“Mild mannered European civil servant by day, superhero, erm, at weekends and at other times on request…” He is Captain Europe, an anonymous employee of the European institutions whose mission is to lift European citizens’ spirits during these hard times, while fighting the mortal enemies that are eurosceptics.
It all began back in 2008, when this civil servant assembled all the pieces of a suit that would become his part-time uniform for the next four years… and those to come. Carrying a European flag as his cape and the 12 golden stars of the European flag glued on the torso of a tight blue suit, he went to a costume party. It was the first day of many as a superhero.
“A colleague was particularly pleased with some work I did, so I sent him a picture of myself in costume and told him to think of me as his superhero. The upshot was that I was invited to take part in Europe Day,” he explains. A successful experiment, Captain Europe became a fixed attraction in these celebrations, and his phenomenon went viral after, of course, coming up on Facebook and Twitter. “I got so many appearances that I have just had to order a new suit,” he says.
Superpowers and Twitter
On the day that the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize, Captain Europe appeared on the Place du Luxembourg, the favourite square for celebrations in the bubble, passing on his enthusiasm to fellow eurofans as well as passers-by.
He never carried weapons, but particularly since the EU received the award, he’s made a point of not doing so. If any, you could mention the “facts and logical arguments” he fires on Twitter (@captain_europe). “It is important to recognise that the EU is about peace and bringing people together, not about threatening,” he says.
There’s also the idea of being stronger than he looks, something that can be extrapolated to the European Union from the Captain’s alter-ego experience as a wrestler who is not particularly big or heavy, but surprises his opponents. In the case of the European superhero, the idea is he can be “27 times stronger than he looks, but also 27 times tougher,” by drawing his strength from the unity of the EU.
Not your usual superhero, he speaks five languages (English, French, German, Dutch and Italian) and claims to descend from at least four different European tribes; but like all other supermen, he stands for truth and justice.
Europhobes such as Nigel Farage and corporate interests including the tobacco industry seem to be the closest he has to a nemesis, while his team mates are those who fight for Europe and for other good causes. For example, he says, the Young European Federalists. “I’m a little more realistic than some about how far and how fast it’s possible to go,” but yep, Captain Europe has federalist leanings.
On this, he admits the United States can be a model for Europe, but superheroically speaking, the US needed Captain America for the high crime rates over there; while Europe needs his Captain to put down roots of peace and diversity. “There is no comparison between us, further than the name.”
Three steps to get us back on track
At this point when Europe is in most need of a real superhero, Captain Europe claims to have a threefold secret formula. First, he has to get people’s spirits up. Secondly, he will fight some of the reactions to the crisis, like the rise of nationalism. And thirdly, he will bring truth at a time when it is missing.
“Left wing politicians need to stop thinking that we can effectively mortgage the future of the next generation by borrowing our way out of the crisis, and right wing politicians need to stop kidding themselves and others that there is no alternative to austerity. Budget discipline does not necessarily mean austerity.”
As a peaceful 21st century hero, he will keep trying to reach those goals from Twitter, with his logic that “causes lies and fallacious arguments to melt,” but he will remain anonymous. Because, as Bruce Wayne said, “anyone can be a hero.”