At least one journalist has decided that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a politics heavy “message-film” aimed at President Obama, a sad assumption that forgets who sat in the White House prior to the current oval office resident; no small feat by any standards but it must please no end of republicans. Does the film’s agenda include a sly, or overt, poke at government? Most assuredly it does. However it is not necessarily this presidency the film warns of.
The journo in question spends an enormous amount of time pointing out how S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA work in a similar fashion. Although it must be pointed out that this has always been the case in the big screen Marvel verse. The two agencies have been intertwined since the end of WWII and the cracks appeared recently, and more obviously, in the small screen version of the Marvel verse.
The message in the first Avengers’ film, appropriately enough the original film Captain America: The First Avenger was first mentioned by HYDRA “big bad” Johann Schmidt, aka Red Skull, who says that freedom is something that people cannot handle. Schmidt, played with gloriously mad menace by Hugo Weaving (and what clever casting by having the chap who played the omnipresent agent Smith in the Matrix films playing the villain in this movie) says that the average man, woman and child will be much better protected, and served, by scaring them into servility.
Loki says the something very similar in 2012’s The Avengers. He maintains that people are burdened by having too much freedom and he intends to rectify that by taking charge. Both messages in the two films are remarkably similar and in Captain America: The Winter Soldier the political message is clear, there is no gilding of the lily, control has been taken and freedom is out the door, at least as far as S.H.I.E.L.D./HYDRA are concerned. The writer who made the supposition that this was a dig at Barack Obama and his government based this idea on the infamous “kill list.”
This kill list was much publicised two years ago and resurged in 2013 with at least one publication accusing the president of having too much power. Power issues aside, does anyone really believe that the current president is doing anything different from his predecessors? Younger film audiences may not remember but as Marvel has a fan base that stretches over generations, many will recall the hullabaloo caused by President Nixon and the Watergate scandal of the 1970s.
The inclusion of Robert Redford in the cast of this Marvel “political” thriller was either a serendipitous coincidence or some spot-on casting by the clever filmmakers. It seems that the latter case would be the correct assumption. Redford starred in the 1976 film All the President’s Men which told the story of Bob Woodward (Redford in the film) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) who “broke” the story of the Watergate break-in via their interaction with an informant in Nixon’s camp known as “Deep Throat.”
Conspiracy theorists must adore this latest Captain America film. They would have to be fans of all the Marvel movies. Each one has stated the obvious, from Iron Man to Thor each one tells us the same message. “The government lies to the people and are not to be trusted.” The films then go on to prove this, in the verse of Marvel at least, by mentioning it in every single Marvel film via one mechanization or another.
In terms of audience, there will be quite a number who believe the message. After all, Obama is not the first president, surely, to have a “kill list” and he probably does other things that has gotten previous presidents in hot water. Look at the “sub-sub plot line” in all the films. Nick Fury, who knows a lot about the emergence of “aliens” not only visiting our planet but using it as their own personal battle arena, certainly mirrors those 1940s government men and women who knew the truth about Roswell, New Mexico.
In The Avengers the only one of the crew who trusts Fury is Natasha Romanoff, herself a spy and former villain whose ledger is “dripping” red. The rest of the superheroes sans, also, Thor who is one of the aliens in question, actively distrust and question Fury in one of the best scenes in the film. Bonus points for those who caught Tony Stark’s funny line, “Was that a threat? I feel threatened,” in that build up scene.
The main point of the whole Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. verse and the superheroes and not-so-superheroes that fill it, is that at it’s very core it is about politics to a huge degree. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not picking at the current political climate, not too much, but how they got here. The Marvel message about politics is in every film, and comic book, but no one film is picking on one president. Rather they are warning that we should look closely at those who say they are protecting us for “our own good.” A final note on history. The National Security Agency (NSA) was created by President Harry S. Truman in 1951, four years after the Roswell, New Mexico UFO incident. See the connection?
By Michael Smith
The Sydney Morning Herald