra agent?) on the committee), the fact that it was about to enact a plan that would kill millions of people kinda precludes all that. Steve’s initial reaction to Insight was that primarily that he didn’t like it, but was begrudgingly trusting Fury with it. It was only when he found out it was in the hands of Hydra and was about to be misused that he said it had to go.

    Furthermore, while he, Falcon, and Widow did declare war on a US intelligence agency, it was one that was already subverted by interests hostile to the United States (and the rest of the world, for that matter). Their actions were taken out of loyalty to the United States. It should also be noted that afterwards, the government itself cracked down on SHIELD, which caused problems for Coulson and his team.

    As for the racial things, there are two problems with that.

    The first is that this isn’t Ultimate Cap. He is specifically noted not to have the predjudices you seem to be assuming his has simply because he was white in the 30’s/40’s. Many versions of him have stated that when posing for pictures with the other Howling Commandos, he often sat/stood with Gabriel Jones and Jim Morita right next to him just so they couldn’t be cropped out.

    Also, Steve knows names like Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. We have been influencing the American music scene for some time now. That is has continued well into the century is not all that surprising.

    But most importantly, of all this racial angst and pontificating, where in the movie is it supposed to fit?

  • Furthermore, while he, Falcon, and Widow did declare war on a US intelligence agency, it was one that was already subverted by interests hostile to the United States (and the rest of the world, for that matter). Their actions were taken out of loyalty to the United States. – SAMAS

    I suggest that the motivations here do not matter. Plenty of learned commentators make the same argument about Ed Snowden’s actions against the NSA, and the argument fails to persuade there as well. The fact remains that Cap, Falcon, and Widow ignored the chain of command and the civilian leadership of the American federal government in order to enact the leadership change and policy shift they alone wished to see SHIELD adopt. Their actions were the very definition of treason.

    If one doesn’t like the policy direction America’s undertaking, they can engage the ballot box, or start a political movement, or write their congressman. The dissident does not have the right to demolish several hundred billion dollar strategic American national security advantages, or establish for the rest of the world that America had (note the past tense) such awesome military capability.

    As for Cap and race – if we are to believe that Steve Rogers was the only member of the Greatest Generation to shun White supremacy, fine. It is, after all, a comic book movie. But we should not pretend that Rogers’ inexplicable racial tolerance makes sense in the context of the film’s narrative. That’s why Ultimate Cap was mildly rewarding – those writers spent less time on the lie that Steve Rogers was a scrawny Brooklynite who displayed none of the hatred fellow men in his community displayed incessantly. Like flying on metal wings, the fantastic multiculturalism of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is just one more special effect in an otherwise horrid film.

  • Leslie

    “I suggest that the motivations here do not matter. Plenty of learned commentators make the same argument about Ed Snowden’s actions against the NSA, and the argument fails to persuade there as well.”

    Fail to persuade who Obama/establishment loyalists? Seems most people in the world thank Edward Snowden for his actions exposing government corruption. Especially when the government literally destroyed the lives of people who tried to raise concerns through the “proper channels” and “chain of command.”

  • K

    Hi Jenn,
    I was dismayed at the plot of Winter Soldier and immediately hit the reviews to see if I was the only one, I was pleasantly surprised to find a your perceptive review. I, like you, measure Comic (and other movies, frankly) by the Nolanverse, watching DK’s Joker deal with the morality of Gotham et al, made me wonder if someone had been reading my diary. The reason Batman is the larger audience is his moral ambiguity, batman has always been a psychological thriller, his rogues gallery alone demands that deconstruction, thus the audience’s capacity for complexity drives his popularity, perhaps something missed on those that would denigrate comic-genre fare. I agree that it is possible, however highly unlikely that a person from that era would not have internalized some form of contemporary “tribal” ethnocentrism and even if written, defies credulity and thus needs lampshading. A few lines of dialog or a quick scene establishing his genuine egalitarian creds (especially with the internal race discussion). The gangsta aesthetic critique is legit due to it being Jackson but the “humble armed good guy” transcends color, which is why Ronin & Cowboy are virtually interchangeable genres. Your dissection of the claim to objective morality that both Hydra & Cap take is the most exciting for me as I am often the only one in the room who notices that if you bring guns to force your agenda on someone who brought guns to force their agenda, you have no moral high ground in the colloquially understood “justice”, you are breaking the law to enforce your own morality, you aren’t better than them, you are them. The Joker’s prisoners dilemma, with the ferries, was ridiculous, it would’ve been the occer mom with her infant that strode over there hit the button and gone back to cooing over her child. The idea that she’d let her child die seems highly implausible but fits the ra-ra america that such fare requires & spoke to the issue directly but the Jokers horrible logic stays with you. WS had none of this, it could’ve dealt with the logical dissonance with just *a very few* lines, a pointed interchange, to highlight their internal logic. Without that lantern hung, I wasn’t even sure what their point was which distracts from the explosions and even, dare I say it, Widow 🙂 sorry so long-winded, Thanks again for the interesting review and commentary.

  • dubbs, your comment was not approved, for violation of this site’s comment policy.

  • @K

    Thank you for reading and your interesting comments!

    The reason Batman is the larger audience is his moral ambiguity, batman has always been a psychological thriller, his rogues gallery alone demands that deconstruction, thus the audience’s capacity for complexity drives his popularity, perhaps something missed on those that would denigrate comic-genre fare.

    Yep. I do feel like Batman — and specifically whether or not one likes Nolanverse — is a litmus test for one’s complexity in one’s fandom. That movie is incredibly divisive, and right down the lines of what people are looking for in their fandom; people who like Nolanverse are looking for a more more psychological and mature interpretation of the superhero genre in their books and film, one that is being unfortunately underaddressed in most of today’s pop comic book movie fare. I actually explored this idea in my podcast.

