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FROM PAGE TO SCREEN: CAPTAIN AMERICA (2011)
 



 

When one thinks about it, the recent Iron Man and Incredible Hulk movies merely served as teasers for the Avengers and Captain America movies planned for 2011 and 2012 . . .

The First Avenger: Captain America is slated for a July 22nd 2011 release date, whilst The Avengers (a team up consisting of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor amongst others) has a 4 May 2012 release date yet to be confirmed. (Release dates are subject to change of course.)

Created in 1941 and successfully “revived” in the 1960s, Captain America may be a Marvel Comics character, but he actually wasn’t created by Stan Lee. (Which means that the great man of Marvel Comics probably won’t be making his usual cameo in the movie then.) Instead he was dreamt up by writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby as a patriotic superhero when America entered World War II in 1941.

After the War, the character’s popularity waned and he was effectively retired. But in March 1964 the character was successfully revived by Stan Lee, with Jack Kirby once again providing the art work. Captain America (or just plain Cap) was the meek and sickly Steve Rogers, who was rejected for military service in the US army on medical grounds. Instead he volunteered for a top secret “supersoldier” serum program by the US army and was successfully changed into a physically super-fit and strong specimen (this program is referred to in The Incredible Hulk by the way when Tim Roth is turned into a superstrong soldier to help battle the Hulk).

However before the serum can be used to turn the entire US Army into superheroes, the serum’s formula is lost when the scientist responsible for it is killed by a Nazi spy. (What? He didn’t keep any notes?) With only one super-soldier at its disposal, the US military does the best it can and turns Rogers into Captain America, a propaganda figurehead for the war effort against the Nazis. Cue several adventures leading US soldiers invading Normandy during D-Day along with Cap fighting secret Nazi agents led by the nefarious Red Skull, a Nazi mastermind super-villain and his arch nemesis.

In Stan Lee’s reinvention of the character, Cap is thought dead when he foiled a Nazi missile launched at Washington DC. Instead the character has fallen into the freezing Atlantic Ocean where instead of drowning or dying of hypothermia he is instead frozen alive in a block of solid ice, only to be revived twenty years or so later. Strangely enough Lee did nothing more with Cap’s Buck Rogers-type resurrection than turn the character into yet another brooding and moody Marvel superhero. No “fish out of water” stuff as Rogers suddenly has to cope with stuff such as social changes, new technology and the like. After all, when Cap took a dive into the Atlantic Glenn Miller topped the charts and when he came back it was The Beatles . . .

"A rousing, Indiana Jones-type adventure!"

So when one thinks about it, Captain America has actually two origin stories – the one about the weakling being turned into the blonde superhero and the other about Cap being revived in the modern era. There are basically two routes any screenplay can go with the material as well. In the first Cap is the WWII hero battling Nazi super-villains and in the second he is revived in our modern day.

Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios dropped the following about the planned Captain America movie though: “We’re very interested in doing two things. One is having a rousing, Indiana Jones-type adventure in the beginning of the film, and also telling the equally important story of him being lost and then re-emerging in the modern era and being confronted with a very different world than existed during the War. And maybe learning that things aren’t so black-and-white now, or maybe that things weren’t so black-and-white then . . .”

To be honest, we here at The Sci-Fi Movie Page will go for the whole WWII Cap fighting evil Nazi schemes under the tutelage of the Red Skull instead. In the later Avengers movie we will do the whole “Cap being defrosted more than a half a century later” thing. (After all, the character was originally revived in an Avengers comic – and it took a while for him to get his own title.) The whole idea of a Wolfenstein 3-D game come to life concept with Cap sneaking around labyrinthine Nazi castle corridors and battling retro steel-plated robots controlled by the Red Skull (or maybe Hitler himself like in the 1992 id Software game!) is too cool to be passed over. Come on!

On the other hand, the whole “Cap trying to figure out just how the hell to configure his USB ports” thing is too tempting to pass on as well. A good screenwriter can get a lot of mileage out of the stranger in a strange land thing. After all, it’d be a huge cultural shock for anyone to be suddenly transplanted from the 1940s to the 2000s – just how do you explain concepts such as New Age-ism and cybersex (to mention just two) to such a person? Sure, it’s an old screenwriter device, but it can still work . . .

Marvel is probably however betting that modern cinema audiences aren’t quite ready for another retro Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow adventure. Putting the adventure in contemporary times will also save on the budget: no Nazi castles, WWII era costumes and vehicles, etc. to rent. But still! This can be a way cool adventure flick, especially if they get Cap’s indestructible shield thing right too, and with today’s CGI everything is possible. Right?

Besides, the dismal 1991 straight-to-video Captain America movie already did the whole “Cap revived in the modern era” thing already. To get the bitter taste of that low budget Albert Pyun effort out of our collective consciousness what we need is a big budgeted adventure flick set in WWII . . .

However, whatever happens, we just have two requests: no Bucky please. And no diCaprio either. Or Brad Pitt for that matter. For the uninitiated: Bucky was Cap’s teenaged costumed sidekick in the original 1940s comics and in Stan Lee’s revival of the character Rogers spends just too much time pining about his now deceased sidekick. While Joel Schumacher may think that teenage sidekick are cool, we definitely do not feel that Captain America needs any creepy homosexual undertones even though the guy wears a lot of tight-fitting bright colored spandex with little wings on his mask - please!

Also, the movie doesn’t need a megastar, especially not diCaprio or Pitt. (Recent rumors put them as the forerunners for the role. Pitt has also been mentioned as a possible Thor by the way.) DiCaprio may longer be the wimpy Titanic kid (see his recent Blood Diamond), but he is just plain wrong for the role. Instead how about Kiwi actor and Ring star Martin Henderson or even Aaron Eckhart?

Point is, that if done right then Captain America can indeed be the best story that Marvel has yet told as Feige claims.
 


 



 

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