So, having accidentally warped my only copy of Transylvania 6-5000 by leaving it a tad too close to the microwave, and having nothing to watch on a simmering summer afternoon, I decided to cough up the clams for the latest Marvel adaptation, Captain America: The First Avenger.
Upon arriving at my local googolplex, which now boasts 2,400 screens and sits on enough land to house the cast of Sister Wives, I was given the option of viewing either the 3-D version or the 2-D version.
“How much do I save if I lose a D,” I asked the ticket-monger, with all the insouciance of a certified public accountant. Turns out it was a good five bucks. I sensed a trend. “You wouldn’t happen to offer a 1-D version, wouldja?” Turns out the technology had not progressed sufficiently to offer a moving picture in a purely vertical format that wasn’t just a stick figure waved in front of a beam of light.
“Well, how much would it be if I sat with my back to the screen and somebody described what was happening?” It’s usually at this point that the manager is called, so I slid my $10 bill under the teller’s slot and received my ticket, not just torn but somewhat mutilated, and was told to please go away, or words to that effect (an effect, it should be noted, I tend to have on clerical staff).
As a youth, I was never much of a Captain America fan, I must admit. My comic-book faves were Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Iron Man, Thomas Mann, and Phil: Sensitive Purveyor of Lo-Cal Treats (a series that was ripped from newsstands without so much as a warning after a Senate investigation). Captain America, to me, seemed to be stuck in the 1940s, and as far as I could tell, the war was over (though please don’t quote me), and Red Skull (not to be confused with Red Skelton) was now in Argentina giving salsa lessons under the name Carmine Escobar. So my expectations for this extravaganza were rather low.
At first, Captain America seemed to be about how the past was future, what with a scene at the 1939 New York World’s Fair shot as if Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg were about to enter from opposing wings to the accolades of adoring fans. And then there was the introduction of Stark Enterprises and Iron Man’s dad, Carbuncle Stark (or some such), who was on hand to showcase his “Flying” Car of Tomorrow (a demonstration that went about as well as Ralph Kramden’s demonstration of his “Chef of the Future”).
In any event, Stark Enterprises is certainly there to remind us that the “First Avenger” of the film’s subtitle implies subsequent Avengers, in fact, an upcoming Avengers film, in which Captain America and Carbuncle’s kid team up to fight eee-viel, along with a gaggle of other circus freaks.
But what was most certainly a foretaste of contemporary unsportsmanlike conduct was the introduction of PEDs, not only into the narrative, but also into our hero, Steve Rogers, the runt who would be Audie Murphy but instead winds up the one and only Captain America. Yes, that’s right: Performance-Enhancing Drugs! I was so appalled, I scattered my Junior Mints into the grotesque hairdo of the woman sitting in front of me. When she whipped around to see who had showered her coif with gooey snacks, I took the opportunity to exclaim, “Do you believe they allow minors to be influenced by such a thing! I’m going to Tweet my congressman the minute he’s released from prison!” At which point, she wobbled to the lobby with what can only be described as an excess of purpose.
Oh, yes, the “experiment” performed on young Rogers—to boost his musculature and eventually to create a U.S. army of superhumans—is by means of something called “Vita-Rays”; but we know what it really was: steroids. Yes, my friends, Captain America is a big, fat cheat. Instead of fighting the villainous Hydra with the strength and resources Nature in its wisdom had seen fit to endow him (such as mental ingenuity and physical courage), our Marvel, along with the help of “cutting-edge” science, that perennial source of overpriced medications for nonexistent conditions, was determined to give himself an unfair advantage against his opponents.
And don’t tell me the Germans were busy working on the same thing! That’s what they told Robert Oppenheimer when he went to work on the A-bomb. Turns out the Germans had gotten only as far as courtroom sketches. And once the bomb was built, it was there to be stolen, thus inspiring mass hysteria and some decent James Bond movies.
Think about it: did our Revolutionary War heroes shoot up with HGH when called to forge a new nation? Did George Washington keep an extra supply of Andro in his coat pocket for a little extra “oomph” as he loitered on the shores of Long Island? Did John Paul Jones cycle Deca Durabolin as he took the war to our enemy? I think not! We beat the British fair and square! (Although I’d keep my eye on fresh scholarship regarding Benjamin Franklin. Oral testosterone would explain a lot.)
I can’t opine on the rest of the film, as I was too busy fending off a squadron of security goons who were attempting to drag me out of the theater. As soon as I was able, however, I did get on my cell phone to call my wife and ask if she thought our lawyer, Claxton T. Dummfoil III, could get me a refund of my $9.50, because if not, there went any discretionary cash for Christmas.
Needless to say, I believe a massive investigation into the training regimens of U.S. fighting forces between the years 1939 and 1945 should be instigated immediately at incalculable taxpayer expense. Should it be proved beyond what is reasonable that our soldiers were, indeed, influenced by that roid-raging maniac Captain America, and that they were busy popping Dianabol as they stormed the beaches of Normandy, in honor of their so-called hero, then we as a nation, if we are to act with integrity, should call the Second World War a draw, or at least offer to fight it again, this time with random drug testing supervised by a nonaligned nation.
Don’t let the generally positive critical reception of this picture fool you. And ignore the enormous box office dividends. We must be prepared to stand astride the ever-shifting tectonic plates of popular ethical standards and cry, “Refund!”
The things you learn from the movies. I’d just as soon stay home and watch the all-American game of baseball. Or read a book. You wouldn’t catch Sherlock Holmes behaving this way . . .