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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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James: This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20). 
<p>James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemani. </p><p>Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. St. Matthew tells that their mother came (Mark says it was the brothers themselves) to ask that they have the seats of honor (one on the right, one on the left of Jesus) in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!” </p><p>The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life. </p><p>On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them...” (Luke 9:54-55). </p><p>James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a). </p><p>This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser (May 3) or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t need so much to talk about God but to allow people to feel how God lives within us, that’s our work.

 
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