Last night, my son tried on his Halloween costume. I needed to make sure it fit (it was a hand-me-down from a friend). Had it not, I was going straight to the store to buy a new one. I’ve been planning his costume since the opening weekend of “Avengers: Endgame.”
For fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is little doubt that one of the biggest moments in the series happened during that movie as Thor was about to meet his demise. Thanos stood over Thor, slowly sinking Stormbreaker, the magical axe, into his chest. Just when it seemed like all hope was lost, Mjolnir, the magical hammer, intervened, knocking Thanos over long enough to save Thor. As the two turned toward the direction from which Mjolnir had come, they saw Captain America summon the weapon back to his grasp.
Thor verbalized what everyone in the audience was thinking: “I knew it!” It was no shock that Steve Rogers was worthy.
Many years before, Steve underwent a dangerous procedure as he received the Super Soldier Serum and became the hero we know. The night before the transformation, the scientist who had chosen Steve for the program gave an important challenge to him:
“Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”
All those years later, as this mortal lifted and wielded a weapon usable only by those who are worthy (a very short list), we got to see how special he really was. And it wasn’t because the serum had turned him into a perfect soldier. It was because he remained a good man.
Watching Cap proceed to deliver blow after blow to the face of the great Titan was so very satisfying. We already knew he was worthy. Now we got to see just what he was capable of doing.
I chose my son’s costume for a couple of reasons.
The first is probably obvious: Cap wielding Mjolnir is what we’ve been waiting our entire lives to see.
The second reason may not be as obvious though. As a parent to a child with a disability, I have been given a unique perspective. I don’t know what it’s like to be disabled, mind you, but I have become sensitive to the ways many people talk about and treat those who are.
I’m reminded of the couple who expressed sympathy for me and my wife when our son was born with Down syndrome. And I think about the way that people will sometimes talk about him like he’s a cute pet instead of a human child.
Or I think about the way the conversations around prenatal diagnoses tend to be framed. Too often, disability is treated like a tragedy.
But I look at my son, and I don’t see a tragedy.
I see a boy who loves his life and brings joy to ours.
A boy with a sense of humor who likes to make people laugh.
He’s a kid who gets frustrated, sad and scared. He has preferences and dislikes.
He loves music and his Pooh Bear. He loves books. He has a lot of personality. He’s more like his typical peers than he is different from them.
So this year for Halloween, he’s going as Captain America with Mjolnir in hand. Because he’s worthy.
He’s worthy because he’s fully human. He may never be a perfect soldier, but one day he’ll be a man. And based on what I’ve seen so far, I suspect he’ll be a good one.
I can’t wait to see what he’s capable of doing.