Movie Preview: Captain America

By Michael Vass | May 26, 2011

This movie is a big one. It’s not because of Chris Evans, playing the titular role, nor because of the craze in comic book to movie conversions that Hollywood is in love with currently. It has nothing to do with the plans of Marvel Comics to release the Avengers movie in a year. It is because if Captain America fails, a subtle but definite blow has been struck to the nation. Talk about weight on your shoulders.

I am an old comic book fan. I collected many Marvel comic series in my youth. I know the histories of all the major (and most minor) characters. So if I tread a bit deeper than the superficial on this review, it’s not because I have no idea what I am speaking about.

How important is Captain America? The comic book never really sold as well as X-Men or Spiderman. Captain America has no flashy powers, he’s not an alien imbued with power by our sun. He’s not a nearly psychotic anti-social obsessive-compulsive multi-millionaire with an identity crisis. He is just a man that has a deep and feverent love of his nation, imbued with the ability to aide his nation. He is a man that believes that America is worth dying to protect, and willing to do anything that will help ensure America survies – intact with the freedoms and democracy that it was created under. The character is a reflection of the underlying values of the nation, a task no other comic book character has attained without being alien to the planet itself.

Given that, I both look forward to and fear this film. I have said in the past,

“For generations born after the strife and rebellion of the 60′s, the loss of confidence in the Government in the 70′s, and now the near constant disappointments in Presidents since then Captain America is the only real image of America as strong, just, and fighting the good fight”

Here are the first trailers for the movie of Captain America, and our first chance to see how close to the above the movie gets.

The longer video clip summarizes the beginning of the film. It’s the history of Steve Rogers, and how he became Captain America. It clarifies his love of country at a time the country had great need. Knowing Hollywood, expect this to be almost 15 – 25 minutes of the movie at the opening.

From there we get to see bits of the rest of the movie. That’s a problem. Neither movie trailer is willing to show anything memorable from the film. A movie trailer is supposed to seduce you, draw you to a theater to see more. In fact editors are paid handsomely to create movie trailers alone – culling the very best and most compelling parts of a movie, causing exponentially more people to see a film. These trailers are bland at best.

Looking at the costume design, even those that are supposed to be dressed as regular GI’s look off. Given it is hard to capture the look of 1942 more than half a century later, but the feel of the images seems to enhance the lack of credulity not deflate it.

As for the costume of Captain America itself, lame. This is the classic lok of the character

A classic look of the character

The consistent and classic look of Captain America

Chris Evans as Captain America looks quite unimpressive in comparison. Another blow to the movie.

From the trailers, the writng seems to be tuned for kids at the tween age range. That could be the acting, the scenes selected, and/or the tone of the film. We can hope its the 2nd option only, but it seems doubtful.

Also, why not show the Red Skull? He is the main bad guy, and Hugo Weaving is a decent villian actor. Are they trying to hide the character to push the film, or was the look and acting that bad?

What about Bucky Barnes, the sidekick of Captain America in WWII. Will he appear? Or is that comic book canon that will be tossed aside. If so, what else might be tossed away?

Speaking of people that should appear, how will Nick Fury (in comics as a white man which would match the majority of societal themes of the time) show up? Is he going to be a failed experiment subject, ala the Tuskegee Experiments, or are they going to recon (revision) the character that Samuel Jackson has estabilshed solidly [much as they did to Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2]?

The very last thing that the trailers are not revealing is perhaps the most deadly nail in the coffin to the film. This film, by its title and the image of the character, is political. Based on the actual history of the character, he would be seen today as more of a conservative, perhaps even as a Tea Party member. Given that he has been quite liberal in some views, or adopted others over time, the core of the character is the Constitution. How likely is that to be portrayed in a film by Hollywood?

More likely is that this film may be used to insert liberal ideals, disguised as plot points. If this film devolves into politics parading as entertainment, for either side, it will be an abysmal failure. Its one thing to be true to the character and the time period, another to have an agenda.

From what can be seen so far, Chris Evans’ Captain America will disappoint. It appears to be less action than action fans will want, less cerebral than those who like complex movies would prefer. The fight scences look highly unauthentic, failing fans of WWII movies. Even less than ardent comic book fans will be left cold by the portrayal.

In total, this will likely be a decent film to own on DVD, on sale or discount. It will be a hit for cable. But unless the movie becomes exponentially better after Steve Rogers becomes the titular hero, the film has failed. And that means that it also fails America, in a way far more important than the potential star status of Chris Evans, or the sequel potential for Marvel Comics. It will fail the heart of the nation.

I want to be wrong. I hope to be wrong. Very soon, we will see.

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