Most folks have probably heard by now that Marvel Comics has decided to kill off Captain America as some sort of silly assed political statement. Well, his character is their property, so that’s their right, of course.
It saddens me that a character that was once used quite literally to represent the patriotism, courage, and fighting spirit of the country has been killed off in the name of politics. Of course, since it’s a comic he’s probably not really dead, or worse yet they’re going to sully his memory with some half-assed culturally sensitive replacement. I haven’t really read comics in years, and yet all this has got me thinking about how our current generation and culture regards heroes and the concept of noble character.
If you take a brief gander at today’s heroes in modern media, they are often anything but “heroic” in character and action. I was raised with John Wayne, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones movies. You know who the good guys are, and even though they may have character flaws, their actions were inherently noble, and based on noble motivations. Heroes were fictional characters based on ideals that might not have been obtainable in real life, but that was the basis of their appeal (to me, at least). I knew that despite his roguish nature, Han Solo was a good guy, because no matter what he said, he was committed to fighting against evil, and fighting for his friends.
I’m realizing as I write this that what I’m trying to say is rather hard to actually articulate, so bear with me if I ramble a bit. I’m…underwhelmed by the vast majority of heroic characters that I see in movies these days. One of my greatest disappointments in heroic characters recent was Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings movies. While I greatly enjoyed the movies, I was hoping that the character in the movie would have been more faithful to the character in the book. If you haven’t seen and read them, in the movie Aragorn is portrayed as being somewhat reluctant to embrace his destiny as the leader of Men, whereas in the book his is portrayed as ready, and simply waiting for the right time.
That seems to me to be an excellent example of the problem. Heroes can’t be too heroic and manly anymore, lest the pansy viewing audience not “identify” with them. Modern viewing audiences apparently need to see flaws in their heroes; which is fine in some cases (the Punisher wouldn’t work too well as a Boy Scout). The problem is that when the situation calls for someone truly noble in character, that character will have little silly flaws added to make him or her more “appealing”. I’m tired of that. I would like to see some John Wayne style heroes again; men (and women) who ride into town, and dispense red-hot justice to all the purveyors of evil within range.
My blog asks “What Would John Wayne Do?” Why, he’d kick some ass, take some names, and never question the rightness of it. Just like Captain America.
Fair winds and following seas, Cap’. Your character, and what you represented to thousands of people like me will be sorely missed.