Captain America

By Shamus Posted Sunday Feb 7, 2010

Filed under: Nerd Culture 155 comments

From the director of the upcoming Captain America movie:

The costume is a flag, but the way we’re getting around that is we have Steve Rogers forced into the USO circuit. After he’s made into this super-soldier, they decide they can’t send him into combat and risk him getting killed. He’s the only one and they can’t make more. So they say, ‘You’re going to be in this USO show’ and they give him a flag suit. He can’t wait to get out of it… So he’s up on stage doing songs and dances with chorus girls and he can’t wait to get out and really fight.

(Emphasis mine.)

They make a super-soldier and then refuse to let him fight, and the captain himself hates his costume. This is incredibly telling, and shows us exactly how the writer feels about the idea of Captain America.

Look, I’m not a huge fan of Cap. Nothing against him, I just don’t connect with the character. Which is why, if someone asked me to helm a cap movie, I’d refuse. If you’re embarrassed or confused by the core of the character, then you shouldn’t be in charge of bringing the character to the big screen. If you don’t “get” why a super-powered guy needs to wear an outrageous costume instead of taking on the bad guys in blue jeans and a t-shirt, then you simply do not “get” the superhero mythos. Nothing wrong with that. (MovieBob talked about this back in October.) But if you don’t get it, why are you trying to share it?

As a Spider-Man fan, I’m grateful we got a couple of good movies out of the meatgrinder before the whole thing imploded. I feel bad for Cap fans. He’s not even being given a chance. Yes, wearing a flag strikes modern audiences as a little… quaint. (And that’s just in the U.S. Elsewhere, I expect he’ll be an even harder sell.) But that’s who he is. It’s your job to bring the audience into that world where it makes sense. All you need is some basic-level understanding and respect of the source material.

It was great to see Iron Man, X-men, and Spider-Man deliver. It was painful to see Daredevil, Catwoman, and Transformers turned into thin pop-culture gruel. The difference between these two groups of movies is all about respect for the source material. The good director says, “Let me show you how awesome this material is.” The hack says, “How can we change this material to make it good?”


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155 thoughts on “Captain America

  1. Omnomnom says:

    On the other hand we have the Nolan-Batman movies which diverged rather heavily from the source material and they are still great movies.

    At any rate; I hope they take some inspiration from the ultimate universe incarnation of cap. That have been my favorite version of him really. Well, at least up until the point where he goes “DO YOU THINK THIS A STANDS FOR FRANCE?!” which was just painful, but hey. Everything before that point was gold!

    1. Sean Riley says:

      I’d disagree. The Dark Knight films are very true to their source material, namely: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween, and The Killing Joke. They’re not drawing much from the ‘canon’ Batman, but there’s been a long standing tradition of an alternative interpretation of Batman stretching back to at least the ’80s, and The Dark Knight is squarely in that camp.

  2. Wayoffbase says:

    It would be awesome if Hollywood would start letting real comic book nerds make these movies. They would be 5 hours long at a minimum, but I would be completely OK with that :)

    Seriously though, I see the problem as being this: when they make a bad movie, it still makes 10’s or even 100’s of millions of dollars profit. Half the money comes from people who don’t know the canon will watch it just because it got a lot of press and advertising, the mighty marketing machine in action. The other half of the money comes from people who are outraged about the fact that their favorite license has been butchered, but they still contribute to the huge opening weekend sales because they have to see it in order to properly rage about it on the internet.

    In this case, if the director actually cared about making a decent movie there are so many ways Captain America could be handled in a decent way. If this crap gets made like this guy says it will, it will still make money and no one will learn their lesson.

    1. mixmastermind says:

      DVD sales will suffer, though.

      1. Which will be blamed on pirates of course.

        1. Luke Maciak says:

          LOL. You are correct.

          If the movie does well – it could have been better if it wasn’t for the pirates.

          If the movie does bad – it’s because of the pirates.

          If the movie gets bad reviews and makes money – elitist reviewers don’t appreciate good entertainment

          If the movie gets bad reviews and bombs at the box office – whatever, it was the pirates

          We just can’t win.

    2. Zethavn says:

      Toronto “professional” sports teams are like this; the BlueJays and Leafs rarely win enough to get to the playoffs, but local fans fill the stadiums anyway; no reduction in revenue = no motivation for management to do better.

      I must say that I’ve never been overly impressed with Captain America (regardless of my Canadian origins); he’s a “super-human” who is faster, stronger than normal humans, but completely outclassed by every other member of the Avengers. It’s like pairing up Batman and 3 Supermen, but without all of Batman’s gadgets, intelligence, and drive to do what’s required instead of what’s considered right by 50’s-style ethics. Sure, he’s the moral leader of the team, but that’s pretty much all he’s got.
      Captain America has been tried in movies and failed, but I’m guessing that this version is going to have a budget that is roughly equivalent to the budget + profit of all previous movies. Hopefully, they can turn it around and inject some life into what someone here referred to as a necromantically animated horse.


      1. Chris Arndt says:

        He’s not “superhuman”… he’s “peak human”…. which basically makes him a lot like…. ah, Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon….

        1. Noble Bear says:


          Imagine every gold medal Olympian ever rolled into one guy.

          1. Chris Arndt says:

            Well if I was to approach this from a nerdtastic approach, and I will, “all Olympic athletes rolled into one” sounds more like Batman than Captain America given the variety of skill involved, but just how versatile and capable Captain America is depends on the writers and editors.

            I honestly don’t know how smart the main character would be and what skills would Cap would be limited to if I wrote the comic. All I know is that my Captain America would not have super-strength, like a couple versions and iterations have… and he did in the mid-seventies.

            Now the great question is… what the heck is “peak human” and does it mean “upper limit” because a human being’s upper limits are not anything he can achieve for a long period of time and the winners of these “world’s strongest man” contests are not championship body-builders when it comes to body shape and certainly are not marathon-runners, which Captain America certainly is… leaving aside that the very first Marathon runner died at the end of the run.

    3. Neil Polenske says:

      “It would be awesome if Hollywood would start letting real comic book nerds make these movies.”

      They did. He was call Sam Raimi and for the trouble of making two awesome Spiderman movies, they forced him to make a crappy third one then fired his ass.

      Taking all bets on how long before they screw Jon Favreau over with his Iron Man movies. Less than a year?

  3. Zak McKracken says:

    Actually, I never saw a difference between those cartoons-made-movies you mention. X-Men, Spiderman, Batman, Catwoman, whatever. I thought all of them shared the same unwilling kind of trashy comedy feeling, and logic was not a welcome guest in any of them.
    Haven’t seen the latest Batman movies though. I’m told it’s different there …

    1. mixmastermind says:

      You thought Spiderman 1 and 2 were a trashy comedies? They had a certain amount of camp, sure, but that’s part of Spiderman.

    2. Noble Bear says:

      The dismissive tone I sense in this post saddens me, and is a reminder of why more and better films of this genre aren’t made.

      Why should quality matter when people think they’re effectively all the same?

  4. Telas says:

    Thanks for handling this gracefully, and avoiding the socio-political minefield inherent in the situation. As usual, you’re right.

    As someone who’s worn a uniform, and volun-f’n-teered to be in the Infantry, I could not have handled this as gracefully. Simply put: the more I know of the world and its history, the more proud I am of my country.

    I must have rolled a ‘nat 20’ to resist flaming the director or ranting, so I’ll keep the rest of my opinions to myself.

    1. Wayoffbase says:

      I have a similar background (11C) and I have to agree completely. I have also found it best to just keep my opinions to myself if I don’t want to get involved in un-winnable arguments (or banned/modded on the interwebs.)

    2. Shield of God says:

      Pretty sure that freely volunteering to kill people you’ve never met makes you a bad person, but hey whatever dude.

