Someone who knows more than me about this may think differently, but is it really that surprising that Captain America made slightly more money overseas than it did in the United States? America has roughly 4.5 percent of the world’s population. American movies tend to make a lot of money abroad, particularly superhero movies. Iron Man, a movie about a decadent Western arms dealer who helps blow up a bunch of Afghanistan before having a conversion experience, made $582,443,126 at the international box office. Spider-Man 2, which is in some ways an explicit response to September 11, made $410,180,516. Compared to that, beating the Nazis is about as uncontroversial a plot as a movie can have.
And even if the uber-American branding of the main character was the first thing people considered before the plot, there’s not any evidence that America is so despised that people would stay away from a nifty-lookin’ diversion just because the hero is not just American, but an embodiment of American power. In the latest Pew Global Attitudes Survey, countries that are big potential U.S. markets all had reasonably favorable attitudes of the U.S.: in Britain, the U.S.’s favorability rating is 61 percent, in France it’s 75 percent, in Brazil it’s 62 percent, in Japan it’s 85 percent, and even in places like China (44 percent) and Mexico (52 percent), it’s not as if the U.S. is uniformly reviled. We’re in less good shape in Turkey (10 percent), Pakistan (12 percent), and the Palestinian territories (18 percent) but these are much bigger concerns for our foreign policy and national security than for our trade policy, including movies. As long as American superheroes don’t behave in totally geopolitically offensive ways, they’re probably going to do pretty well, here and abroad.