Considering Girls and Captain America

Sorry about the hiatus everybody. Life just got crazy and I’ve been dealing with some stuff that didn’t really leave me a lot of time to write. BUT…. I’m back! And you may have noticed I’m trying out a new look. Other than that, everything’s the same. So let’s just jump right in.

This last weekend I went and saw Captain America:. I LOVED it, but not just because it is a great movie (even though it is). Before I tell you why I loved it, let me kind of explain my thought process a little bit.

My freshman year at Utah State I took a class called Media Smarts from Prof. Brenda Cooper. This class taught me to critically analyze media for cultural assumptions. This class was simultaneously the best and worst class I took in college. It was the best because I loved every second of it.  It was the worst because it turned me into THAT person. The person who can’t just enjoy a movie, but critically analyzes every part of it.

I’ve learned to not talk about any of this out loud or else people stop wanting to see movies with me.

What I learned in that class is that you could say movies like Captain America are JUST a movie, but millions of people see blockbusters, in the opening weekend alone. They have an impact on our culture and our behavior and our assumptions about the world. They may not be real, but it’s a glimpse into the collective consciousness of our society. We can see, in our movies, our assumptions about how the world works.

For example, have you ever noticed that men are always the Superheroes and women are the damsels in distress? Most of the female leads in Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Ironman etc. are the love interest who gets kidnapped and then rescued.

And then gives weird upside-down kisses.

This brings me to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I won’t give away spoilers, but if you don’t like knowing anything about a movie before you see it, you should probably just stop reading now.

While watching Winter Soldier, I realized that of the five main heroic characters in the movie two are women, two are black men, and only one is a white guy.

Just take a second to think other action movies you’ve seen recently, and you’ll realize that this is kind of a big deal. There was no damsel in distress. Black Widow (Scarlett Johanson) beat up plenty of guys. No woman was just there to be the thing the hero is trying to save.

I think it’s important to point this out about Captain America because it shows how we are changing our assumptions about movie heroes.

Since this is Considering the Middle and I have to give at least two sides, so let me just say this: Not every movie/television show/book has to have strong female leads. Some things are just about boys. I heard some pretty compelling arguments to this point concerning the HBO Series, True Detective. 

I would also love to see a stand-alone Black Widow movie, which doesn’t seem completely out of the realm of possibility, but hasn’t been announced yet.

But girls can save the world too. And I’m just really excited at the prospect that girls can fight alongside boys equally, without romantic undertones, and fully clothed.

marvel animated GIF

And when you spend as much time thinking about the cultural undertones of movies as I do, this made Winter Soldier a pretty awesome movie to watch.

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2 thoughts on “Considering Girls and Captain America

  1. I myself love a good chick flick with a damsel in distress and all. I personally love the idea of a big strong man that can and does protect his woman. I gotta say though, that I agree with you about loving the powerful, strong women in movies lately! Especially when they are “fully clothed”! Love that you added that! I still haven’t seen the new Captain America movie, but I’m looking forward to it. It sounds amazing.

    • Hi, Melissa! Thanks for the comment! I think there’s definitely a place for all of it somewhere. Chick flicks with hot guys saving the day are fun too! I just love that there’s more diversity now, so that no one role for women is surprising, and that we can enjoy it all!

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