The true power of Captain America

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But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

In the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU as it is otherwise known I was never really a Captain America fan. I didn’t dislike the character but I boxed him off into all American boy, patriot, soldier who was no big deal and could just throw a shield at people.

Previously I had been a Spider-Man guy. The wise cracking wall crawler with his quick wit and web swinging abilities was my favourite. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ was the mantra and the cavalcade of colourful, interesting villains also kept me on the hook even when the films were fairly ordinary fare.

As the MCU grew though something in me began to move towards Steve Rodgers and over time Cap has grown on me. He has got under my skin.

He was different to other heroes. He didn’t have an accident like Peter Parker to gain his powers. He wasn’t a multi billionaire philanthropist with a great eye for design like Tony Stark.

Steve Rogers was chosen. He was picked by the government to be injected with a super soldier serum that gave him his power.

He wasn’t picked because of his size, strength or intelligence.

He was picked because of his heart.

The verse from 1 Samuel  is taken from the story of David being selected as king of Israel. Samuel has walked down a line up of Jesse’s sons. The big, the strong, the potential warrior kings that could lead Israel to dominate their neighbours for years.

As Samuel walks the line and each is rejected by God to the point where there are no sons left. The story tells us they have to go and get David he wasn’t even considered worthy enough for the line up!

When David arrives God informs Samuel that this is the chosen one, the future king. The son who was rejected by his own family for the line up is selected.

Why David? The verse tells us it was because of his heart.

Steve Rogers couldn’t get drafted into the army, slipped in through the back door after countless rejections and ended up Captain America.

At one point in the First Avenger a grenade is thrown into a crowd of soldiers and Steve flings himself on top to protect those around him. While others run he puts other lives ahead of his own.

At this point the officers around him see the potential for a  true hero. In this moment Rogers is chosen. Not because of physical prowess, intelligence or size but because of his character.

He is chosen because of his heart and consequentially becomes the moral compass of the MCU.

In the Winter Soldier when actions are taken in the name of security and patriotism Cap stands against it because it invokes not protection but in his mind fear.

Captain America is not driven by a super serum but rather principle, ethics and the desire to do what is right.

In today’s world perhaps we need to re examine not what makes up popular, powerful or gains us status among peers. Perhaps we should instead check our hearts to see what condition it is in.

Avengers: Age of Ultron and our need for heroes.

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Marvel films are standard fare at the cinema now. We are no longer surprised by their release, we know what is coming years in advance the internet is  alive with plot theories, trailer dissections and reviews on release. Age of Ultron is no different to any of those that have gone before, enjoyable despite its faults and required to add little nods and winks to what will come. My main thought coming out of my enjoyable viewing was why do these films continue to thrive?

Yes, comic book fandom plays a role. Yes, there is our endless need as human beings to be entertained and Age of Ultron services those needs successfully but is there something else at play? Something that we are unconsciously seeking by continually entering these comic book worlds?

Dare I suggest that rather than being on the search for a cinematic classic we may be on the search for heroes?

This blog post will land on your social media feed somewhere in-between posts requesting help for the earthquake in Nepal, stories around #blacklivesmatter in Baltimore and election posts from both those crowing in triumph and the wailing despair of those who feel they have lost.

The demand for heroes has never been stronger, our world is crying out for them. The Avengers certainly match those desires a group that come together, taking direct action (often involving the destruction of a city, think of the costs folks!) wielding powers that we can only fantasise about. The Avengers work together (most of the time) to make the world a better place, the stuff of comic book legend. We go to the cinema to lose ourselves in wonder, awe and return blinking into the daylight to the familiar brokenness of reality.

Look again though. Look more closely.

Look at the aid agencies and charities rallying within hours of disaster to feed, clothe and rebuild cities for those in need.

See the clergy parading in unity to the front lines of protest in Baltimore to stand face to face with the oppressors of their communities to boldly declare that their lives matter.

Scroll through Twitter and read the tweets of those energised in electoral defeat. Not prepared to settle for the new regime but determined that the new regime will hear their voice.

We do have a desperate need for heroes. It has probably never been greater.

The truth is though that they walk among us on a daily basis using their powers of compassion, mercy and a desire for justice. These are the true heroes and none of them need an iron suit or magic hammer to get the job done.