Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Captain America


Walking back from the Cinema it occurred to me that the four most recent films I've seen have all been superhero adaptations - X-Men: First Class, Thor, Green Lantern and now Captain America. All those other films were to some degree or other flawed. X-Men had some serious plot holes and some unnecessary historical exposition, Thor was spectacular in the true sense of the word and very enjoyable but suffered from sequences that were clearly there solely to set up the connection to the forthcoming Avengers movie and Green Lantern was an object lesson in how to make a very bad superhero film.
So what about Captain America?
Well it isn't the first attempt to bring it to the screen, not even the first live action attempt. None of the previous versions were successful so why should this one be different? The problem lies in the very nature of Captain America's story- not the one in the comic books but the one in the real world. It isn't really one character but two. The character was originally conceived as a super-patriotic strip in 1940 to rally the folks back home during the war. He fought alongside such characters as the Submariner,  the Human Torch and Sergeant Fury's Howling Commandos, and together they took on the evil might of the Third Reich. That incarnation was cancelled in 1954.
The character was revived in 1964 —  having been frozen in the ice since defeating the Red Skull — and started his more modern lease of life, The problem the movie makers have always had is that they try to tell both stories in a single movie. And it doesn't work. One version I saw on TV collapsed the entire WWII story into a single mission where he was created, fought the Red Skull and got frozen, begging question of how he is such a well-known and recognisable icon when he eventually gets thawed out if no one had ever heard of him in the 1940s.
The new version boldly sets everything —  apart from two very short framing sequences —  during the war, allowing time for the character to be drawn in rather bolder strokes than any previous version, and it's all the better for it. In fact it's extremely faithful not just to the original concept of the character but to the style, look and atmosphere of the original comic books. The plot is straight-forward, action-filled and even the inevitable (given the character and setting) triumphalism is tongue-in-cheek and self mocking. It may not be thought-provoking or intellectual fare but it's a jolly good romp. If you're a comics fan then you may enjoy it just a shade more, but most people should enjoy it anyway.
So of the four recent superhero movies, I'd say it's the clear winner.
And now can we please have some movies that aren't based on comics?


David Love said...

Don't worry about spoiling it for me. I haven't seen a super-hero film since Christopher Robin in Superman. I will go when they come up with a suitably British superhero. What would he be called?

That reminds me of a cartoon in Private Eye a few months ago. Batman, Superman and Spiderman turn to the hapless figure and say:
"Remind us again. Exactly what ARE your special powers, Elephant Man?"

How long is it now? I mean your departure to China, of course. It's 4.55 pm and, as you can tell, I'm getting a little bored.


Bob Hale said...

There have been a number of attempts at British Superheroes, quite a lot of them in fact. My own favourite was a very minor - throw-away even - character that appeared in a back-up strip, to the best of my knowledge only once or twice. I think you'd approve. He was called "Big Ben: The Man With No Time For Crime". Not sure what he could do apart from being able to fly but his cosutome was a pinstripe suit, bowler hat and mask that covered just his eyes.

But going back to the days of our childhood what about The Spider, Kelly's Eye, Robot Archie, General Jumbo, Dollman, and of course Dan Dare. As solidly British as they come.

Bob Hale said...

And I almost added Roy of the Rovers. Anybody with a career that long must have super powers

David Love said...

Just goes to show what a sheltered life I've led. Only Dan Dare and Roy of the Rovers ring a bell.

Does Biggles count? Probably not as he wasn't actually a cartoon strip - not initially at least - and, as far as I know, didn't have an alter ego.

Actually- is that a defining feature of a super-hero? Should it be a pre-requisite that they have to change into a costume to become supercharged?