      1. Wayoffbase says:

        That comment shows nothing but a complete lack of understanding of the military, and that widespread lack of understanding is why we choose to stay silent most of the time. It isn’t something easily explained.

        1. Shield of God says:

          Yeah I’m sure that explaining why you enjoy killing people is a hard thing to do.

          1. Volatar says:

            Yeah, I'm sure that explaining why you enjoy trolling people is a hard thing to do.

      2. Volatar says:

        You are a troll, and should die alone in a corner.

        Get out.

        1. ehlijen says:

          His trolling aside, he is entitled to his opinion.

          Soldiers often end up killing. It’s part of their job. It’s not the reason why people become soldiers (at least one would hope it’s not), but it is the reason those that don’t don’t.

          Some of us are optimists and like to think fighting can be avoided.

      3. Shamus says:

        Quick. Barbarians are about to invade your village. Do you need to meet them before you’re willing to fight?

        You can argue the politics of a particular war all you want (just not here) but dismissing the very idea of a defense force ignores one of the key structures that made civilization possible.

        Oh, and it’s rude. And flamebait. And not really related to the topic at hand.

        Last warning.

        1. I grew up on military bases in Germany. Military guys are AWESOME.

          Maybe I should be remaking this movie.

        2. Mike Has Answers says:

          I don’t recall him saying anything about defense forces being unnecessary. All he said was that he doesn’t approve of the type of people who would join a voluntary army: a view he could still have while begrudgingly acknowledging the necessity of a militia.

          1. Adeon says:

            But if you’re going to have a defense force it needs people in it. I’d much rather have those people be professional volunteers (i.e. a standing volunteer army) than either of the other two options (a conscript army or a militia).

            1. acabaca says:

              “Professional volunteers” is an oxymoron.

              A lot of people confuse the two, but I would like to remind everyone here that the professional does his job for money, while the volunteer does it out of the goodness of his heart and either receives or accepts no payment for it.

              1. Alan De Smet says:

                The problem with being a pedant is that there is always someone willing to step up to the challenge.

                vol·un·teer … noun … one who enters into military service voluntarily

                – Merriam-Webster

                It’s not a new usage either.

                VOLUNTEER, n. A person who enters into military or other service of his own free will. In military affairs, volunteers enter into service voluntarily, but when in service they are subject to discipline and regulations like other soldiers. They sometimes serve gratuitously, but often receive a compensation.

                Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1828

          2. Josh says:

            He said that volunteering in the army is the same as wanting to kill people you don’t know. It’s just not the same thing.

      4. mixmastermind says:

        You stay classy, Shield of God

    3. Jeff says:

      Don’t know why it makes you prouder the more you learn of our country. Secret wars, assassinations, imperialist doctrines are all part of our history. We’ve started wars and killed thousands of people because we feared that the country wasn’t pro-capitalist. We retroactively justify our wars to “free the people” of a country we just destroyed, have had wars because the president has stated that it was God’s Will (Philippines). We tend to go to war for economic reasons, which tend to fall flat in the face of the devastation wars create on the native’s lives.

      Captain America is a symbol of blind patriotism back in the day where people believed in WWII propaganda, and people still do apparently. If you think that WWII was a “good war” then you still believe in it. We see American flags everywhere these days, in no small part to cell phone companies, which legitimized their radio towers by putting flags on them, and the symbol of everything America stands for has become commonplace. So commonplace that sometimes NOT having a flag is considered to be anti-patriotic.

      Captain America is anachronistic, yet not. It really hasn’t been that long since we last all had a huge bout of blind patriotism. The results of that were less than stellar, and the world has gotten a bad taste in its mouth from it. “Captain America” isn’t really all that marketable in other countries I wouldn’t think.

      There are great things that America has done and is responsible for, but looking closely at our history, I tend to be cynical that the symbolic America is anything like the real America.

      Captain America stands as a symbol of democracy, freedom, and all those fun buzzwords. Given a dose of reality though, we no longer have all the moral high-ground. It tends to put a damper on my patriotism when I learn about the underhanded dealings our country has been involved in, the carpet bombings of civilians, the torture of POWs for looking like terrorists. I’m not sure that invoking the greater good is enough to overlook these things, just as I’m not sure the ends justify the means.

      It could be interesting to have a Captain America standing strong in his ideals of America, as our soldiers do, amidst these revelations. Or perhaps he just looks at the many good things our nation has done, and turns a blind eye to the darker side of our foreign policy. After all, when the armed forces are responsible for taking out clearly evil despots, how can you not like America? When they aid a populace recover after tremendous devastation from whatever source, clearly they are doing good in the world.

      Clearly I’m not in the armed forces myself. I wouldn’t want to be put in a position where my morals are necessarily overwritten by whatever my CO orders. I think that THAT is probably one of the most interesting conflicts that Captain America could possibly have.

      No offense is intended, though I guess it’s likely that it will be generated. I just think that talking of Captain America and being incredibly proud of our country should necessitate some conversation about whether patriotism, his core tenet, is inherently justified.

      1. Shamus says:

        I’ll let this comment stand, but I want to FIRMLY repeat my no-politics policy.

        Please do not continue this thread of this discussion. Particularly since we just extricated ourselves from a flame war and this discussion can’t go anywhere good. I have no interest in babysitting THIS discussion, since I’ve read it a thousand times already elsewhere on the internet and it always ends in rage.

      2. mixmastermind says:

        I’m going to respond as politely as possible to your post:

        1) Captain America has actually, in recent years taken something of an odd turn. I remember him looking at the bombing of a building and having flashbacks to Dresden.

        2) America has, in comparison to the world around it, not done that much horrible stuff. And World War II, while not being “good”, was a completely justified war. Taken in context, the Spanish-American war was justified more by private industry newspapers straight up lying to the American public. McKinley used the God thing just as his own opinion.

      3. Vladius says:

        Not only is it extremely political, it’s just wrong.

      4. Deoxy says:

        Jeff – I think you are making a very simple and common mistake: you are comparing historical America to a modern ideal. In that light, yes, America looks terrible.

        When people say they are proud of this country the more they learn about world history, what they mean is “the more they learn about WORLD history”. American history is indeed full of some awful things, as most proud, patriotic people can tell you (and often knowledgeably discuss with you, even).

        The reason they are proud of America anyway is because they have seen how full the REST of the world’s history is with awful things.

        A race goes to the actually existing person who actually competes in it and completes it the fastest, not some theoretical person who would complete it so much faster than everyone else if only they existed.

        America may crawl across the finish line of this moral 100-yard dash in a pathetic 6 hours, 23 minutes, 12 seconds, but it’s still first by several hours (many never finish at all), and that’s worth being proud of.

        You certainly don’t have to agree with that, and it is CERTAINLY worth pushing for a better America (there’s plenty of room for improvement!), but perhaps that will help you understand people who are proud of America without resorting to simply writing them off as “blindly” patriotic or ignorant/naive/intelligence-insulting-term-of-the-day.

        (As to why people tend to take offense, well, you’ve just written off as “blind”, then been very condescending to the core beliefs of, a great many people who have put a great deal of personal and emotional effort into HAVING this “discussion” you call for, simply because, apparently, they came down on the other side as you. Treating people like that is, indeed, highly offensive.)

        1. Jeff says:

          That’s fair, I apologize for being insulting. I did not mean to mischaracterize all those who are proud of our country as being blind, and I can see how my comment would be offensive. I respect that you and many others are being polite in light of how you took my comment.

          I do mean that patriotism can and should be justified. You feel that by basis of comparison, America has come out a far greater country than others, and while acknowledging that it has had its faults and poor decisions in the past, you are proud of it for its strengths, ideals and many of its actions. That sort of reasoned patriotism I feel, understand, and respect.

          I apologize to Shamus too for being flamebait.
          A poor late-night decision, which I will take care not to repeat.

