Captain America is too American for some Americans.
The director and star of the upcoming film Captain America: First Avenger.
The director, Joe Johnston, says “…this is not about America so much as it is about the spirit of doing the right thing…it’s an international cast and an international story. It’s about what makes America great and what make the rest of the world great, too.”
And actor Chris Evans, who plays Captain America in the film, when asked, “What does it mean to you to basically be draped in the American flag for this film?” replied:
“Ha, well, to me, I’m not trying to get too lost in the American side of it. This isn’t a flag-waving movie. It is red, white and blue, but it just so happens that the character was created in America during wartime, when there was a common enemy, even though it is Captain America. I’ve said before in interviews, it feels more like he should just be called Captain Good. [Laughs] You know, he was created at a time when there was this undeniable evil and this guy was kind of created to fight that evil. I think that everyone could agree that Nazis were bad and he, Cap, just so happens to wear the red, white and blue.”
They’re clearly uneasy about the patriotism of the character, mainly the American aspect of it, and I’ll have to see the film to find out exactly how that attitude manifests itself onscreen.
This kind of talk is particularly disappointing when it is about Captain America, our most patriotic superhero. But it is, unfortunately, just the latest example of a growing trend in comic books and the films they spawn to de-Americanize American superheroes for the sake of those who are not American, or who are even hostile to America.
In the Batman comic books, the character has gone global, franchising his “brand”, and even recruiting a Muslim to be his French counterpart. It’s akin to having Batman recruit a German Batman during World War Two without any mention of the Nazis. The de-Americanization of Superman was made clear in the 2006 film, Superman Returns, which has Clark Kent’s boss, Perry White, describing Superman as fighting for “Truth, Justice……all that stuff.”
And then a few months ago, in the Superman comic books, the character renounced his U.S. Citizenship….that is, until D.C. backtracked after it didn’t go over well with the public, especially since the issue came out right before Osama bin Laden was killed. D.C. Comics was swiftly mocked, not only for the uncharacteristic storyline, but also for the timing of it, while Americans at large celebrated the American heroes who cut down one of the world’s greatest villains.
Despite the damper the filmmakers have put on my enthusiasm for the film, I’m planning to watch it because the previews promise an exciting, entertaining film, and because it’s possible that Captain America and all he stands for might actually overcome the filmmaker’s lack of appreciation for it. But even though the character is still referred to as Captain America in the film’s title, “Captain America: First Avenger”, the studio clearly still felt a need to put a buffer around the word “America” in the title. By contrast, the Iron Man, Thor, and Spider-Man films (to take a few examples) had titles consisting of no more than the character’s name.
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