Monday, July 25, 2011

Marvel Musings

Probably one of my favorite illustrations of Cap.
So iconic.
So, this weekend was the opening of Captain America. And I have yet to go see it.

Normally, when a big movie comes out, I am more than willing to forgo the crowds on opening weekend and wait a good week or two. But for this one, I am chomping at the bit. I have been waiting for this movie for over 20 years. I still get giddy when I see the trailers (which I periodically watch, just to get my temporary fix). And after seeing a low-quality pirate of the after-credits Avengers teaser, I almost want to cry. So, it’s with some great sadness and frustration (mainly due to financial hiccups) that I sit idly and await the time when I do get to see what is, for me personally, the ultimate superhero movie so far.

I have always been a Marvel fanboy. I mean, I loves me some DC; Batman and his family (particularly Nightwing), Superman, and Captain Marvel have always been cool characters. But there is something about the Marvel Universe that always pulls me in. And within that universe, Captain America has long been my favorite. That’s probably due to some really great writing in the 80’s. Particularly the story that introduced John Walker as Super Patriot, who then went on to take over as Cap, and Steve Rogers became The Captain…anyways, yeah. Big Cap fan here.

I’ve spent the last week watching all 26 episodes of season 1 of Disney DX’s The Avengers cartoon on NetFlix. It is amazing! The animation is pretty tight, the action is nice and fast, and the stories and characters are so well-done. They take familiar character traits and story elements, mix in some elements of the new wave of movies, and come up with a show that is both fresh and exciting for new fans and old alike. If you have NetFlix, and can stream instantly, I highly recommend them.

But, I have one gripe about the “new” Marvel. Editor in Chief Joe Quesada came out with an alternate universe a few years back in which to re-invent the iconic characters of the Marvel Universe. He called it the Ultimate Universe, and it’s still around and has a lot of followers and fans. For the most part, they did a lot of cool things. But one change is both cool, and disheartening at the same time. Nick Fury.

As a lark, they modeled the Ultimate Nick after Samuel L. Jackson, with his permission. I thought it was a cool idea, and worked for the Ultimate Universe. But, it became so popular, that it worked its way into the movies. And even in the Avengers cartoon, Nick is a black guy. Why does this bother me?

This is the Nick Fury
I grew up on.

Because Nick Fury is white. He is a hero of WWII, leader of the Howling Commandos, he was created before Captain America*, and later fought alongside him. Nick took an experimental serum, meant to try to replicate the Super Soldier serum that created Cap. It didn’t work quite right. All it managed to do was to slow Nick’s aging down. So, even though he is over 90 years old, he looks and fights like a man of 30-35 years. That was one of the things that made Nick so cool. He had a huge amount of experience, and provides a good bridge for Cap, who is a man out of time.

But now, that Nick is slowly being forgotten. I would wager that there are many fans who don’t even know about the original Nick Fury. And that saddens me a little. But, times change, and so do comic book characters (despite them not ever seeming to).  Still, he does get some play.  He is featured (in a different form) in recent issues of Steve Rogers (a spin-off series after Steve was "killed" and gave up being Cap...again).  But it's not really Nick Fury.  Not the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.  And who knows, maybe I am missing something.  Admittedly, I don't read comics nearly as much as I used to.

All that being said, as long as they are writing and telling good stories with the new Fury, I’m ok with it. I still have the memories of my old Nick, and he will always have a place in my geeky little heart.

So, here I sit, looking at the Captain America action figure on my desk, and eagerly anticipating this weekend, when I can finally see a dream come true. I tell ya, I actually get a little lump in my throat when I think about how wonderful this movie will be.

*EDIT: According to the Marvel Wiki, his first appearance was in 1963.  However, in the continuity of the Marvel Universe, Nick was fighting Nazis in WWII before Steve Rogers became Captain America.  So, technically I'm at least half-right.


Charles Gramlich said...

Just from the comic book side, I always preferred Nick Fury to Cap. I actually didn't know about the serum connection, though. that's interesting.

Tom Doolan said...

Interestingly, in reading his background again, it is never mentioned that the Infinity Formula was in any way related to the Super Soldier Serum. However, I'm almost positive I read that in an issue at some point. It may have been retconned (happens a lot), or I may just be misremembering.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I suppose when a comic line has been around so long, it's not easy deciding what elements to adapt and what ones to let go.

I mean, with Conan we know true canon is the original REH stuff. Other folks can choose their own tales, or pastiches, but the core is the core.

With a comic that's been revamped every 20 years, hard to say what the canon version is that should be adapted.