        2. SolkaTruesilver says:

          “America may crawl across the finish line of this moral 100-yard dash in a pathetic 6 hours, 23 minutes, 12 seconds, but it's still first by several hours (many never finish at all), and that's worth being proud of.”

          This is where we might the most strongly disagree. Why do you think your country wins the morality race more than any other country? And even then, why do you think it wins it by HOURS?

          Please. Plenty of countries might give USA a run for their money in term of “less jerkish country in history”. And more than a few countries would compete in terms of “Less jerkish country since America exist”

          If anything, it’d be quite a close race. America isn’t more special than any other country.

          1. Shamus says:

            This particular thread has strayed from nerd culture to a referendum on the history of America.

      5. Osvaldo Mandias says:

        But see, that’s kinda the point. If you think what Captain America stands for is untenable, and he’s only interesting if the movie deconstructs him, then you probably shouldn’t be the one making a big budget movie about him. This isn’t to say that your point of view is dead wrong, but it is to say that you would be the wrong guy for the job.

  5. Lanthanide says:

    Who is the person in the picture of your Nerd Culture icon? It really looks a lot like Billy Corgan, but I have to assume that it isn’t.

  6. Chris says:

    Reading the director’s description of the character concept is almost physically painful. He’s trying to get away from the very core of Captain America, and that just doesn’t make sense to me.

  7. DogmaticDharma says:

    1. Shamus says:

      I’m not running this site to babysit defective malcontents. You’re either here because you want to read what I have to say, or you aren’t here. Get lost.

      1. phobiac says:

        Shamus, I have no idea what the original content of the post was, but the giant DELETED stamp makes it all the more interesting. Some trolls wear stuff like that as a badge of honor. I see nothing wrong with a placeholder to say a post was deleted, but the huge stamp only draws more attention to it.

        1. evileeyore says:

          Ye olde “Huge Red Stamp” says his words weren’t worth being repeated by Shamus’ site.

          Least that’s what is says to me.

        2. Steve C says:

          website tech issue:
          I do not see the big “DELETED!” stamp. I only see an empty post. I used to always see the deleted stamp before the recent website style revamp.

          I’m using Firefox with NoScript running. Is it generated by a script I should allow? Nothing listed as blocked is jumping out as something I should allow.

          1. Garden Ninja says:

            I run NoScript as well. I normally allow any site I trust (this one included), but I forbade everything on the page to check, and still see the DELETED stamp. It also appears in the source code of the page, so it’s not part of a script. Are you running AdBlock as well? Maybe it thinks the image is an ad.

          2. Steve C says:

            Hmm. I didn’t do anything my end and now I can see the stamp. Looks like the problem corrected itself or Shamus did something his end.

      2. Volatar says:

        I am pretty sure I was able to read what was posted before Shamus deleted it. It was a baseless personal attack on Shamus.

        You have every right to delete such comments. Such people need not be tolerated, just shunned.

  8. Binks says:

    Why are they trying to “get around” him wearing a flag? That’s as core to Cap as his shield…probably moreso even, he’s been wearing the flag suit pretty much the entire time but he’s swapped shields at least once. Ugh…and people wonder why I don’t watch many movies. If you’re going to make a movie about a character you should at least try and keep the core values of that character. That, in my humble opinion, is what separates the good comicbook movies from the bad…and this movie looks like it’ll fall on the bad side.

    Sad…I was looking forward to a captain america movie.

    1. Daf says:

      By “get around it” I’m pretty sure they mean “explain how that happened and make it sound slightly plausible”.

      1. mixmastermind says:

        How hard is that? They gave him the suit because if you make a super-powered human to use in War, you should give him a costume that makes people know who he is immediately.

        It’s a useful morale weapon. If you were a German soldier and saw what you KNEW was a man who could literally tear you in half running straight towards you, would you stick around?

  9. Pederson says:

    The article makes it sound like they’re not actually dumping the costume, though, as much as fiddling with the character’s origin story. Possibly, they’re trying to “get around” how ridiculous the costume must seem to present-day viewers. It may not be a complete mess, after all.

    If it is, though, that’s disappointing, but not really a surprise. Hollywood has enough trouble with superheroes and pro-American politics that putting them in the same film has probably doomed that project from the start. Perhaps it will be an interesting trainwreck, and Johnston at least has a good grasp of the period.

  10. ehlijen says:

    I actually think that the flag thing is too over the top and would prefer him not to wear it.

    That said, I also don’t see much else in this character (not being american), so I’m not sure there’s enough left to make a movie out of if they do this.

    Star Trek gave up on decent scifi in exchange for more explosions and silly accents, Transformers gave up on toy like space robot exiles in exchange for more moronic teen comedy and now captain america gives up america for more PC market appeal? If you’re too emberrased to make a movie about something, then just don’t.

    1. mixmastermind says:

      How was Star Trek not Sci-Fi? They just didn’t talk for 50% of the movie, like its predecessors.

      Not that that’s a bad thing. I like Star Trek, but the majority of the Star Trek movies are awful.

      1. silver Harloe says:

        There’s Sci-Fi and there’s Sci-Fi, though. Or as I like to call them “Science Fiction” and “Science Fantasy” and Star Trek has always been in the latter camp.

        The difference I’m talking about is whether things are internally consistent. Let me illustrate:

        In Science Fiction, if you establish that a ship can travel at, say, 4x the speed of light and its shields can absorb 3 torpedoes before failing, that’s the rule. It stays the rule. The audience can call on past experience with the technology to understand today’s solution. Your science acts like science – even though some of it is impossible.

        In Science Fantasy, your ship moves at exactly the speed of the plot, regardless of whether it has outrun or been caught by the kind of ship it is racing in the past. Your shields take infinite damage if the plot says you’re unscathed, and fall like melted butter if the plot says you get hurt. If you have a problem, no past experience will hint to the audience what the solution is: because you’re just going to invent a new word to explain the solution, anyway. Your science acts like magic.

        Notice that I’m not talking about “Hard Science Fiction” wherein everything makes sense “within the laws of physics as we understand them today.” That’s a very crunchy genre and not germane to the discussion of “whether or not Star Trek is Sci-Fi.”

        Now, if you believe that Science Fiction is “anything that uses technobabble to explain its wonders,” then, yes, Star Trek qualifies. Even the new movie does, actually, despite what ehlijen says.

        If you believe, as I do, that Science Fiction is “and the technobabble has to act like science (even if its impossible),” then Star Trek has never, ever been that. Again, despite what ehlijen said about it “giving up” being decent sci-fi.

        Now, this is important, the above in no way disparages science fantasy (as I defined it). When your focus is on character or story, and you just want some spacey SPFX to back them up, Sci Fantasy is a fair enough way to go.

        Did Star Trek “give up good scifi”? In my opinion – you can’t give up what you never had. What the movie DID do was have a LOT of fun with Kirk and Spock – iconic characters that were the entire point of movie. And they had some spacey SPFX to back up their character story. So, FUN!

        1. lplimac says:

          Excellent description! I have no problem with either “Science Fiction” or “Science Fantasy, I like them both. You generally get more of the Fiction from books and the Fantasy from movies, but that’s the nature of the mediums. In a book the author can go into detail on how something works the way it does (“The Forever War” comes to mind) and in a series of books it can add to the story. Movies don’t always have the luxury of going into such detail. Not to say that movies never do, it’s just why explain something if it’s not key to the plot.

        2. ehlijen says:

          Very well, let me describe what I believe ‘science fiction’ is as opposed to ‘science fantasy’ and ‘stuff that happens to have a futuristic background but is neither of the first’. First I’d like to point out that I, too, am not generally disparaging either of these, though I may have my preferences, and each category contains both good and bad examples.

          Science fiction:
          The core point of this is to introduce a new idea or concept that is to us fantastical, but to the protagonist readily explained and then observe how that changes the human existance. As the quintessential example, I point at Asimov’s Robot books.