    I agree that it is possible, however highly unlikely that a person from that era would not have internalized some form of contemporary “tribal” ethnocentrism and even if written, defies credulity and thus needs lampshading. A few lines of dialog or a quick scene establishing his genuine egalitarian creds (especially with the internal race discussion).

    This is all I’m searching for. Is it impossible for a person from his era to integrate fully into a post-CRM decade? No, but it would be highly unusual, and would still involve some form of culture shock and language learning curve. For example, the word “African American” doesn’t exist for his vocabulary; he would be using the word “Negro” or “Colored” (or “Oriental”), and maybe doing it with the best of intentions. He would be used to Black men as porters and cooks, or at best his fellow soldiers, but never his commanding officers. I’m not saying he would be riding around with a white sheet on his head, but it stretches believability to say he would never have said or done something that would be taken the wrong way, just based on internalization of the racial dynamics he grew up in.

    Your dissection of the claim to objective morality that both Hydra & Cap take is the most exciting for me as I am often the only one in the room who notices that if you bring guns to force your agenda on someone who brought guns to force their agenda, you have no moral high ground in the colloquially understood “justice”, you are breaking the law to enforce your own morality, you aren’t better than them, you are them.

    Yes, and thank you, but to be honest, again this is also logic that sticks with you as a Batman fan. Batman embodies that problem of objective morality. He isn’t strictly an anti-hero, but his entire character walks the line between fighting evil and becoming the evil he fights. He draws (arbitrary) lines in the sand about guns, but let’s face it, most nights, he is willfully committing acts of armed and unarmed assault against people.

  • rosie1843

    [“But, reading slightly between the lines, Fury’s distrust of others becomes a racialized behaviour: a justifiably learned reaction from a patriarch who grew up in the segregated North; who works one of the best jobs available to Black men at the time; who nonetheless still works in the service industry in proximity to, but never a part of, the White man’s world; who walks home from the wealth of Wall Street to one of several all-Black enclaves in the city; whom we could imagine maybe even living in Harlem during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, only to watch the neighbourhood deteriorate in the subsequent decades due to redlining and other damning forms of economic violence enacted against Blacks during this era.

    Nick Fury never says the word Black, and never makes mention of any of this history — yet, his Blackness informs his distrust of the world in a way that feels realistic and whole. Later, Fury’s Blackness is again invoked during the scene where he is subjected to the World’s Worst Stop-and-Frisk Stop Ever.”]

    No dear. Aside from Fury’s reaction to being stopped by the phony DC cops . . . you’re wrong. What you failed to understand is that Nick Fury is a SPYMASTER . . . and a very good one. His job depends upon that distrust, something that many successful spies possess. This is something that Steve Rogers, who is at heart, a military soldier, does not understand. Nor does he understand that he was working for an intelligence agency, not a military organization.

  • MelaninManson

    So being a spymaster negates Fury’s race? Is that the diversity Marvel promotes in its movies? Rosie, I don’t think I understand how being a spymaster is incompatible with the description the post provides.

  • SAMAS

    There’s no motivation involved. Hydra, under the guise of SHIELD, was about to murder several million Americans, including the President, with the express goal of subverting national sovereignty. On top of that, the Chain of Command itself was compromised, not to mention the immediacy of the threat precluded asking permission.

    While there was an unlikely possibility very early in the film that Cap *may* have engaged a few loyal but disguided agents in his initial escape (as a Hydra mole, would *you* have trusted taking him out to a dupe?), one of the main reasons he made his announcement was to effectively pull the loyal agents out of his path. After that, anyone who tried to stop him was 99.7836% certain to be an agent of Hydra.

  • SAMAS

    Well, yeah. That kind of paranoia has been kind of a Nick Fury trademark even in the 616(original comics) universe, where he’s White.

  • Ric Gray

    I have to point out that in Captain America 1 one of the Howling Commando’s was black. Sure he served under Cap but to serve with him would have shown Cap respected him. He is at heart a good person and he does point out he did things in war that made him not sleep so well. After he thawed we don’t have a time frame but we know he was working on figuring out the new world, like he was the note book to try to keep up on things. None of us know how growing up in the 20s was but Steve being for lack of a better word of pure heart I can’t see him being a racist or waking up 70 years not excepting blacks as equal. Seems you are reaching.

  • Ric Gray

    Got her with the music. Black entertainers where popular back then, I missed that point.

  • OminousFlare

    Kinda missing the point. The author of this article’s obviously trying to look at Marvel movies in a thinking-man sense, not in a “comic book logic” sense where being a so-called “Spymaster” excuses all logic-lapses. Racist undertones from Fury’s character exist in the movie, regardless of how the comic book counterpart might excuse them.

  • Anantha Kashibhatla

    It’s evident that you know absolutely nothing about Captain America. Sure, he is white and one might expect him to be a racist; however, Captain America was pure at the heart and a good man; he respects everyone. Even in the comics, Rogers was disgusted by the racism in 1930s America. Please organize your notes more carefully about a comic book legend before spewing bs, thanks.

  • Anantha Kashibhatla

    First off, Falcon isn’t presented as inferior to Captain America. In fact, it is revealed that both are best friends in the comics but I am sure you wouldn’t understand that. Obviously you were looking for the racial element with whites and blacks, so @Butthurt’s statement holds true. This movie was solely created to explain the gray areas of morality and see how Captain America handles the situation. He has never disrespected any human being; Captain America is the epitome of human morality.

  • Anantha Kashibhatla

    Amen to that, funny thing is, this liberal author doesn’t understand anything.

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