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Posts tagged captain america
Commonly Accepted Characterizations of Steve Rogers and Why I Think They Are Poppycock
If you’re following me and you don’t know it by now — though I have no idea how you possibly could have missed it — I have an announcement: I really like Steve Rogers. I like Steve because he’s a great character, and it is much to my disappointment to find the fandom applying things to his character that I think are sometimes the opposite of what the evidence would suggest.
Of course with something like Marvel when there are so many different canons, it’s definitely hard to pinpoint one thing as always right or always wrong. Thus, I will focus on movieverse considering it is what I am most familiar with, as I assume you all are as well.
A lot of these things have basically wormed their way (undeservedly, I believe) into fanon, or what is so widely spread considered canon by the fandom that it is a near irrefutable fact when discussing it with another fan. Hopefully by the end you’ll understand why I feel this way.
For each point I will state my feeling on the subject, why I understand people interpret differently and then explain my own reasoning behind it. My intent is not to get into an argument or upset anyone; this is my opinion. However I think that a lot of these things have some people coming to the conclusion that Steve Rogers is a boring character, and I hope to disabuse that as much as possible.
Steve Rogers is not technologically challenged. A lot of this leans on his comment to Tony on the Helicarrier during The Avengers that “It seems to run on some form of electricity!” A remark that has been interpreted as this is the only thing he can figure out. But look at that in context; Steve is quite literally talking to a tech genius at the time. Despite never having been on the Helicarrier (as far as we know), Tony is able to assess the damage and prioritize what they should do in order to avoid plunging to their deaths.
It’s hardly that Steve is stupid, Tony is just really ridiculously knowledgeable about this subject. When Tony, in the heat of the moment, forgets that not everyone on earth can look at an unfamiliar piece of tech and relay whether or not it’s still working and what it says about the rest of the machinery, Steve makes a sarcastic comment to remind him that he’s going to need a little more to go on in order to help.
Later in the same scene we see Steve pushing the panel back in, implying that in that space of time, he has figured it out and shared his findings with Tony. His other tech related remark in that scene of “Speak English!” is likely him trying to save time; the big explanation of why he needs to do whatever it is being not nearly as imperative as him knowing what needs to be done.
The other thing to keep in mind is that this is fitting with what we see of his character in Captain America, where he is working closely with Howard Stark — who is represented in the movies as being just as intelligent as his son — and also taking down Hydra, who has technology that nobody has seen before. He gets a tricked out motorcycle, understands how the vibranium shield could be more useful than any of the other designs Howard has come up with, and takes control of several different kinds of aircraft that he can hardly have been expected to have been given a class on how to fly.
Compared to Tony Stark, is Steve a technological idiot? Sure. Then again, so is everybody else.
Neither is he a blushing, virginal innocent. Fondue. We’ve all laughed about it, about how awkward he is to the point that he can’t even say something like “sleep together” or “are you seeing each other”. However, Springhole.net’s Tips and Notes for Writing Steve Rogers has an interesting take on this:
When Steve heard Howard Stark use the term “Fondue,” he immediately assumed it was a euphemism for an intimate activity. In other words, upon hearing an unfamiliar word his mind went straight to the gutter.
And considering the very clear tilde when Howard asks Peggy if she wants to stop for a “late night fondue~”, he can hardly be blamed in the least.
Combining this with the fact that he traveled (likely for at least a month or two) with a bunch of showgirls in short skirts and plunging necklines and that he was lifelong friends with Bucky Barnes — implied to be quite the ladies’ man — of all people, I’m fairly certain he has no trouble understanding a dirty joke or double entendre.
Especially when one considers essentially the only other dialogue we hear from the candidates at Camp Leheigh is a proposition to Peggy, it can easily be assumed that the language in the barracks wasn’t exactly something you’d want your mother to hear. And as great as the Howling Commandos are, I doubt they’re above bragging over an exploit or two.
Does this mean Steve is not a virgin? No. He very well could be and there’s no issue with that characterization decision based on the information we know.
However we do know that when Peggy came out dressed to the nines, he most definitely gave her a look over that had nothing to do with her great personality.
He isn’t above breaking the rules. Steve disobeys direct orders on several occasions, even when it is absolutely and utterly stupid — such as singlehandedly trying to rescue several hundred soldiers from enemy territory.
