CBR recently posted – and then quickly erased – a would-be op-ed (via Bounding Into Comics) declaring Steve Rogers “selfish”. All this in a column that’s made me decide I should consider linking to CBR articles through archive links only, based on how alarmingly selfish the columnist happens to be, and after reading the headline alone, I must conclude he’s not a comics fan, not a Marvel fan, and definitely not a Kirby/Simon/Lee fan.
The gross screed reads as follows:
Captain America is one of the most important characters in Marvel history, and without him, many of the great stories of the Marvel universe would not happen or wouldn’t be the same. He is central to the entire framework of Marvel’s storytelling, and Captain America is emblematic of justice, honesty and perseverance, making him the ultimate culmination of the American ideal; however, the decision for Steve Rogers to become Captain America is inherently selfish.
Steve was rejected from the military due to his small stature and health issues, but then his life changes when he is invited to join the super soldier program, which is how he becomes Captain America. However, when removing the context of what he would become, the decision is selfish. Rather than contribute in the ways best suited to him, Steve chooses to go under experimental treatments to artificially enhance himself. Steve’s choice to become Captain America is rooted in a fetishization of the hyper-masculine rather than an innate desire to do good for his country.
We have a problem of somebody lecturing us over a fictional character, as though he were a real life person. That’s strike one. Strike two is insulting the creators and other writers/artists from the Golden Age to the turn of the century. Strike three is a muddled claim about what’s best suited for Steve, not made better by what comes in the following paragraphs. Steve was characterized wanting to take up the physical power experiment in order to help aid war efforts, rout the nazi enemy and rescue innocents, and this fake fanboy implies it’s nothing more than “toxic masculinity”?
This is a bold claim against America’s golden boy, yet the context matters. Steve is initially someone unfit to serve on the frontlines. It is tough and hurtful, but it is the reality of the situation. If his concern was truly how he could best serve his country, he would accept his station in life and make the most of it.
He could have tried becoming a merchant marine, train as an officer or stay home and help with the production of war-time materials. All of these could contribute to the war like Steve supposedly wants to do, but that isn’t good enough. Steve, in his eyes, has to be on the front lines.
But didn’t he just say Steve was rejected from military service? What kind of mishmash is this anyway? The columnist fails to consider that patriotism was very high during WW2, and many who weren’t qualified per se still wanted to serve the war efforts. Even on the front lines, in the trenches and the air. It wasn’t just simply some “male power fantasy” when you risked your life out there in war-torn Europe and Africa, and chances were high the National Socialist minions would gun you down. Those who like the idea of power fantasy and wish fulfillment aren’t hoping they’ll get slaughtered, nor do they want the innocent people in need of rescue to be subject to the same. Yet this is what the phony fanbody is touting as “truth”, when he’s bound to be a leftist who can’t handle real truths.
It’s understandable for a young man to want to prove himself to his peers and country, yet even if deep down his intentions are altruistic, the steps he takes to pursue those instincts are selfish. In Steve’s mind, there is only one way to contribute to the war, and that just happens to be the way he wants to contribute.
If that’s what he believes, then the scientist who conceived the super-serum – and is just as fictional a character as Steve Rogers – must’ve been a total hypocrite.
Captain America is known for his altruism and his willingness to sacrifice everything for what he believes to be right, yet there is something selfish within that because Cap’s altruism is in what he believes and nothing else. Cap will fight against anyone who opposes his worldview, including his friends. Just look at the catastrophic violence that breaks out in the Civil War comic arc as well as its accompanying film. These events happen because Cap is uncompromising, and nothing will shake his worldview.
This is so muddled, I wouldn’t know where to begin. If he won’t compromise, that’s one thing, but to fight his own friends over a busload of connecting issues in a story that once would’ve just taken 2-3 issues to wrap up, what’s so altruistic or responsible about that? They only make it sound like he’s still driven by selfishness through his “worldview”.
It gets worse:
“The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences,” Cap says in The Amazing Spider-Man: Civil War, story by J. Michael Straczynski and art by Ron Garney. “When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — ‘No, YOU move.'” This quote would also be adapted in the film, with Sharon Carter saying it and inspiring Cap to stand his ground in regards to the Sokovia Accords.
