RULES OF ELIGIBILITY
Let me ask you a couple of the questions right now, up front, which I think will be big subjects of debate later, once the official casting of Captain America comes to light:
Does Cap HAVE to be played by an American actor?
Does Cap have to be white?
Does the actor playing Cap have to be at least 6' tall?
I'm not just pulling these questions out of thin air - they've all come up in some form or fashion in our past Captain America posts.
For example: when it was rumored last year that Will Smith might play Captain America, the issue of Cap's race came to the forefront (it was coincidentally rumored at that same time during Cap's "death" that Marvel could possibly introduce a black character to replace the late hero). When I read that Smith might be in the running, I immediately thought that the masses would be 98.9% against such a casting move (not because of race, so much as mucking with the source material). Low and behold MY surprise when that percentage turned out to be slightly more evenly divided. While people agreed that casting a black Cap would be a serious veer left from the source material, they also felt Smith had the quality of an American hero and movie star that was all too fitting for the role.
I also remember when Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt were rumored to be prime candidates for the part. The latter I think it's hard to argue against (Pitt does have that movie star appeal) - however, poor Leo immediately got slammed for not having the proper leg extensions to play the part (by me for one, and I'm a shorter guy myself!). So you better believe that people care about height.
But regarding this question of nationality...
It's hard to say that an actor like True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård wouldn't make a strong Cap - tall, blond, square-jaw handsome (no jokes please), good actor with older AND younger appeal, who has already put it DOWN as an example of American military finesse, starring as Sgt. Brad "Iceman" Colbert in HBO's acclaimed miniseries, Generation Kill (see below). But Skarsgård was born in Stockholm Sweden, the land of neutrality - should that fact effect his candidacy to play an American icon and symbol, who is out there fighting for freedom?
I gotta be honest with you: I've been a big Alex Skar fan for awhile now...but yes, IMHO, Captain America should probably be just that...an American. And before you go getting the tar and feathers ready for me to be dipped in, remember two things:
- Casting almost ANY Hollywood role is a pretty exclusionary affair (often they're looking for something specific).
- How do you make a movie about the embodiment of American Patriotism with a foreign actor in the lead?
And no, I'm not an idiot: I realize that the POINT of acting is slipping into a new skin and portraying somebody that you're not. Duh. So why do I think an American actor should be playing Cap? Because I believe that doing otherwise would likely cause so much of a stir that it would distract (and perhaps detract) from the enjoyment of the movie. I can already see people sitting in the theater, marking off boxes on their crazy checklist of "Americanisms" that the foreign actor "got wrong" or "couldn't POSSIBLY understand."
Then again, a foreign actor playing Captain America might also lure MORE people from all over the world (and America) to the theater, if only to witness the spectacle (and possible train wreck) of a foreign actor playing an American icon. Maybe Disney/Marvel wants to stir that hornet$ nest after all?
If they do, I say take a hard look at Skarsgård. The guy is in his prime and ready for a big breakout role like this.
But why outsource the role? Whatever happened to the good-old-fashioned American leading man?