          The original star trek series had this, even though they also often got caught in episodic TV trappings. The later serieses and movies began to have less and less of it, but the latest star trek remake added nothing new and was content just delivering bog standard action fare in front of a well established background without engaging with it at all. Spock’s origin story was still in this category (alien-human crossbreeding) but nothing about any of the other characters falls into this.

          Next Science fantasy:
          A story utilising both established scifi themes without overly exploring them and classical hero stories. How can I not mention Star wars here? But I’d also put Firelfy into this category.

          The original series used some of these to create its archetypical characters (it was an episodic TV show and needed to do so), but the focus was meant to be the examination of new ideas and themes.

          The new movie has plenty of this, but all through watching it, I felt that the only reason it did, was because the source material they based it on did. So I’d still not comfortable put it into this category.

          The last category, ‘stuff that happens to have a futuristic background but is neither of the first’:
          Here we have stories that neither explore new ideas or themes, nor truly needs scifi trappings but only chooses to do so to increase the potential target audience. Think Eraser, which wouldn’t have been a different movie if instead of railguns that had normal guns.

          This is what I believe the new trek movie to be. It’s Top gun in the star trek universe trying to sell itself by referencing all the trappings (but little of the content) of the original trek. And while that may be fine for you, I do not like that we have gone from exploring what new technology or knowledge do to society to ignoring everything we know about the known universe to blow up planets spectacularly. Even star wars did more than that.

          That said, this isn’t all the new movies’ fault (if you agree that it is a fault) but a trend that has been happening for a while now.

          Also, once again, each category has it’s duds, even the one I like. I’ll even admit to letting Battlefield Earth into the science fiction category and spoiling it for me :p

          Basically, my complaint is: They made a movie and dressed it up as star trek. They did not make more star trek, which is what I would have preferred (ie opinion).

          And sorry for derailing. It’s still nerd culture though, isn’t it?

          PS edit: Why did i get such a grumpy avatar? I thinkit makes my posts seem more angry than I intend to.

        3. Blackbird71 says:

          Whether it’s trying to be Sci Fi or Sci Fantasy, I couldn’t care less…


          No, the writers deciding that “this movie is a reboot, and as such it will change everything, so let’s just slap together a contrived excuse for why everything is changing (yet somehow the characters end up in the same place) and try to pass it off as an actual story” does not qualify as a plot.

          Seriously, reboots are much better off when they ignore the fact that it’s a reboot and just tell their own story.

          Sorry, I’m done ranting now, you can go back to your original topic.

          1. silver Harloe says:

            “Dude wants revenge, lucks into a way back in time. takes his revenge on the ancestors his foes. heroes get together and stop him.” It’s an old plot (minus the time travel) and a simple plot, but it’s technically a plot. But this movie wasn’t about plot. There are three major elements to a movie or book: setting, characters, and plot. They tend to be of varying importance. Some movies are about plot. Some movies are really about the setting. This movie was more about Kirk and Spock than about anything else.

    2. Osvaldo Mandias says:

      This. If you want to explore Wonder Woman’s quiet domestic life as a homemaker who’s interested in scrapbooking, sure, write your quirky story about it, but don’t inflict the movie on the rest of us.

  11. MadTinkerer says:

    Um, isn’t there a rule against using the flag as a costume? I believe the original writers & artists got around this by the simple fact that Cap was a comic book character. I think the phrase “the way we’re getting around that” is because this is a live action movie trying to justify a comic book trope that would not have made sense in real life.

    In other words, why the heck would a super soldier wear that costume in the first place when his superiors have something to say about it. Spiderman can wear whatever he wants not just because there’s no rule against spider-symbols, but also because he has no superior officers. So it makes sense to try to justify why Cap’s superiors would want him to wear a costume based on the U.S. flag.

    I think that justification (Cap in the USO) actually makes sense, much like the brief professional wrestler career of The Amazing Spiderman. It’s an essential bit of exposition to justify the character’s choice of costume which is completely ignored from that point forward because the hero has no desire to get back into wrestling/USO.

    Also: Superman’s tights? Never explicitly explained because why do you need to explain that a guy with super strength is wearing something a “Strong Man” at a carnival would wear? Well maybe it needs explaining if there aren’t any carnivals anymore. But it did make sense originally. The only reason the Superman movie didn’t justify it is because Superman was so iconic everyone took it for granted that he wore tights. Maybe if they did justify it, like how Batman’s costume is justified every time his origin story is told, Superman Returns would have done better.

    So I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you on this one Shamus.

    1. Volatar says:

      Actually, since we are allowed to burn the flag, I think we can wear it as a costume.

      …not that I like people burning the flag, just that they do have a right to it.

      1. Benjamin Orchard says:

        Volatar, he’s talking about military & government guidelines regarding the usage of the US flag. Those guidelines are available here:

        and there are two specifically relevant bits of information:
        “The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations.”

        “The flag should not be used as “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”,[1] or for covering a speaker’s desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general (exception for coffins). Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.”

        Generally speaking these guidelines are routinely ignored, but if you are part of the military and start ignoring these, you will probably find yourself in some rather hot water. There is no way that the Cap would make a uniform completely based on the flag as part of the military. Even the USO is a bit of a stretch, but at least it’s plausible.

        Now I can’t say whether or not the director is showing a rather uncommon respect for the flag, or is embarrassed by the character, but either way, his word choice is poor.

        1. Volatar says:

          Ahhh, that makes sense now. Thanks.

          1. ehlijen says:

            True. In light of this, there may be reason to interpret the post in a new way.

        2. Viktor says:

          I never viewed his costume as the flag. It looks more like the bunting you mentioned, or at best the Texas flag, not the American Flag.

          1. mixmastermind says:

            It could be the French flag.

        3. swimon says:

          wow there really are laws about everything huh? ^^

        4. foolsage says:

          The Flag Code wasn’t a law until 1942 though, and Cap was active before then (debut was March 1941). It’d make just as much sense for his uniform to be grandfathered in (i.e. make him a special exception).

          Also note that his uniform is flag-like but is not actually an American flag. He has one large star prominently in the center of his chest and has vertical stripes instead of horizontal ones. It’s definitely inspired by the American flag but also clearly isn’t one.

          1. Blackbird71 says:

            This. While Captain America’s costume is themed and reminiscent of an American flag, it is not an actual flag, and therefore does not violate the Flag Code. If it had 50 stars and 13 stripes, there might be more of an issue, but as it is there is nothing to “get around.”

        5. MadTinkerer says:

          Yeah, that’s what I was referring to.

      2. asterismW says:

        Also, flag burning is the proper way to dispose of a flag when it’s too worn out. From that same Wikipedia article:

        “When a flag is so tattered that it can no longer serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. The American Legion, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA and other organizations regularly conduct dignified flag-burning ceremonies, often on Flag Day, June 14.”

        So while some people will burn the flag as a sign of rebellion, when done properly and for the right reasons, it’s a sign of respect.

  12. Bob says:

    Shamus, i think you are taking stuff out of the context. Right in the next paragraph, they say that Captain eventually gets used to the costume: “”When he does go AWOL, he covers up the suit but then, after a few things happen, he realizes that this uniform allows him to lead. By then, he’s become a star in the public mind and a symbol. The guys get behind him because he embodies something special,” he continued.” This seems to make perfect sense: if I were turned into a supersoldier, I’d feel pretty stupid if they forced me to wear star&stripes (not only because I’m not an american 8) ). I would take something special to make me wear it – and I guess part of the story is what this “special” thing was for Steve.

    1. Shamus says:

      It’s a fair point, and it’s certainly POSSIBLE they could make it work.

      But I have my doubts, and I do not believe they are unfounded.

      1. Maldeus says:

        As opposed to most people who, convinced their doubts are unfounded, continue to hold onto them.

