Why Tarzan is Still my Hero

Tarzan has been around since before black and white television had Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller portrayed the character whose legend has been recapped many times in movies and comics. Tarzan of the Apes was an all-human superhero (in the jungle at least).
Recently, my husband and I watched the 2016 remake called THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, and I was reminded of my childhood crush on this hero of the jungle.


Edgar Rice Burroughs breathed life into Tarzan in 1912 with a story in The All Story Magazine. In 1918, Hollywood produced the first of nearly three dozen movies (not including TV series) featuring this vine-swinging man who could talk to animals.
Weismuller stared in twelve of these films between 1932 and 1948, so it’s no wonder his name was the first to come to mind.
Even Walt Disney took a shot and animated a couple films featuring this well-loved hero (if the frequency of remakes and story lines is any clue). Millennials remember the music of Phil Collins more than anything else about those movies.
Regardless of the worldwide love affair with the loincloth clad man, I watched this latest movie and recalled several reasons why Tarzan is still a hero to me.

Overcoming Obstacles

Tarzan’s parents died when he was a baby. A female gorilla found and adopted him, but imagine being a human in the troop of gorillas led by a 500-pound alpha…who didn’t want you around.
His humanity would have made him weak among the powerful apes. He wouldn’t have the protection of fur against the elements and predators, nor would he have the strength and bone structure to travel with speed among the trees.
But humans are adaptable. In this newest movie, there was great care given to the changes in his hands and arms because he’d learned to be an ape before being human.
He would have been bullied, an outcast among the troop.
Talk about an underdog.
But his humanity made him curious about the other animals, and he befriended them. Yes, even learning to communicate with them. We all know about the Tarzan yell.

Standing for the Weak

Likely because he had been the weak one for much of his life, Tarzan champions the cause of those being targeted by stronger species. Whether it is his gorilla family or elephants being poached, he doesn’t accept senseless brutality.
As you know in my posts about Captain America and Wonder Woman, this, in my opinion, is the mark of a true hero. He has power but he uses it to help others.
In this movie, it’s the tribesmen who are being enslaved and the animals being poached that earn his protection. Of course, he intends to rescue Jane, but she’s as adamant about protecting their “families” as he is.

Adapting without Losing Character

One of the lines that stuck with me from this film happens near the dark moment. Tarzan has been “sold” to a tribe of natives. The chief of this tribe wants revenge because Tarzan killed his son many years ago (the son had killed Tarzan’s ape “mother”).
Tarzan defeats the chief and much of the armed tribe in hand-to-hand combat and hold a knife to the chief’s throat. They discuss this impasse.

The chief claims his son was just a boy and asks, “Where was your honor?”
Tarzan honestly replies, “I had none.”

He was raised by animals to be an animal. The argument of nature versus nurture comes into play. Was he little more than an ape when he carried out the retribution against the native? Or should he have had more scruples, as a man would (although a goodly number of the men in this film did NOT have any)?
He admitted his lack. He acted on instinct and out of pain and anger. Wasn’t the chief now doing the same thing? Where did this talk of honor come from then?
But as Tarzan learned to be human, he rejected those traits that didn’t mesh with his ingrained love for family. Gorillas are fiercely protective of both territory and troop members, and Tarzan learned this well.
When he met humans, they saved him. Then they tried to capture him and ruin his home. He learned not to trust them. That they would lie and steal and cheat. Were they really more “advanced” than the apes who raised him to survive in the jungle?


THE LEGEND OF TARZAN sends Tarzan and Jane back to the Congo at the request (so they believe) of the Dutch king, since Congo became a colony of the Dutch when all the Europeans finished warring over it in the late 1890s. Really it’s part of a plot to mine diamonds to pay the Dutch debt.
Samuel L. Jackson played an American fighting against slavery and offered plenty of comedic relief in the tense plot.
What do you love about Tarzan? Or who is a figure you saw a heroic in your childhood that doesn’t get much recognition these days?

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Wonder Woman: The Pure Hero

Wonder Woman is topping the movie charts and breaking records, but better yet, she’s winning the hearts of a new generation of girls and boys. And she deserves their admiration because she is a hero with pure motives.
I’ve mentioned that I’m NOT a comic book reader. My eyes get too distracted by what’s going on to read everything in order. I tried (with Peanuts and Archie) but my brain is wired for words and a single picture (maybe, if it isn’t too distracting).
The things I say about Wonder Woman in this blog post are one-hundred percent from the cinematic DC universe. I have no idea what her superpowers were in the comics or where she came from.
Maybe she doesn’t resemble the Gal (Gadot) millions loved on the big screen. If not, that’s sad. Those filmmakers made a pretty decent story.
                        >Rambling over<
Wonder Woman is a hero with a pure heart and pristine motivation. As much as I love Captain America, he does have a prejudice that colors his thinking.

