Friday, April 29, 2016

Why is Captain America 'The First Avenger?'

With "Captain America: Civil War" coming out in seven days, this is a great time to celebrate "The First Avenger" and his time on the big screen.

Cary's Comics Craze will be reposting previews of Cap's first film (the first one starts after this intro) and reviews of "Captain America: The First Avenger" (released in 2011) and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (in 2014) — all of which will be reposted here. 

(That is, if will play nice with the Internet — a massive reason I left that site and restarted the online version of CCC here in July 2014. But anyway, back on the topic …!)

Check out this CCC column, which was published in the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper (the original home of Cary's Comics Craze) before "The Avengers" came out May 4, 2012. Keep in mind I wrote this before Marvel Studios even had made a decision about who would play the Star-Spangled Avenger — and when Chris Evans was a new contender for the role. Enjoy!

We still have no idea who will play Captain America.

Five of the six candidates on the supposed short list have been eliminated.

"Cloverfield" star Mike Vogel, (then) 30, is the only one still in the running.

This the costume Captain America had for the first "Avengers" film.
Two intriguing names have been added to the list: Chris Evans, (then) 28, who has superhero credibility from playing The Human Torch in the two "Fantastic Four" films and Channing Tatum, (then) 29, who has played soldiers in "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," "Dear John" and it what seems like a bunch of other movies. (Find out why yours truly had faith in Evans' casting long before filming started for "Captain America: The First Avenger" by reading this CCC flashback op-ed.)

Here's what we do know: Marvel Studios is setting up an "Avengers" film and the title to the July 2011 Cap film, "The First Avenger: Captain America," certainly confirms and advertises that.

But what does being "The First Avenger" actually mean? 

Well, I've put my fanboy brain to work to put together two logical reasons for the designation besides the obvious tie-in I've already mentioned.
Some very impressive Hollywood magic went into
making actor Chris Evans look like a small, 97-pound
weakling as Steve Rogers in the early part of
"Captain America: The First Avenger." 

First, Cap is a government-sanctioned superhero.

After all, government officials saw that the 97-pound weakling Steve Rogers is as dedicated to his country as the day is long. But he was physically too weak to enlist as a World War II soldier, making him the prime candidate to test the Super Soldier Serum.

We first heard about "the Avengers Initiative" in Samuel L. Jackson's cameo as SHIELD Director Nick Fury at the end of "Iron Man."

Fury's still pestering Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) about joining — or is that starting? — the superhero team in the sequel. So it's apparent SHIELD, a high-tech military operation that specializes in espionage and law enforcement, will have its hands in implementing, if not running or overseeing, The Avengers.

(Cap also could have a loose association with Stark's late father. Stark, in "Iron Man," said his father "helped defeat the Nazis in World War II" Cap's primary mission. I wonder if Howard Stark helped create the drug that turned Rogers into the perfect physical specimen or even Cap's indestructible, patriotic shield, briefly seen in the background of the younger Stark's lab.) 

Steve Rogers gives Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) some ideas for his Captain America costume.
Secondly, Cap is the government's first and only successful attempt at "creating" a superhero.

Since 1941 in the comics, Cap's shield and passionate determination has foiled many plans of the Nazis, Hitler and the Red Skull, Hitler's ultimate Nazi anarchist. (He'll be played by Hugo Weaving, who did the film voice of Megatron in "Transformers" and played the title role in "V for Vendetta" and Agent Smith in the "Matrix" trilogy.)

The costume designers and makeup artists for "Captain
America: The First Avenger" did their homework in designing
the Red Skull. And it paid off —  capped off up by a
stellar performance from Hugo Weaving.
It doesn't take a huge leap in logic to assume the United Sates, having generated its ultimate superhero, soldier and patriot in Rogers/Cap, would also want to establish its own superhero team.

If that's the case, the idea of creating The Avengers with Cap as its foundation, and most likely its leader, therefore cementing "The First Avenger" moniker makes sense.

But casting Captain America remains tricky.

In early January 2011, I wrote in my blog that Marvel must find an actor with "all-American looks ... be cut like nobody's business and look like he could take down a whole squadron of Nazis or Hydra agents with no problem."

After all, Rogers is someone we must believe The Avengers will rally behind when he shouts: "Avengers assemble!"

Captain America is surrounded by Hydra soldiers in this World War II scene
from "The First Avenger." 

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