CAP WITH A JETPACK
Will the Joe Johnston-helmed Captain America movie get Disney-ized like his Rocketeer did?
With the announcement of director Joe Johnston taking the helm of the Captain America movie, The First Avenger: Captain America, we can’t help but think of his other 1940’s era hero flick, The Rocketeer aka the best Saturday afternoon basic cable movie EVER.
Churned out of the House of Mouse, The Rocketeer was pretty awesome, but clearly had its balls squeezed a bit to adhere to the Disney code of family friendliness. Will the Cap movie, which is being done by Marvel Studios, have the same kind of limitations?
Let’s draw a few comparisons between The Rocketeer and the eventual Cap movie before we jetpack to conclusions.
Just Some Dude
Steve Rogers and Cliff Secord could have been friends with all their similarities: skinny, hapless, and totally out of their league in everything they did. The main difference between them is the most obvious: Steve is a super soldier and Cliff has a jetpack. As Captain America, Steve was a highly trained, calculating tank of a man. Cliff, on the other hand, wouldn’t know a plan if it bit him on the ass and basically went wherever his jetpack took him. But at the core, they were just goodhearted, normal dudes who found themselves with a desire to do the right thing. Can Johnston give his Steve Rogers that heart that we know so well while loosing the “aw shucks” act?
The Greatest Generation
World War II is considered to be one of the greatest and totally shitty periods in history. The world was in toilet and millions were dying, but Americans felt the need to fight evil and show Hitler who the biggest kid on the playground was, and as a result had most people feeling pretty awesome about themselves. Both The Rocketeer and the future Cap flick use the war as a backdrop. While Cap will be leaving boot prints in Nazi asses all over Europe, The Rocketeer was in 1938 California fighting off the Third Reich right in Tinseltown. The battlegrounds of the European theater would have to be a bit darker than late 1930s Hollywood, so let’s hope that Johnston considers that when creating the tone for Captain America.
Neither Cap nor the Rocketeer could have fought Jerry without some help. Cliff had his trusted mechanic buddy Peevey to talk some sense into him when he was talking crazy, and save his jetpack-less self from an exploding zeppelin with Howard Hughes (yeah, it’s THAT awesome). However, Cap had his battle-tested machine gun spraying 16-year-old sidekick Buddy by his side. Along with Union Jack, the Human Torch, and Prince Namor to kick ass with him, Cap definitely had the upper hand when it came to crews. There is no word yet if the Invaders will be showing up in the Cap movie, but Johnston proved he could do mutual male appreciation with the father/son relationship he created between Peevey and Cliff.
If you had to name the three best things about The Rocketeer, they would most likely be jetpacks, Nazi killing, and Jennifer Connelly. Connelly’s role as Cliff Secord’s girlfriend Jenny had obvious twinges of Bettie Page going on, and there was not one complaint about it. Cliffy may have gotten by on the skin of his teeth with everything else, but he had a lock on holding down top shelf booty. However, Cap knows a thing or two about dames. He has been known to kick it with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and villainesses, but has never found the one to really wave his flag. Perhaps Johnston will find Cap a dollface to compete with the Rocketeer’s brunette beauty.
Nazis. Fuck ’em. Don’t really need to go into much more detail after that. Even though they were on opposite sides of the world and came from different mediums, Captain America and the Rocketeer found a common enemy in these goose-stepping assholes. Both these fellas figuratively punched out Hitler with a red, white, and blue fist (actually, Cap did that for real). We’ll never forget the Rocketeer standing in front of the flag, blasting off, pistol in hand to fight the schnitzel eaters. And you can recall the countless images of Cap leading the charge, slinging shield and beating up half the German army. With any luck, Johnston will make the Cap movie a living news serial with Cap shoulder tackling an entire legion of Nazis, but keep the good guy sensibility of the Rocketeer.
The Mouse Influence
Believe it or not, The Rocketeer was a Disney movie. It had a pretty big body count for a Disney movie, but it was still a Disney movie. And Joe Johnston has a few of these feelgood family movies under his belt. Will he neuter a Cap movie? Maybe. Or least we hope not. Marvel seems to be a little more lax than Disney, but the potential kindly Captain America is very real. This is a movie about a man who dresses up in an American flag and will beat your ass to death if you stand against it. Taking away Cap’s bite and curbing the wartime brutality isn’t going give us the full experience, so fingers crossed that Joe Johnston realizes that.