The Super Bowl teaser for ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ didn’t add much to what fans have already seen, but it did go with the tagline: “In heroes we trust.” It’s a peculiar turn of phrase, given how millions of Christian Americans might take it. While most people will consider it an innocuous piece of marketing just meant to be a twist on the national anthem playing in the background, it still seems to be an odd move considering the sheer numbers of potential moviegoers that it will rub the wrong way — although Chris “God can be whatever” Evans probably doesn’t see it that way. More on that later.
First, the lyrics to the fourth verse of The National Anthem. Francis Scott Key was inspired to write them after the battle of Fort McHenry in The War of 1812:
O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
In the teaser, it looks like America is once again under attack by a foreign threat, but this time it’s not the British who are invading. One could make the case that if this generation’s Francis Scott Key saw Captain America and the Falcon defending the nation’s capital from terrorist attacks that “in heroes we trust” might make it into a modern anthem. Fair point. But would Captain America approve?
We can infer from ‘The Avengers’ that Captain America is a Christan. As he dives into the fray between Thor and Loki he says the following:
Black Widow: I’d sit this one out, Cap.
Captain America: I don’t see how I can.
Black Widow: These guys come from legend. They’re basically gods.
Captain America:There’s only one God, Ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.
When I saw ‘The Avengers’ in 2012 I was actually surprised that Hollywood writers would let Cap say that; I give them kudos for doing so. I’m “pretty sure” that the character, if he could break the fourth wall, would say that it was a bizarre decision on Marvel’s part to take out God from such a historical, revered phrase.
So that leaves us with Chris Evans. Does he approve of the tagline? For that we should look at a 2007 interview he gave to Indie London:
Q: Did you have a religious education?
A: Well my family is Italian and I grew up in the Catholic Church but you know the church was just a place to have religious discussions. It wasn’t forced upon me and we didn’t go to church every week.
Q: The film poses some questions about religion versus science. Do you have a view?
A: Well, I guess I believe in science. I believe in evolution. I don’t necessarily believe in god, at least not the man with the beard and robes and things like that. God can be whatever you want it to be, they actually said this in class [for the movie ‘Sunshine’] last week, it’s the universe, the thing that connects all of us, this innate energy that’s in the air, animals, trees, that’s God; it’s this constant living thing and in essence the sun is the creator of that, the sun is kind of the maker of all of that.
Actually, Chris, you’re wrong — the Church is not “just” a place to have religious discussions. It’s where you receive the Seven Sacraments: Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick. Perhaps you should have gone to Mass more often, because whatever “discussions” you had didn’t impart a proper understanding of the faith you ultimately rejected. Call me if you ever want to have a real conversation on the universal salvific will of God, Mr. Evans.
It’s safe to say that the guy who believes “God can be whatever you want it to be” wouldn’t see anything wrong with marketing ‘Winter Solider’ by stripping God out of a phrase that holds a very special meaning for millions of Americans. What a coincidence that most people who believe God is “whomever” or “whatever” they want Him to be usually define Him in such a way that allows them to never be held responsible for their behavior here on earth. But I digress…
Ultimately, ‘Winter Solider’ is going to make millions of dollars. It looks like a really good movie, even if there are warning signs that it might be laced with plenty of anti-American fodder for statist moviegoers around the globe to chew on.
‘Captain America’ was released as ‘The First Avenger’ in Russia to make a few extra million bucks, ‘Iron Man 3’ turned the Mandarin into a Westerner — and now this. Think of how much money Marvel is making hand-over-first with their productions, and then think of how much more they could make if they simply weren’t so tone deaf as to how millions of Americans interpret some of the decisions they make on the periphery of the movie-making process.
Related: The Avengers: Marvel’s finest hour