— by CAM SMITH —
You’re going to be hearing a lot about the impending “First Avenger: Captain America” over the next month and change, as director Joe Johnston runs the press gamut promoting his intriguing remake of “The Wolf Man.” For better or worse, it’s become a hard and fast rule of the biz that a significant number of media outlets always prefer to focus on projects in the pipeline over the actual movie that’s being pimped (I’m sure Sam Raimi would’ve wearily attested to this fact on his no-doubt exhausting “Drag Me to Hell” rounds).
In a recent in-depth and really entertaining interview with Boxoffice Magazine, Johnston, the respected director of films such as “The Rocketeer,” “Jumanji” and “October Sky,” promised that his WWII-set “Captain America” would defy audience expectations and volunteered the following:
“The great thing about Captain America is he’s a super hero without any super powers. Which is why this story, among the hundreds of superhero stories, appealed to me the most. He can’t fly, he can’t see through walls, he can’t do any of that stuff. He’s an everyman who’s been given this amazing gift of transformation into the perfect specimen—the pinnacle of human perfection. How does that affect him? What does that mean for him emotionally and psychologically? He was this 98-pound weakling, he was this wimp, and he’s transformed instantly into this Adonis. You’d think he got everything he wanted. Well, he didn’t get everything he wanted. The rules change at that point and his life gets even more complicated and dire. For me, that’s the interesting part of the story. It’s got some great action sequences in it and some incredible stuff that we’ve never seen before. But at the heart of it, it’s a story about this kid, who all he wants to do is fit in. This thing happens and he still doesn’t fit in. And he has to prove himself a hero — essentially go AWOL to save a friend. Eventually at the very end, I don’t want to give away too much, but he does fit in. But it’s the journey of getting him there that’s interesting. And it’s a lot of fun.”
Although certain outlets have taken shots at this rough synopsis as being too “emo-y,” I suspect that this approach is probably the smartest road you can take in trying to sell a leery mainstream audience what could easily be misinterpreted as a cheesily jingoistic, antiquated grandfather superhero. By playing up the universal emotional appeal of what a “Captain America” movie could be, Johnston is downplaying the less attractive potential baggage that the hero carries with him. Plus, the notion of Cap going AWOL from his all-American colleagues should help soften the possible international box-office blow.
As I stated in a previous article, I’m really psyched to see where the filmmakers take this character. He has a really wonderful rogues gallery (Red Skull, Crossbones and Baron Zemo alone could fuel a trilogy), an iconic look and origin, and the potential to motivate a really exciting, old school “stunts, suspense and fisticuffs” serial adventure-like franchise. Lord knows, we need one right now, as blockbuster terrain becomes overrun with increasingly unimpressive CG-loaded extravaganzas.
Of course, that said, I’m completely in favor of using “Avatar’s” atrophied-legs technology to give pre-super serum-infused Steve Rogers the appropriate gangly, puny look.
With a July 22, 2011 release date supposedly mapped out, I’d expect some major casting and production announcements mighty soon. I eagerly look forward to writing about them here!
Oh, and just for fun, as well as to complement the 1990 “Captain America” trailer included in the previous piece, here’s a hilariously campy motorcycle clip from the star spangled avenger’s 1979 TV-movie featuring the amazing Reb Brown:
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.