Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Emails #56: Unmistakably, Unrelentingly American

RICK: I just finished reading a series of comments that the Cap director Joe Johnston made regarding Cap. I suppose it is to be expected. Shooting has already begun and the script vetted by everyone who was going to get their hands on it. It was disheartening because his view of Cap as much more "international" in range. This kind of revisionist, liberal crap is what turns people off.Cap as a character, as envisioned by Simon & Kirby, was a direct response to the hideous evil that was unleashed in Germany, Japan and Italy during WWII and America's need to step in and combat tyranny. The struggle to create a super soldier has by necessity been a long one covering many years and guided by many hands—all with the express purpose of giving the United States of America a secret weapon during war time. Steve Rogers becomes Captain America (Not Captain Ally or Captain United Nations) and is able to give hope to our troops in the darkest of fights. This is the real strength of Cap and not his fighting prowess. In the field, he can do very little except act as a human symbol to remind the other soldiers why they fight and what they fight for. The ideals of liberty, freedom, might and compassion. Victory in WWII was not assured just because the Americans got involved. England was taking a pounding and many other countries had already been overrun. Germany had also been racing to develop its own super soldier...

Making a film like Cap that costs two hundred million dollars IS obscene. The marketing is going to cost even more and this is all a lead up to The Avengers. If Cap tanks at the box office, it may bring down the whole house of cards. With Marvel projects stacked in pre-production like cord wood and also costing a great deal to develop, a big misstep could be more than enough to ruin everything. SO what do you do? Make the story more internationally friendly. More spies and double agents. More Resistance fighters. Teamwork. Go Cap! Go Europe! We all know that Europe is thankful we got into the war but few recall that our isolationist policies and "arsenal of democracy" turned a heady profit for us before we entered the war and after it concluded. This still does not sit well with our allies 60 years later. They had to rebuild from smoking rubble while we had working factories running at full capacity. The body count was so high in Russia that the numbers are still disputed to this day. Water the movie down a little. Take out the rah, rah. Sell a few extra seats in Europe. This is totally the wrong strategy. Cap needs to be unmistakably, unrelentingly American and not international. Audiences everywhere want to see it. They want that tough guy up there on the screen fighting for what is right and not apologizing for being an American. Steve Rogers is a humble youth. His whole life has been spent in sickness. He knows what it is like to be weak. And now he is strong. And part of his strength is his compassion for his fellow man, his insistence on treating others humanely even in war. Is Captain America a political movie? Hell yeah. But if you really want to sit with a calculator and count the seats in theaters worldwide, make a strong, compelling human story about a sick kid who got his chance to be strong and his biggest achievement was not the battles he fought but the hope he inspired and the compassion he showed to friend and foe alike.

BEN: ...Because that IS American! I have not read the article so, feel free to link me. I've had a bad feeling about the film since it was announced. We call them the greatest generation because they stepped up. We didn't step up first to be sure, but we sure as heck responded when provoked. All we needed was a spark and the fire raged. Cap could never win the war himself. The best he could hope for (though he wouldn't think it) was to be a lynch pin. To make a crucial decision, to knock the glass in just the right spot to shatter it, but without the glass-- without the hundreds of thousands of men a women from all Allies-- it would be just a dull thud and nothing would happen. "Secret A-A-AGENT man!" Cap is a big dude. He's not a James Bond everyman. Can he speak French and leverage the Underground? No, but them hot French women will speak English for him... Anyhow, you're correct. They may think that this film is the perfect opportunity to improve our image to the world, but they probably don't realize is that they're using what I assume is more like capitulation. What the film should do is remind the world and ourselves what makes a hero and what makes an American hero. Is that hero Cap? Yes aaaand no. The real American heroes died to keep the world free. Perfect, no, but willing to do what was right in the end. Cap is a Super Hero which is someone who exemplifies these traits in the pursuit of justice and protecting those who cannot protect themselves. Super-powered people who think they are heroes are what we call "Super Villains." I don't know, maybe that's it. Maybe it's just the fact that these folks don't understand what a super hero is. Anyhoo! Time for sleeping :) I am going to end here for now.

For success, the author must make the reader care about the destiny of the principals, and sustain this anxiety, or suspense, for about 100,000 words.
-Ken Follet

They have followed their usual procedure and handed my treatment over to several other people to make a screenplay out of it. By the time they are ready to shoot it may have been through 20 pairs of hands. What will be left? One shudders to think. Meanwhile, they have paid me a lot of money...
-Aldous Huxley

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