The man who abhors violence, never carrying a gun. But this is the truth, Doctor.
The Doctor doesn’t like soldiers because they can see him for exactly who he is: a man who turns people into soldiers and sends them to their deaths.
the Mills Sister relationship is literally the most important relationship on TV, end of story
The thing that’s so disgusting about the murders of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Sean Bell etc (a very long list) is that it’s not like we’re trying to figure out who killed them. We know perfectly well. We’re just trying to figure out if that black kid deserved to die. They’re humanity is put on trial, like being a person wasn’t enough. Black people literally have to prove that we’re worthy of living.
The most dangerous thing society teaches boys and men, especially white boys and men, is that their emotions are objective logic and reason and that anyone who disagrees is being irrational.
After he loses his eye, May and Coulson take him out to a bar to get drunk. It just so happens to be karaoke night, and an increasingly wasted Nicholas J. Fury (with a very obvious white bandage over his eye) proceeds to sing every song available with the word “eyes” in the title (emphasis on the plural).
I’ve Got My EYES On You
I Only Have EYES For You
Can’t Take My EYES Off You
Everyone is incredibly uncomfortable except for May and Coulson who are mostly just trying not to laugh. (Which is actually why Fury was taking them out because the quietly concerned tag-teaming was getting really fucking annoying.)
A great piece by one of the members of the 1491s who was a panelist on the recent Daily Show segment about the tension surrounding the name of the DC football team.
Read this, it’s important.
“ I think back to O’Dell crying and trying desperately to get out of the room full of calm Natives. I thought she was crying because she was caught unawares and was afraid. But I realized that was her defense mechanism, and that by overly dramatizing her experience, she continued to trivialize ours. It was privilege in action. And as I realized these things, something else became incredibly clear: She knew she was wrong.”
As you might imagine, I walked into Captain America 2 ready to get my Soviet Russia on. The Winter Soldier run is one of my favorites in—well, in any comic, really, and from what I’d seen in the trailers and whatnot, it looked like we were going to get a heaping dose of what makes that series so special and so sobering: the bloodstained underbelly of Soviet international politics, a glimpse at the way men and women were fed into the meat grinder of the State, pulped for the greater glory of their nation. In Bucky we’d see a drafted soldier kidnapped, brainwashed, and streamlined into the perfect machine. Not an ideal Soviet man, far from it; but a tool, utilitarian and dispassionate, with the five-pointed martial star on his shoulder; the awful triumph of the State over so-called human frailty.
And we did, we got all of that—insofar that you can’t have a Winter Soldier without those things. But as I watched, it became increasingly clear that this movie wasn’t looking to talk about the Soviet Union. There is a reason Bucky only speaks Russian once in the entire film. There’s a reason he’s never addressed in it. There’s a reason his code name is drawn from an investigation into one of the ugliest chapters of American history. And there is a reason that the movie takes this snarling, mechanized, indiscriminate killing machine and explicitly sets him up as Captain America’s other half.
I’ve seen some reviews going after the film for pulling its punches, of holding up the Greatest Generation as America’s past, and a polluted security branch as its future, absolving it of responsibility for its actions in both cases. It’s HYDRA now and “sacrifices for freedom” then; why aren’t we interrogating ourselves a little harder?
My answer to that is: we did, and the movie is named after what we found.
The Winter Soldier is concerned with security and international supremacy, and the moral compromises America has made (and continues to make) in pursuit of both. It draws a straight line from WWII America to the modern day, where “we did some things we weren’t proud of” becomes drone warfare and Big Brother. Steve is at one end of this timeline, Nick Fury at the other. There’s a chasm of about fifty years between the two points. That’s where the Winter Soldier steps in.
This film is haunted by an American war, yes. But not the one Steve fought in. The Cold War was “a battle for the soul of mankind”, waged across millions of hearts and minds, and it’s a patched-over burn in the American psyche, barely healed and still tender to the touch. We emerged on the other side of forty-four years as the world’s one and only superpower. And it fucking cost us.
McCarthyism saw Americans turning on one another, fueled by snarling, indiscriminate paranoia. Operation Paperclip recruited Nazi scientists to keep German technology out of Soviet hands. Vietnam, with its thousands dead, was fought to keep the dominoes of Communism from falling across Asia. America, augmented by an unimaginable weapon and ruthlessly militarized, spied, ordered assassinations, irradiated its own children, and dragged the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust. All for the sake of security.
