Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Captain America kicks Superman's Ass

Captain America: Awesome
Better late than never, I finally managed to catch Captain America at the cinema this weekend - and it was awesome.

A truly magnificent superhero movie, it illustrated yet again the fluency Marvel Studios have managed to demonstrate when bringing some of America's most beloved comic book characters to life.

Post-movie libations sparked a conversation about the relative merits of my favorite hero, Captain America, and the other famous red, white and blue-tighted comic book star: Superman.

Both arriving on newstands during the 1940s, they represent starkly different approaches to creating "America's superhero."

Who is better? Well, as far as I'm concerned, that's an easy question to answer: Captain America.

You see, I've never been much of a fan of Superman; and every narrative failing the Man of Steel has is reflected in a strength from the Captain America back story.

Superman sucks for the same reason he's a superhero - he's indestructible.

He can fly. He can shoot lasers out of his eyes. He can withstand anything less devastating than a direct hit from an ICBM. Given that adventure stories live and breath on peril, danger and risk, the Superman stories are automatically lame because our caped hero is rarely in any believable danger.

Captain America, on the other hand, is just a guy; albeit one enhanced by a experimental "super serum" that has given him the strength and agility of a world-class athlete. Even with his enhanced abilities, he can still bruise, bleed and break in a manner which makes his heroic exploits truly heroic.

The next thing that separates Superman and Captain America is motivation.

Captain America was a true American hero even more he donned his helmet and tights. A scrawny kid from Brooklyn, young Steve Rogers longed to join up to help defend his country against the Nazis; but was turned down as medically unfit for duty.

Eventually, scientist Abraham Erskine took pity on him and offered him the chance to test his experimental "super serum" - which transformed him into the magnificent physical specimen that we know of as "Ol' Cap." This means Steve has a real reason for doing what he does - not just his because of his patriotism, but also because he's a formerly weak man who appreciates and respects the strength he's been given.

This is REALLY how Superman would be
Superman, on the other hand? What a joke.

Superman crash landed on Earth and discovered his was the most powerful being on the planet. He could fly, bend iron bars, shoot lasers from his eyes and freeze the ocean with just the power of his "icy breath."

So what does he do? Become a tireless force for good; hiding self-deprecatingly behind the mantle of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent.

But we ALL know that in "real life" (the two most ironic words to use when writing about comics) Superman would not be all that superheroic.

Power corrupts; and even Mother Teresa would start pushing her weight around if she realized she was the single most powerful force on the planet.

Superman, if we're honest with ourselves, wouldn't be defending Metropolis against villains and natural disasters. He'd be a cruel, alien overlord; crushing the entire human race into submission simply because he could.

Nobody as disproportionately powerful as Superman would be able to resist the temptation to abuse his strength. That level of willpower would be beyond even "the man of tomorrow."

So from a comic book perspective, it's clear to see why Captain America kicks Superman's ass.

This was the heated debate which we entered into after watching Captain America at the cinema; but it naturally devolved to one more pressing question:

If Superman and Captain America inhabited the same comic book universe (Superman is from DC comics, whereas Captain America is owned by Marvel) who would really win a battle between them?

Well, sadly the answer to that is simple: Superman would crush Steve Rogers like a bug.

That's why he sucks as a superhero.

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