* Warning: A few spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier are contained herein.
A couple of days ago, Vulture ran a piece called Why Captain America Is Only Interesting If He’s a Prick, and it rubbed me the wrong way. At the same time, I sometimes look at myself and wonder who I am anymore, because back in the day it was always the bad boy who was interesting to me. But you know what? Captain America makes me swoon, and maybe it’s all Chris Evans’ eyes—and um, some other parts—but I don’t think so. I do believe there are enough self-involved movie superhero pricks running around to last us a lifetime; Captain America (and Falcon) is a breath of fresh air.
Look at The Avengers (as we’ve seen them on film): We’ve got Thor, who’s basically a decent guy, but his ego is big enough to overshadow the goodness; his own dad kicked him off Asgard because of it. He learns his lesson, but he’s still got a lot of swagger. There’s Hulk, who by his very nature has rage issues. It might not be his fault, but it’s the hat he wears. Loki’s a bad boy, Black Widow’s a bad girl, and Stark … Stark has the prick market cornered. (Let’s face it, RDJ hasn’t been humble for a long time, but I’m also starting to wonder if he’s been GOOPed.) Hawkeye—what little we’ve seen of him on film—it’s hard to tell much. And frankly, he is a little boring, but that may be the lack of screen time and backstory. Well, will you lookie there, we have an opening for a nice guy or two. And no, you can’t count Superman, because he’s off in a whole other universe.
I find it refreshing to see Captain America as the honorable, stand-up, don’t-fight-unless-you-have-to kind of guy. He’s thoughtful, observant and contemplative; absolutely the guy you want next to you in the foxhole. He’s respectful toward men and women — I like that he treats Black Widow as an equal, fellow soldier — and he maintains regard for others as fellow humans, even those who challenge or oppose him (Batroc, Crossbones, Bucky, Fury). You can’t call this Captain boring; he has a sense of humor and doesn’t shy away from calling out what’s wrong, or doing what needs to be done — or has Black Widow do it, if it’s not the Cap’s style. The man took down S.H.I.E.L.D., Fury be damned. The thing that makes Captain America stand out among his peers is his inherent good-guy nature, just as part of what made The Winter Soldier stand out is the dialed-back scale of explosions, effects and outrageously superhuman stunts. Let Iron Man keep on with his (presumably kale-fueled) dick-swinging, his ever-advancing suits and mad technological accomplices and skills, let Hulk stand beside Thor and the two of them can smash everyone in their path, let Black Widow sneak about on her missions and sub-missions — canoodle with her archer-man if she likes — and let Captain America be the good guy he needs to be. I can assure you he isn’t boring at all.