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The Long View

TO: Studio Personnel

by Rob Long

TO: Studio Personnel
FROM: Production
RE: Captain America

This weekend’s excellent box-office grosses for Captain America have been incredibly gratifying. The movie is performing very well nationally, and we’re on track for another record weekend. Kudos to the CA team — marketing, production, post, etc. — and let’s keep pushing for a major DVD release in the fall!

It’s not too early to begin thinking about CA2 and CA3. We’re trying to rush CA2 into production at the beginning of the autumn, for a holiday ’12 release. CA3 will follow quickly for a late-summer ’13 release.

What we need to do, though, is begin thinking about what Captain America might mean in two years. CA1 was all about patriotism and the strength of the American idea. CA2 and CA3, though, will be released during 2013, which economic forecasters predict will be the final collapse of the American Century. Unemployment figures will still be roughly 9 percent, food prices will be higher, the nation’s debt burden will be crippling, and an aging, dispirited population may not respond to such a message.

Let’s brainstorm ways we can adjust the franchise to capture the American zeitgeist in 2013.

Some thoughts:

1. Captain Mandarin: Replace Chris Evans with a Chinese actor. Benefits: Quickly adjust to changing economic environment. Drawbacks: Rampant DVD piracy cuts into backend.

2. El Captain Americas: More inclusive approach involving our neighbors to the south. CA may be more of a “free agent” in this narrative. U.S. government/society not necessarily the “good guys.” Benefits: Audience more comfortable with non-contextual nudity, cheap production in Venezuela. Drawbacks: Irritating ranchito music.

3. Dr. Captain America: The aging American audience might appreciate a smaller-scoped hero. Not necessarily someone who can fly and save whole countries, but someone who can see senior citizens on time in a doctor’s office and can catheterize a patient quickly and efficiently. Benefits: Ready-made villain in Medicare. Drawbacks: Audience dying out quickly.

4. Cap’n America: Replace Chris Evans with a comic actor in the vein of Zach Galifianakis. Adjust the story and tone to reflect a more “wacky” and “tongue-in-cheek” perspective. Dispense with uplift and patriotic themes and aim for a broader, more teenage-appealing “gross-out” comedy. Benefits: Production cost, DVD sales. Drawbacks: Hard to see a CA4 or CA5.

5. Little Captain America: Reboot the series with younger actors, this time very young, in early pre-teens. Concentrate storylines on small-bore kids’-perspective issues — school, parents, friends, etc. — and think about animation. Benefits: Cheap to produce, actors less costly. Drawbacks: Parents/managers on set, actors grow older awkwardly.

6. Captain Bombay: Do the Bollywood version. Benefits: It’s the Bollywood version. Drawbacks: It’s the Bollywood version.

7. Captain Globe: Expand the vision of the character so that he serves as an advocate for the entire globe. Replace Chris Evans with a slightly more international-looking actor. Concentrate on environmental and global themes. Benefits: Takes emphasis off the idea of American decline. Drawbacks: An audience downer.

8. Captain Wheelchair/Captain Gay/Captain Outsider: Explore the option of making Captain America one of society’s traditionally “outsider” identities. A wheelchair-bound and/or gay CA might refresh audience’s perceptions of the franchise. Benefits: Wheelchair stunts are cheaper to orchestrate, gay characters currently popular. Drawbacks: Hard to picture a flying wheelchair, lose teenage-boy audience with gay-romance theme.

9. Dark Captain America: Make American decline the central theme. A broken-down or alcoholic CA living in a dystopic America with rampant violent crime and economic collapse will reflect current American reality in 2013. Benefits: Cheap to film in Detroit. No sets necessary. Drawbacks: Must film in Detroit, hard to insure production against violent attack.

10. Captain America vs. Captain America: This is an off-the-wall idea, but worth exploring. Deal with the struggles and the ramifications of a “superhero” in a litigious society. Make it more of an “Aaron Sorkin” kind of treatment. The patent and copyright issues inherent in the superhero genre. Benefits: No stunts, need courtroom set only. Drawbacks: Need to interest Sorkin in the project ($$$) and unclear if it will have action-hero-adventure appeal with all the talking and the depositions.

These are all just starting-off points. The key here is, we want to think “outside the box” about this promising new franchise. Please have each department brainstorm on this issue, and we’ll discuss further at the next all-production meeting.


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