Don’t Trust Anyone Be My Friend

Captain America FriendCaptain’s orders.

What’s in the Bag

Captain America has a problem. Nick Fury, his boss, doesn’t trust him enough to reveal the full mission to the Captain ahead of time.

By way of explaining himself, Fury tells the Captain a parable about Fury’s grandfather, an elevator operator, who walked home every night with his tips in a paper bag. When the neighbors got rough, demanding to know the contents of the bag, he showed them crumpled up one-dollar bills and a magnum revolver. The moral of the story: “He liked people a lot, but he didn’t trust anyone.”

Captain America, AKA Steve Rogers, on the other hand, can’t conceive of a friendship without absolute trust.

Natasha Romanoff, his Black Widow friend, tries to explain: “I find that it’s easier to keep your true self buried under several layers of untrue selves, to protect yourself.”

Rogers argues, “That’s not a good way to live.”

So Romanoff asks him what self he wants her to be this time. He asks her to be a friend.

I’m 95. I’m Not Dead.

I just got out of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I’m exhausted.

Maybe I’m old. I used to like this sort of thing. Now I want a higher calorie count in exchange for two hours of clenched abs and shoulder crunches.

At fight sequence #5, or maybe it was #20 (I lost count), my husband checked his watch, leaned over, and said, “Do you think they’ll make it?”

Duh. What kind of comic book/Xbox love-child, blockbuster would this be if they were targeted by hundreds of soldiers, thousands of guns—not to mention tons of weird weaponry—and a world-wide conspiracy and didn’t prevail?

Maybe I liked hyper-action flicks better in the old days because my husband held my hand and otherwise distracted me from the action on screen.

You’re My Mission

<spoiler> By the end of fight sequence #56, Captain America has successfully stopped the world-wide conspiracy, but his 95-year-old old friend Bucky, now reengineered as the Winter Soldier is still trying to kill him. Rogers refuses to fight back. “You’re my friend,” he insists.

“You’re my mission!” answers the Winter Soldier and lets him fall to his death.

This all begs the question: What, exactly, is a friend? You know, in a “not targeted by hundreds of soldiers, thousands of guns, tons of weird weapons, and a world-wide conspiracy” kind of way?

Fury suggests that all friendships contain the seeds of treachery. Romanoff suggests friend is just another guise with which to protect self. Rogers insists that friendship means absolute loyalty even when one is being punched to death. Or otherwise signaled that such loyalty is unwanted.

Perhaps the only character in the story that begins with any (movie) real-world experience—four years with the 58th pararescue—might offer the best friendship advice. When Rogers vows not to kill his old friend in upcoming fight sequence #56, Sam Wilson, now the Falcon, advises Rogers that his former friend might not let him do that.

Loyalty is a huge part of friendship. Treachery is possible, though most of us—including Fury—intentionally choose to trust, however selectively, and most of us—including Romanoff—choose to be trustworthy in spite of that possibility. But none of us—not even Captain America—can force another to receive our friendship.

He is no friend who neither trusts nor receives the offer of friendship (John 13:20–21). . . . Except in that one scene that follows fight sequence #56.

Which begs the question: Am I a friend if I give to the death, but withhold trust and decline to receive? If you’re my mission?

Maybe I liked hyper-action flicks better in the old days because their morals weren’t so exhausting.


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