MCU Monday: Captain America - A Study In Power
Immediately after the scene in which Steve Rogers, human lollipop, becomes Captain America, human wonder, we see him relegated to the poster boy of the WWII propaganda machine, marched out in front of patriotic crowds for the purpose of selling war bonds. A worthwhile endeavor, certainly, but hardly one that allows Rogers to fully utilize his newfound strength and power. A montage showing Rogers transform from timid line-reader to dashing and confident performer ends with him unsuccessfully attempting to charm some morale into a battered and bloody collection of front-line veterans in Italy. Using his prop shield to ward off produce projectiles, Rogers retires from the stage realizing that, despite all that he’s been given and all that he’s accomplished, he is still not what he wants to be.
He’s still not a soldier.
This doesn’t last, of course, as he’s soon given ample opportunity to strut his superhuman-stuff in a one-man rescue mission of a few hundred POWs, including his good friend James “Bucky” Barnes. This results not only in his garnering of the respect and over-all “soldier-ness” that wants/deserves, but he is given an opportunity to lead an elite group of fighting men in the war against Hydra. But when Rogers is offered the Army’s very best, he turns them down and chooses a much less conventional group of comrades to form his Howling Commandos.
His team consists of himself, Bucky, a former circus strongman, an African-American, and Asian-American, a Frenchman, and a Brit. Rogers, perhaps remembering that he himself was recently a misfit, recruits fellow outcasts to serve as his elite fighting force.
There’s a lesson here, one so simple as to almost be an afterthought, but one that bears mentioning. Over the course of the first eighty or so minutes of the movie, Rogers transforms from a someone with no power or influence to someone who wields a great deal of both. But as easy as it would be to use this newfound power and privilege as a stepping-stone to greater things or as a ticket to the inner circles of power, Rogers instead uses it to empower those who, like him, were overlooked by the powers that be. He forgoes an opportunity to ally with the “best and brightest” and instead forges an alliance of the odd and outcast.
In Jeremiah 29 we read a letter the titular prophet sends to the Jewish exiles scattered throughout Babylon in which he encourages the children of God to work for the good of the cities in which they find themselves. In the opening chapters of Acts we see the more well-to-do Christians pooling their resources to care for those less fortunate and to finance mission trips. In other places throughout Scripture followers of God are told to look out for the welfare of the poor, the widows, and the orphans. In other words, whatever power or privilege we Christians possess is not given to us for our own good, but for the good of others.
Like Rogers we don’t use our “powers” for selfish ambition, but for the selfless advancement of a greater agenda.