‘Captain America’ comes out in theaters this week. The movie goes back to Steve Roger’s beginnings as the spangled superhero. His transformation from scrawny Steve to muscled Captain America happens in the forties. He’s not the only powerful force in the story though. Peggy Carter is not just another love interest. She’s not another dame (that’s not a word I get to use very often).
Carter’s role is different from the comics to the movie. In the comics, she’s an agent in the French Resistance and Captain America only knew her by her code name. She’s intelligent and a force to be reckoned with – at least in the beginning. She still holds an important job in the movie. She’s a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Army. She’s no-nonsense and comfortable standing against the gruff Colonel Phillips. It’s obvious she’s fought her way to the top, and though she doesn’t feel a need to constantly prove it, she’s not afraid to flex her hard-won power. She’s a woman in the forties firing a machine gun.
In the trailers for the movie, it’s apparent that she’s well-coiffed and owns lipstick that never budges. I’ve heard criticism about the fact that she looks so feminine. She’s a military officer after all. I say the fact that she shoots machine guns while looking nicely put together doesn’t detract from her impressive character in the least. That sentiment runs close to the modern statements that real women of action can’t wear make-up or that geek girls can’t be attractive. In an interview, Hayley Atwell, the actress playing Carter in the film, compared her role to Ginger Rogers.
“I likened her character to that famous Ginger Rogers quote. She can do everything Captain America can do, but backwards and in high heels. She’s an English soldier through and through, although she always looks fabulous. She might stand there with a machine-gun shooting Nazis, but she’s obviously gone to the loo beforehand and applied a bit of lipstick. She doesn’t need to be rescued. That’s exciting to me – her strength.”
Keep wearing that lipstick, Peggy.