What’s not to love about this guy?

Our Gal Wonder Woman does not.

Backstory Baggage

Most fictional characters have a backstory that shapes who they are and what they want. And for the average Joe or Jane Fiction, that’s important.
But those things act like a chain on a superhero.


For example, Superman has a savior complex because his father had high expectations for him to “carry on” their extinct alien race.
Captain America despises the Nazis and Hydra and all the evil they represent and perpetuate in the world. This means he must stop them at any cost. It was the sole reason he was given Stark’s serum in the first place.
We could continue through some of the (mostly Marvel) comic book heroes I’m familiar with, but I think the point has been made.
Diana Prince has none of this backstory baggage. She was raised to believe that her race was created for a single purpose: to protect humanity from destroying itself.


She doesn’t cop a savior-complex or become a crusader. Instead, she walks on the battlefield and changes the things she has power to change. One little step at a time.

Personal Issues

Everyone has personal issues: secret or well-known. Making those have high stakes is what good fiction is all about.
But a superhero with personal issues can cause big problems.
Most of the time, if the issues are too big, the hero turns to the dark side (thinking of Mr. Freeze here) and becomes enemy number one for the good guys.
Why are these such a problem for heroes? Because they have the power to take matters into their hands and SOLVE that issue with resounding finality.
Spiderman is going to stop all the criminals because he didn’t stop the murder of his uncle. Batman is going to clean up Gotham because it’s what his murdered parents would want.
But dispelling their own ghosts isn’t a pure motive for superheroes. Their great power gives them great responsibility. And the responsibility is to those weaker than them.
Our Gal Wonder Woman faces her personal issues—being misinformed or misled—before she tries to save the world. Because the uncertainty Ares gave her by exposing her to his brand of “truth” paralyzed her.
She could have blown up everyone around her in order to get a little peace and think things over. Instead, she took in the truths around her, weighed them with what she’d seen firsthand and what she’d learned as a child, and took a stand.

Relationship Hangups

Even though I was a little disappointed that Diana and Steve Trevor didn’t get a little “happy for now” time together, his death freed her from one of the biggest snares for superheroes. They have relationship hangups that keep them from going after the greater good.
I’ve said Captain America doesn’t have these, but others say his friendship with Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) is his relationship Achilles heel. Pick your side. It doesn’t matter now because I’ve found my new “best superhero.”
Superman has to save Lois Lane rather than the world. Professor X won’t end Magneto because of their friendship. Spiderman and Iron Man are manipulated when the bad guys take their lady loves hostage.
Wonder Woman wanted to save Steve, but it was too late for him. Would she have done it? Not at the price of letting Ares go free.
She was raised to be a warrior in a culture of warriors. They trusted each other, watched each other’s back, but every warrior understands that there is an ultimate price. By putting on the uniform, you accept that risk. (Which is why I think Steve Rogers could have a relationship with Agent Sharon Carter because she can take care of herself and is willing to accept the risk if she can’t.)
Steve made his own choice, and Diana respected his choice. Even though it broke her heart.
Her motivation for protecting humanity? Duty maybe. Revenge, not at all. In her own words: love.

If you want to see how another viewer saw God’s view of women depicted in the film, click on over and check out this post by Marilette Sanchez titled “WONDER WOMAN might be the most accurate on-screen depiction of biblical womanhood.” 
Do you think Wonder Woman is the pure hero? Are there other things that keep superheroes from having pure hearts and just motives?

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Wonder Woman : My Thoughts on the Film

The essence of true heroism was portrayed by Wonder Woman in her big screen feature film. Finally, a hero without a baggage-laden past or an ax to grind.

Wonder Woman’s heroic worldview is summed up in this quote, first said by Steve Trevor in the movie and later by Wonder Woman.

“It’s not about deserve. It’s about what you believe.”

A hero doesn’t stop to think if a person deserves protecting or rescuing. If they believe they can save someone, they step in and do it. Because to NOT act would be worse than whatever peril they face during their rescue.

After watching Wonder Woman’s movie twice, I’m ready for a Captain America and Wonder Woman film. Which will never happen because… Marvel and DC. But in my mind they are the supreme superheroes because they stand on their ideals.

What about the movie? You ask.

I loved it. Loved it two viewings worth and can hardly wait to own it on DVD so I can watch it again (maybe interspersed with Cap and the Winter Soldier).

