The Thing I Like About …

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: the part where the computer tech refuses to comply with the bad guy.

In movies like Captain America – all the superhero movies, and things like G.I. Joe, where the heroes don’t have superpowers but they do have super toys – we get used to the heroes going all ninja on the bad guys, no matter what the bad guy throws at them. We know the heroes – or superheroes – have the necessary weapons, skills, and talents to beat the bad guys and defeat evil, and even though we still enjoy watching them do that, we pretty much take for granted that in the end they’ll win. Why wouldn’t they? They’re heavily, heavily armed. Plus, they’re not, you know, real.

But in The Winter Soldier, not everyone is a superhero, or even a heavily armed regular hero. The men and women who sit at rows of desks, monitoring computer reports and satellite feeds, are just ordinary men and women. And today, the bad guys are asking them – at gunpoint – to allow the slaughter of millions. They’re asking one man in particular, and they’ve got a loaded gun shoved up against the back of his head, and if he doesn’t comply they will kill him, and he knows that.

But he doesn’t comply.

Well, of course he doesn’t, you say. Who would?

I don’t know … maybe … all of us? “Millions” is such an abstract notion for most of us, and having a gun to the back of our heads is so not abstract. Maybe we wouldn’t be able to wrap our brains around the evil being suggested, at least not in time to overcome the panic about our own lives. Maybe that’s how good people have always allowed evil to do things that, in hindsight, seem so completely, obviously evil. Maybe we just can’t imagine that anyone could be that bad, and we just don’t want to get shot … and so evil wins this round, and this round, and this round, until the world is hip-deep in a war that only Captain America can win.

So for me, regular-guy-at-desk is the true hero of The Winter Soldier, and he gives me hope that we can stop evil in the real world, even though we don’t really have a Captain America.

We do have plenty of regular-people-at-desks, after all.

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