He likely would have attempted to figure out SHIELD’s intentions with the Tesserect earlier on, but was without the context that would have let him know that it was suspicious. Once given it, he breaks into a storage unit. Even if it was Fury’s hope that the team would pull together, it was still against orders that he stole a quinjet with two other Agents and took control of the situation happening in the city.
Steve is insubordinate, occasionally arrogant and likely quite irritating to his superiors when he decides to go off and do his own thing.
But then again; he never was supposed to be a perfect soldier.
Being called Captain America does not mean Steve is American patriotism personified. The name he was given that sticks was a publicity stunt to sell war bonds. ‘Captain America’ is propaganda. Something that he doesn’t seem to enjoy. Yes, it is what he calls himself when rescuing the 107th, but what else does he have to say? Not to mention the fact that it was likely another example of his very prevalent dry sense of humor.
We see Captain America comic books being read by soldiers, and at least some of them had probably heard of the latest moral boost in the form of a soldier in red, white, and blue. In my opinion, he was mainly being a bit of a troll. Later, it’s Bucky who calls for recognition for “Captain America” instead of Steve Rogers.
Even further on when he is regularly in combat, the news reels are using him as an icon rather than a person.
When Coulson mentions he’s had some design input on the uniform, Steve seems almost reluctant to step back into that role. It’s also interesting to note that his uniform in The Avengers is quite a bit less utilitarian seeming than the one in Captain America, and is in a lot of ways reminiscent of the one he wears with the USO when selling bonds — implying that he is once again being used as a form of propaganda as “Captain America”.
As a last point for this, I’d like to mention what he says upon his first meeting with Doctor Erskine: “I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.” [emphasis added]
Steve isn’t a Nazi-hating American. He’s a guy who doesn’t like seeing other people taking unfair advantage of others. In fact, the focus of his team’s efforts aren’t even with the rest of the American army, they’re off doing something completely different because that’s where they believe the biggest threat to everyone is, not just the biggest threat to the USA.
If he doesn’t care where the enemy is from, why should it matter what country he was born in?
Steve has a temper. This is something I often see completely ignored, making him a placid, mild character that is the only thing keeping the rest of the volatile personalities of the team together. But one of the first things we ever see of his personality in Captain America is him getting into a fight over some yelled comments in a movie theater. Is he correct to find those comments tasteless? Absolutely. However he does let them get to him a little more than is probably wise, and based on his conversation in the car with Peggy a little later on in the movie; this apparently happens a lot.
Then, when Erskine is killed, his first reaction after disbelief and sadness is something bordering on rage. Upon waking up at SHIELD in the 21st century, he is irritated and almost threatening when the agent attempts to tell him that he is still in the forties when he knows otherwise, and then proceeds to throw her backup through the walls.
His initial appearance in The Avengers has him coping with the stress of war in addition to having lost everything he had and loved. By punching things. Usually this scene is focused on because of the great butt shot and the fact that he’s wearing a shirt that hugs him in a way I only wish I could, and skips over the fact that he is apparently so used to breaking the equipment that he has extras lined up waiting, and then takes one home with him to continue taking his frustrations out on innocent punching bags there.
When goaded by Tony, he doesn’t even attempt to talk it out before they’re trading snarky jabs and Steve soon very clearly states he wouldn’t mind it in the least if they got physical. Essentially, he gets into an argument and has no trouble at all going from there to wanting to duke it out.
I’m not saying he has an anger issue because I don’t believe he does. However it says a lot about his character that he would prefer to end a dispute by “Go[ing] a few rounds”.
Yes, I think he draws the team together, but it isn’t out of a lack of impulsiveness on his part.
Whenever I see someone complaining about Steve as a character, it’s because they think he’s boring as the straight-laced good guy. The problem with this is the assumption that in order to be a good man, you can’t have vices or shortcomings, and because he has a firm moral center he must be a flat character.
Steve Rogers is a good man. But he’s also a man who would rather settle things with his fists when he gets riled up, and his first inclination after the death of a dear friend is an attempt to get plastered. He isn’t the mindless soldier who always does what he’s told, and he’s not a bumbling idiot who can’t navigate his way around the subway or cellphones.
When you force Steve into a variety of stereotypes he doesn’t deserve based on what I believe are faulty interpretations of what we know of him, you yourself are simplifying a complex character and sacrificing a lot of interesting opportunities for exploration of that character. It can definitely be humorous to write him struggling with technology, but it flattens him into a trope instead of building the character.
Essentially; if you think Steve Rogers is boring, it’s only because you’ve made him that way.