Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holidays, obligations and Captain America

I've never been really gungho about holidays, even if it is seemingly something that is simple to celebrate, like my birthday. I don't really have a good explanation for this – The natural urge is to examine my childhood for an answer, except that I did have parties and what not from age six (the first year I can remember) to 21 (the last time I had a major party solely in my honor, which features a keg of Sam Adams). So, there was clearly an emphasis on it.

I think my “who cares?” attitude has developed as I've aged and more distractions and obligations come into play. For example, Fourth of July will forever be dead to me because of the Bristol parade. In 2007, I had to cover it for The Bristol Phoenix, and it was one of the most miserable days of my life. Because the streets and parking get ridiculous, I had to be there at 5 a.m. It was about 90 degrees the entire day, and except for some small breaks for water and what not, I was out there covering it until 2 p.m., I believe. Because I just wanted to get it over with, I then hung around the office and typed up copy for about three hours. I think all told, I did 3,000 to 5,000 words on the friggin' parade.

(On the plus side, I got second place at the Rhode Island Press Association awards for my coverage. On the negative side, nobody even told me I was nominated for it, so I wasn't there to accept it. Instead, I was seeing Iron Man, which was good, but I could have seen that any old night.)

A past parade experience – the St. Patrick's Day parade in Newport – was no better. Even though there was a steady pouring, there was no attempt to delay or postpone it. Things got worse as the day wore on, because the temperature plummeted and I was covered in a nice layer of snow. Ugh. At this point, I was 19 or 20, so some youthful enthusiasm must have carried me through it. I remember going back to The Newport Daily News office and trying to dry my soggy notes, 20 pages worth, on a heater, along with my socks and shoes. To add insult to injury, I had stupidly told my fellow intern that I would work for her the next day, which I learned was the busiest police log day of the year because of all the arrests from the god damn parade. There was literally just a newspaper page worth of arrests in Monday's edition of the paper, and I wrote up about 80 percent of them. Ugh.

Nonetheless, I feel obligated to give a shout-out to the best America-centric superhero: Captain America. I think Marvel has generally done a good job protecting his image by having him take proper stands, such as against the Vietnam War and sacrificing himself for the cause of freedom as opposed to authoritarian rule in “Civil War.”

I am surprised he hasn't had his own movie, but then again, who could play him? I hate when the backgrounds and ethnicities of characters are changed for movies, so that rules out the Rock, who otherwise is a natural choice to me. You want someone who looks big and tough without being so huge that he would be menacing (Vinnie Jones, a.k.a. Bullet Tooth Tony from Snatch). John Cena has the perfect look, but The Marine and 12 Rounds (and his promo work) demonstrate that he doesn't have the acting chops. Referencing Snatch again, Jason Statham would be perfect, except that he is British.

Ideally, I would want a big name actor to get the part, but the choices are kind of limited. Ben Affleck wouldn't be a horrible choice, but he is already cast in the Marvel universe as Daredevil; you can't turn around and then make him be Captain America instead. Likewise, even though they're different universes, I think Matt Damon is too synonymous with Jason Bourne to pull double-duty as Captain America. George Clooney is too old now, Brad Pitt probably isn't interested, Edward Norton is the Hulk / Bruce Banner, and Johnny Depp is too slight (thin) and too faggy. If he wasn't already Wolverine, Hugh Jackman would be perfect.

However, I think casting a newcomer or low-scale actor could be a big mistake. It hasn't worked out well the last couple times it has been tried. Hayden Christensen sucked as Anakin Skywalker; I know people like to make the dialogue excuse, but Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Emperor Palpatine and Yoda didn't come off as whiny bitches like he did. I don't even remember the guy they cast in Superman Returns, but even though that film made about $200 billion, there is no talk of a sequel because the whole thing sort of blew.

I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody decent though, so I'll ask you, my gentle readers (to steal something from the late great Ann Landers): Who would you cast as Captain America?

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