March 22, 2014

Captain America film franchise has the potential to be a lefty's wet dream

Big Hollywood is reporting what I already suspected about the upcoming Cap 2: Winter Soldier flick: That SHIELD's secrets will reveal a government conspiracy of some sort (hell, we already wondered that from watching The Avengers; recall Nick Fury yapping with that mysterious quartet on video, seeking approval for various actions ... who were they?), and with far-lefty Robert Redford starring in a villainous role, this virtually confirms such. This doesn't concern me as much as what I read about the second Cap sequel:

“We’ve definitely set out on a more realistic road in the Cap movies, you know,” [screenwriter Christopher] Markus told Den of Geek. “Even more grounded than in the other MCU movies. And so it kind of rules out Cap fighting the Dinosaur Man or something like that. There are some that aren’t gonna start and other ones that — I mean there’s a couple we’re playing with right now that we really want to take elements from. Which we’ll not reveal. … All I’m saying is psychotic 1950s Cap.”

Spinoff in the link above offers an in-depth analysis of just who the 1950s Captain America is (was); his initial introduction into the Marvel mythos, despite its politics, is one of the more well-done 1970s offerings by noted creator Steve Englehart. It began in issue #153 when "a" Captain America and, then, of all people, "a" Bucky, were raging through Harlem beating the snot out of people. Cap's partner, the Falcon, stumbled upon them, and virtually immediately knew they were imposters. The ersatz duo then proceed to hatch a plot to capture whom they believe to be the fake Cap (our own Steve Rogers, the real Cap), and in the process we learn just who this Capt. America and Bucky are ...

The 1950s Cap is really William Burnside, a fanatical devotee of the real Captain America. He was such a fanatic that he wrote his college thesis about Cap, and in the process discovered files regarding Project: Rebirth (that which created the real Cap) as well as details about the super soldier serum used to turn Steve Rogers into that super soldier. Later (get this), he underwent the 'ol plastic surgery to turn himself into a copy of Steve Rogers, and became a government agent as a new Cap during the Korean War. But the war quickly ended, and the gov. ended Burnside's new career. (All this was told in Capt. America #155, see above left.)

Burnside subsequently became a teacher, but when the Red Skull attacked the UN building, he and his new pal, Jack Monroe, took a chance and injected themselves with that serum Burnside had discovered years prior. They took on the Skull as the new Cap and Bucky, and won. But by taking just the [super soldier] serum and not being exposed to other parts of the process (like "vita rays"), Burnside and Monroe experienced psychotic episodes. The government quickly put the kibosh on their fledgling careers, and placed them into suspended animation.

Here's where the "worrisome" (so for those right-of-center, of course) comes in: Years later, an anti-Communist zealot freed Burnside and Monroe, hopefully to assist against the commies in the continuing Cold War. This Cap and Bucky saw Communists everywhere, including among historically oppressed African-Americans. (This is where the Falcon first notices them, as noted above.) Englehart's story is a masterwork of Marvel continuity; however, as he did with the also-masterful "Secret Empire" story some twenty issues later, his villains are fanatical, power hungry rightists who are beyond devoted to snuffing out any who oppose them. In retrospect, what Richard Nixon did during Watergate (the analogy for "Secret Empire") pales in comparison to what we see today, currently. And Englehart's message via the 1950s Cap is that anti-communism equates to Joe McCarthy-style witch hunts ... not to mention that you're nuts.


The real Cap finally dispatches of the Cap of the 1950s (issue #156).

Englehart's stories are a product of their times, to be sure. Which means translating the 1950s Cap to 2016 or 2017 whenever Cap 3 comes out has the extreme potential to be just another Hollywood "blast conservatives" slug fest. Which, in these times won't be received very well. Consider: Englehart made the Capt. America who fought Communists in the 1950s a psychotic nutjob. Aside from the Silver Age 1960s (Marvel Comics' own "rebirth," so to speak), fighting Communists was mostly anathema for superheroes. Fascists? Not so much. (If you've taken a poli sci course you know that far-left=communism, far-right=fascism ... but in a circular political spectrum model the extremes are essentially the same and meet.) Captain America continued his battle against fascists into the next decades, including, but not limited to, the Grand Director (who was actually Burnside himself, natch), The Watchdogs, Crossbones, Dr. Faustus, Karl Stryker, and the Super-Patriot. Another version of that last one, named John Walker, ironically eventually assumed the role of Capt. America after the US government used its "muscle" (including, ahem, the IRS) to demand Steve Rogers serve it. Rogers resigned the role of Cap and Walker took over. But writer Mark Gruenwald portrayed Walker as -- wait for it! -- mentally unstable. Walker became more bloodthirsty, killing his enemies, something Steve Rogers would never do if it could be helped.

See the message? "Patriotic"="unstable" and "visceral." This was during the 1980s, natch, and we all know who was president then! The writer even showed Steve Rogers, when contemplating resigning as Cap so as not to be a government lackey, thinking of possible missions he could be sent on -- with a panel detailing a hypothetical replacement fighting (gasp!) Communists in Nicaragua. In recent years, we've seen Captain America investigate the Tea Party, for cripe's sake.

And hey, maybe that's precisely who the villain, if the 1950s Cap is revived in the present day for Captain America 3, will be -- an "anti-government Tea Party type." Knowing Hollywood (and contemporary comicbook creators), this would make perfect sense. To them. Because the insulated "progressive" bubble in which they live tells them so.

Posted by Hube at March 22, 2014 11:29 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

When I first heard the screenwriters mention "psychotic 1950s Cap" I immediately became concerned that they were going to try and adapt the Cap vs the Tea Party storyline that led me to stop buying contemporary comics altogether.

While I like the Secret Empire and evil Cap storylines, I don't like the politics behind them. Especially the whole anti-communism = McCarthist witch hunts theme. What the hell? Communism is a failed philosophy that has brought nothing but pain and misery wherever it's been tried. But then again, the progressive bubble. You won't see a story where Cap would go after Obama for his corruption, which is even worse than Watergate ever was, after all.

I'd read a story where Cap battled communists in Nicaragua. Their unwillingness to have him battle communism in the 1970s and 1980s is similar to how moonbat creators refuse to let heroes battle Islamists in the modern day. Like Doug said, it's stupid that there hasn't been one story where Cap goes on a black ops mission to Afghanistan or Iraq to fight radical Islamists. And if a story DOES feature Islamists, the writer resorts to lame moral equivalence and implies that America is "evil."

As for Cap 2, I'm gonna see it, largely because my mom wants to see it with me. The lame moral equivalence between SHIELD and HYDRA (I really hope they don't use that atrocious retcon where SHIELD is just an arm of HYDRA... ugh.), not to mention the appearance of ultra-moonbat Robert Redford, worries me immensely, though.

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