        1. Yar Kramer says:

          I think he means he understands and has fully rationalized why he has his doubts, as opposed to saying “Mmm, I dunno … I have no idea why, but I have a bad feeling about this.”

        2. Jabor says:

          I am often surprised by just how often the Wavatar reflects the tone of the post. This one has just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek.

          That is one awesome plugin, Shamus.

  13. Cat Skyfire says:

    My first thought is less about the costume and more of ‘what era’?

    To me, Captain America works very well starting in WWII, with the Nazis to fight. In the comic universe, even as years passed there were still: A: Nazi types (Red Skull, various nazi like organizations) and B: the sense of legacy. Yes, this particular guy is Cap, but at least it isn’t like it just started yesterday.

    A modern era Captain America just doesn’t seem like it would work as well. While we have our enemies, they aren’t as simple as the perceptions WWII enemies. Heck, they still pull out Nazis periodically (see Indiana Jones).

    The Ultimate version of Cap to me got very, very tiresome. It was less about being a superhero, and more on ‘how things have changed in 60 years, and how none of it is for the better (in his mind)’ I don’t think I could handle a two hour movie of dealing heavily with ‘this isn’t my era’.

    1. Eric says:

      I have the new Hulk movie on blu-ray, and in the alternate opening you can see cap frozen in a glacier. So I have to assume they are doing the nazi legacy.

  14. Cragfire says:

    Do they really need to “explain” the costume? I mean Spider-Man never really explained his, nor did Superman. X-Men decided to dump the sillier outfits. I feel like much stranger stuff goes on in films regularly that Hollywood never bothers to “explain.” Why’s a flag suit so important?

    1. Daf says:

      They did lampshade Wolverine’s yellow spandex jumpsuit, though, which I loved :)
      (the reference, not the jumpsuit *shudder*)

    2. mixmastermind says:

      Why is a flag suit important to CAPTAIN AMERICA? I don’t know, really. CAPTAIN AMERICA seems like he could get away with regular clothes. I mean, surely he’d remain CAPTAIN AMERICA if was wearing an olive drab WWII uniform.

      1. Chris Arndt says:

        When you have a super-soldier that is dressed in the regular apparel for the context you don’t have Captain America, you have Lethal Weapon.

  15. SatansBestBuddy says:

    They already made a Captain America movie.

    Pretty sure it was the Nostaglia Critic that gave it the proper flogging it deserved, cause it was pretty damn bad by anyone’s standards.

    But they got the origin story more or less right, which tells me this new one is gonna be worse than the old one… that’s a very bad thing, that.

    1. mixmastermind says:

      You know, that’s a pretty good post, congratulations.
      *moves to shake hand*
      *BAM BAM*

      1. swimon says:

        ahhh… the psych Hitler. Truly the most cunning trick of our era.

  16. AGrey says:

    I’ve heard rumors that Marvel has been rolling out their hero movies in preparation for an Avengers movie.

    This would require Wolverine, Spiderman, the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor to appear on the screen at the same time (personally, I like this plan, because it means that you can introduce the backstories of each in their own time, and not waste time in the avengers movie doing all the backstories)

    Imagine if Cap were given (for example) a genuine WWII uniform, straight off the set of Saving Private Ryan.

    How strange would he look standing in a lineup with Spiderman, The Hulk, and Iron Man?

    Even though they dropped the yellow spandex for wolverine, he still has that leather jumpsuit, and we haven’t even gotten a glimpse of what thor’s outfit will look like.

    Sure, they could have dropped the flag costume in favor of something more ‘normal’, but would you really want them to? Did anybody complain about spiderman’s outfit or the hulk’s trademark purple pants?

    Of course, I completely agree that bending the entire story over backwards to accommodate the uniform is a bad move, but i’ll see how it works out when we get there

    1. dejexa13 says:

      The avengers originally stared Ant-Man, Wasp, Thor, Iron Man, and The Hulk, and Captain America joined later. So I think it will have all but maybe Ant-Man and Wasp and I don’t think spider man or wolverine will be in the avengers movie. And Nick Fury will most probably be part of the avengers.

      1. mixmastermind says:

        Oh, won’t Ant-Man be in it?

    2. Chris Arndt says:

      No. Marvel Films is creating an Avengers movie and as part of a contract it is the third Iron Man movie. Hulk and Iron Man are part of this film universe and so is any movie that comes out about now if the earlier films in the respective series weren’t licensed out.

      For instance, Spider-Man is not a Marvel Films licensed property; it is…. Fox, I believe, or Universal… Daredevil is yet another company and Fantastic Four another still…. X-Men is…. oh heck I cannot remember. All I can remember is that Daredevil and Spider-Man are different (so they cannot share the Daily Bugle, Ben Urich, or Kingpin) and that FF and X-Men are not Spider-Man.

      From here on out the properties will not be licensed out but will be made under the Marvel Films banner in one movie universe. As movie licenses expire they will not be renewed and brought under the Marvel Films banner.

      The build-up to this third Iron Man movie, Avengers, involves The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America… and others I am not aware of….

      The Avengers line-up will be determined by lawyers before it is determined by the source material, any source material.

  17. Nick says:

    So he is wearing an actual flag? Or is his costume in the colours of the flag?

  18. Nick says:

    I’ve always found these arbitrary flag “laws” amusing. It’s a piece of cloth!

    1. Volatar says:

      Mmmm, no, it is not. Its a symbol. Just like the Bible is not just a book, the crown jewels not just some expensive jewelry, the swastika not just some lines, the Christmas tree not just a tree. On and on and on.

      Symbols matter to people, and people do not like others treating the things that matter to them in an uncaring way.

      1. MelTorefas says:

        Thanks for your post Volatar, it brightened my day to see such a depth of understanding on the net!

      2. Mari says:

        Unfortunately symbols can easily become ambiguous. For instance those “lines” on the swastika? Yeah, long before the Nazi Party of Germany adopted them they were a symbol of good fortune in (Hindu) Indian cultures. Heck, even the word itself is Sanskrit. As a matter of fact, they appeared in numerous cultures around the globe as far back as the Neolithic Era.

        And for the record to many people the Bible IS just a book, the Crown Jewels ARE just expensive jewelry, and the Christmas tree is just an evergreen with lights. As long as we’re turning symbols topsy-turvy I want to roll back to pre-10th Grade English when the conch in “The Lord of the Flies” was just a seashell and had nothing to do with Freudian genetalia.

        I’m not defending misuse of the flag; I’m just saying that this particular argument doesn’t hold a lot of water. “Symbols” are open to interpretation.

        1. mixmastermind says:

          There is not a place on Earth where people don’t think of the Bible as a symbol for Christianity, and even if you don’t have the culture context to view something as a symbol, one should appreciate that others do so.

        2. swimon says:

          The conch, genetalia?? I love freudian analysis no matter how many times you think: well it certainly can’t get any dumber now it manages to surprise you :D.

          As an irrelevant aside the hindu and the nazi symbol aren’t identical, they are rotated 45 degrees in relation and the sticks point in opposite ways. One could argue that it is not a copy and instead is only a symptom of the world running out of simple symbols. I don’t agree personally but still. Also this has nothing to do with anything.

  19. As the Watchmen movie amusingly lampshaded, comic book superhero costumes Just Don’t Work (TM) for live action. The trick is to make up something that does work, while preserving the spirit of the original. Pretty much what Nolan did with Batman (in all regards, not just the costume). I’m pretty sure they could make the movie Captain America wear an uniform that is reminiscent of the American flag without breaking the aforementioned law, perhaps blended with elements from a WW2 infantry uniform (that would be a nice touch). Or anything else that looks good on a flesh-and-bone actor while suggesting what it’s supposed to. There are only solutions.

    But as Shamus pointed out, they don’t want to find a solution. They simply don’t care for the character at all. Why are people like that put in charge of things?

