Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Sentinal of Liberty, Hopefully

Superheroes have become an important part of popular culture, their mythology a source for inspiration and hope, but few more so than a skinny Brooklyn kid who in 1941 would come to represent everything that the United States could ever hope to be, a man of unflinching morality and unbending will, Captain America. For months I have been pondering who exactly would be capable at once of the unassuming Steve Rogers and also the ultimate physical and tactical weapon in what is currently being called The First Avenger: Captain America, slated for a May 2011 release. Still strapped for an answer, I had a small panic attack when the rumor mill cranked out the name of Will Smith. Fortunately, it was confirmed as being just a rumor, but until that was settled my heart felt like it would explode in my chest. A terror of Will Smith as Cap has nothing whatsoever to do with the color of his skin, the one and only thing that fear is in reaction to is the thought of misconstruing who Steve Rogers is and what it would take to accurately portray him on the silver screen.

Loosely following the blogosphere's take on the man in blue, I have heard names flung around like Karl Urban, Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt and even John Cena for men to play Cap. Those who would associate those names with anything closely resembling Captain America need a lesson on what it means to be the Sentinel of Liberty, having mistaken him for another muscle head in tights who stands for little more the jumping, grunting and punching. Several of these actors could in fact pass themselves off as Steve Rogers in terms of looks, but anyone who thinks that looks alone can be responsible for a character they feels requires little in the way of acting have no right to even consider calling themselves comic book fans.

Captain America is about presence, emotional strength, patriotism, faith in what is good and right. The man playing Cap needs to present a force of will without limit, who can push himself past any physical limitations in order to get the job done and save the day. Such an actor needs to be able to present a man of such conviction and heroism that an entire nation could rally itself behind him, seeing in him all the very best values of the country whose name he bears and whose symbol he carries.

My faith in Hollywood today hinges on a desperate hope that they realize Captain America is not just another hero, he is a symbol of freedom, a champion of justice. To cast an actor incapable of portraying such gravitas in favor of some sweaty muscles and blond hair would be one of the most inconceivable affronts to characterization and to the idea of Steve Rogers. Hopefully it is a faith that will not be shattered.

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