"Mr. Putin, tear down this movie poster!"
That's what I wanted to declare when I learned that three countries (Russia, Ukraine and South Korea) will not be using the full name of the upcoming motion picture "Captain America: The First Avenger" -- instead advertising just the watered-down "First Avenger" portion.
(To avoid opening ANOTHER can of worms, I won't list the nations that are advertising the film as "Captain Sugar Daddy: The First Cash Cow." Folks might take it as a comment on foreign aid.)
Our overseas allies are being petty and shortsighted. Captain America without America is like Cap'n Crunch without the crunch, Captain Hook without the hook, Captain Kirk without the...campy overacting.
I don't know that it's really the Russian GOVERNMENT cracking down on the movie, but it wouldn't surprise me if a decadent Western-leaning theater owner used the original title and wound up rotting in an annex of the secret "Too Much Butter On The Popcorn" Gulag.
The problem is not confined to foreign regimes. I understand that the cast and crew of the movie are a little squishy on the topic of Captain America's unabashed patriotism. They don't want him to be an anachronistic tribute to American imperialism or some such. I understand that one scene edited out purely for space considerations featured Cap hemming and hawing about the significance of his red, white and blue motif. ("Judy, Liza and Cher have all been so overdone. This is my tribute to Betsy Ross! I think it's FAB-u-lous! You go, girl!")
And even if the film does "boffo box office" domestically, my pride will be tainted by the fact that some younger patrons will watch it for the wrong reason. ("A movie set mostly during World War II! Kewl! I can watch it for my homework about Gettysburg!")
Captain America deserves better than this. I mean, he's the "Living Legend of World War II," "the Sentinel of Liberty." He's the former 98-pound weakling (Steve Rogers) who was given the Super-Soldier formula and charged by Pres. Franklin Roosevelt with never tarnishing the image of the U.S., never giving in to tyranny and never trying to spin the earth backwards on its axis to bring Lois Lane back to life! ("We have nothing to fear but a stupid plot twist itself.")
At least Cap still has his indestructible shield made of "vibranium." But it's a reminder of comrades long-gone, a reminder of an era when a mythical metal was used to deflect Nazi bullets, not as an Investment Portfolio. ("Gold: the only investment that will never go down in value. Cross my heart and hope to ...be somewhere else when the bottom falls out of the market.")
I guess things could've been worse. In one draft of the movie script, instead of taking the Super-Soldier formula, Steve Rogers swallowed the Super-Community Organizer formula. ("Our problems can't be solved by punching the enemy in the nose, Bucky. They can only be solved by shouting, 'It's Bush's fault!'")
My son Gideon (age 7) insists on taking his stuffed Captain America to bed. I don't expect everyone to embrace unadulterated Cap with the same gusto, but America needs its heroes now more than ever. ("Must... treat...Cap... better. Then... do...those... Priceline.com...commercials!")
©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.