The Story

I’m not a comic book reader, as I’ve stated multiple times. I don’t know how closely the film version of Wonder Woman comes to the comic-book rendition. But I like how the mythology is intertwined with the contemporary world (which shouldn’t surprise people who know I’m a huge fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, as well as the two spin-off series he’s written/writing).

Diana is a princess on an island set out of time and populated entirely by women. She is the only child on the island, and her mother tells her she was sculpted out of clay and brought to life by Zeus. Later, we learn that Zeus got Hippolyta with child the good old fashioned way (in the tradition of Greek deities).

She is enamored with fighting, which is what the Amazon warriors were originally created to do, but her mother denies permission to learn it. This doesn’t stop Diana from meeting with her aunt (the general of the Amazonian army) in secret until finally her mother allows her to train.

“But she can never know the truth.”

Diana doesn’t like hurting people (which is surprising from a warrior race), and her instinct is to rescue the stranger she sees crash into the ocean near their island. (It’s never sufficiently explained to me how the plane and later the Nazi boats can enter the bubble when Diana is warned she won’t be able to return if she leaves the island.)

All the stories Hippolyta has told Diana about the Amazons’ purpose come back to bite her when Steve Trevor shares the horrible news about The Great War in the “real world.” Still, the queen allows Diana to steal the armor and the God-Killer and leave with Steve to “save the world from Aries.”

Diana embraces her purpose and never shrinks from it, which adds plenty of tension. She’s happy to waltz into no man’s land rather than waiting for a safer route to her destination. In the end, it’s her head-on confrontation that sparks the heroism of the men with her, from the soldiers in the fox holes to the pilot spy.

Eventually, she does meet Ares, and their battle is epic. Of course, the secret her mother withheld is revealed by the villain and almost cripples Diana’s resolve to defeat him once and for all.

My Reactions

Gal Gadot is not Lynda Carter. Gal is much more athletic and equally as beautiful. Lynda sold me in her portrayal. I haven’t watched the old series for many years, so maybe it’s childhood hero worship that makes me say this.

I adored all the hand-to-hand combat. The Amazon warriors terrified me when they swung down the cliffs and thundered in on horseback. The Germans might have had guns, but they were seriously out-classed and under-trained to meet the immortal warrior race.

Diana’s motives sold me on this story. She whole-heartedly believed the Amazons were created to save mankind, and how could they do that on an isolated island?

I loved the innocent reactions Diana had to things like kicking in dresses and tasting ice cream. The filmmakers could have included more of this, because she seemed to adjust to the world of men rather easily.

I was sad the romance with Steve Trevor didn’t get to run its course. Because of their intense time together, I can believe that they loved each other. He was the first man she’d ever met, and his handsome exterior accentuated his rescuer’s soul.

While the effects during the battle with Ares were cool, I had a difficult time believing he would destroy her. And was it anger or grief that pushed her to finally end him?

Image from joblo.com

In any case, she wasn’t even happy about doing it. Resolved, yes, but she showed so much fervor for killing the general and Ares before she heard his story, and that wasn’t present when she finally shot the god of war out of the sky.

There were portions of the story that didn’t make sense to me: the creation of the Amazons and how they were enslaved by mankind. If Zeus was dead (as Hippolyta described in her story), how could he father Diana? And why would the Amazon’s still pray to him?

If you’ve seen the movie, what did you think? Did it live up to the hype?

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Do Good Girls make lousy Superheroes?

I’ve been watching Arrow for many months now. It’s the “thing” my husband and I do on Sunday evenings. We’ve finished the third season now and WOW, talk about tying things in a pretty bow. All this to say: I’ve come to the conclusion that nice girls (and guys) make lousy superheroes.

Wait! What?

Isn’t Captain America the ultimate nice guy? *nods head*

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

Hasn’t this writer said he is her favorite superhero-right on this blog? *nods again and shares link*

So am I going back on everything I’ve said before. Nope. Well, maybe. You’ll get to decide once you read my thoughts.

Vigilante or Superhero?

I talked about this issue before in a post about Captain America: Civil War. I don’t want to rehash all those details. If you want, you can read them here.

The Arrow and his alter ego Oliver Queen aren’t your run-of-the-mill nice guys. In fact, when I first met Mr. Queen I didn’t really like him.

Hero or Vigilante?
Hero or Vigilante?

But if a guy wants to go outside the law to make his hometown a better place, and uses skills attained during five years of hell, he grows on you. Or he did me. The guy has so many demons – most of which come back to haunt him on a daily basis – that it’s hard not to feel for him.

