The new motion-picture treatment of the comic book hero Captain America has received quite a bit of buzz, thanks to the, er, brave new take of attempting to disconnect the Captain from America. Next year’s presumed blockbuster will downplay the “flagwaving,” as director Joe Johnston puts it, in favor of a more nuanced worldview. Allahpundit wrote about this last night, but it’s worth another look:
The director of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” the 2011 summer blockbuster that will coincide with the character’s 70th anniversary, says the screen version of the hero will be true to his roots — up to a certain point.
“We’re sort of putting a slightly different spin on Steve Rogers,” said Joe Johnston, whose past directing credits include “Jurassic Park III“ and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” He’s a guy that wants to serve his country, but he’s not a flag-waver. We’re reinterpreting, sort of, what the comic book version of Steve Rogers was.” …
Johnston has been hard at work on the London set of the film but Saturday he’ll be making a whirlwind visit toComic-Con International in San Diego to promote the film. He’ll be joined by cast members too, including his charismatic, young title star, Chris Evans, who has shown a sly, wiseguy wit in many of his previous roles. Does that make him an odd fit to play the earnest and somewhat square superhero with the Betsy Ross fashion sensibility? Johnston answered that in his film — which is set in World War II — the character will fight the enemies of America but he won’t be a stiff, slogan-spouting guy.“He wants to serve his country, but he’s not this sort of jingoistic American flag-waver,” Johnston said. “He’s just a good person. We make a point of that in the script: Don’t change who you are once you go from Steve Rogers to this super-soldier; you have to stay who you are inside, that’s really what’s important more than your strength and everything. It’ll be interesting and fun to put a different spin on the character and one that the fans are really going to appreciate.”
These days, I might settle for that, although I find the constant stream of comic-book movies tiresome. The only one with real intellectual merit was The Dark Knight, but even if the glut of superhero films initially made for good popcorn movies, they’ve become dull, repetitive, and the CGI makes them look silly. The presumed part of “presumed blockbuster” is probably unnecessary, although it’s been a long time since anyone heard from Captain America or cared if they did.
Of course, the mild controversy over Captain America dumping the flag has people talking about him now, and some people figure it’s just hard-Left Hollywood downplaying and denigrating patriotism in favor of a one-world view. That’s certainly a possibility, but it could also come from a less ideological and more mercenary motive. In order to get big-budget films made, studios have to raise money — and increasingly, that money comes from advances on overseas sales, where people thirst for Hollywood’s high production values, but not so much for American flags and patriotism.
Bill Whittle explains this point very clearly in the introductory video for his new effort, Declaration Entertainment:
He who pays the piper calls the tune … and in this case, it’s probably not going to be The Star-Spangled Banner. If anyone wonders why the American brand gets short shrift in American movies these days, it’s because fewer movies are American, at least in the sense of funding, which is the only sense that matters.