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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Red Skull Scares Me

Confession time: Captain America has never been my favorite superhero. I'm a Marvel boy, tried and true, and even though the X-Men have my heart and most perfectly embody my geekiness, the Avengers, the team that banded together around Captain America and have him as their leader (more or less), are probably my favorite superhero team.

So, as you might imagine, I'm watching the news and the previews of Captain America: The First Avenger pretty intensely.

I don't know if you caught the Super Bowl (I didn't) or the TV commercials (I've been trying to), but there was a spot for Captain America, and it's online. It starts as standard superhero fare -- there's this kind of wimpy soldier who gets put through the ringer, an explosion or two, he get stuck into a tube and comes out all steroidy and pumped up...

And then this guy whips on screen.

The Red Skull scares me. No, more than that: He freaks the hell out of me. It's bad enough that most supervillains have names like Doctor Doom or Darkseid and can blast nuclear endorphins out of their palms, but this guy is an actual Nazi. He shows up in comics wearing a swastika armband. He peppers his speech with references to "the annihilation" and "the future Reich." In a few of the more noiry comics, his I'll-get-you speeches include personal reminisces of him and Hitler.

And this is what I was reading as a ten-year-old.

The Red Skull has always been a serious character. His "skull" used to be a mask, but at some point it became his skull. More recently, he was shown (in Ultimate Avengers) giving a superhero's wife a choice between stabbing him to death with a fork or throwing their infant child out the window. (She chose the latter. He did the former anyway.) He's dabbled in genetic manipulation, social manipulation (he's been elected president and been one of the richest businessmen in the United States) and mind control. He rarely just takes a gun or a bomb and blows up Fort Knox. Instead, he just messes with our heads, which is worse, or quietly plots genocides. He's not just evil. He's creepy.

What do you think -- is the Red Skull just pushing our buttons? Or is he pushing the boundaries of what's socially acceptable?


בְּשֵם יְהוָֹה וְיֵשׁוּעַ וְרוחַ מִרְיָם said...

More of a Marvel than D.C. fan myself. My childhood friend was an only child (had a brother who died at birth) and always got the best gadgets: from Coleco to Nintendo to pre-historic Transformers to G.I. Joes...... His comic collection was stellar. My favorite series was when Marvel and D.C. teamed up.

I'm not familiar with Red Skull, but doing a little background hw, the character depicted on celluloid is played by "a Nigerian-born British-Australian film and stage actor" made famous for his roles as Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy, Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and "V" in V for Vendetta. As you know, the origin of Red Skull is German.

"is the Red Skull just pushing our buttons? Or is he pushing the boundaries of what's socially acceptable?"

i think it's Hollywood's way of capitalizing on fear-mongering and riding the wave of anti-Chinese sentiment in America being fueled by politicians and corporate media; a sort of Pop scapegoating, considering the fledgling economic woes that continue to plague Western nations. any answer to which is insufficient.

om, Wikipedia listing "Captain America, the pinnacle of human perfection" is more troubling than a Nazi on the run because democratic heroism only breeds exponential domestic insurgency.

The increasing mediocrity of propaganda filmmaking really is only an indication of impending global conflicts, a la pre-World War II.

But, don't be scared! There really are superheroes and superheroines out there, usually at work behind the counter, preparing our bagels and juice boxes.

Gtwentytwelve said...

HULU has the SuperBowl Commercial TVspot

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