Friday, July 1, 2011

Emails #63: Revisionista

RICK: I just finished reading a particularly breezy "first look" article of Captain America: I am the First Avenger in the Avenger Movie Franchise! Hugo Weaving is pictured. His uniform bears a Hydra patch. No Swastika. No Iron Cross. No German emblems or otherwise mandatory Nazi symbolism. We wouldn't want to offend German movie goers by painting them as villains now would we? I bring this up because the director is quoted using the old two step. We wanted to stay true to the original source material. We don't want it to look like a comic book, too bright, winged mask... It is set in real world WWII. It is set in the Marvel universe. Oh, Cap will lead a group called the Howling Commandoes AND Tony Stark's father, Hydra and an international group will be part of Captain America's origin. In historical fact, the UNITED STATES FOUGHT NAZIS during WWII. They were German and they were evil (not all German people were evil then or now). Millions lost their lives in the struggle. Surprisingly, in Marvel events, CAP FOUGHT NAZIS!!! Lots of them. So many in fact that the theme of Cap fighting them carried for decades in the comics long after the real WWII had ended. Don't forget that Simon and Kirby had created Cap for the sole purpose of... you guessed it... FIGHTING NAZIS. Why is fighting NAZIS important? Because they WERE EVIL!! A greater example of non-ambiguous evil can not be found in recent history although you can certainly stack up quite a few regimes and failed states in the evil category. Yet Cap, who was created as a response to NAZISM by comic book legends Simon and Kirby, was punching Hitler and Tojo in the comic pages before America even entered fighting. But maybe I got it all wrong. I haven't done as much reading on the subject as it warrants. Maybe Hydra was the real enemy in Simon & Kirby's Cap. Maybe in Marvel lore, it is Hydra and not the Nazis...

As a plus side, Chris Evans seems to be quoted showing a great deal of respect and concern for the character. A few more stills in print show him looking much, much more Cap than I had previously thought. He is starting to look the part and I haven't seen anything in print attributed to him that indicated a poor attitude as far as the character was concerned. My concern that he not have enough gravitas to play a genuine leader still remain.

There are still a few places for surprises. Wolverine and Gambit can guest star as well as Thor, Nick Fury, Iron Man, Black Panther, Sub Mariner... none of whom ever appeared in Cap's origin before. In the revised origin I have crafted with Ben, the source material is not discarded but augmented by a blend of historical fact and logical extrapolation based on real events and Cap lore. I wish I had the skill and creativity of a writer like Alan Moore whose brain is able to combine factual detail, fiction and speculation into astounding, mind-popping new adventures. From Hell with Eddie Campbell. Watchmen with Dave Gibbons. The League...

It is in this spirit but quite clumsily that my efforts to integrate Cap into a modern mythological framework have been directed. How do you make Cap into a modern movie? A character this rich in background will leave many dissatisfied. Hey, why don't you reject the cornerstones of the character? I don't want him to be "comic booky" because that is immature. If you are embarrassed to be making a project about a comic book character, then why are you doing it to begin with? You've got $140+ million dollars of renovation on a 70+ year old house. Rather than gut it entirely to showcase today's trendy marble, chrome and open spaces - shouldn't you accent to existing details and be proud that you found a property in such great shape? Hurry up though. That pesky family "The Avengers" from out of town is moving in and their name is already on the mailbox...

BEN: I guess the only counter-point I could bring (although I completely agree) is what one soldier who fought in the war to end all wars said. When his daughter asked him if he was going to go see Saving Private Ryan, he said he was not. He added that films that showed war as it was don't make sense because they fought so hard so their children wouldn't know what it was like. Not that's a pretty Utopian view and in my opinion whenever we forget what war is like is right when we start one, but it's an interesting viewpoint. I don't think any subject is taboo unless it's treated in a way that is really inappropriate. Taking the symbols Nazis twisted for their own gain out of the film doesn't do anything but harm. Symbolism is SO important in comics and film, graphical symbols especially. Missing this opportunity to remind people about the real America breaks my heart, but there is a chance the film will still inspire. And I will certainly do my best to put those values into the films I do-- including a super hero story that is taking shape in the back of my mind. I don't know how strong the concept is, but our talks certainly inspire me to create a hero for a new age-- that doesn't have internet-derived powers :) The interesting thing is that when I mention it to people, they want to know what powers the hero has. It's interesting that as I tell them what the character is like, they're kind of like "yeah yeah yeah, what powers does he have?" My feeling is it doesn't really matter because all super powers have been done. To, me the origin of the character is more important although, my thoughts on powers have led me and my bro in some interesting directions. Anyhow! About the URL... I like although, it does kinda sound finite. That's actually fine, but I was interested in your thoughts.

