The new movie glosses over a controversial period of American history
In the opening scenes of Captain America: The First Avenger, the hero is discovered in present day after being frozen in ice since World War II. He slept right through Vietnam. But in the original comics, his awakening came much earlier.
The movie plot focuses on Cap's early years during World War II. Steve Rogers is a student from Brooklyn—a borough bracing itself for an invasion of Nazis, when it should probably worry more about the coming invasion of hipsters. After Rogers is turned away from military service because of his puny physique, he joins an experimental program involving "Super Soldier Serum" and "Vita-Rays," which transforms him into the hero Captain America.
World War II allows for the classic Cap of good against evil. Not only does he battle the Nazis, he also faces an even more threatening force, Red Skull, a one-man Axis of Evil. Malevolent villains worse than Nazis? I hate these guys.
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But something is missing. What about the Captain America of the Vietnam era? The director Joe Johnston said: "The stuff in the '60s and '70s we're sort of avoiding. We're going back to the '40s, and then forward to what they're doing with Captain America now." But it turns out that the Vietnam era is the most intriguing chapter in Cap's storied career, and perhaps the most relevant to today's world.