There Hollywood Goes Again: Captain America Won't be 'Flag-Waver'

If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, liberal Hollywood directors must be utterly certifiable. How else does one explain Hollywood's penchant for de-Americanizing thoroughly patriotic superhero and/or comic book icons?

Take Joe Johnston. The cinematic genius who gave the world "Jurassic Park 3" is directing a "Captain America" feature that will release in 2011, the 70th anniversary of the Marvel  superhero's creation.

Johnston told the audience at Comic-Con 2010 that Cap will not be a "jingoistic American flag-waver" but will instead be "re-interpret[ed]" as a "good person" in the World War II-set film.

Noted Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times blog Hero Complex:

"He wants to serve his country, but he's not this sort of jingoistic American flag-waver," Johnston said. "He's just a good person. We make a point of that in the script: Don't change who you are once you go from Steve Rogers to this super-soldier, you have to stay who you are inside, that's really what's important more than your strength and everything. It'll be interesting and fun to put a different spin on the character and one that the fans are really going to appreciate."

Boucher portrayed Johnston's move as part and parcel of how modern-day directors have re-envisioned comic book staples such as Batman and Iron Man and defended him by adding:

Some pundits will pounce on all of this as another desecration of an American touchstone, but how many of them have ever read the books?  The character, created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, was certainly un-conflicted about his country and its mission during the clear-cut days of the 1940s, but it didn't always stay that way. In late 1974, for instance, in the months after President Nixon's resignation, Steve Rogers chucked the star-spangled costume and changed his hero name to Nomad (although, by 1976, Cap and original artist Kirby had the hero in Bicentennial mode).

True, comic book writers and illustrators are not immune from making political statements with beloved characters. But that doesn't mean those moves are rewarded with greater market share or even the sustained loyalty of longtime fans.

There's a reason that the "Nomad" experiment fell by the wayside. 

What's more, while Boucher equates Johnston's move with say Jon Favreau's take on Iron Man, it is arguable that Favreau's vision of Tony Stark/Iron Man is a fundamentally patriotic libertarian-conservative American hero. Both movies were wildly successful in both the U.S. and foreign audiences. By contrast, "GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra" -- which conservative pundit Greg Gutfeld panned as "a Benetton ad with rocket launchers" -- earned slightly less than half worldwide as did "Iron Man 2." What's more, the opening weekend for "GI Joe" earned only $54.7 million in its opening weekend compared to the $128.1 million "Iron Man 2" raked in during its first weekend.

American and foreign movie audiences love a good superhero action flick and it doesn't hurt to have a thoroughly patriotic American protagonist to cheer for.

Image via L.A. Times.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.