Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger

Another month, another superhero movie as the Marvel studio project rumbles on towards The Avengers (2012, Dir: Joss Whedon) with the always difficult to realise titular hero lumbering around Germany punching out Nazis as an when they appear.

Joe Johnston does well with the source material taking the simple original story and basic propaganda tale and giving it a light touch. At its heart the comic Captain America is a story of a man out of time having trouble with 1960s mini-skirts, 1970s hippies, 1980s yuppies and so on. Staying – for the most – within the confines of the Second World War Johnston is unable to use this value contrast and so presents a character with one hand behind his back.

Nevertheless the film presents a kind of ho-cum Americana which creates a character of values without much to contrast them with. In that way Captain America joins illustrious company inside, and outside, the superhero world.

Take – for example – both the 1978 Richard Donner made Superman and Bryan Singer‘s tedious 2006 Superman Returns in which the Man of Steel faces up against Lex Luthor who is little more than a Mid-West huckster. For all the faults of the various Bat-Man incarnations over the years a lack of attention to the adversaries is not amongst them.

Outside of the world of refusing to admit you wear spandex but staying with the current incarnation of one comic book hero seldom is a character created and wasted in the way that Brad Anderson fritters away Christian Bale‘s efforts in 2004’s The Machinist. Bale’s performance deserved something more than the slight ending in which protagonist Trevor Reznik discovers that his woes are down to him feeling a bit guilty. Twenty minutes in therapy might have solved everything. Writer Scott Kosar has gone on to work on the sort of horror remakes that people would be best to avoid so perhaps he has concluded that he cannot create the monster, and should borrow one.

Kosar borrowed the infamous Leatherface for 2003’s remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which seems to utterly fail to capture the truly horrific randomness of the original by adding a back story for the garden tool wielding bad guy that rounds of his edges. Yes, Leatherface is bad but then again he is just reacting to society, and his Mommy did not love him, or something. The whole thing starts to look a little but too much like The Jeremy Kyle Show for comfort.

Neutered Leatherface falls away from the annuals of the truly horrific and one struggles to find a character in movies who manages to be black heartedly evil. Perhaps William Gull – Ian Holm‘s Jack The Ripper in The Hughes Brothers‘s 2001 From Hell – is that black heart. Driven by the most unhealthy of passions Gull ritualistically brutalises his victims after death. The meaning of the action is lost in what is a poor adaptation.

In Alan Moore‘s original comic book Gull behaves as he does post-mortem to feed his visions of a future. With brutality he slice his fifth victim in front of an audience of The Moor’s Murders, The Kray Twins and The Yorkshire Ripper teaching them barbarity as he does. Lusting after the World of blood he creates.

Like Captain America, Gull is a man out of time.


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