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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Captain America: The First Avenger

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

During World War II, Steve (Chris Evans), a skinny kid from Brooklyn, tries to enlist in the army over and over, only to be deferred due to his small stature and asthma. Finally a government scientist, Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), notices Steve; he is impressed by his courage, his humanity and heart.

Steve is placed in a special program that turns him into a superman, a fighting machine with a shield of red, white and blue, that can fend off the attacks of Hitler’s evil weaponry wizard, Dr. Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). It is revealed that Schmidt is really a demon called Red Skull, whose evil power stems from a secret energy source.
 
Captain America is a superhero from the Marvel Comic Book universe.  The first comic of the series was published in 1941 by Timely Comics, written by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who were also co-founders of Marvel Comics.
 
With this summer’s release of “Thor” and “Captain America” the way is paved for next summer’s blockbuster release of “The Avengers” of the 21st century, a film that will be populated by now familiar cinematic characters drawn from the Golden Age of Comic Books (late 1930’s through the early 1950s) and more recent video games: The Hulk, Iron Man (we meet Tony Stark’s father in “Captain America: The First Avenger”), The Black Widow,  and Hawkeye (formerly of the Thunderbolts.)
 
Comic books-into-film is a hugely successful film genre because they are a special effects bonanza, the heroes are beautiful people, and the bad guys lose. The stories are basically the same: good vs. evil engage in a massive struggle and good triumphs. There is almost always an American patriotic spin to the plot. While good does triumph, the use of vengeance as a virtue is a concern to thoughtful viewers.  Also, seeing the world in the simplistic black and white categories of good vs. evil and violence as a way to solve problems, falls far outside of the Judeo-Christian worldview.
 
Comic books-into-film prod the audience to inquire: Is the superhero’s way the way of the Lord Jesus – and if it is not, what is?


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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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