‘Captain America’ star Chris Evans: It’s not about the flag, it’s about the hero

July 12, 2011 | 3:52 a.m.
captain america trenchcoat Captain America star Chris Evans: Its not about the flag, its about the hero

Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers and Hayley Atwell is Peggy Carter in "Captain America: The First Avenger" (Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment)

Square-jawed superhero Steve Rogers lays strangely immobile in the bowels of an enormous “suborbital bomber” — a contraption that looks like Howard Hughes’ legendary Spruce Goose if it were pimped out for Darth Vader. His eyes closed, the hero might be lost in deep contemplation or possibly praying for help to foil an evil plot, in this case the impending launch of a missile targeted at a major American city.

cap gallery Captain America star Chris Evans: Its not about the flag, its about the hero

But from a certain vantage point, his face pressed against the glass encasing the weapon, it sure looks as though Captain America’s snoozing. Even if Chris Evans, who plays the weakling soldier wannabe turned strapping superhero in the new film “Captain America: The First Avenger,” were catching a few winks, it would be tough to blame him. The actor, 30, had to bulk up at the gym to better embody Rogers, who becomes a hulking good guy determined to fight for classic American ideals.

Specifically, Rogers is tasked with thwarting the nefarious designs of the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) in the World War II-era comic book adaptation, which opens in theaters July 22. In addition to the physical demands of the role, though, Evans has had to spend time wrestling with Rogers’ inner demons.

“He’s given this amazing blessing, all of the ability that he has always wanted,” said Evans on the sidelines of a frigid soundstage at Pinewood Studios outside of London late last year. “That can easily corrupt. If you give anyone this power, it is easy to become a bully and let human emotion take over.”

That notion — essentially that with great power comes great responsibility — is, of course, central to the ethos of more than one star character from the Marvel Comics universe, so it’s perhaps not surprising to find that same message at the core of “Captain America.”

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"Captain America: The First Avenger" (Marvel Studios/Paramount)

What is perhaps more notable is the movie’s retro-futuristic aesthetic, which production designer Rick Heinrichs said is unique in its representation of slick and oversized World War II-era cars, tanks and aircraft; the sets and props combine elegant prewar industrial styles with the organic plantlike visions of the 20th century Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, who is famous for Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia.

“We’re not doing a historic war movie but a stylized and exaggerated war movie,” Heinrichs said. “It is the future as seen from the past.”

The approach extends too to Rogers’ costume — which includes a distressed leather coat that he wears over his familiar red, white and blue garb.  Speaking with Hero Complex months later, director Joe Johnston (“The Rocketeer”) said he used “Raiders of the Lost Ark” as a template for developing the story.

capbucky Captain America star Chris Evans: Its not about the flag, its about the hero

"Captain America" stars Chris Evans (Steve) and Sebastian Stan (Bucky). (Paramount Pictures / Marvel Entertainment)

“This is futurism in the 1940s; if you went to 1942 and thought of what the future would be, that’s what the approach was,” Johnston said. “The villain has a much more futuristic style and his science and his apparatus — he has a whole design motif that is beyond 1942 but it’s what you might have perceived as futuristic from a 1942 vantage point.”

Of course, setting “Captain America” in the storied past helps avoid some of the more charged political questions that accompany releasing a patriotically themed production around the world at a time when the U.S. is perceived in certain places as somewhat less than heroic.

Marvel is not blind to the potentially alienating title and is planning to open the film simply as “The First Avenger” in South Korea, Russia and Ukraine, where the comic book is not already well known, according to the film’s producer and Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige.

But he and Evans, who will reprise his role in next year’s “The Avengers,” point out that the movie highlights the universal elements that have made Steve Rogers an enduring presence in the seven decades since his debut.

“Right now in America how we handle ourselves in political and global issues is up for questioning,” Evans said. “I still think Captain America is timeless. He might wear the red, white and blue, but I don’t think this is all about America. It is what America stands for. It could be called ‘Captain Good.’”

— Eric Pape


cap 70 Captain America star Chris Evans: Its not about the flag, its about the hero

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Millar: Captain America is a hero for hard times

Macchio: Cap’s war years mattered most

Johnston: This movie will surprise people

Capt. America film gets title change in Russia, Korea

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Johnston: Steve Rogers won’t be ‘flag waver’

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34 Responses to ‘Captain America’ star Chris Evans: It’s not about the flag, it’s about the hero

  1. Frank says:

    ‘Captain Good.’” Oh dear.

