Major Questions for a New Captain

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The success of the original “Iron Man” in 2008 heralded the coming of the new filmic “Marvel” universe and a resurgent slew of superhero movies, but one of the things that made it so compelling was the modern tonal realism of its opening: before any robots or monsters take the stage, we are introduced to our protagonist traveling with very-recognizable American soldiers in a very-recognizable Middle East before being captured and filmed as a hostage by masked and turbaned terrorists.

No longer were superheroes insulated from the current world of political conflict, or magically sublimated into a world similar to ours where the forces that would do us harm are always giant crocodiles or thickly-accented next-wave Nazis. The idea of a mythical hero-character who could engage with the complex actual threats of today transcended the inherent escapism and silliness of superheroes long enough for a wide audience to be intrigued.

By this month’s release of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” that connection to actual threats of today has been lost, supplanted along the way by Norse villain-gods, alien armies, and – yes – Nazis, once more. What has not been left behind, however, is a concern with the ideological and political paradigms that young, liberal, contemporary audiences grapple with. The first plot shakings in the new Captain America pit an indignant Captain arguing against Nick Fury’s deployment of all-seeing, pre-emptive security-military giant flying warships. What? Guns aren’t always good?

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“What Do I Do?” In Response To What?

 

Man struggles with umbrella.

I’m a firm believer that if you can’t explain what you do in one short, clear sentence, you don’t have a real job. And it needs to make sense to anybody, including toddlers.

Consider: “I leverage market synergies to present new opportunities for clients.” That’s make-believe. There’s so many vague generalities and buzzwords in there that your job description is designed to obscure what you’re actually good for, which must mean somewhere deep in the consciousness of your career’s fabric, you’re either ashamed or you don’t want people to figure out you’re actually on the payroll to swindle them.

Look at this job description: “When there’s fires, I save people from them.” Boom. That’s a real job. “I fly planes.” “I design bridges.” “I teach kindergarten.” Real. Real. Real. Those people do a thing.

“I analyze metrics for building consumer-centric brand consciousness.” That’s witchcraft. You’re awful.

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