The Winter Soldier is that America.
Inhuman, bionic, unfeeling, unthinking, the perfect weapon: a creature of progress, powered by pure ideology. The mind wipes? Decades of propaganda in its purest, most undiluted form, administered directly to the brain. The arm? I know a nuclear metaphor when I see one.
If Cap is the potential of America, what we should never stop striving for, the Winter Soldier is what became of us when we fell desperately short. He is what we did to ourselves.
In many ways this film is a ghost story, and like all good ghost stories, it holds up the tragedy of our mistakes and begs us not to repeat them. What SHIELD proposes—Project Insight—is assured destruction, a level of control over a population not exercised since we were staring Russia down over a launch pad. And so the Winter Soldier appears, the long cold shadow of America’s past, and crashes into the hope for its future with the ring of a metal fist against a shield.
Cap can’t destroy him, what’s done is done. Bucky can’t be unwounded, or given back his stolen time; the blood on his hands won’t be scrubbed out. But they can walk slowly together, one helping the other stand.
Steve can’t progress without Bucky, just as, the film seems to say, America itself is doomed to fester unless it looks to its past and acknowledges what it has done; the things it has ground into dust in the name of a higher cause. In the MCU, the only way Captain America’s country will move forward is if it swears to never, ever go back.
In many other stories, our heroine would be the outcast, the one who was betrayed, the one who’s been hiding and training and moonlighting as a freedom fighter. Her sister would be, if not an antagonist, a road block in her way, a plot point to be resolved. Can our heroine learn to forgive, get closure?
But no. Our heroine is the conventional one - she’s the one who shut down, the one who lied, the one who was so scared to give up what little normalcy she’d attained that she betrayed the only family she had left. She did what she thought she had to do to survive. And she’s gone through her own growth over the years - yeah, maybe she hasn’t saved people from drug cartels and corrupt governments, but she got her shit together and became a police officer, chose to watch over the people of the small town she cares about. She moved on, but she never forgot.
So our story is about the girl who lied, the one who chose a normal life over her own sister. And, when finally given the chance, she sits down in front of her sister and apologizes. Just like that - in episode 4, when other stories would have dragged the conflict out for multiple seasons.
But that’s not the way Abbie Mills rolls. She’s been forced to acknowledge exactly how wrong she was, and she’s not afraid to admit it. Because that’s strength - the ability to own your mistakes and do what it takes to make it right.
I just love Abbie, okay? Like, a lot.
I am so here for CA:TWS stories that examine the fact that Sam is at a different point in his life than Steve is, that even though we get to see Sam as a goofy, exuberant flyboy, he’s also someone who has crossed a river that Steve has only come to the bank of: stepping outside of his soldierness and confronting how to live in the world with what he’s lost and what he’s done. The scene at the VA suggests that Steve comes to him in search of a guide as well as a friend. Sure, Steve’s seen and done things that Sam can’t imagine, but Sam has also done one important thing that Steve is only starting to imagine, which is making peace with himself as a soldier and a human being.
It’s pretty interesting that Sam is essentially a happy character, generous and trusting, and that he has no problems going back into battle, bringing the battle to his home. We know that he’s suffered a lot, enough to make him lose all sense of purpose. But when we see him, he’s not suffering. Unlike most of the MCU heroes at this point, he’s not in the thick of warring with his trauma. And while there are a lot of pointed questions you can ask about the politics of his character, I think it’s important that he’s there in the film to show that there is a peace to make with trauma. That it’s possible to suffer, and not suffer for the rest of your life; that it is actually possible to come out the other side of grief.
But also: that it’s not some magical transformation, that it doesn’t happen through love or by chance. I feel like we get a really clear sense of a Sam who has worked incredibly hard to be the person he is. We see him leading a recovery group! It’s like: Yeah. He’s been through this. And it’s like the opposite of grimdarkness, because what it’s putting up there on the screen is the idea that trauma is real, and major, and crippling, and it’s not going to just go away— but you can live through it, live with it, and learn to be a happy human being.
And that’s one of the reasons Sam is awesome. And there should be more stories about that.