Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Classic hero takes on big controversies

    Captain America made his debut as a star-spangled, shield-slinging, Nazi-bashing patriot in the 1940s, a character whose sole purpose was to promote liberty and democracy while dealing solid uppercuts to Hitler and his cronies.
    Seventy years later, the beloved “Cap” has proved himself an enduring character in American entertainment, and one surprisingly capable of leaving behind outdated governmental chauvinism to tackle contemporary issues of politics and policy.
    “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is another block-busting hit for entertainment mogul Marvel Comics that deals out vehicular mayhem and gratuitous roundhouse kicks en-masse. However, the film does not lack depth and is rich in unexpectedly astute political and social commentary.
    After surviving 70 years frozen in an Antarctic ice cap, and after joining Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) elite squad of caped crusaders (known as the Avengers,) Steve Rogers (Chris Evens) — otherwise known as Captain America — is adjusting to civilian life in the 21st Century.
    Though he desires to contribute to the safety and security of the nation he loves so dearly, Rogers feels conflicted about the agency he works for. He battles a growing sense of alarm and betrayal when he discovers that his teammate Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson) and Director Fury have been keeping certain agendas secret from him.
    Fury reveals that S.H.I.E.L.D, aka Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, is working on a massive government surveillance program, the end result of which will be almost total satellite surveillance coupled with the precise firepower from three massive airships. The program’s agenda is to preemptively eliminate any threats to national security on American soil from the air.
    Before the project takes off, Fury is attacked and dies but not before he has a chance to tell Rogers about a conspiracy he believes has taken control of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    Armed with these suspicions and a flash drive of vital, encrypted information, Rogers sets out to uncover who is really pulling the strings and to find the illusive assassin, known only as the “Winter Soldier,” who killed Fury.
    He enlists the help of Romanoff, who puts aside her usual indifference, showing a greater depth of character than in previous films.
    The two discover that S.H.I.E.L.D and other government agencies have long been infiltrated and influenced by Hydra, the Nazi secret society which Rogers first encountered during his escapades in World War II.
    Romanoff and Rogers set about planning how to take down Hydra and enlist the assistance of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), an air force vet and new friend of Rogers.
    This small team takes on the strangely familiar Winter Soldier and hordes of Hydra minions, resulting in spectacular action sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat till the end of the film.
    Like all of Marvel’s films “Winter Soldier” is action packed, full of humor and heroism. But it’s the commentary that makes this film stand out from the rest of Marvel productions.
    Though the movie does subtly address issues of body image, ableism, and misogyny, it is hard to ignore the obvious critique of the NSA and drone warfare.
    Rogers, a hallmark of American patriotism since his earliest comic books, calls into question government practices such as civilian surveillance and the usage of remote air strikes, both issues that are being discussed today.
    Knowledge of these programs horrifies Rogers and drives him away from the government he has spent his whole life serving. As Fury discloses the details of the project, claiming the necessity to uphold a free society, Rogers declares, “This isn’t freedom, this is fear.”
    He resigns from his position as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D, unable to believe that it has any interest in protecting the people.
    This negative portrayal of extreme measures persists throughout the film and forces one to think about the reality of drone warfare. Though the characters of Marvel inhabit a fictionalized picture of our world, the idea of the government using remote missile strikes against citizens in the name of protection is terrifying and inspires one to wonder if the practice is truly necessary overseas.
    Bringing up such a commentary is not a new move for Marvel, especially since Axel Alono’s editorship. Their comics have long addressed political and social issues, and recent film productions such as the “Iron Man” series have addressed certain issues of foreign policy. But “Winter Soldier” presents its criticism more directly than ever before and uses one of their most beloved characters to do it.
    The resulting image of Captain Steve Rogers, not as some overly loyal, superhuman, tights-wearing patriot, but as citizen, perfectly capable of being critical of his government, is a refreshing look for the classic hero, and one we can expect to carry through to more of the franchise’s productions.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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