July 23, 2010

Oh, but of course! Captain America can't be a "flag waver"

For "Captain America" director Joe Johnston "The imperative is an artistic one, not a commercial one."

Uh huh. Right. In other words, "We want to make a ton of dough overseas with the film ("Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2" made $571 million outside the US and Canada), so Cap can't be seen as too pro-United States."

"We're sort of putting a slightly different spin on Steve Rogers," said Johnston, whose past directing credits include "Jurassic Park III" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." "He's a guy that wants to serve his country, but he's not a flag-waver. We're reinterpreting, sort of, what the comic book version of Steve Rogers was."

Well, yeah. Because Rogers was a flag-waver during World War II, the era in which the film is set. But I think it's a little stupid to have a guy who 1) agrees to put his life on the line to become a superhero, and 2) actually wears the flag to not be a "flag waver." Not to mention, Americans in general during that era weren't as "shy" about showing American patriotism. What Johnston seems to be doing is superimposing the current incarnation of Cap onto the original template. I understand that for film purposes some changes do have to be made. But this one, to me, excises something essential from the character.

The LA Times in response says "Some pundits will pounce on all of this as another desecration of an American touchstone, but how many of them have ever read the books?" Well, I have! Again, it doesn't matter what happened later to Cap (for instance, during the "Secret Empire" Watergate-analogy story) because, again, the movie takes place during WW II. The "battle lines," so to speak, were clear cut then -- it was the Allies vs. the Axis with very little "gray" in between.

Of course, I haven't seen the film (it doesn't come out until next year, after all) so I certainly may be overreacting. As Johnston notes at article's end, "Yeah, and it's also the idea that this is not about America so much as it is about the spirit of doing the right thing ..." Sure. Cap has forever been about that very premise, true. (See this post from four years ago, as a perfect example.) But he's clear that he represents what America should be about -- not the whole planet. Johnston shouldn't have any qualms about making this point, partly, again, because the character's fighting in the 1940s for goodness sake. It should be easy enough for the writers to get such a message across without coming off like sniveling, politically correct dweebs. After all, some of Captain America's [comics] best writers (Mark Gruenwald, Steve Englehart) did it extremely well.

Posted by Hube at July 23, 2010 04:57 PM | TrackBack

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Hube quotes Joe Johnston:

Yeah, and it's also the idea that this is not about America so much as it is about the spirit of doing the right thing ...

Trouble is, our friends on the left seem to have serious problems in knowing what the right thing to do actually is.

Posted by: Dana at July 25, 2010 11:39 AM

again, the movie takes place during WW II. The "battle lines," so to speak, were clear cut then -- it was the Allies vs. the Axis with very little "gray" in between.
.....................................
The battle lines today are also still clearly drawn between seventh century minded islamic-nazi barbarians vs the free world. I don't see any gray area. However the difference between then and now is the cultural climate. Whereas then there was moral clarity and movies and other cultural institutions were overtly patriotic, today hollywood values multiculturalism and the Hollywood elite consider themselves citizens of the world rather than Americans.

Posted by: Laura at July 30, 2010 12:37 PM