I used to really hate the scene in CA:TFA where Peggy storms off after catching Steve and Pvt Lorraine, you know, the one where Steve accuses Peggy of fucking Howard. I used to want to scream “MY BB STEVE WOULD NEVER” because Steve ugh stop being an idiot you’re better than this. But I started thinking about it and honestly, no matter what excuses my gut wants to make, Steve is clearly not better than this. He has some shitty attitudes that he falls back on in moments of weakness. My fave is problematic in a way that makes sense, but he’s called out on it, and I like that better.
(Although tbh, I wish there had been a scene where Steve explicitly apologizes for being a jerk,
along with more Howling Commandos footage.)
People tend to be quick to forget what it’s like to have it tough when they have it easy, and I think this is a scene where Steve really forgot where he came from. Steve had the super-soldier serum magically to turn him into the “ideal man,” and suddenly, for the first time in his life, he’s taken seriously. He’s riding high on people rewarding his bravery instead of bashing his face in for it.
But Peggy? Peggy’s exactly the same as she was before she met Steve. She still has to work twice as hard as her colleagues to get maybe half the recognition. She has to prove to her superiors that she deserves her job every single day. She has to fight for her place in the military structure, for the assignments she’s more than capable of doing. She’s put blood, sweat, and tears into her work, and she thought she found a kindred spirit in Steve. Not only that, but she wants to believe that Steve is better than everyone else. After all, if there’s one man like Steve, and if Steve can find people he trusts, maybe there are actually more men like Steve, and maybe things are starting to look up for Peggy.
So when Steve pulls that shit, she’s just disappointed.
People have been treating him like a Perfect Soldier, i.e., a Real Man (TM) for months now. They’ve had him acting the part for so long that he probably started to believe it. Before, he became accustomed to being trampled over, shoved to the side, overlooked, etc., so he’s not used to having the power to hurt people. I don’t even think it occurred to him that’s a thing that could happen after the serum. He assumed that he could stay the same by acting according to what he feels is right based on how people are treating him (like he always has). What Steve failed to notice is that by nature of receiving his new body and the superhuman physical power that came with it, he was also given incredible amounts of social power, such that the world is no longer picking fights with him. He has to learn that he’s not always in the right just by nature of who he is anymore. And Steve fucks it up, not because Steve himself is a failure or a bad person, but because he forgets.
Because you don’t just become a good person because someone tells you that you have the capacity for it. A good
manperson is not something you are simply by nature of being. It’s not even about making a choice to be a good man, or wanting to be one. It’s a series of choices that you have to be continually making.
So THANK GOD for Peggy standing up to Steve, for getting in his face and saying, “check yourself before you wreck yourself, Rogers.”
Oh man, I really like this reading, particularly because I’ve always liked this scene and now I more fully understand why.
Erskine sets up “a good man” as almost a binary: it’s something Steve has, something other soldiers lack, a reason Steve is chosen and they are not. But when Peggy calls him out here and identifies that being a good man is contingent on circumstances (things that worked when he was seen as unprivileged may not work the same now that he has privilege) and is also a constant process rather than a default state, she becomes an instrumental part of his origin story and his hero’s journey, not as the love interest or as the goal, but as the moral center of the character who’s seen as the moral center of the Marvel universe.
If you are an artist, when you get stuck, draw bigger and on tracing paper when you are stuck. Consider this manual photoshop. Use scissors, trace, refine.
If you are a writer, when you get stuck, get a pad of paper and at least two colors of pen that contrast. When you get stuck, use your “replace this with actual language later” color. Just write what you want to say. “Make angry hero cry as villain drinks amazing latte. Figure out words later.”
If you get stuck in life, clean up your area and think about how big, and how small, the universe is. Either direction is practically infinite, suspending you in the middle.
If you are fey, remember when you weren’t. It will build compassion when you deal with mortals.
If you are a potato, please advise us how you use the Internet. We have so many questions, sentient spud bud.
My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to be the Chosen One and the hero of the movie, who is tasked with taking care of some generally ineffectual male character who is, for reasons of wish fulfillment, actually the person the film focuses on. She mentors him, she teaches him, and she inevitably becomes his girlfriend… and he gets the job she wanted: he gets to be the Chosen One even though she’s obviously far more qualified. And all he has to do to get it and deserve it is Man Up and Take Responsibility.
And that’s it. Every god-damned time. The mere fact of naming the films above and naming the trope gives away the entire plot and character arc of every single movie.