The de-Americanization of American superheroes continues.
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.
To make matters worse, the film’s studio has chosen to re-title the film simply "First Avenger" for certain foreign markets. I guess they concluded that “Captain America” would be just too bloody American for some audiences. Whatever the studio’s stated reasons, the fact is that they are deliberately catering to the anti-American market, and that's flat-out Un-American. It’s this ambivalence about America by Americans that paves the way for this type of pandering. I suppose the constant denigration of America by the left in this country, through the media, academia, entertainment, etc., has made even Americans who don’t hate their country reluctant to defend it when it’s attacked.
In the film, I’ve heard that Captain America fights Nazis. This is understandable, because the film is set World War II. Cap was born to fight America’s enemies, whoever they were at any given point in time. But the Captain America of 2011’s comic books is still fighting Nazis, rather than America’s current enemies, the jihadists.
What’s even more ridiculous is that, in a recent issue of the Captain America series, #611, the writer would have us believe that the Nazis in his story are fighting Socialists – as if the Nazi’s weren’t socialists themselves. The writer even had Cap taking on the Tea party in a storyline, having Cap suggest that they're a bunch of racists. The writer is clearly using Captain America as a mouthpiece for his left-wing views, and Marvel clearly did not have a problem with it, until there was a public outcry that forced them to respond.
Post 9/11, the only time Marvel Comics came close to having Captain America (aside from the “Ultimate” version) take on the American enemies of today was when he fought a terrorist group that somewhat resembled al Qaeda. And the main thing I remember from that forgettable storyline was when the leader of the group aired his grievances about America directly to Captain America, with Cap promptly apologizing to him for whatever this killer accused America of doing. Cap, in effect, was depicted as actually giving credence to a mass-murdering madman’s claims. I also recall another post-9/11 moment where Captain America was flying in a plane over Dresden, Germany, lamenting what America did to the city in World War II. The writer has Captain America equating what we did in Dresden with the Jihadist attack on our country on 9/11.
There’s no patriotism like American patriotism, and there's no patriotic superhero like Captain America. If that assertion bothers you, then try naming a country that has a greater heritage than ours. If it doesn’t bother you, if you actually take pride in it, then you understand what Johnston, Evans and unfortunately, many Americans, don't. That America is, as Ayn Rand put it, "...the greatest, the noblest and, in it's founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world."
I love America. Maybe my being the son of immigrants who came from a country ravaged by both Islam and Communism helps me more fully to appreciate how fortunate I am to be born and raised in a country that recognizes the sanctity of the individual. Whatever problems we may have as a country can usually be traced back to our not living up to our founding principles.
I guess it’s a sign of the times that not only has it taken ten years after 9/11 for there to actually be a Captain America movie, but also that it’s brought to us by those who think Captain America is too American. I hope to enjoy the film, but I can’t help but anticipate how the attitude of the filmmakers might affect it. Maybe since having worked on the film, they’ve earned a newfound appreciation of the character and of America? We’ll find out soon enough.