Sunday, July 26, 2009

Avengers Assemble

I'm kinda a Captain America Fan. Not in the sense that I have all the comic books back to the days of my youth. Except for the Red Skull, and by extension, Hydra, I can't name a single villain in Cap's rogues' gallery. And I'm blissfully ignorant of the late-Seventies -- or was it early-Eighties? -- television show.

I'm really a fan of Captain America, icon. I have a poster of the above image in my cubicle at work. It's gotten a few nods of approval, even from those who would normally disdain a grown man having anything to do with superheroes in a professional environment. Such is the power of the Captain America image. At least as much as Superman, Cap is a big, blue, boy scout. Everything he stands for gets summed up in his look.
Which is why I wonder what they can possibly be thinking in producing a Captain America movie. Last year's Iron Man was just the opening salvo in Marvel Studio's planned Avengers series. This was teased with a post-credits scene in which Samuel L. Jackson, playing Marvel Universe super-spy/badass Nick Fury, invites Tony Stark to discuss the "Avengers Initiative." Then Tony Stark showed up in The Incredible Hulk. Iron Man 2 is in production now... And The Mighty Thor is in pre-production with no less than Kenneth Branagh directing. The "capper" if you will, will be a Captain America movie in 2011 or 2012 before shoehorning all the actors/egos into an Avengers movie.
I thought Iron Man was pretty good movie. It was not (Dan, this is aimed at you) Oscar material. But Robert Downey Jr. was perfect as Tony Stark and everyone looked like they were having a great time. This was the opposite of The Dark Knight, which was a fantastic movie, but everyone on screen looked like they were suffering from existential exhaustion. It's no wonder Heath Ledger imploded, and Christian Bale has exploded on several occasions since.
But expectations for Iron Man were low. It was easy to be surprised. The Incredible Hulk was a dud. We'll have to see if Iron Man was lightning in a bottle when the sequel comes out next year. And since all indications are that The Mighty Thor will include all the "forsooths" and "verily", and other pseudo-Shakespearean dialogue the book was known for... well, my expectations for that are low too.
But Captain America... Cap is about what brings us together. He's all our better angels personified. He's about, in the word's of Bruce Springsteen singing about the flag, "certain things are set in stone / who we are/ what we'll do / and what we won't." A Captain America movie better be released on 4th of July weekend (as GI Joe should've been... but then again, we're stuck with UN Joe), it better make my heart beat fast, bring a tear to my eye, and remind me why I'm proud to be an American.
What story do they tell? Will Cap seem relevant, or a preachy afterthought? Can you even make a movie that will do Cap justice, or will he just seem like a laughable, hopelessly naive, old fashioned boob? Can they stick to the origin story setting him firmly as one of the Greatest Generation, or will he be "improved", "modernized", and "rebooted?" If ever there was a time when we needed a Captain America movie, it was in the year or two after 9/11. But to release such a movie ten years after the event is to be several years to late. I guess we'll see... But Cap deserves the best possible effort.

1 comment:

Dan Dorman said...

did you know that Favreau was originally going to direct a Captain America movie before it morphed into Iron Man? He was also working on a feature length big screen version of JOHN CARTER OF MARS which probably would have been kick-ass but the studio didn't know who Edgar Rice Burroughs was. Nice. Apparently he passed his loving work on the project off to Pixar with hopes they would make a faithful animated version. Apparently the people at Pixar have actually read some books before. It's now back on track with WALL-E's Andrew Stanton at the helm. Can't freaking wait. Oh, and super-hero movies are dead. Case ya didn't know.