I watched the first Captain America movie last night on TV.
I'm a casual viewer of superhero movies. I've enjoyed Iron Man (mostly 1 and 3, 2 was a bit of a hot mess), The Avengers (good, not great -- good opening and good climatic battle, but a bit aimless in the middle), Hellboy (Ron Perlman is always fun), and the Michael Keaton Batman. I like the Xmen franchise, mostly for Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.
But not every superhero appeals to me. I dislike the Spiderman movies intensely (Spiderman/Peter Parker is a pathetic whiner). I thought Thor was BOR-ING. And I still like Bill Bixby/Lou Ferigno's Hulk better than anything that's been in the movies. Superman is a boring, way-to-perfect character. (The only character in Smallville I ever liked was Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor.)
But, I hadn't seen the Captain America movie before, and in The Avengers, he didn't make much impression on me. I really didn't know what to expect with the Captain America movie. If it was going to be based around the character we saw in The Avengers, it had a strong potential to be bland and forgettable.
That's not what I saw.
I found the character of Steve Rogers somewhat disturbing.
In terms of the basic comic book trope, Steve Rogers is pretty much par for the course. He's the wimp who through some event is transformed into a physical paragon. It's much the same back story we saw with Spiderman (wimpy teen bitten by a radioactive spider), Batman (child orphaned by crime who grows up to be a crime fighter), and many other comic book characters.
The formula is "kid who got pushed around at school finds a way to show up all the bullies and triumph." It's a convention sure to resonate with a lot of children.
In the context of Captain America, Steve Rogers is an asthmatic, 90-pound weakling who is turned down for service in WWII because of physical shortcomings. But he's a hyper-patriot and goes around picking fights with bigger men, only to get the stuffings knocked out of him over and over.
If you look at this as a WWII story, it makes nominal sense. But I saw something different than hyper-patriotism (which is troubling enough in the age of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the Tea Party) and WWII fervor.
When a small, sickly man goes around picking fight after fight that he's inevitably going to lose, I see a man with really serious anger issues.
Steve Rogers looks a bit like a distant cousin of Elliot Rodgers.
In one and only one scene before Steve Rogers' transformation, do we see him work anything out and solve a problem by non-physical means (the flag pole problem).
When he's asked if he wants to kill Nazis, he says he doesn't want to kill anybody, but I don't believe him. I think he wants to kill somebody bad... why else keep trying to enlist over and over?
The movie, as it plays out, is a bit silly. By the time we get around to the big finish, flying the Nazi plane into the ice cap to save New York, I was rolling my eyes regularly.
At the end, I would have been quite content to leave him under the ice. The actor/character combination was something less than charismatic. He's sort of bland and blank.
And now that he's been revived and is superhero-ing around our era, I wonder if those anger issues aren't going to come to the surface someday.