EUGENE, Ore. – Going to a movie at the local malls here in Eugene is a popular summertime activity simply becuase “it’s cool inside the movie theaters,” says one local film fan, while also noting that he’s been back to see “Captain America now three times” and it’s not because of the air conditioning.
Captain America is such a huge summertime movie hit in the Eugene area, that ticket sellers note movie goers are “coming back for more” becuase, they add: “it’s a great film.”
For instance, Captain America actually has a story while also having the usual action that younger viewers crave in a flick.
Captain America is a 70-year-old superhero
Don’t tell “Captain America” comic book fans here in Eugene that the premiere of the film nationwide recently sheds any new light on this superhero that first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 in March 1941; in fact, “Captain America: The First Avenger” has gotten great reviews by movie critics just because it sticks to the original comic book about a young Steve Rogers circa 70 years ago.
“It was a pleasure to realize, once ‘Captain America: the First Avenger’ got under way, that hey, here is a real movie, not a noisy assembly of incomprehensible special effects,” writes film critic Roger Ebert on his website. Ebert notes how the film trailer is full of all those big, bang, boom “special effects” that gets young teens all excited, but the movie is, in fact, a work of art that’s more character driven by paying homage to the alter ego of Steve Rogers, and the original comic book created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
According to the National Archives this story of “Captain America” was created during a time of war, World War II, “in order to aid the United States war effort.” Now days, instead of fighting Nazi’s, the “real” Captain America in 2011 (America’s men and women in the military) have the terrorist menace to deal with. Still, Ebert notes that “the words, ‘The First Avenger’ are fraught with significance for Marvel fans.”
Captain America is now just “awesome” special effects, there’s a story too
“I’ve read that there has been more than 250 million copies of Captain America comic books sold worldwide since Steve Rogers was introduced back in 1941. That’s a long, long time with a lot of fan following,” says Sam, a “Baby Boomer” who started collecting Captain America comics in the Sixties when, as a paperboy, he would save his earnings to purchase the brightly colored paper books from news stands in Eugene.
As with both the original comic and this new film, Captain America’s archenemy is a Nazi villain known as The Red Skull.
“I think Vietnam was just starting up and there was a lot of patriotism happening back then with the Moon landing in 1969 and the red, white and blue of Captain America was very cool to me as a pre-teen,” explains Sam as he strode about a local comic book store that’s now hyping the new Captain American film with various “shield” and “Red Skull” toys and action figures.
“I wasn’t going to see the movie after seeing previews because I like a good story, and not just computer images blasted on the big screen. That stuff bores me after the first five minutes. I think real fans of Steve Rogers want Steve up there on the big screen. That’s getting excited about,” he adds.
Marketing Captain America in a time of war
The recent successes of America’s war on terror – with the killing of Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda — has young men looking up to Steve Rogers in his costume that bears an American flag motif.
However, American soldiers – both during World War II, when the original Captain America was introduced, and today when almost nothing can prevent roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, that have claimed more than 5,000 American lives – cannot rely on the “indestructible” Captain America shield that can also be thrown as a weapon.
“It’s really art imitating real life when Steve Rogers was fighting the bad guys during World War II, and now this new incarnation on the movie screens is saying we Americans are the world’s policemen and indestructible with our technology,” adds Sam and friends at a Eugene comic book store while debating what’s better – the original comic or the new movie.
For instance, Steve Rogers in the Captain America comic was “assassinated in Captain America vol. 5, #25, published in March 2007,” states a guide to comics.
“What this means is art crossing over into real life because we all have to die, and that includes Steve Rogers. Soldiers really die in battle, and any ‘Captain America’ in real life dies because we hear the news each and every day that another American solider have been in Afghanistan,” says Allison, a local artist that likes to paint Captain America themes in her “pop art” that includes other images of comic book types.
Ebert on the best things about the new Captain America film
While movie trailers show the actor Chris Evans playing the Captain America and Steve Rogers character, Variety and other Hollywood film publications reports that he’s really “just a regular guy” who’s only real super powers come from being a native of the Boston suburb of Sudbury.
Evans’s father is a dentist. His friends call him “Chris,” and he just celebrated his 30th birthday on June 13. Evans has previously appeared in “Not Another Teen Movie,” “Fantastic Four” and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”
In “the First Avenger,” Evans faces Nazi villains as Captain America in the same way Indian Jones fights the evil Nazis who, along with modern day terrorists, have become America’s favorite enemies on the big screen.
“The adventures of Captain America are fabricated with first-rate CGI and are slightly more reality-oriented than in most superhero movies – which say to say, they’re still wildly absurd, but set up and delivered with more control,” writes Ebert in his review of the film that opens nationwide tomorrow.
Also, Ebert notes that – because most films today are marketed for the pre-teen and tech gadget loving public – the film focuses more on action than sex. “It’s only PG-13 because Marvel has apparently determined that fan boys find sex to be icky,” adds Ebert in his review of the film July 20.
Captain America can be killed and come back, but real Captain Americas die for good
For comic book fans here in Eugene, there’s one constant with superheroes in comics: they die but return in some sort of crazy reincarnation. However, the real “Captain America’s” die almost daily on the battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq. Allison makes that point very clear as an artist who paints comic book heroes who “represent” real life people.
“Art is only interesting in my view if it evokes some passion. In ancient Greece when somebody died, they would ask “did he live his life with passion?”
“Art should also evoke passion in those who view it. It can be a work of art hanging on a wall or even a film on the big screen in a movie theater,” adds Allison who thinks those who view the new Captain America movie should reflect on those passions – not in terms of a potboiler thriller movie – but of real people who put themselves out there for America.