A Beauty and the Beast in All of Us – A brief look at Captain America: The First Avenger

Posted: August 23, 2011 by Josh Kwasny in Action
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There is much to say about Marvel’s most recent superhero flick. Viewers will enjoy lots of action, an interesting (although predictable) plot line, and fascinating characters. Check out the video below for a peek.

While Capt. America may receive high marks for entertainment value, there are a couple particular themes that make this film an interesting one to consider watching.

The first theme is that of beauty or maybe I should say sexuality. This is by no means a major theme in CA. I only mention it because of what was noticeably missing from this film – as opposed to most action flicks…a “hot chick.”

While there is a beautiful “love interest” (Hayley Atwell) to play opposite the Captain, she is presented in a way that stands in sharp contrast to many of the leading ladies of contemporary action films (examples that will remain nameless, cough, Transformers, cough). Sadly, sex sells and the “hot chick” has replaced the leading lady – who might actually be cast for more than her physical features. While I don’t want to blow this out of proportion, I simply want to note that it is refreshing to have a beautiful female character that is presented in a way that I don’t have to cover the eyes of my sons – let alone my own.

The second theme to note in the film is that of goodness – the very quality that makes the Captain a different kind of hero. The story of Captain America is compelling largely because it is a story of the weak becoming strong – the insignificant becoming great. In this story, the weak and wimpy Steve Rogers (Chris Evans with the help of CGI) is chosen to participate in a secret army program that exists to create the ultimate super-soldier. Dr. Erskine, creator of a new technology, chooses Rogers because of his inner character – the fact that he is a “good” man – as opposed to the usual soldier qualifications, physical strength and combat ability.

On the night before Rogers is to undergo the “treatment,” he asks Dr. Erskine why he was chosen. Erskine tells Rogers that the chemical treatment magnifies what is on the inside of a person. Good become great. Bad becomes worse. He explains that it is Rogers’ physical weakness and his innate goodness that makes him the ideal candidate. He says, “a weak man knows the value of strength, knows the value of power.” He closes their conversation by exhorting Steve to, “stay who you are, not just a soldier, but a good man.”

How should we think about this pivotal (and touching) conversation from a biblical perspective? Two thoughts…

First, we know that inherent human goodness is a wish dream. While championed as common wisdom, this worldview is misguided. Scripture tells us that people are inherently wicked – no one is good (Romans 3:10-18). Psalm 51 teaches that we didn’t even begin life “good” – our sinful condition existed pre-birth. If any human were to undergo Dr. Erskine’s treatment, the result would not be a superhero, but rather a super-villain. The magnification of my inner character would produce of a terrible beast. Although we all want to imagine that our “inner beauty” will win the day, the truth is that the doctrine of total depravity teaches otherwise. Humanity needs a different kind of “treatment” – the “beast” needs to be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Second, Dr. Erskine tells Rogers that because he understands weakness, he is better suited to exhibit compassion. As redeemed sinners – transformed by the Gospel, Christians should lead the way in compassion. When we truly understand the depths of our sin and the power of Christ to save us – not just from the penalty of sin, but also from its power over us – we will be different! Christians do understand weakness, but through the presence of the Holy Spirit, they now live powerful lives – lives of compassion!

The Gospel magnifies Christ in us – not a better us in us!!! When we come to grips with the biblical view of sin and our need for Jesus Christ, we will become a people who may actually make a difference in the world.

  1. Lynne in NC says:

    Well written review with some Scripture to ponder. Many thanks!

  2. Henderson says:

    Hi !
    good review
    I’ve just seen this film. I liked it. did you notice the major of thid kind of movies distiguish good people and bad people, but the truth is that all of us are bad…

  3. Josh Kwasny says:

    Thanks for the comment. Many (if not most stories) assume that down deep humans are basically good. We are not as bad as we could be, but sin affects all areas of our humanity.

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