Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Is it Time for Another Captain America?

posted by Nell Minow

This week’s announcement that Chris Evans (“The Fantastic Four”) will star in a new “Captain America” movie makes this the right moment to think about the history and meaning of the character. Never as iconic and popular as Superman or Batman, Captain America’s status has risen and fallen according to the political sentiments of the era. Unsurprisingly, he first appeared at a time of the most vibrant patriotism, the beginning of WWII. The character was Steve Rogers, a sickly young man who was given an experimental Super-Soldier Serum and “Vita-Ray” treatment that made him very strong and healthy in order to aid the United States war effort. His costume was inspired by the American flag. He has no superpowers but he carries a red, white, and blue indestructible shield. Captain America was often portrayed as fighting for the Allies and he was Marvel’s most popular hero during the war. captain america silver age.jpg
But his popularity waned in the Cold War era. His explicit Americanism did not fit either the complacence and materialism of the 1950’s or the Cold War concerns. He disappeared from comics until 1964. Interestingly, a character who appeared to be Captain America was featured in a comic book story starring the Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm (also played by Evans on screen). But that character turned out to be a villain in disguise. The unabashed pro-Americanism of the character did not fit well with the turbulence of the 1960’s and Captain America himself became so disillusioned with the government following Watergate that he took on another persona for a while. In another episode he led a protest against government oppression of superheroes that was a commentary on infringement of civil rights. The character has had many different iterations and the Steve Rogers alter ego has died and been brought back and been in suspended animation and been brought back as the Captain America identity has shifted as well for a while being taken over by Roger’s one-time sidekick. There is also a black Captain America named Isaiah Bradley, whose origin was explicitly inspired by the real-life Tuskegee experiments. He was injected with the serum before Rogers.
Chris Evans was one of the best things about the uneven “Fantastic Four” movies and I look forward to seeing where he takes this character.



  • Toby Clark

    I guess that rules out the Fantastic Four showing up in an Avengers movie.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I wondered the same thing, Toby! But I could see getting a new cast for the F4.

  • Carlos Font

    I dont think this movie will do very good. Look to be disappointed.

  • Michael W Williams

    I am not sure yet about Chris Evans; and the gratuitous violence of ‘The Wolfman’ detracted from the story and makes me doubt director Joe Johnston’s helmsmanship (assuming Jurassic Park III wasn’t enough)
    But I am absolutely delighted to hear Aussie actor Hugo Weaving will be playing the Red Skull!
    I’ve been a fan since the ‘Priscilla’ days. I still think he was the best thing about ‘The Matrix’.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Carlos, I am cautiously optimistic but I understand your concerns. Captain America is a difficult character to get right. Michael, a very astute comment about Johnston and Weaving, also one of my favorites. I agree enthusiastically re his appearances in Matrix and Priscilla. And as I have said repeatedly, superhero movies rise and fall on their villains, so this is good news. I am also intrigued that Alice Eve (see my recent interview) and Emily Blunt are rumored to be co-starring.

  • Toby Clark

    “But I could see getting a new cast for the F4″
    Yeah, that’s the rumour I’m hearing too, a complete continiuity reboot. But as disappointing as Fantastic Four and Rise of the Silver Surfer were, I think it’s too soon to reboot the whole series. The Incredible Hulk wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t get past how it had gone out of its way to contradict the first – all it had to do was show him pushing someone else out of the way of the Gamma beam instead of him being strapped down in front of it, and it wouldn’t bother me so much. But then I’m in the minority as far as the first Hulk goes. I just think The Incredible Hulk would have been better as a straight sequel in spite of having a different cast and tone.

  • ShadoWarrior

    I respectfully submit Mark Valley (Human Target) as a much better Captain American. I believe he would be a better fit as a soldier.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Excellent choice, ShadoWarrior! I’d love to see that! I hope Mark Valley’s appearance in Human Target brings him to the attention of Hollywood.

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