This quote also highlights Cap’s tendency respond to things with violence. In fact, Cap is an impulsive person, and his first response to opposition is to beat it down. These aggressive impulses are hidden beneath a veneer of tough American grit and freedom fighting.
There’s a subtle insult here, suggesting Steve’s little more than a maniac who doesn’t know how to keep his cool, or criticize the writers for questionable story directions. And again, all from a columnist who can’t distinguish between fiction and reality. No mention how Straczynski used the aforementioned Spidey story as anti-war propaganda. He even has the gall to say:
This may seem like a condemnation, but it’s not. After all, not everything Cap does is selfish, and not everything selfish he does is bad. If Cap hadn’t entered the super soldier program, there would have been no one to defeat the Red Skull during World War II. His unwavering commitment to freedom and privacy is also what uncovers Hydra’s plot to take over SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
He calls Steve “selfish” for volunteering in the super-serum experiment the government/military were working on, claiming he should’ve just stuck to the sidelines, and then expects us to forgive him by acknowledging what and why there should be a Captain America? Sorry, but his insistence on calling Steve “selfish” is just one more reason why this article crash lands with a deafening thud.
In Avengers: Endgame, it is also his instinct for aggression and desire for revenge that leads the remaining Avengers to hunt down Thanos and ultimately kill him. No one would argue these outcomes are bad; however, the underlying motive behind them isn’t as black and white as it may seem.
Maybe not, but this jumbled article sure is. Though I will say it’s certainly odd when a movie’s screenwriters are willing to do what the overseers of corporate-owned comics aren’t, by killing off a villain. What it says is that, in movies, the baddies can be considered expendable, because the filmmakers don’t expect the franchises to last forever (and of course some have run into the ground over time), whereas in the comics proper, due to lack of creativity, they’re otherwise not, save for special circumstances. The end is where it becomes almost uproarious:
Psycho-analyzing a comic book character may seem trite, but there are good reasons to do so. For one, it makes Captain America more human. He is a fictional character, but he is also an important icon for many people, and he’s the golden standard many fans want to live up to. Humanizing him may take the veneer away, but it makes the character, his actions and his consequences more real.
It also helps readers and moviegoers better understand Steve Rogers, in and out of the Captain America uniform, as a character. It is easy to write him off as an archetype of American machismo, but when fans try to understand why he makes the choices he does, he becomes that much more complex. Being a hero isn’t a black and white issue, and seeing Cap overcome selfish impulses for the greater good is far more rewarding than watching him be a do-gooder all the time.
Once again, Steve Rogers, and whoever else could wear the Cap uniform, are fictional characters, and psycho-analysis won’t make them human. It’s only the writing in the comics proper that does, and it was all ruined since the turn of the century, when the Marvel Knights imprint turned to Blame-America propaganda and 9-11 Trutherism (the first several issues were once reprinted under the title “The New Deal”, and what a so-called deal it was with its apologia for Islamic terrorism. Ugh.). Which the columnist doubtless doesn’t have a problem with. And look at that, after calling Cap “selfish”, he suddenly has the alleged audacity to admit Steve’s a fictional character! In that case, why all the obsession with calling him selfish?
This is just more bewildering talk out of 10 sides of his mouth, while claiming Steve enrolled in the army for entirely selfish reasons. It’s not hard to see why CBR decided to remove this article from their site proper. But it’s already too late, they’ve clearly earned a lot of deserved flak for such an insulting article whose worst weapon is that it doesn’t even mention Kirby, Simon, or Lee. That must be the advantage they see in tearing down classic creations. Don’t mention the creators and other people behind the writing, and you’ll be able to destroy all their hard work that much more effectively. It goes without saying the columnist owes Kirby/Simon/Lee an apology for desecrating all the hard work they did, instead of showing he’s proud of them.
After checking this monstrosity, I’ve done some thinking, and that is it – if I’m to scrutinize further embarrassments published at CBR, then just like I’ve already done with their affiliated Screen Rant site, I’ll only be linking to the articles through internet archive links whenever possible. No need to deliver traffic directly to their doorstep, as they clearly don’t deserve it. They aren’t, and never were, fans of the material they write about, nor do they have even the slightest respect for it.
Originally published here.