The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 166: ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

The Arkham Sessions, hosted by Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of pop culture, including Batman: The Animated Series, Steven Universe, the MCU, and Doom Patrol. Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight and more!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 166 - Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America symbolizes equality, justice, and fairness for all, but he could easily be minimized to a simple ideology. We rewatch the 2011 film, Captain America: The First Avenger, and explore/question why so many Marvel fans choose Cap as their favorite superhero.

At first, it is easy to misattribute Steve Rogers as nationalistic or blindly patriotic--his eagerness to serve in the military; his costume, which bears the American flag motif; and his super-soldier serum-enhanced masculine physique come off as intense, dominating; even zealous. According to psychologists, nationalists carry strong, passionate attitudes and beliefs about their country and often view their nation as superior; this "in-group favoritism" and "out-group devaluation" can lead to dangerous forms.

But Cap is far from the kind of person who embodies these grandiose characteristics--he's much more humble, compassionate, and ethical. He is protective, not offensive. Self-sacrificing, not power-hungry. His passion and devotion are to the values that define America; not to the nation itself. This distinction is what makes the film, set in 1940s WWII era, endure a decade of MCU storytelling and still land powerfully so many years later. You can literally put the movie on ice, and it will tell a meaningful story relevant to today's social world.

On the show, we talk about an important psychological aspect that Captain America embodies: moral responsibility. It means that Cap feels it is his duty to deal with challenges that come up, to be accountable, and to be able to act independently and make decisions without authorization. There are several kinds of responsibility traits, and Cap happens to align with four: Adventurer, Peace-Seeker, Questioner, and Asserter. We review these attributes and explain why his psychology--not the package he comes in--draws our respect and admiration.

 

 


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Last modified on Monday, 09 August 2021 16:59

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