  20. I would have said rather that the good director says “how can we change this material to show how awesome the premise can be” while the hack says “how can I use this material to make a bundle by pandering to what I think people want”. If you keep *too much* of the canon from aging comic book series, you usually wind up making something hokey while losing the point. If you ditch everything that doesn’t fit in your preconceived notion of market segmentation, you also lose the point.

    Turning old material into a new medium requires that you be able to recognize what is *essential* and *fundamental* and work up a way to express that properly with the medium.

  21. Amarsir says:

    I think it’s a shame that they couldn’t come up with a design that’s still reminiscent of the flag while looking more reasonable to modern aesthetics. It sounds like he thought the costume looked goofy (which is reasonable) so he’s presenting it as goofy (which is insulting on a couple levels).

    Also, “our super soldier is too valuable to fight so we’ll have him sing and dance” is, flag notwithstanding, a really stupid setup.

    1. Jabor says:

      While it might be a really stupid setup, it honestly isn’t that far-fetched. When you bring economics into it, super-soldiers are actually a pretty poor return-on-investment if you send them into actual combat.

      While that then begs the question of why you’d invest money into it, the military does spend a lot on speculative research just so they can stay at the cutting edge.

      1. MelTorefas says:

        I agree. On the other hand, it does sound like they’re setting up something that will be very complicated and difficult to pull off in a movie format with any degree of respectability.

        1. Jabor says:

          That has been said about various movies – some have managed it, some haven’t.

          Personally, I’ll reserve judgment on this one. Not sold either way (I’m not really a fan of superhero movies in general).

  22. Razhem says:

    Something similar to this design would be wonderful, seem practical, yet still have some iconography on him.

    Also, wasting 20 minutes of movie explaining the costume reeks of missing the tree inside the forest. It doesn’t bloody matter, he could perfectly be in normal uniform till he gets unfrozen and then they turn him into some sort of media puppet, he breaks away from that and starts handing out justice in full colours.

    1. Your work, Razhem? I love it. But why change the shape of the shield? I would have thought that’s one iconic element you can actually keep.

      Also, the webcomic Heroes, Inc. did just what you’re describing: they have American superheroes in WW2 wearing perfectly normal uniforms, even though they can throw energy blasts, and they fight among mecha. And you know what? It rocks.

      1. crusader says:

        I have to agree that the suit should be more towards the military side. Hitch’s design for The Ultimates would work fine.

        Even thought Golden Age heroes running around the battlefield in tights might look fine in a comic book, it doesn’t translate well onto film. That was one of my main reasons for sticking with the military garbs in Heroes, inc. (thanks for the shout out, by the way ;-) )

        Also the whole “lets make our super-soldier an entertainer” scheme sounds fishy.

      2. Razhem says:

        I can’t even hope to draw like that XD

        No, it’s from the Ultimates comic run from the Ultimate universe, I loved that design from the very first moment I saw it. It has the symbolism without being to abrasive and respecting the world war II origins.

      3. SharpeRifle says:

        THats Caps first shield design actually…the round one we know is a later addition.

  23. Saint_007 says:

    Holy crap… so much talk about the military, so little actual talk about whether Cap can actually be made as a decent movie. Still, the idea of leaving your best and most capable soldier to rot as a morale-booster isn’t something a government trying to win a war would do. I mean, wasn’t WW2 the one where they were coming up with the weirdest crap to defeat the enemy? Americans tried Bat-Bombs (no they didn’t enlist Batman, cool as that might have been; they used bombs attached to actual nocturnal bats), The British tried pigeon bombs, Russians actually fielded anti-tank suicide dogs, the Japanese tried balloons with incendiaries against America (only one actually killed anybody). And they’re afraid of sending their only super-badass to go kick Ratzi ass and inspire troops in battle? He’s a superhero; contractual immortality is their most basic job perk.

    That aside, Captain America has the. Worst. Luck. In superhero movies. There were the 1970’s Captain America TV movies (2 of them), then the 1991 Captain America movie (which sucked big-time), now this. Why is it that Batman can literally walk into a shitty plot and still make money (Batman and Robin *shudder*) yet Cap can’t even make a decent foothold in Hollywood?

    I’m going to have to go with name recognition. Batman was built by DC to be this big, iconic badass/hero (depending on the times), whereas Superman effectively built the superhero genre. Spider-Man is loved because he’s an average joe, so we empathize. Cap… is shafted every time.

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      Quite the opposite, actually. One soldier, super or not, can not really make a difference in the war. A symbol can, if he inspire your troops. Greater morale, greater courage, greater aggressivity on your soldier’s, that makes a helluva difference. Maybe Cap won’t be happy about it, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

      But once you have this symbol, the last thing you want to do is loose it. Or worse, have it being captured. You thing having one of your flag captured by the ennemy is bad, thing about having your sole Man-flag capture would be. It’s like the Roman Legion loosing your Eagle. It’d be devastating to morale.

  24. Joshua says:

    All flamebait topics like patriotism, military, etc. aside, the idea is just antiquated for practical reasons. Since the new millennium(or perhaps since the end of the cold war), conflict has generally changed from two large forces clashing together to one large force attempting to weed out insurgents and terrorists, and basically, just trying to find out who the enemy is. I believe this goes beyond the U.S., and is what most large countries are grappling with. There are reasons why Robert Gates believes that the fundamental nature of war has changed.

    So, if the hardest part of a conflict is trying to separate the enemy from the innocent, all of the while being at risk of being killed by them, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be going around in a superhero costume proudly flaunting the U.S. flag unless you’re intended as a decoy. For this modern era, Batman would work better as a soldier for the U.S. than Captain America.

    1. Noble Bear says:

      I appreciate this perspective, but I would ask you to consider two things; the first is that the ideas and implementation of inspiration, leadership and iconography are still incredibly relevant in today’s climate. The other is that a hero should be well suited to those he would fight against, the Red Skull, Hydra, AIM are enemies that can be brought into a modern context w/o changing who the characters/organizations essentially are.

      Anyway, just food for thought.

  25. RichVR says:

    The good director says, “Let me show you how awesome this material is.” The hack says, “How can we change this material to make it good?”

    Bravo. Well said.

    1. Noble Bear says:


  26. Vladius says:

    Whatever they’re doing, it was EXTREMELY poorly worded in this release. You don’t “get around” Captain America wearing a flag or flag patterns on his costume. Why is he called Captain America if he’s like “I can’t wait to get out of this thing?”

    1. Avilan the Grey says:

      …On the other hand I would rather die than to wear a ridiculous costume that looks like a Swedish flag. I am a patriot, but if the gov. wanted to dress me up like a clown then I would say no.

  27. Avilan the Grey says:

    Not trying to get back into IRL politics but:

    1. Captain America has never been popular outside the US, for obvious reasons (meaning the whole flag and patriotism, not IRL politics). I am very doubtful about the “foreign” box office potential of this film.

    2. Seeing how Cap got assassinated in the comic book for actually standing up for “America As It Should Be” it is clear how they could make the character work in the movie.
    (It is also funny how a certain writer(s) argue that Cap was on the “Evil” side and Iron Man on the “good” side but that horse is not only dead but zombiefied)

    1. Josh says:

      He’s popular enough in my country.

    2. Vladius says:

      Civil War was unpopular in every country.

  28. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I only recently taken a liking to Captain America. As a non-american myself, I think you would understand why I wouldn’t like to be shoved american propaganda down my throat.

    Until some people talked to me about the character, and I realised an element: Captain America isn’t a representation of the U.S. as they ARE (no matter what some americans might believe about their country), but as they should aspire to be. He represents the “American Dream” in its purest form.

    He is not an Avatar of America’s Ideals. He is an Avatar of America’s Dream, and American Dream (both of them, think about them). And that makes him a really tragic, really heroic character in my mind. What happens when the ideals you are supposed to stand for gets betrayed by the very people you were created to protect?