In the end of season three, the Arrow is destroyed by carefully constructed plans of the League of Assassins. Bodies pile up – most of them blamed on the Arrow, who has spent two of his three years in the green hood NOT killing anyone.

There are twists galore in every episode of this season. A few of them made me roll my eyes. Others were threaded in so seamlessly that my jaw dropped. I may even have screamed a little, scaring my cat away from his cuddling spot.

Depending on who you ask, the Arrow is a vigilante. Or a superhero. And it seems like the line between them is blurred beyond visibility.

A vigilante is NOT a nice guy. Even if he helps the good guys-namely the police-to apprehend the really bad guys. There are laws in place. He’s breaking them by shooting arrows at people and leaving them strung up for the police to book into the system.

Who Decides the Bar for “Nice”?

So, is the Arrow a vigilante or a superhero?

Once upon a time, Captain Lance was persuaded from his vigilante stance because the Arrow saved his life. And his own daughter Sara teamed up with the vigilante to clean up the streets after a huge infrastructure breakdown.

So really, Lance only accepted the Arrow because of Sara.

This is totally evident when he turns on not only the Arrow but his other daughter once he discovers that Sara’s death has been kept from him. Because that’s a totally unforgivable lie. *rolls eyes*

What would it have changed if he knew?

Apparently, his view on vigilantism.

Because even though Laurel is trying to step into the Black Canary leathers, her siding with the vigilante doesn’t carry the same weight as it did for Sara. Huh? This is one of many weak links in this reasoning on the TV series.

Does the law decide the standard for nice? If you keep the law, you’re a good person.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve met plenty of folks who keep most laws but I don’t consider them nice and wouldn’t want to be their friend.

If not the law, then does the media decide who’s good or bad? If you read this earlier post, you know my thoughts on the media. They only care about what will make the biggest story: truth is optional.

So it’s the general public who determines what makes someone nice?

D203

And let me tell you, every person’s definition and ideal is as different as a unicorn and an elephant.

Being a Good Girl who doesn’t finish Last

Good girls finish last.

Have you found this old adage to be true in your life?

For me, it depends on what/who determines the finish line.

If the finish line is wealth, I’ll gladly claim I’m too nice and that’s why I’m not rich. But if someone thinks having a comfortable lifestyle is the finish line, then I’ve suddenly become not at all a good girl.

Just like being “nice” and “good” is subjective and depends on who you ask, so is the finish line for this idiom.

Perhaps this saying means that if you’re good, you’ll finish last in EVERY race you enter in life. Your career will find you at the bottom of the pay scale. Your friends will wipe their feet on your loyalty. And your family will take advantage of your good nature at every turn.

Last place-again.

But that’s not true. Because this idiom is a generalization based on ONE set of standards. I believe the saying was created for the competitive world of business and adapted for use on the dating scene.

I can be nice and come in first. My win didn’t cost me integrity. I played fair and won the day.

Is the same true for a superhero? If a hero is always good and nice, will they be able to beat the villains?

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Women Date Iron Man but Marry Captain America

Maybe you’re all sick of hearing about Captain America. But not sick of looking at him, right?

"Look at those guns."
“Look at those guns.”

But this post isn’t about Cap. Or his falling out with Iron Man in the newest Captain America film. This blog is about a woman’s need to find a hero.

Yes, this is probably the point where all the “I don’t need a man” women will want to stop reading. I won’t make women out to be weak and needy in this post, but I will expound on proven psychological needs.

Iron Man’s Appeal

During one of my lengthy Twitter conversation with an author friend of mine, she admitted Iron Man is a more interesting character. During the breakup of the Avengers, she sided with him mostly because she liked his attitude.

Tony Stark is the king of snark. His deadpan sarcasm adds plenty of entertainment value in the Marvel universe.

Funny, sure. But also a player. Even if he loves Pepper, he can’t commit to what she wants.

Maybe that means she isn’t the right woman for him. But it could also mean he’s not the man for a long-term relationship.

Nothing wrong with that. As long as you’re on the dating stage and aren’t looking for anything permanent.

For me? Dating was the interview process for finding Mr. Right.

Why Cap is better for the Long Term

Enter my ideal hero: Captain America. Decades encased in ice couldn’t change the love he had for Peggy Carter.

Let’s consider that Steve Rogers grew up in a different culture than Tony Stark. There were no electronic gadgets. He could barely scrape together money for bus fare.

It was a time when women wanted a man to take care of them. This wasn’t about jobs or perceived weakness. Women had value as the queen of a man’s domain.

