tenlittlebullets: (steve rogers)
Ten Little Chances to be Free ([personal profile] tenlittlebullets) wrote2014-09-04 10:30 pm

that "skinny Steve as embittered angry little punk" fanon

(Archived from a Tumblr post at http://shinelikethunder.tumblr.com/post/96605348471/okay-i-almost-agree-with-you-but-i-do-think)

aggressivelybicaptainamerica asked kehinki:
Okay, I almost agree with you, but I do think there is a vein of bitterness to Steve, especially pre-serum. I mean in comics we have Steve's refusal to serve on the home front because he's upset he can't serve (he pretty much says I know building jets and stuff is still serving my country BUT I WANNA BE A SOLDIER) and in the movies, he ditches his best friend on his last night in the states to go to a recruitment center. Steve is very bitter and angry, but at himself, not at others.

Eh, we might have to agree to disagree on that one. He could be bitter, but I haven’t seen it. I just saw a guy who’s been put down his whole life having a strong need to prove himself, like Bucky told him. And Steve couldn’t even refute him because he knows it’s true.

I guess I’m just not sure what he’d feel bitter about? Bucky? It seems like that can be chalked up to slight jealousy that Bucky got his orders and Steve’s a 4F. Bitterness at his circumstances, maybe, but he strikes me as the kind of guy too prideful to admit he’s ever at a disadvantage, the kind of guy who reprimands himself for complaining because he rationalises that others have it worse/it could be worse/he can handle it like he always does.

He’s stubborn, prideful, and has a lot to prove, but idk, I wouldn’t say bitter. Feel free to dispute, though :|a

For me, Steve at his most compelling is when he’s balancing conflicting forces within himself. Steve is as much about triumph over one’s own instinct and shortcomings as overcoming external foes. I do agree that ultimately, Steve isn’t bitter, but he still slips into moments of bitterness, anger and selfishness and that’s why he’s so interesting to me.

Steve, especially pre-serum Steve, goes through so much shit internally. And I like exploring that. I like Steve who gets angry at people and not just in the ‘oh you did something bad’ or ‘I need to stand up for bullies’ way. I like Steve who spends time thinking about how unfair his situation is when he’s sick. But then I also like Steve who beats himself up for thinking like that when so many people bend over backwards for him, Steve who knows he’s lucky and loved and cared for.

Idk, I just like my Steve Rogers complicated.

Hm, I guess I’m not saying Steve can’t be bitter, angry, or resentful, just that those aren’t his defining character flaws because I’m unconvinced we’ve ever seen him act that way in canon.

People often say Steve has anger issues but… does he? We’ve seen him irritated at a guy in the theatre disrespecting soldiers, he destroyed a punching bag, we’ve seen him mad at Natasha for keeping him out of the loop/not following protocol, and we’ve seen him punch out a computer. But none of those are really out of the ordinary outbursts, IMO. It all seemed like really, really justified anger literally anyone would experience given those circumstances.

The major character flaw in canon that I can think of is his pride, and I think that’s pretty interesting and makes him plenty complicated.

-Let that guy beat him up in the alley because he can’t bring himself to back down from a fight. Stubborn and prideful with very firm values.

-When Bucky says, “Why’re you so set on being a soldier, there’re plenty of important jobs for you to do here,” he’s 100% right. Bucky then sarcastically says, “‘Cause you’ve got nothing to prove,” and again, he’s 100% right; Steve’s prideful and needs to prove himself.

-Bucky phrases his proposal for Steve to live with him with a teasing, “If you wax my shoes,” because if it sounded like charity, there’s no doubt Steve would immediately say no. He’s always so sure he can handle everything just fine, and he needs to prove it.

-His inability to “bleed on people”. He’s a stoic sort of guy around most, and he doesn’t like admitting he has problems, or that he can’t cope, or that he feels adrift. So far, though, he’s done that with Peggy, Sam, and Natasha, so it’s not completely hopeless.

-He could’ve knocked out Batroc with one quick blow from his shield, but he tossed his shield and helmet aside to prove a point.

He’s also got some self-loathing going on (blaming himself for Bucky’s circumstances and refusing to believe otherwise).

I don’t think we were able to see much of a change after he got the serum: he was still stubborn, still obstinate, and still wanted to prove himself capable. I just don’t personally see where the anger and bitterness or selfishness comes from that a lot of people see in him

Yeah, this exactly. Steve’s flaws have very little to do with warring with his own instincts–his instinctive moral compass is so well-aligned that it makes him potentially a really boring character if he’s written into the wrong kind of story. CA:TFA let him do what he’d always been desperate to do and never had the chance to, which was prove himself. And one of the reasons CA:TWS was such a damn good movie was that it figured out exactly the right ways to wrong-foot him–it played on his (interpersonal and ideological, not technological) disconnect from the 21st century, his difficulty reaching out to people and his thwarted need for a sense of purpose, but most of all it threw him into a situation that made him distrust his instincts. It threw him into troubled, murky waters where figuring out the right thing to do wasn’t easy, which is what made it meaningful when he managed to do so anyway.

His flaws aren’t so much nasty instincts that he has to suppress, they’re “check yourself before you wreck yourself” reminders that most virtues are a double-edged sword. He holds himself to high standards, which is how Batroc manages to goad him into a reckless pissing contest with one well-placed jab at his pride and sense of fair play. He’s stoic and self-sacrificing to the point of not asking for help when he needs it, persistent to the point of not knowing when to back down, responsible to the point of needless self-blame. He cares deeply about doing the right thing–for its own sake, not to prop up some conception of himself as A Good Person, but combined with his stubbornness and default assumption/expectation that most other people are also trying to do the very best they can, it puts him at risk of being a self-righteous ass. Not as much as some people think, because he doesn’t go in for pearl-clutching outrage so much as disappointment and doesn’t consider himself a paragon, just a guy trying his best, but the potential is there under the right circumstances.

Also, I’m just kind of boggling at ‘selfishness.’ That’s… about the polar opposite of everything we’ve seen about Steve. He’s prideful, sure, but always in terms of needing to live up to the standards he’s set for himself, never at others’ expense. Even his need to prove himself comes out as a fierce desire to do his part for the team, as “I’ve got no right to do anything less.” I can’t think off the top of my head of anything in the MCU where his pride and his selflessness come into conflict, but we have seen his sense of the greater good come directly and painfully into conflict with one of the very few strong personal bonds he has in his life. And selflessness won out, or at least took top priority–“People are gonna die, and I can’t let that happen.”

Re: bitterness, I think it’s an (ultimately inaccurate) attempt to express a valid interpretation of skinny!Steve, which is that oh my god he has a chip on his shoulder so massive it might as well be a fucking log. Not a grudge against anything or anyone in particular, but the sheer unreasonable stubbornness of his thirst to prove himself suggests that he reacts to being treated (or seeing himself) as inferior by going through life with a giant “come at me, bro, I fucking dare you” sign hanging around his neck. So… prickliness and resentment, but resentment fueled by mule-headed optimism (he’s damn well gonna do his part, and if not then the least he can do is die trying, and fuck anyone who says otherwise) rather than despair or resignation.