  2. Steve Rogers says:

    I grew up with Captian America and always loved the fact that he was a soldier. Captian America was born out of patriotism and it sad that their isn't enough of it today for people to understand why a super hero would love his country. They'll probably change his name to Captian Unoffensive and Tolerant Man, with no preconcieved biases, deeply rooted values, or religious convictions that would alienate others:) He wouldn't fight for the American way, but he would rather be a commuinity organizer and try to lobby the governments of the world for money to help all people live equally.

  3. lee says:

    Will this be another debacle in the order of "Superman Returns", where the director reinvents a quintessentially American icon into some universal "world hero" and scrub any intimate connection to America? To avoid the appearance of "jingoism" or "flag waving"?

    In the 1994 spiderman cartoon, Captain America says "Come on, gang, let's the make world safe for democracy". I suppose this CA will spend 20-30 minutes wondering "why do I fight the red skull and the third reich when America is so racist? I'm so conflicted!"

    It's ok to employ a modicum of romance and over the top patriotism in hero movies.

  4. Dan says:

    How about Cap'n Noncommittal or Capn Vague General Feelings of Comfort?

  5. Richard says:

    How about captain used to have a spine?
    While we have made mistakes, our fight in WW2 is not usually counted as one of them.
    (And those that do so can go F' off)

    Stop apologizing all the damn time. The original Captain America was about a man who dearly
    wished to defend his country and took a huge risk by allowing himself to be a guinea pig.
    He was NEVER about personal glory, he was about serving his country first because it represented
    the best hope for people to better themselves and live free.

  6. dioxholster says:

    Captain world that hates america even though if it werent for america they would be killing themselves.

    how about that title?

  7. neovictorian23 says:

    After this summary, I won't be seeing it, so thanks for that!

  8. chris says:

    It's a comic book movie, folks. It's silly to project personal politics into a 1940s comic book hero. Perhaps you should consider reading some real history books and actually learn something. Get over it.

  9. I just wrote an essay and I drew a cartoon on the de-Americanization of American superheroes, called "Captain America is Too American for Some Americans" http://bit.ly/k9SyhF

  10. MikeHu says:

    "It's not about the Flag…" WTF? Sigh…. What is wrong with these people?

  11. brettghampton says:

    I think you people are reading a little bit too much into Evans' comments.

  12. panelsurfing says:

    I agree about the apologizing. America has nothing to apologize for. We still represent the best the world has to offer and if not for the U.S. tirelessly "trying" to police the world what state would it be in? If left to the incompetence of the UN where would world be? That being said this is just a movie about a fictional character and one of the all time great characters at that. Here is one of my favorite cover images of Cap (and Bucky) http://cafurl.com?i=17281 and I wrote about it on my blog here: http//:PanelSurfing.wordpress.com

  13. Zart says:

    Great, sure ; but you give us a link to a photo of Howard Hughes in his H-1 Racer's cockpit… not the legendary Spruce Goose ;)

  14. Joedogsoldier says:

    Overseas sales are not the new patriotism of Hollywood. These are fake patriots and true financial parasites. They have been the same forever.

  15. FUc says:

    Captain America IS about America. Circa 1955. Stupid drunks threw it all away. Now it's Captain Individualism, but that name doesn't sell because individualism isn't heroic. It's self-serving.

  16. PJC says:

    Evans taking orders from the Studio to appeal to the Foreign B.O. Pretty blatant and pretty stupid to offend efforts of American WW2 Vets and families who won the world in WW2.

  17. aj2449 says:

    Oh, Chris! I'm still your biggest fan, but how Dare you say it's Not About The Flag!
    Hollywood is simply Disgraceful. Truly a pathetic, cowardly lot.
    (and b4 the Libs start frothing, let me add that I'm an Immigrant & an Independent).

  18. Joseph Durocher says:

    Captain America have been a symbol for patiotism and love for country. He has always been about doing what was right in the face of unsermountable odds. The movie captured a good element of the Cap, by putting enfasis on how he hates bullies and if no others will stand ageinst them then its his duty. I think the movie was a good representation of Cap.

  19. Ala Hunter says:

    I honestly didn’t care for Captain America until recent..why? because he’s NOT Patriotic as you arrogant Americans put it. He understands that America isn’t the center of attention. No, the changing of name will never happen, Its rightfully Captain America, he was created at a time when Propaganda was heavy. Its NOT about the flag, its about whats right. Americans need to stop thinking they’re superior to everyone. It is NOT disrespectful to veterans.. The character isn’t some blind soilder who just does what he is told, but does whats right for the people, doesn’t matter where from..thats why Captain America is more appealing. Its about doing whats right, NOT how America is suppose to be this AWESOME country. He represents what America suppose to be. Maybe if they write the script in that fashion, disassociate itself from the Fox News bravado… Iron Man did the same thing.

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