Every king needs a queen, right? (Although it doesn’t appear that every queen needs a king if you look at matriarchal monarchies. That’s a different topic.)

Steve Rogers stands up for those who need an advocate. He’s willing to throw himself on a grenade for a group of strangers. His life has value only as long as he can help other people defeat their bullies.

The reason he was attracted to Peggy Carter was because she didn’t need to be rescued. But Steve saw her as someone who DESERVED to be protected.

He respected her for who she was. She hated that he wanted to protect her because she thought it meant he considered her as less, as needy. But his charm won her over once she realized his respect knew no bounds.

She could see that for the long haul, Steve would treat her right, stand by her and put her needs above his own (although not above those of the world when it needed saving).

Iron Man or Captain America

What’s your opinion?

Do you think Iron Man would be more fun on a date than Captain America?

Or maybe, like me, you’d prefer a man whose goal is to be YOUR hero. He’s not worried so much about saving the world as making it a place fit for his queen.

Maybe this means I wouldn’t marry either of these guys.

I’ve already found my hero. And married him.

And aren't we a happy couple?
And aren’t we a happy couple?

Let Cap save the world (it needs saving for sure). Meanwhile, my superhero makes my favorite breakfast on the weekends.

What do you think? Is Captain America marriage material? Or would you take Iron Man instead?

Why our World isn’t ready for Superheroes

No_Superheroes

In a world where people cry over dead gorillas and ignore starving or abused children, we need heroes. Now more than ever. But the world isn’t ready for superheroes.

Thanks to my new site tagline (thanks Social Media Jedi Kristen Lamb), Holding out for a Hero, there is likely to be more posts about what it means to be a hero, heroes in real life and so on.

If you don’t like Captain America, I promise not to make it all about him. If you prefer the anti-hero character type, I’m happy to direct you to some other site.

In my world, good and evil have distinct lines. Evil is never based on personal opinion or preference but by the clear and present danger it causes.

Now, to get this post back on track. There are three major reasons it’s obvious our world isn’t ready for superheroes. I will be using film and real-world examples to reinforce my points. (There will be Captain America references – so sue me!)

Media Inflammation

Everyone is plugged in to the internet. Our phones notify us of updates to social media or our news sites. If we want to know the score for the big game, it’s a click or two away. (And there’s an app for that!)

There’s nothing wrong with being informed, but how well should we trust our sources of information? After all, who didn’t see the posts claiming Jackie Chan died a few months back. Some things are pure hype.

And other posts are an attempt to get a reaction. When I wrote this post, various articles about the Stanford University rapist bogged down my Facebook news feed.  Oh, and the gorilla incident I mentioned in the opening paragraph.

The articles became memes touting personal opinions – and calls for crucifixion of the criminal and the judge who gave him a “light” sentence. Whether I agree with these sentiments or not, the fact that a crime like this can blow up to become a worldwide discussion topic illustrates my point. (According to statistics, 300,000 rapes occur on US university campuses every year, but we’re only hearing about this ONE.)

The Fear of Power

With great power comes great responsibility – Uncle Joe Parker

People who have power fear people who might gain more power. And governments tend to be the biggest fraidy cats of all. This is the reason why information is controlled in so many parts of the world.

Because knowledge is power. If you know the truth, you can act upon it. If the truth can be concealed or packaged as a falsehood, then knowledge loses its edge.

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

In Captain America: Civil War, this truth was clearly demonstrated. After an accident during the apprehension of a terrorist, the United Nations met in an uproar. How dare The Avengers have collateral damage during their mission! Who even gave them permission to go into an African country anyway?

The governments feared the power of The Avengers (and they should). However, their fear wasn’t based in reality. If the team hadn’t stopped the terrorists, biological warfare would have been unleashed elsewhere in the world. Thousands of innocents would have suffered and died.

The UN didn’t care about the outcome, they wanted to control the power. What if The Avengers decided to step into the UN’s business? Who could stop them? But if the UN controlled their missions, the balance of power shifted into their favor.

Don’t be fooled. I used a fictitious example to prove this point, but the news headlines talk about dictators, warlords and plenty of others who exemplify this truth.

Just call us Sue-Happy

Think about some of the amazing rescues you’ve seen in superhero movies or the comics. These are when average people are saved from fires, explosions, criminals and accidents.

Now imagine this scenario. Spiderman sweeps into a burning building and removes two children, an elderly couple and even a cat from the flames. Just in time, too. The building collapses.

What if there was another unconscious person inside? Their family is incensed that Spidey discriminated against them by rescuing a stupid cat instead of their uncle.

And they sue him. Or the fire department. Or whoever they think they can get the money from.

You get burns from HOT liquid?

If you think I’m exaggerating, let me remind you that McDonald’s paid millions to a woman who burned herself on their coffee. Why did she win such a silly lawsuit? Because there was nothing WARNING her that the coffee was hot.

Seriously? Because even a two-year-old understands that something on an electrical burner is HOT.

Perhaps these lawsuits wouldn’t happen because who knows who Spiderman really is. But there would be even more pressure to discover his identity. Would it keep him from making his nightly runs stopping crime and rescuing victims?

Maybe. Maybe not.

In any case, these are only three reasons that screamed out when this topic jumped to the forefront of my mind.

What other reasons are there that might hold superheroes back? What do you see in our world that deters heroics more than it encourages them?

Why Superheroes need to conceal their identity

Superheroes might live among us. Your mail carrier could be one. Or maybe it’s the nerdy IT guy.

After all, many famous comic superheroes have alter egos. This identity conceals their true abilities and after-dark pursuit of justice.

If they didn’t live double lives, they would be considered vigilantes. Even the men and women of the Avengers who saved Earth from alien domination on two separate occasions were seen as vigilantes by some.

Because they worked outside the law to apprehend criminals.

But they always brought them to the authorities for prosecution (if they lived). Just like the A-team of 80s television, the Avengers never planned to use deadly force. Would they? Sure, if the criminals pushed them into it.

The Avengers were a special task force. And while they answered to a government agency (SHIELD), this was acceptable. Once that agency disappeared, people in power started feeling threatened.

It’s about Controlling the Power

There’s a fine line between being powerful and having control.

The Lamborghini is powerful. The driver leashes that power with a steering wheel and brakes. But what if the little plastic line carrying the fluid to those systems is cut? The power is out of control.

In the newest Captain America film, the governments of the world don’t like the idea that a powerful group of trained soldiers can fight crime and terrorism without paying homage to the local authorities.

Secretary of State says, “Where are Thor and the Hulk? If I misplaced two 30 megaton warheads, you can bet there’d be an investigation.”

So Thor and the Hulk are weapons of mass destruction? Wanda is even called that by her own team member. They aren’t people anymore. Only resources to be used by the powers that be.

And those in power are determined to control them. Were the Avengers out of control? Had they overstepped their mission?

No.

Civilians perished. It was tragic. In the process, a terrifying biological agent was kept from the hands of terrorists who would have used it to kill thousands, or even millions.

But no one’s talking about that.

In past movies, the Avengers kept each other in check. They answered to the team collective.

The Avengers were visible. Everyone knew who to blame if things went awry during the display of superhuman abilities. This visibility acted as accountability.

But that wasn’t enough. Politicians saw them only as a weapon, a tactical force to be deployed. Governments wanted a say in where they would go and who they would dispatch.

Hero_or_vigilante

It’s all in the Media Spin

The media spins the stories in our world (and the comic realities). One day they’re hailing the hero who stopped an insane murderer. The next they scream about stopping the vigilantes who are taking the law into their own hands.

In many places, the government controls the media. They can put the spin on the story so it reads like they want. Focus on the few innocents killed in a bad situation rather the thousands saved from something worse.

Superman, Spider-Man and Batman saw their heroic persona degraded and maligned. Is this why they hid behind Clark Kent, Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne? As long as no one knows who the man behind the mask is, media can only speculate and criticize.

Did they watch the news with the same hurt as Wanda and Cap? Did the fact they weren’t named keep them from feeling responsible when bystanders got hurt?

The writers make it sound like they keep their secrets to protect those they love from retribution. But is that the only reason? Is there ever only ONE reason?

After seeing the way media hype caused problems for the Avengers, it seems obvious that there are other reasons. Having a secret identity keeps them from being controlled by the powers that be.

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

Should they answer to someone? Most of these superheroes do have contacts on the police force. The masked men and women see themselves as a “special operative.” They must. Why else would they leave those they apprehend trussed up and ready for a reading of Miranda rights?

It’s not super to be a hero in our world. People are threatened by the unselfish pursuit of justice. The media is concerned about twisting things into a story that gets attention.

My hero, Captain America, would’ve been better off flying under the radar. Hard to do when the government creates you specifically to wear the face of their ideal soldier.

There’s no going back now. Cap can’t hide in anonymity.

The real losers in the situation are all the innocents he can’t protect.

Captain America: Is it all about the Bromance?

Opinion_Cover

Captain America is the ultimate super hero. I’ve said this before. In detail (you can read about it here).

That’s why I was a little offended when some people claimed Cap was dumping on the world in order to save Bucky.

It was bad enough when they claimed Cap didn’t have a real reason for neglecting the treaty. You know, the Sokovia initiative that 117 countries in the UN had agreed would govern future missions of the Avengers.

These naysayers assassinated Captain Rogers’ character because he turned on his “team.” All because protecting Bucky was more important than anything. Cap forfeited his good name and reputation all in the name of bromance.

I disagree. Cap wanted to help Bucky, sure, but it’s all about freedom with Captain Rogers. It always has been. Ever since we met him before World War 2. Back before he was an “enhanced” human.

I blame the storytellers for this misunderstanding – or misrepresentation, depending on if you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan. They didn’t do the best job laying down out the cause and effect bread crumbs.

Why did Iron Man, a guy who flouted authority at every turn, suddenly change his mind? Why did the team captain, a known rule-follower, stop following the status quo?

Motives

Iron Man’s change of heart was linked to his encounter with the grieving mother in the basement of MIT.

Thousands of people died in the combined alien attacks the Avengers defended against. Why did this one boy’s story suddenly make Stark rethink his attitude about accountability?

Bring in the end of his relationship with Pepper. He says himself that signing this treaty is his last ditch effort to win her back. Because he can’t stop putting the suit on. And that has nothing to do with saving the world and everything to do with self-redemption. He said as much to the woman at MIT.

He tried to use the boy’s death to motivate the other Avengers to sign the treaty. This was no different than General Ross’ replay of the destruction caused by their former battles.

Cap_IronMan_CivilWar

Even before Iron Man and the General come calling, Cap is watching the news. He was appalled at the destruction in Nigeria (a mistake). However, he realizes the goal and purpose of the team is bigger than that.

Is Cap calloused about the collateral damage? I don’t think so. He understands the principle of commanding soldiers in every offensive. Innocents will die, but you can limit the number of casualties by eliminating the mastermind criminals.

“You can’t bring them back.”

The biggest contributor to Cap’s change of heart toward the “new rules” proposed by the government is Agent Carter’s death. Specifically her words about compromise resonate with Cap. “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, plant yourself like a tree.”

Cap couldn’t compromise on using his abilities to protect the masses. This isn’t news to anyone who’s been following the franchise. In the first Avengers movie, he told Director Fury something similar.

Captain America’s done being used by politicians to further their agendas. He wasn’t sad to see S.H.I.E.L.D. fall. They had too much control and wanted even more. Their presence was infringing on the right to freedom and justice for Joe American.

The irony: in choosing not to sign this UN proposal he falls into the machinations of the evil mastermind central to Captain America: Civil War.

Manipulations

There’s no doubt that Cap was distracted by the thought of helping Bucky. We saw this in the beginning when the virus-stealing terrorist mentioned his name.

That fact is how the vengeance-seeking villain manipulated the situation. He had “studied” the team, and especially Cap, for a year. He knew Bucky was his “weakness.”

And he used that to move the Avengers around the chessboard of his evil plot.

Emmo manipulated the system to force Cap’s hand. Cap had to choose “follow the new law” (which he never agreed to do) or follow his principles. Would he let the authorities gun down an unconvicted man? (Face it. We all knew Bucky had to be innocent since he was in Bucharest while the UN was bombed in Vienna.)

Cap felt it was his duty to bring Bucky in because he would have the best chance of doing so without collateral damage (and isn’t that was the muckety-mucks were supposedly screaming about?). He went to Bucky’s apartment with the intention of taking him to the authorities.

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

Would he have protected a perfect stranger with the same vigor? I would say yes. Because that is who he is. He’s the defender of the weak, protector of freedom and upholder of justice. Even though the filmmakers have tried to paint him in a different light in this movie.

Another reason Emmo chose to frame Bucky was because he needed the information about the other winter soldiers. The fact that he knew Cap would feel compelled to protect him, even if it meant going against the rest of the team, was an additional bonus.

The logic behind Emmo’s knowledge is another shortfall in this film. How did he know about the Starks’ murder ahead of time? The video footage was an essential part of guaranteeing a fight between Tony and Steve.

On my second viewing of the movie, I did catch how Emmo ordered breakfast from Russia. This insured that room service would discover the dead psychiatrist thus alerting the Avengers that everything had been a set up.

But the power-jealous authorities won’t see it that way. And that’s why Captain America had to step outside the law to deal with this villain.

Is my infatuation with Cap blinding me to this bromance-inspired revolt? I don’t think so.

What do you think? Were the motives for Tony and Cap realistic? Do you think Cap would have signed the treaty if Bucky wasn’t in danger?

