Last week I asked CMR readers which was the better role model Iron Man or Captain America. Thank-you to all who responded.
Not surprisingly, Cap won the day by an overwhelming margin. One person asked if it was even a question. I think it is.
I will be honest the poll was pretty loaded. (It caused quite a tempest in a teapot on my personal Facebook page.) I wanted to see if Captain America’s immoral origins played any part in whether we hold him up as a role model, or if we are blind to the subversive aspects of his character because he is such a great guy. The reality of Captain America is that Steve Rogers was a normal, healthy man that was experimented on by his government to make a weapon for war. Morally wrong on multiple levels, and neither he nor the government are repentant about what happened. It is a model I hope no young American ever emulates, but because Captain America is such a likable character, I fear a generation of our citizens subconsciously believes the way to serve your country is to unnecessarily sacrifice your body to experimentation for the greater good.
On the other hand, Tony Stark, while being an unlikable rake in the new films, has the better approach to super-soldier making. Instead of building a better soldier, he builds better suits. That fact seems to get lost in Tony’s very distasteful personality.
You may think this discussion matters less than how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. It is actually quite important because the military is always trying to improve soldier performance. A recent article in Army magazine called Supersoldiers: Can Science and Technology Deliver Better Performance? explores both approaches: building better soldiers or building better suits.
I know which course they should take. The one that treats soldiers like human beings and not like equipment to be upgraded.
And this goes beyond the military. Once they regularly modify their soldiers for the job to be done, other professions will follow.
So I want to explore the question: Does Captain America’s origin story matter to you when it comes to his role model status? Or does his personality outweigh how he came to be?
I would love your thoughts on this. Please let me know what you think.
Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly