Biff Bam Pop’s It’s All Connected – Just a Kid from Brooklyn: Captain America, American Memories of World War II, and the MCU, Part II
In the first part of this essay, I briefly sketched the construction of American memories of World War II that began slightly before the war and continue into the 21st century. In many ways the war has become a defining part of American identity, and the dominant, triumphal memory narrative we have created about it serves to elevate American participation in the war almost to the level of the sacred, and certainly to the realm of the simple black and white, good v. evil duality that is much more comforting than any messy and contradictory reality might be. The character of Steve Rogers/Captain America is one of the more perfect cultural artifacts to illustrate this process of memory construction, and the ways in which counter-memories, which challenge the dominant narrative, inevitably influence the national mythology.
Biff Bam Pop’s It’s All Connected – Just a Kid from Brooklyn: Captain America, American Memories of World War II, and the MCU, Part I
Captain America is a symbol, and Steve Rogers is an ideal. The former is the manifestation of the best that the United States of America can be, and the latter is the exemplar of citizenship that creates it. Yet this iconic character was born in defiance, and is inextricably linked with the largest and most horrific conflict in the entirety of human history. World War II left between 70 and 85 million people dead, or somewhere between three and four percent of the world’s population at the time. European Jewry was all but eradicated by a systematic, industrialized genocide. The infrastructures and economies of Europe, the Soviet Union, Japan, China, and the Philippines (among others) were largely smashed. In Great Britain – one of the victor nations – food rationing continued until 1954, nine years after the war had ended. How then, did Captain America, the paragon of American humanist and egalitarian virtue, spring from such poisoned fields?
Avengers: Age of Ultron opens tonight across America, and has been out in most of the world for a week now. Not only the Avengers, but also their adversary Ultron, are everywhere, but what do we really know about Ultron? Who is he, what is he? Ultron has been called the Avengers’ greatest enemy, and he is, because it’s personal, he’s family. Meet me after the jump for the meltdown on Marvel’s malevolent machine messiah, Ultron!