I’ve decided to start a series of posts based on big screen superheroes and the songs that, for one reason or another, remind me of them. I don’t claim to be an all-knowing music guru, so I’ll immediately abandon the notion of list being definitive: just a collection of songs based on what I’ve already been exposed to as well as my own personal experience.
I hope to keep this series a weekly occurrence, so, without further ado, let’s start with the 80-year-old virgin himself, Steve Rogers aka Captain America, for whom I have selected the song, “Some Nights” by Fun.
To me, “Some Nights” is a song about the meaning of patriotism and how war changes someone, and the music video only reinforces this notion. Those concepts are inherently tied to Captain America, both in the comics and film. I believe most would agree that, of his big screen outings, Winter Soldier was the strongest film, largely because the Russo Brothers didn’t sacrifice the aforementioned themes for the sake of superhero spectacle. I’m a fan of the entire trilogy: the first brought the heat, the second the heat, and the third: heartbreak. However, “Some Nights” clearly ties more into the latter half of Cap’s cinematic journey.
There are a few lyrics in the song that especially remind me of Steve Rogers, such as, “Man, you wouldn’t believe, the most amazing things, that can come from some terrible lies.” There is perhaps no line in the song that best encapsulates war and the Greatest Generation that produced Steve. For all the talk, some rooted in cynicism and much in reality, about how wars are simply an excuse for old men to tell young men to die to make the remaining years of those old men just a little more comfortable, it’s clear that this wasn’t the lesson that Steve took to heart. For Cap, it was about camaraderie and drawing a line in the sand against those who believe that might makes right. More specifically, Steve was inflated with a sense of purpose when he entered the Super Soldier Program, only to be used as a tool for propaganda. Just as the serum elevated Steve physically, he was artificially raised to the rank of Captain and told he was too valuable to fight, despite his pre-serum protest of, “There are men laying down their lives. I got no right to do any less than them.”
Another line in the song that really hits me is, “I found a martyr in my bed tonight, she stops my bones from wondering, just [who I am.]” This, of course, reminds me of the relationship between Steve and Peggy, who save for Dr. Erskine, was the only one who saw the potential in Steve before he subjected himself to Project Rebirth. Even an earlier line reinforces the song’s ties to this tragic pair: “But I still wake up, I still see your ghost.” This line could apply to either Steve or Peggy, but most likely the latter, as she had to endure decades believing she had a chance at a life with the noblest man she’d ever known, but the circumstance of war would ultimately deny them.
Finally, as the song progresses, it becomes clear that the soldier/singer is doubting the motivations of those who are asking him to put his life in jeopardy for their cause. Winter Soldier, and, to an extent, Civil War, dive headlong into the questioning of what it really means to be a patriot, and what we would sacrifice in order to live up to the ideals we stand for as individuals and as a nation. This realization comes in the bridge of the song: “So this is it? I sold my soul for this? Washed my hands of that for this? I miss my mom and dad for this?” These lyrics can easily be seen as parallels to how Steve comes to view himself as more than a soldier. As pure as he believed the cause he initially sought to fight for was, Cap eventually realized that the fight for what America is supposed to stand for isn’t confined to the wars rubber-stamped by Congress or the battle-lines drawn by those deemed as “superiors.” Cap knows now that the fight for freedom is in all of us, and, if you call yourself a patriot, there’s no end to that particular war, and that’s okay, because the United States stands for self-improvement and forging ourselves and our society into a better version than the one that existed the day before.
Got a song more fitting for Chris Evans’ portrayal of Cap? Let me know what you think in the comments.