Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Captain America

The comic book character Captain America is a Diesel Era legend. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Captain America first appeared in December of 1940 though the cover listed it as March 1941. While the US wouldn't enter World War II for another year, the creators found fascism repulsive and felt confident that the US would eventually enter the conflict. Though the first copy sold nearly one million copies, interestingly, according to Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America, Joe Simon reported, "When the first issue came out we got a lot of... threatening letters and hate mail. Some people really opposed what Cap stood for."

What little criticism existed at this first publication quickly disappeared with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Throughout the war, Captain America was highly popular. Unfortunately, the character's popularity began to slip in the years that followed. In the early 1950's the writers tried to make him a Cold Warrior but due to his drop in popularity, the publishers discontinued his character in September 1954. However, as the saying goes, you can’t keep a good man down. Therefore, in March 1964 Captain America returned in The Avengers issue #4. The writers explained his return by saying that just as World War II was ending he was trapped in a block of ice due to an accident and had spent the decades in suspended animation.

Now the comic book character has come to the big screen with a bang. Captain America: The First Avenger opened July 22 at No. 1 at the box office with $65.8 million, which topped Harry Potter that weekend. Steve Rogers (Captain America) is played by Chris Evans with his archnemesis Red Skull played by Hugo Weaving (famous for roles Agent Smith from The Matrix, Elrond from Lord of the Rings as well as V from V for Vendetta) along with the great Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips. Joe Johnston, who many would remember directed the Dieselpunk classic The Rocketeer, also directed Captain America: The First Avenger.

At least one media outlet has used the term "dieselpunk" in association with it. Captain America: The First Avenger promises to be an important film for the genre of Dieselpunk.

1 comment:

Tiyana said...

I just saw this movie last week while on vacation!

It was a lot of fun, though with all the patriotism it did get a bit cheesy at times. Still, overall I thought it was enjoyable. (And I loved the overall look of the film.)

I'm glad you mentioned the bit about him getting caught in a block of ice for decades as being an explanation provided in the comic books. Not having read the original source material, I wasn't sure if that was just convenient plot tie-in device for the big Avengers movie or what, heh.