Superheroes are the bigger-than-life figures of modern-day mythology. Men and women in tight spandex, with bulging muscles, and incredible superhuman powers have replaced angry gods who toss around lightning bolts and capriciously demand unconditional devotion from petty, fragile humans. It is no secret with the slew of superhero films being produced at break neck speed, that the people of the world long to be rescued by a savior-figure, or long to be one themselves. There is a lack of men and women of character worth emulating in today’s culture, which is why the world needs heroes like Captain America.
People want heroes that are relatable , but also give them a standard to live up to. This is partially why Superman is no longer the popular hero he once was. It is difficult to relate to an all-powerful being who cannot be hurt, killed, or stopped. He has the power to fly, limitless speed, strength, and a whole host of other abilities that make him godlike. Superman has a near flawless personality and sense of morality. In other words, he is too perfect. Iron Man is too full of himself, and Batman is just plain crazy. Then there is Captain America.
Captain America represents the little guy, the kid who is scrawny, that is laughed at and never taken seriously. Many people know someone like this, or are that person themselves. Society at large believes these individuals can offer no value to the community, that their size or lack of athletic skill makes them unable to change the world. This is who Steve Rogers starts out being. He is a thin, small, sickly fellow, but what he lacks in physical ability he more than makes up for in heart. It is his passion, his devotion to doing the right thing and placing others above himself that makes him a “super soldier.” It is not the muscles, the fancy, suit, or the shield, but the fact that Rogers is a man of principle that makes him so great. Children love heroes like Captain America, because of the principles they stand for, which is why this world needs more like him, both in fictional entertainment and the real world.
Some might say that when the U.S. government in the comics turned Rogers into Captain America, they made him the typical muscle-bound, blonde haired stereotype that people still worship, making it seem as if the matter of heart and principle still are not as important as physical strength. This is not true. The super soldier program only helped Cap’s exterior physical characteristics match his interior character. While culture seems to be obsessed with the outward appearance, the love people have for Captain America demonstrates that there is a deep thirst in the heart of people for someone who embodies honor, self-sacrifice, and heroism. Steve Rogers slakes that thirst, which is why he has risen above iconic comic book legends like Superman or Batman. Those heroes are untouchable. People will never have the ability to fly or have billions of dollars to spend on high-tech spy gadgets, but they can go out of their way to stand up for a friend who is being bullied, or stand up against injustices by being involved in the community. That is what it means to be Captain America, and that is why the world needs him now more than ever.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell