An American boy, weaker than most, decides to save America. He is very spirited. Every time he is rejected for military service, he tries again. A 4f cannot stop a Brooklyn boy, because that’s just bureaucrat talk. He looks & talks American, but his reverence for army & war reminds me of a smaller, uglier man, Admiral Nelson. He seems to have learnt early that a life of peace cannot offer him much, but he is ill suited for war.
His enemy starts as a Nazi looking for power. He does not distinguish scientific from political power: he does not think men exist. His scientist says their new source of energy would change the war. Our enemy replies, as one who understands our world: it will change the world.
The difference between a good man & a good citizen makes our story. Another German scientist, who ran to America, explains to the boy that power improves or mutilates man because it increases enormously the consequences of judgment & action & their opposites. Ruling a country & running a war require a great perspective & great courage, because so many lives are at risk. Apparently, in America the difference between a good man & a good citizen will not get people killed, not even German scientists, whereas in Germany madness reigns.
In America, this newly created hero, the result of the kind of science for which some hope, becomes a star in a musical selling war bonds & then in movies. This serves a practical purpose, but it is also a mockery of the boy’s ambition to save America. Soldiers, for their part, humiliate this costumed hero. Soon enough, he decides to become a real warrior, in the suicidal way of those who love something more than their lives. It is hard to judge of his excellence, but his nobility is obvious: to go above & beyond the call of duty, to risk one’s life for one’s fellow soldiers is noble, if anything is. Indeed, greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.
Captain America is named for his rank & nation. He is a soldier, alive in times of war, & only those who take their bearing by war can understand him. If Americans came to believe perpetual peace is coming, Captain America & America would disappear together. Without military heroes, America cannot long live. Without war, heroes are unnecessary. And yet they all fight & die for peace. It seems that even an American peace only prepares future wars. Indeed, heroes are draped in the flag, but their beauty hides the harsh truth. Death & patriotism go together.
Get it & see it. With your friends.