Captain America and Planet of the Apes

 Two movies I recently watched while flying to and from New Zealand. The first is set in the 1930s;   the classic 90 pound weakling (who used to appear  at the back of magazines) is injected with a new and miraculous potion. It acts to buff up his body, increases his strength, and gives him the role of defending the ‘free world’ (read America) from the German Nazis. Captain America doesn’t stop there. He falls asleep, only to awake in the third Millennium, somewhere in the 2000s. Now he has to repeat his task, the only difference is that the enemy (as yet unseen) is different.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The second film was ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, a prequel to ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968/2001). That first film had a human space wanderer land on a foreign planet, to engage in conflict with the apes, only to discover at the end of the film that he is in a New York vanquished by the apes.

In the present 2011 movie, we learn how the experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, injected into the chimp, produces as super race who then march on America!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Both films depend on a hope for liberation. The miracle cure will produce unexpected results – only with the difference that for one it leads to liberty, the other to enslavement. In both, a single leader (now chemically enhanced) is the source of liberation. The second, where the chimps are the protagonists, warn humans where their experimentation might lead. Human domination over their fellow creatures, turns and become a slavery.

The parallels with Biblical expectations of ‘salvation’ are evident. The first, however, implies the ongoing clash of civilisations; the second takes us to the threatened earth.  As usual, the saviour figure draws on armies and violence to achieve liberty.  The means of the new strength and leadership is chemically infused.  No depth here that touches the spirit.


29th November  2011

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