    (I don’t believe America is any better than any other nation, nor it is worse than any other nation. It’s a nation that simply tries to defend itself, make sure it is secured. And like any other nation trying to do this, it means doing dirty things to people around the world. All nations do this when security is concerned, NO EXCEPTION. So I don’t see it as a “bad” thing, worth of criticize a country. Not a single country never have had shady dealings).

    A good “Captain America” theme would be the clash between what he is, and the state of the country he is meant to represent.

    When I think about it, the Comedian is probably even a greater joker than I ever realised. Only now do I see the similarities/contradiction between Captain America and the Comedian. Both are (opposite) incarnation of the American Dream and its effect on people. They are two faces of the same coin. The white and the black side.

    The Comedian is what Captain America could have become.

    1. Matt K says:

      That clash is what is kind of central to his character since his reintroduction into the Avengers. Hell, there was a whole storyline where he found a high level politician was actually covertly helping terrorists and Cap quit because of it. And that conflict plus Cap’s leadership skills is what I really like about the character.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        Exactly. And it’s close to the people’s perception of America, “as it should be”.

        They should make that theme the central point of the movie. After all, you can only appeal to the customers by combining today’s struggles with yesterday’s concepts.

  29. Dev Null says:

    Or y’know, write some _original_ material about a _new_ superhero that you do actually connect with. Gaiman forbid.

    I loved the bit in the first Xmen movie where Wolvie puts on his black padded combat armour, and someone (Cyclops?) says: “What, you thought we’d be wearing yellow and black spandex?” Because noone was going to take them seriously if they dressed them up like the original comic did… And it occurs to me that none of the Dark Knight movies dress Batman like the original Batman comics: blue spandex and bright yellow belt.

    1. Eidolon says:

      Actually, Batman’s original costume was black and grey, with a black bat symbol on the chest (and no yellow ellipse).

      The graphic convention of the time was that black needed a highlight color in order to show dimensionality and detail (so that it wouldn’t just look like a flat area on the page). Blue was the usual highlight color. At some point, the blue highlight spread and finally took over the entire cowl and cape.

  30. drow says:

    dear hollywood,

    it should be clear, by now, that there are only a couple of directors within your whole, incestuous family who can pull off a superhero movie competently. please stop giving these sorts of projects to other, lesser, ghoulishly debased individuals.

  31. Zak McKracken says:

    As a represantative of the “rest of the world” (not really representative of the entire rest of the world, just part of it … actually not much more than myself) may I just add something, but I’ll try not to talk about my opinion, just some observations:

    During the eighties something like an American flag was mostly a welcome sight in central Europe. Icecream, hamburgers all kinds of stuff was branded using the flag or other US symbols, like the statue of liberty and stuff, and it helped marketing. This reduced somewhat during the Nineties.
    Any marketeer who tried that today would either be fired or fail spectacularly. Any prominent display of the US flag feels oddly out of place around here. The things people associate with it have completely changed if not been inverted.
    Thus, I can’t imagine many people around here would be attracted to a Captain America movie if it was about a guy who is like “I’m so proud of America, I’ll wear a flag and beat up anyone I think is a bad guy”, except maybe if it was a parody.
    That said, there’d be significantly more interest if the movie approached the topic in a different way. Like a guy who finds himself with a flag and then decides if he’s wearing it and he has the opportunity he might as well start doing something good with his powers. And then he goes and does everything right, like those “good old days” were supposed to be (but were not actually).
    The difference is subtle, but I think it can be understood. Then again, not being much of a cartoon-movie fan, I am not sure whether such a movie could deal with these subtleties appropriately.


    P.S.: Shamus, I hope this post meets your criteria for non-political discussion. I think most of the above is independent of what political opinion any individual may have

    1. Matt K says:

      Pretty insightful post. That is primarily the issue with a Cap A movie. Studios need a decent international return on their investment. Avatar might be able to ignore that revenue stream but the average movie cannot. So they end up with the issue of how to sell a pro-US movie about an American soldier kicking ass to a foreign market. And in this day and age that is a huge problem.

      So honestly I have little issue with making changes from the source material but only as long as it’s true to the character and not stupid (and this one is bordering on stupid sounding to me but things can change).

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        I think you got it backward. Avatar could do without the U.S. market and still be one of the most successful movie of all time.

        International sales is what brings the majority of the money for these large blockbusters.

  32. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Shamus, I think I might have an issue about your new “reply” system: It’s hard to spot where there have been new comments since the last time I checked.

  33. Vegedus says:

    I’m European and can safely say I find something odd about a superhero called Captain America. I remember being all “What, seriously” the first time I heard the name, oh so many years ago. I think the reason is the moral systems of superheroes is supposed to be universal. Marvel isn’t afraid of some shades of grey (and neither is DC, for that matter, since the silver age), but it’s clear that Captain America is a Designated Good Guy. Sure, he may face hard choices with questionable outcomes, but it’s clear that he’s always fighting for what he believes in and with the best intentions. But how can that always be a good thing if he only has America’s interests at heart? In a comic book world it’s easy for the American core interests to be all about liberty and equal rights, but in the real world, and especially outside America, it’s hard to shake off all the other associations the American flag can have, such as capitalism (in the bad sense) and imperialism.

    To rephrase, because I’m not sure I’m getting the right meaning across, any superhero tied to a nationality seems odd to me. Those are heroes of their countries, but not of the world, not of humanity, and not of comic books. It’s aggravated when the nation in question is the single largest political power in the world, and have changed it for good or ill in many ways.

    In another rephrasing, Indeed, it would be an incredibly hard sell to many people I know and would play right into their prejudices as well. I might watch it if it had some good action, but it’s hard to imagine it being more than ‘average’ if there weren’t some deconstruction of the character and it’s motivations and ideals.

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      It would also be interesting if he battled ennemies like Kommodor Soviet and Citizen China, no?

      And if all of them also standed for what their countries believe in, and the ideal their countries are aspiring to. Since no (NONE) country actually aspire to “evilness”, it would give a very generous perspective shower. I mean, the guy in front of you is as dedicated to his cause than you, and he’s just as honorable as you. But you have to fight him because he’s on the other side of the Iron Wall.

    2. Noble Bear says:

      Need every hero be a citizen to the world?

      I think that there is room not only for characters like Cap but for Captain Britain, Alpha Flight’s Vindicator (nae Guardian), or even heroes of fictional realms, like Black Panther.

    3. Eidolon says:

      Well, that’s the thing about the character. He doesn’t “always have America’s interests at heart.” True, he is a patriot, but not a blind one. It’s more accurate to say that he always has America’s ideal at heart.

      In my opinion he tends to be at his best when the contrast between those ideals and reality is played upon. The character is, when written well, quite a good platform for stories involving elements of politics, culture, and society.

      Of course, when written poorly (for example, the 1950s incarnation of the character), he becomes a rather two-dimensional platform for jingoism instead. And I think among the more widely-popular superheros, he might be the most difficult to write well. It’s pretty easy to understand Batman or Spiderman or even the Hulk. Captain America requires a little more… I hesitate to use the word “subtlety” in conjunction with comics. Awareness?

      1. AGrey says:


        Wasn’t the cover of Captain America #1 Cap punching Hitler in the face?

        1. Eidolon says:

          Missed the rest of that third paragraph, did you?

  34. H.M says:

    …I’m Swedish, and I LOVE Captain America. Not the gun-toting maniac in the Ultimate Marvel line, but the main universe one. You know, before they KILLED him?!

    Anyway, as a foreign fan of Cap, it is my sincere hopes that the people making this garbage will die poor, broken and alone in a dirty alley somewhere.

    1. Josh says:

      It’s the same with me here. I’m not american, but I read a lot of Captain America in the late eighties, early nineties and I LOVED the character and a lot of my friends also had the same liking. We used to play Marvel RPGs and someone always played as Captain America, even when others played as Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and even more powerful beings.

