Where It All Began

28 04 2009

Captain America Comics Cover 1941

For ten cents, American, back in 1941, you got 45 “thrilling pages” of action and adventure, featuring Captain America! At this point in time, the bombing run at Pearl Harbor was still nearly a year away; the U.S. was not yet engaged in the war with Nazi Germany. But Jack Kirby and Joe Simon at Timely comics created Captain America, which represented their view that the U.S.’s involvement in the war as inevitable. The hero represented “American” values and a moral authority in the battle against evil. The pulp of those days would serve as rallying propaganda against the Hitler and the Axis powers.

The cover you see above is where it all started. Perhaps 70 years later, in July 2011, we will see the greatest interpretation of Captain America in motion pictures with “The First Avenger: Captain America.” With any luck, Jon Hamm, America’s Actor, will be in his red boots.

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Jon Hamm Vs. Matt Salinger

13 04 2009

John Hamm Versus Matt Salinger

Jon Hamm Versus Matt Salinger

Welcome to the first entry in a segment I like to call “Jon Hamm Versus,” where we will take a look at possible contenders for the lead role of Steve Rogers/Captain America in the upcoming film “The First Avenger: Captain America,” slated for release on July 22, 2011. First up, the man who donned the original red, white and blues in the 1990 version Matt Salinger.

The Captain America film in 1990 never saw a U.S. release and underwent a number of reshoots, presumably because much of the returned product wasn’t suitable for any audience. I did see this film back in the mid-1990s on VHS cassette, and I remember not hating it. Matt Salinger, son of reclusive author J.D. Salinger, was adequate as the hero, but did fail to execute the fish-out-water story of a WWII super soldier finding himself the strange new world of the late 1980s. To me, it all read as pretty bland television movie-of-the-week stuff. But remember this movie was about a dude who throws a shield, his only protection against bullets by the way, at various bad guys and machinery to take them out. Captain America is freakin’ badass. You know another character who fought in a war who was also freakin’ badass? That’s right, Donald Draper from Mad Men, played by Jon Hamm. I’m not going to spoil the details about Don Draper’s military days, but Jon Hamm shows a guy whose survival is obstructed by his greatest weaknesses and flaws, but still makes it out alive. And then after the war, Draper is a man who exudes strength and power as climbs the ladder at a Madison Avenue advertising agency.

So a weak protagonist who fights in a war only to emerge as a strong leader back in the country he loves? Jon Hamm’s done it before, so give him the shield already. Sorry Salinger, you’re a low seed on this bracket.

Jon Hamm wins!