Wednesday, May 9, 2012
"To infinity, and beyond!"
When Captain America throws his mighty shield, all those who choose to oppose his shield must yield!
That was the line from the 1968 cartoon featuring everyone’s favorite ‘roided-up super-soldier. And it’s the truth. Taking a look back through Captain America’s history, he’s rarely seen without it. Since his inception in 1941′s Captain America Comics #1, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Cap’s been a living symbol of freedom and standing up to aggressors against that freedom. What better tool and symbol than a shield; an instrument of defense, or in the hands of a super-soldier with a brilliant mind for fighting, it can also become the last thing bad guys seen before lights-out. Steve Rogers is able to throw it and have it return to him; over the years in comics there’s been no shortage of fancy tricks he’s pulled off, from taking out several guys in one calculated throw, to guarding himself and others from explosions, as he did in The Avengers movie.
Here’s a few interesting facts and milestones about the shield:
Early Captain America was protective of his junk.
The original shield appeared only in the first issue, and was a heater shield instead of the circular design used today. It was replaced in the second issue by the current and infamous round shield after a rival comics company claimed it resembled their own star-spangled hero. Captain America: The First Avenger paid tribute to the first incarnation.
The shield is composed of vibranium, a fictional metal alloy in the Marvel Universe, mainly found in the African nation of Wakanda, ruled by the Black Panther. Vibranium is highly resistant to vibration, which has allowed Cap to avoid being smashed by the Hulk, blown up by Red Skull, and even allowing him to repel a strike from The Mighty Thor’s hammer, as in The Avengers movie.
The shield was not always indestructible in the comics; after first joining the Avengers in the ’60′s, the shield was actually broken or lost several times, always inexplicably returning. This was later retconned by some clever writing explaining that Tony Stark had been analyzing the real shield, while Rogers had been using a series of steel fakes.
There have been several other men to wear the stars and stripes, but most did not use the real shield. A superhero from the 31st century named Major
Victory uses the actual shield in the distant future, long after Steve Rogers’s death. The shield is fought over by several parties after the assassination of Captain America following the superhero Civil War in 2006, including Hawkeye and Cap’s former sidekick, Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier.
Tony Stark, possessing the real shield after Captain America was seemingly killed, as well as a letter from Rogers with his final wishes for his old friend and sidekick to take up the mantle, offered Bucky the position as the new Sentinel of Liberty. Bucky accepted, and went on to carry the shield and for several years was the one and only Captain America, even remaining as such for a while after Rogers returned in 2010.
The shield has been destroyed several times throughout the years. Once by Molecule Man, once by Thanos(that’s right, the guy who is likely the next Avengers movie villain), and most recently was shattered by The Serpent in 2011′s Fear Itself, after Bucky-Cap had been killed in battle. It was later repaired by Asgardian
dwarves and enhanced with a mystical metal called uru, which is also what Thor’s hammer is made from. Though it is now stronger than before, Steve Rogers chose to keep the new visible scar across the shield, because it “adds character”.
In 2007, when Captain America was killed in the comics, it became frontpage news. Marvel Comics Editor-in Chief Joe Quesada went on The Colbert Report and presented host Stephen Colbert with “Captain America’s shield”. It hangs behind the snarky commentator in each episode to this day.
In the 1970′s TV movie Captain America, the hero rode a motor cycle and brandished a particularly odd version of the costume, as well as a bastardized version of the shield.
Even the Commander-in-Chief, POTUS Barack Obama respects the shield. In my mind, there isn’t a more eloquent, yet capable piece of gear in the Marvel Universe. Sure you’ve got your high-tech armors, gods of whatever, and omnipotent world-eating beings from an ancient universe, but none have the symbolism, the power that comes not from a repulsor nor a lightning strike, but from the respect all heroes have for the man wielding the shield. When the world is on the brink of destruction, and the shield is raised high, there is no greater power than the ability to rally your army of superhero friends to set the record straight for any bad guys unfortunate enough to have not heard this bit of music:
Be sure to stay tuned for future editions of Avengers Tech, where we will be diving into the histories of Thor’s hammer, Iron Man’s armor, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, and more!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The First Avenger: Captain America
A film titled The First Avenger: Captain America, produced by Marvel Studios, is due for release on July 22, 2011. It is being directed by Joe Johnston. It has been confirmed that shooting for the film will commence in June 2010.
In April 1997, Marvel Studios was in negotiations with Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn to produce Captain America. In addition Larry Wilson and Leslie Bohem were set to write a script. In May 2000, Marvel teamed with Artisan Entertainment to help finance the film. However, a lawsuit arose between Marvel Comics and Joe Simon over the ownership of Captain America copyrights, disrupting the development process of the film. The lawsuit was eventually settled in September 2003. In 2005, Marvel received a $525 million investment from Merrill Lynch, allowing them to independently produce ten films, including Captain America. Paramount Pictures agreed to distribute the film.
Originally, the film would stand alone; producer Kevin Feige said "about half" the movie would be set during World War II before moving into the modern day. Producer Avi Arad said, "The biggest opportunity with Captain America is as a man 'out of time', coming back today, looking at our world through the eyes of someone who thought the perfect world was small-town United States. Sixty years go by, and who are we today? Are we better?" He cited the Back to the Future trilogy as an influence, and claimed he had "someone in mind to be the star, and definitely someone in mind to be the director". In February 2006, Arad hoped to have a summer 2008 theatrical release date. Jon Favreau approached Arad to direct the film as a comedy, but he chose to make Iron Man instead. In July 2006, David Self was hired to write the script. He explained Captain America was his favorite superhero as a child because "my dad told me I could one day be Captain America". Michael France was also interested. Joe Johnston met with Marvel to discuss directing the film.
Captain America was put on hold during the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. However, in January 2008, Marvel Entertainment reached an interim comprehensive agreement with the Writers Guild of America that would put writers immediately back to work on various projects that were under the company's development. On May 5, 2008 (after the success of Iron Man), Marvel announced the film The First Avenger: Captain America for a May 6, 2011 release (before being slightly pushed back the next year). The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier viewed some of the concept art being created for the film, and was impressed enough to offer his services, but Marvel turned him down. Leterrier said "I've seen some of the design work they're doing for Captain America, and it looks amazing". Johnston finally signed on in November 2008, and he hired Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (The Chronicles of Narnia) to rewrite. Feige cited Johnston's directorial work on October Sky and The Rocketeer and his special effects work on the original Star Wars trilogy as to why he was an appropriate choice. Raiders of the Lost Ark will be an influence on the film, because they hope the film will not feel like a period piece.
When asked whether anti-US sentiments would affect the film's box office, Feige said, "Marvel is perceived pretty well around the world right now, and I think putting another uber-Marvel hero into the worldwide box office would be a good thing. [...] We have to deal with much the same way that Captain America, when thawed from the Arctic ice, entered a world that he didn't recognize," similar to the way Stan Lee reintroduced the character in the 1960s. Likewise, Arad noted "Captain America stands for freedom for all democracies, for hope all around the world. He was created to stop tyranny and the idea of stopping tyranny is important today as it was then and unfortunately it's not going to change because that's how the world works. So I think that we will have some interesting challenges but at the end of the day if the movie is terrific and the movie talks to the world, it's not about one place, it's about the world and I think [on] that basis it will be very successful." Later, after the election of US President Barack Obama, Feige commented, "The idea of change and hope has permeated the country, regardless of politics, and that includes Hollywood. Discussions in all our development meetings include the zeitgeist and how it's changed in the last two weeks. Things are being adjusted."
In December 2009, director Joe Johnston said he plans to start filming in April 2010. In a separate interview that month, he described the film's pre-production: "Rick Heinrichs is production-designing and we're set up down in Manhattan Beach [California]. ... We have eight or ten really talented artists, and we all just sit around all day and draw pictures and say, 'Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could do this?' It's that phase of the production where money doesn't matter: 'Let's put all the greatest stuff up on the wall and [then later] see what we can afford.'" The film, he said, will begin "in 1942, 1943" during World War II. "The stuff in the '60s and '70s [comic books] we're sort of avoiding. We're going back to the '40s, and then forward to what they're doing with Captain America now." Johnston confirmed that the Red Skull would be the film's primary antagonist. He has also stated that the World War Two-era super team the Invaders will be appearing in "the entire second half" of the film.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Though we don't have our Captain America just yet, it looks like that's not stopping Marvel from casting the film's main villain. The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Hugo Weaving will play the Captain America villain Red Skull, who, in the comics, was the superhero's arch-nemesis and right-hand man to Hitler during World War II. The story goes that both remained in suspended animation following a battle and were revived in modern times to do battle once again.
Weaving, of course, has already played one classic villain – that of Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy. Though he turned good for the Lord of the Rings franchise (man, Weaving is a franchise machine!), he's always been great as a villain. This is definitely inspired casting, and I can't wait to see Weaving back in a villainous position; he was the best part of the Matrix movies.
Still waiting to hear who Weaving will be going up against; as of now there's an online effort to get Chris Evans in the role. I wouldn't be surprised if he's the one who winds up in the red, while and blue. Evans vs. Weaving? I'd see it. You?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Having directed rampaging dinosaurs in Jurassic Park III and a snarling Benicio Del Toro in the upcoming remake of The Wolfman, Joe Johnston has signed on to bring one of Marvel’s most popular comic-book heroes to the big screen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he has signed on to direct First Avenger: Captain America for Marvel Studios. The pic is being prepped for a May 6, 2011 release.
A wartime creation of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, Captain America first appeared in 1941. The character is the product of a super-soldier program that turns scrawny, sickly Steve Rogers into a Nazi-fighting war machine who wields an indestructible shield. A symbol for the war effort, the hero was later resurrected as part of Marvel’s Avengers.
Staying true to its comic origins, First Avenger will be set during World War II. The character will then be brought into modern times for the upcoming Avengers movie, which Marvel hopes to launch in 2011. Marvel is taking pitches from writers and is looking for an actor to play the title role. The movie is being produced by Marvel's Kevin Feige, and exec produced by Louis D'Esposito, Stan Lee and Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel.
Two members of the Avengers team, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, have already been introduced on the big screen, and Thor is on the way. Kenneth Branagh is in talks to direct Thor for a 2010 release. Director Jon Favreau and actor Robert Downey Jr. are also re-teaming for to Iron Man sequels.