So, like, what are the powers? The powers are a shorthand. If I were a veteran of WWII and someone asked me about Private Ryan, I wouldn't want to go because it would absolutely break my heart. I don't think I could make it through the Omaha beach portion. What if you had a WWII movie about WWII characters and it wasn't set in WWII exactly? I think it is entirely lame and revisionist in a negative way to try to tell the story about Cap without putting it in WWII as originally intended. If you want to claim it is "Marvel's WWII" then that is also revisionist. Nazis were always front and center even in any Marvel versions of the war. Trying not to offend movie goers? Make a good movie so they don't feel like they wasted 12 bucks. Hey, Abe Lincoln just gave speeches during the Civil War. It wasn't the war with the highest American body count. The Revolutionary War was misunderstood. The English weren't all the bad. We couldn't show the atrocities or even suggest them. That would be foolishness. MORE talk about the URL soon. What do you mean as in finite? Too specific? Did you want a more general title?

Yeah, I can't support the lack of Nazis in the film. I mean, it's a perfect opportunity to connect kids with history. Seems like a no brainer to get kids interested in history. And obviously it would lend a textured canvas to tell your story from. With the character Bob (my bro) and I are musing about, we're looking into deriving his powers from Norse mythology. I'm still not sure if it will work, but it immediately led allowed me to envision a whole story arc for a film, TV season or comic series. URL: Yes, I'm not sure if specifically saying it's a discussion series is what we want if we have any intention of doing anything more on the blog after this discussion is complete. Or... when we finally get winded :)

Tell the story of Jaws in a swimming pool. Tell the story of the Titanic without the boat. Tell Star Wars without the Death Star. Tell Cap's story without Nazis.

"Discussion series" sounds formal and official. I am actually going to beg off on this discussion. All of the current suggestions sound good. Pick one Ben that you like and go with it. What feels right to you? I have faith that you will make a good choice.

Bob. Robert. Robby. Bobby. Norse God. Catchy.

Dear Readers,

You've made it! This is the final post of the Emails series! That's not the end, however. We covered a LOT of ground and we hope you're enjoying the blog. We have a landing-craft full of GREAT stuff coming in the weeks to come. We have an official wrap up, a special July 4th edition, suggested reading and of course, a double dose of Captain America: The First Avenger film reviews. Also, a very, very special send off: A special peek at the ending we never wrote for the script we never wrote - Cap vs. Red Skull!

For us, it is time to return to the beginning and read it all back to back and enjoy our discussions, musings and wanderings for the creative collaboration that they are. Visit us as often as you like. We'll be here for questions and comments. Watch closely to see what projects we unveil next. Adventure is just over that hill so stay tuned!

United we stand,
RICK & Ben

From Runic Films:

We would like to congratulate Rick and Ben on their massive achievement in this blog. We have been very glad to sponsor such a great exploration into myth, character and storytelling. We hope you'll enjoy these next weeks for the great posts these two have in store. Runic will also be making some special announcements so, keep your eyes peeled!

Runic Films

Still to Come!

  • MONDAY: 4th of July Blowout!!

  • NEXT: CAP vs. RED SKULL winner take all series!!

  • THEN: First Avenger Double Movie Review!!

A filmmaker has almost the same freedom as a novelist has when he buys himself some paper.
-Stanley Kubrick

I couldn't sleep one night and I was sitting in my office and I realized that I was an independent filmmaker.
-Darren Aronofsky

I've always considered myself a filmmaker who writes stuff for himself to do.
-Quentin Tarantino

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