Friday, January 6, 2012

Captain America, Mega Mind and the Corrupting Quality of Power

For the most part, last summer’s lead up to the much anticipated “Avengers” movie was just that… a lead up. To be sure it is a rousing adventure and entertaining escapism. In fact, it is probably the best of the bunch outside of the first “Iron Man.” There is not much to think about in this story, though. The big lesson in “Captain America,” outside of “Nazis are bad” and jingoism, is that power is a bad thing in the wrong hands. The process that increases Steve Roger’s strength and abilities increases everything about the man. In the case of the enemy of the piece, Red Skull, it has increased his capacity for evil.

Steve Rogers’ is an unusual man because he seems to be completely good. He has no capacity for evil, he is an innocent. Usually the real message about power is that it corrupts. That message was better handled in a lesser movie from 2010: “Megamind.”

The surprising trend in animation that year was the villain as hero. Of course, those villains ended up realizing that being good was better and more fun than being evil, but it was inevitable. Kids these days love a bad guy.

The interesting development in “Megamind” came when the villain had defeated the hero and began to miss “the game.” He attempted to create a new hero to fight, and gave ultimate powers to an average Joe. Of course, with all that power everybody but “Megamind” knew what was going to happen next: the average Joe did not become a selfless hero. He became a true super villain. That is what power does to fallen, sinful people. It empowers us to follow our lesser impulses.

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