Well. I certainly wasn’t expecting there to be much of any response to the Captain America essay I wrote, much less the furor that erupted in certain branches of the geek Internet. Feel free to search Twitter for “captain america prick” to get a sampling of the backlash. (And for those wondering, I have made peace with @FilmCritHULK, despite the much-retweeted earth-scorching he gave me.)

Anyway, I have no idea if this post is necessary, but I want to make a few clarifications (which were already stated in the essay, but which came relatively late in it, as they were not the main argument):[[MORE]]
I do not think characters have to be jerks to be interesting. I can’t emphasize this enough. I’m not the kind of reader who thinks going “grim and gritty” (shudder) is the way to make a comic “mature.” Anti-heroes are not a panacea. Come to my apartment and read my well-worn copy of the All-Star Superman omnibus if you want a sense of how much I adore hope and perfection in certain superheroes. Similarly, I have no interest in seeing a prickish take on, say, Kitty Pryde or Miles Morales or Ben Grimm — just to name a few characters for whom dickishness is not appropriate. And hoo boy, making Superman “dark” in Man of Steel was one of the all-time worst decisions ever made in superhero film. Which brings me to my next point…
I think Captain America should be a bit of a jerk for reasons that are unique to Captain America. It’s because he’s a soldier, because he comes from a different era, because he’s perpetually leading armed attacks, and so on and so forth. He’s a man who wanted desperately to go to war, and thrived in war once he arrived. I think it’s dull to have a character with that specific origin story depicted as a flawless philosopher-warrior. Unreadably dull? Of course not! Which dovetails with my next point…
I love lots of Cap stories. I’ve been reading them for the majority of my life. There are countless tales starring Captain America that are engrossing reads. I named a few in the essay, but I can add some more: the recent “Loose Nuke” storyline, Cap’s brief-but-unforgettable part in Daredevil’s “Born Again” story, Avengers Forever, and nearly anything Ed Brubaker has written. But I believe you could replace Cap with a generic “soldier who’s a good dude” character in most of those stories and have him serve the same function. The only truly unique thing about Cap in most stories is that nearly everyone in the Marvel universe knows and admires him. But, in a way, that’s cheating. We’re supposed to treat him with awe because he’s been treated with awe in the past. He’s respectable.
Nice-guy Cap does, indeed, fit well in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As I said in the essay, his dynamics make sense for the stories Marvel is trying to tell there. I just happen to think those stories are mostly pretty boring, and Cap’s flawlessness contributes to that dullness. I know I’m in the minority here. But that’s part of my larger feeling about superhero movies.
You don’t have to make Captain America a straight-up bully to give him jerk-ish qualities. Cap in The Ultimates is an extreme example. One I enjoy, but still, quite extreme. There are ways to make him challenging without going 100% (or even 30%) asshole in your characterization.
I really wish people wouldn’t automatically downgrade an argument because it has kind words for Mark Millar’s work in The Ultimates. I know I’m one of that series’ last living defenders, and I don’t think it’s flawless by any stretch of the imagination. But I think fans and critics who (justifiably or not) loathe Millar have thrown the baby out with the bathwater by disregarding Ultimates. (I’ve thought about Millar a lot, and am always up for a discussion of him and his work.) Despite its many clunky moments, The Ultimates is a towering work of satire and subversion, one that asks questions few other mainstream comics have ever asked. Someday, I’ll have history on my side with this one.
Alright, enough jibber-jabber from me. I mainly wrote this because I wanted to emphasize the first point. Please don’t lump me in with the fans who gave Spawn his day in the sun.

Well. I certainly wasn’t expecting there to be much of any response to the Captain America essay I wrote, much less the furor that erupted in certain branches of the geek Internet. Feel free to search Twitter for “captain america prick” to get a sampling of the backlash. (And for those wondering, I have made peace with @FilmCritHULK, despite the much-retweeted earth-scorching he gave me.)

Anyway, I have no idea if this post is necessary, but I want to make a few clarifications (which were already stated in the essay, but which came relatively late in it, as they were not the main argument):

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