Captain America: Vigilante or Hero?

On May 6, 2016, the newest Captain America film hit local theaters. People were challenged to choose a side in this Superhero Civil War. Would you be #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan?

If you read my post after I watched the second Captain America movie, you recall that I dubbed Captain America the perfect superhero. I will be quoting that post here.

After Marvel’s movie makers changed the terms of being a hero, do I still believe Cap is a model superhero? Did the signing of some UN treaty suddenly make following his own moral compass illegal?

Being a Hero

Image from Marvel-movies
Image from Marvel-movies

In my earlier post, I claimed Captain America was a hero because of these three things:

  1. He fights for justice for everyone
  2. He doesn’t use his power for selfish reasons
  3. He won’t compromise his personal integrity for anyone

However, if the governments of 117 countries decide that he doesn’t have the right to do these things, is he bound to follow them because they are suddenly the majority?

That’s what this movie is all about. Once again, it challenges the idea that a person can be loyal to two people who are at odds with each other. What if they are both right? Whose side do you stand on?

At one point, Iron Man asked Black Widow if she could bring the Hulk in on their team. Her reply, “How do you know he’d choose your side?”

Cap didn’t want his friends to be divided, but they chose to stand with him because they’re friends. This meant friends faced off with friends. Isn’t this something that happens in real life? You side with one friend for whatever reason – and it isn’t just because they’re your friend.

What reason would a hero have for standing against his friends? See number one and three above. He believed it was the just thing and his integrity is not for sale to the highest bidder.

Being a Vigilante

Hero or Vigilante?
Hero or Vigilante?

I’m in the middle of watching the third season of The Arrow on Netflix. The police call him the vigilante. Except for one man – a (police)man who has been rescued by him.

So what does it mean to be a vigilante?

Dictionary.com says a vigilante is “any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.” So a person who seeks their own brand of justice. They take an eye for an eye.

Because sometimes the legal system fails. There is no such thing as a perfect government with only fair laws that are always enforced.

Does that give a person the “right” to take things into their own hands?

Instead of giving you my answer, let me offer up examples. Comic book examples: Batman, Spiderman, Superman and many others. More movies have been made on this topic than almost any other.

In a fallen world, I don’t think fallen people should seek their own brand of justice. I ascribe to this principle “avenge not yourselves, but give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

However, notice that this says to avenge not yourselves.

Captain America did not decide to selfishly help one friend while annoying all of his other friends. Cap saw injustice. He had the power to stop it. So he did.

He minimizes the collateral damage of death to innocents in every way he can. Isn’t that what policemen, and military, and others whose “job” it is to protect the rights of all citizens do?

This is the reason he wouldn’t sign the accord. If he did, suddenly he became subject to a governing authority. Because, let’s face it, those with superpowers are above the average law. We can only hope they’re going to fight on the side of right, because who can stop them?

(More on this issue in my next post.)

No longer without Personal Entanglements

One of my author friends told me that Cap would always put friendship first and that wasn’t always in the best interest of the wider scope of world problems.

And yet…I believe Cap chose only to endanger himself when he went after Bucky. He gave Sam the chance to opt out. When they headed to the final battle, it was only Cap and Bucky facing their foe.

I don’t want to give away anything for those who haven’t seen the movie, so you should stop reading now if that is you. SPOILER AHEAD!

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Image credit: technobuffalo

Cap admitted to Wanda that his concern for Bucky compromised the team. He took full responsibility for the collateral damage on the mission where this happened.

Further, he stepped beyond his “no romantic attachments” barrier by kissing Sharon Carter. Whether or not that makes her his Lois Lane, I don’t know. She certainly isn’t a helpless wallflower. After all, she’s a CIA agent with obvious skills. With an aunt like the amazing Agent Peggy Carter, she can probably hold her own against the bad guys who might abduct her to get to Cap.

Still, Cap no longer meets my third qualification. I said heroes with love interests were “forced to choose between their love and the wider world.” When Cap was forced into that situation in Civil War, I don’t think it had to do with his personal feelings. As I said in my earlier post: “he will never compromise his principles and favors no individual as more redeemable than another.”

I don’t believe he favored Bucky above Iron Man in the newest film. They were equally his friend.

However, Bucky needed help because he was being used as a pawn by someone with vile intentions. In this case, what looked like favoritism toward a friend was actually Captain Rogers protecting the underdog.

Because that’s what true heroes do.

**Original image for header on this post can be found here. All credit goes to those artists.

What do you think? Is Cap a vigilante now? Or is he still a hero? Can he be both?