      How they treated the character in the 2000s (civil war, killing him, Ultimate) was a great mistake in my opinion. The way this movie is headed it seems to me it’s another step in the wrong direction.

  35. 1d30 says:

    It’s kind of too bad.

    This would be a good opportunity to, without bathos or pretension, show a little of what made / makes America great (depending on your opinion). I think that’s what Cap was about. Sort of like an Anti-Comedian (Watchmen).

  36. Noble Bear says:

    This is a really great object lesson in respecting the Characters. If you don’t respect the characters, they will be one dimensional pushovers and your narrative will be useless, uncompelling and cease to have meaning outside the time of its release. Worrying about what will/wont market to a certain demographic or audience is a poor design philosophy.

    In this case, putting focus on making/avoiding political hay about Cap means that the character will suffer greatly.

    Spidey is my no.1 guy but Cap is a character that I have long had great respect for. He is in mind and spirit everything that Superman is in body. Between Joe Quesada and various Hollywood studios, I would like something I care for to not have a giant, steaming dump taken on it. So far Iron Man and the Norton Hulk movies are steps in the right direction. I would hope they don’t blow it now.

  37. I have problems with American politics, but Cappy isn’t about that shit. He never has been. He’s always been about the DREAM. Liberty, freedom, peace, doing what’s right. He shares a lot more in common with Star Trek than with Jack Bauer. I’ve never once heard people in other countries dislike Cappy (this thread aside), especially since Marvel is well-known for embracing concerns about the ecology, poverty, etc., Cappy included.

    Hell, that was the POINT of Civil War: Captain America dies because his idea of America is too old (in the view of the writers). He fights with the REBELS, not the pro-government side.

    The Ultimates makes this really clear: He’s not a propaganda symbol, he’s not just a shill, he’s at worst a good soldier doing his job and at best he’s a hero, a reflection in the mirror and a moral conscience.

    Now, I CAN, MAYBE, defend the director for one reason: Steve Rogers thought roughly the same thing early on. One of the most appealing things about Cappy is his proletarian humility: The idea that all these accolades are too much, that he’s just a guy who does what’s right (and has had failures: Bucky). If they have him begin to accept his role as Captain America and really step into it, becoming proud of the suit and everything it means and says, then those scenes are fine. But, of course, odds are roughly 1:4 (and I’m being EXTREMELY optimistic) that they’ll use it to just handwave the ostensibly silly costume out of the way and make it action shlock.

    *sigh* The character deserves better.

  38. Shamus says:

    Thanks to everyone who kept this civil, I know some of it is touchy stuff.

  39. SharpeRifle says:

    Sigh if they are gonna try this here’s what they should go with.

    Make their super soldier… realise they don’t want to risk him…

    Have him do propaganda movies in hollywood to help the war effort

    serials and the like. Finds out about a ratzi plot from a fan named Barnes.

    Goes stomps on ratzis.

    the USO performer thing is just stupid.

    Course doing it the above way is stupid too…but at least it makes a glimmer of sense.

  40. Sho says:

    Incidentally Shamus, although you cite Moviebob’s article in support of your argument (sort of–lousy phrasing on my part, but I don’t have the time on my hands to clarify), Moviebob himself is actually in support of the issues you oppose, and actually views the whole thing optimistically.

    Blog post: Also note a relevant comment or two, and possibly other blog posts (such as the post after that one).

    This is just me, respecting all concerned viewpoints, and contributing someone else’s perspective for contrast and stuff. Me, I have no strong opinions either way.

  41. NBSRDan says:

    You have a strange measure of what makes a good director. I think an artist’s objective is (either to inspire other artists or) to make their work the best it can be. If a movie is being adapted from a poor source, a bad director will say ‘just make an exact copy’, while a good director will say ‘I can’t just ignore the source and make whatever movie I want, but I’ll change the details to make it better.’

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      Shamus’ post talks about the scenario of a good source and a bad director who thinks he’s a good director saying “the source isn’t gonna work, I’ll need to change it”.
      I have actually no idea whether that’s what is happening or not. I think it’s a chance of making an incredibly relevant piece of film, or something trivial, or something bad, or something horrible. My guess is it’s going to be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. But let’s see …

      1. Chris Arndt says:

        And like I said (probably not here) I don’t want Captain America to be relevant.

        Usually that means “timely” and usually that means “dated”.

        I like “timeless”.

  42. acabaca says:


    The second Star Trek movie, acknowledged by most to be the best of the bunch, was directed by a man who said he hated the original series. He went to the job with the attitude of “let’s fix what’s wrong with this thing”.

    I find it plausible that if you give the reins to a fan, he is likely to assume that everybody of course already loves the original material and all he needs to do is go through the motions.

    1. The problem is that Nicholas Meyer never said, “Well, we get around the fact that he’s on a spaceship by…” Meyer was involved in intense, non-credited rewrites of the script. He might have hated the series, but he clearly had reverence for its premises (naval analogies, Spock’s death, etc.). Further, Star Trek tends to be a bad analogy, because TOS had so much input from actors, writers, Gene Roddenberry’s sentiments, etc. that no director could really just ignore all that. The actors had been doing their thing for years, they had a feel for the characters and had come to respect (if not always love) them.

      This is a one-off movie with sequel exploitation potential. The only people who’ll be pissed if it completely ignores the source material are NEEEEEEEERDS! So the director has far more room to ignore the fundamental premises of the character and genre (supersoldier, flag suit, frozen in a glacier…), or to explain them away as silly (and thereby call far more attention to them).

      In general, I think Shamus’ maxim is on the right track. A good director will approach the source material with the idea, “Okay, what works about this? What doesn’t? Why do fans like it, and how can I make those elements resonate with a broader audience?” A bad director will go, “What can I do about this to make money? How will this hurt my credibility?” There’s only so much that you can hate a premise and still produce something interesting out of it.

      In the interest of full disclosure: I actually liked Transformers. But the reason why that worked insofar as it did is that while Bay didn’t know or like the series, tons of the actors and people on staff DID. And when Bay started to do the research, he and the other creative people (*snicker*) on staff started to realize the weight and import of this mythology. That’s why they had Cue Cullen moments. If Captain America doesn’t get that, it won’t be good.

  43. Chris Arndt says:

    Captain America, as I have read the character for many years, is a largely non-political character… and while many writer, editors, and fans disagree, the more political stories are the worser stories and the more adventure-themed stuff is the best.

    The political intrigue stuff is also good, but the tales about morality of killing and “disillusionment with America” never felt right to me.

    Political ideas like what size government should be and the role social role of property-ownership should never be in Captain America or Superman, but the whole sociopolitical idea of “this must be done, so I will do it” is one of the best and THAT is what Captain America is about…. Captain America is like Die Hard 4 without the swearing and less killing.

    And if I will indulge in real-life sociopolitical stuff, and skirt it, the morality of killing is less about taking a life than it is about the motivational circumstances behind the loss of life. There is such a thing as “murder” and there are reasons to kill that actually make killing a praiseworthy action, but every loss of life is a tragedy regardless of how praiseworthy the act or how scumtastic the dead guy is.

  44. krellen says:

    Non-sequitur time: For some reason, the combination of Frontalot, Cap, and Nerd Culture just makes me want to scream “NERRRRDS!”, like Ogre.

  45. Rayen says:

    i’m kinda wincing at the idea of captain america movie… the way that director talked about it made me think. damnit just get WWE to sponsor it make the Marine 3 and make john Cena captian america heavyweightchapion of the world… (/disgust)

  46. Rayen says:

    to be fair, in regards to the last sentences a Good screenwriter says “let me show how awesome this material is.”

    although the director will have alot of influence over subsequent rewrites and the way the movie is done. so a good captain america movie might have been written but if the director doesn’t respect the source material OR the screenwriter then he shouldn’t be doing the movie… i mean he makes changes bad for the movie.

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