Monday, 9 April 2012

Captain America - The first Avenger

I'm a big fan of superhero comics. The X-men and Spider-man comics/cartoons probably had a bigger influence on my decision to become a geneticist than I'd care to admit. For that reason I've been enjoying all the Marvel films that have been building up to next month's "The Avengers" film. The film is good fun and it's definitely in the Indiana Jones/The rocketeer mould (the latter of which was also directed by Joe Johnson) although I'd say it was the weakest of the Marvel "universe" films (even the often ignored recent Hulk film).

But why am I mentioning it in the blog?
Well, because there are at least two funny "biology gaffes" in it. The most glaring one is how many times they reference DNA and the genetic code of Captain America and the Super Soldier program. It's pretty impressive considering the film was set in 1943 and the super soldier serum predated that by several years too. DNA was only shown to carry Genetic information in 1943 and the nature of the codon was only initially confirmed in 1961. This suggests that Nazi Germany was leap years ahead of genetic research in the eyes of the Marvel universe.

Slightly less glaring is the "penicillin" jab that Captain America receives in the film. In the scene he gets the jab and says "that's it?" while the scientist quips "that's just the penicillin. HAHA - although considering trials on humans only really began in 1942, I'd argue the scientist was being a bit blase about such a revolutionary new form of medicine. Then again a little bit of wiki-digging revealed that by the invasion of Normandy it may well have been that all US troops were familiar with penicillin as there was a huge push to have doses for troops available.

You may ask why I pick those two things out when they had a jet that looked awfully like a B2 stealth bomber (designed in the 70s and had first flight in 1989) and a tesseract/cosmic cube that can bend all reality to a person's will? Well I'm not an engineer or Quantum physicist but I'm sure it makes them laugh when they see these things in "historical" films.

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