MADE IN AMERICA
People always wax fondly about the "All-American Hollywood Leading Man." This mythical figure used to represent all that was good, strong and pure about American life, and has been extinct now some 4-5 decades, depending on whether it's your grandpa or dad telling the tale. Right now, even as they read this, somebody who buys Senior Citizen tickets at the box office is probably grumbling about how it's a shame that John Wayne isn't still around to bestow honor upon the role of Captain America...
So we're short one John Wayne, but who DO we have in terms of strong leading men who were made in the U.S.A.?
Well, I for one came to a realization the other night while watching the Primetime Emmy Awards - and apparently I wasn't the only one. As comic book guru Rob Liefeld (Youngblood) tweeted to the world:
"Jon Hamm should play Captain America, IMHO."
Truly, this is a good casting call. Mad Men star Jon Hamm is the epitome of old-school Hollywood - in fact, that very aura about him is what helped snag him the role of creative advertising genius Don Draper on Mad Men - tall, chiseled featured, could be a 50s football star or a WWII hero, easy. Hamm is also a great actor, often letting us (barely and briefly) glimpse the tormented interior of Don Draper through the tensing of his jaw, or a moment where his carved brow falls darkly over his flash-freeze blue eyes - but nothing more. No big breakdowns or weeping confessions (at least not yet) - Draper is a "man's man" and Hamm carries himself just that way, without making the role overly misogynistic or off-putting.
That old-school breed of leading man is indeed rare in the era of Tony Soprano, where even the hardest guys seem to get reduced to sobbing messes of mommy issues. IMO, Hamm can deliver a Cap who feels the burden of war and death and loss and sacrifice, but somehow manages to carry that massive weight on his shoulders. And though it might bend him in his darkest moments, we somehow know from the way he clenches his jaw and faces bravely forward that the burden will never break him.
That's America, baby, F-yeah!
More importantly, if you've ever watched Mad Men and seen Hamm interacting with the subordinates at his ad agency, you know he possess that universal big brother quality that is so subtle, yet crucial, to the character of Cap. Combine that all-American good guy nature with Hamm's aforementioned ability to portray manly torment, and we have the makings of a Captain America who will come across as truly human - a good man trying to rise to a nation's (and world's) need for a hero in its darkest hour - rather than some hollow allegory or cheesy "American cowboy" stereotype.
So, as far as American actors playing Cap, I'm going with Hamm. But It's always good to have a Plan B, so here are some runners up for the part:
Supernatural star Jensen Ackles (if you want a younger Cap).
Not to be unfair to our foreign readers, here are some other actors foreign actors who might be good for the role:
The Mentalist star Simon Baker.
Underworld star Scott Speedman.
That does it for our Captain America picks - Do you agree? Or do you see somebody else representing Marvel (and America) as The First Avenger: Captain America?
The film is slated to hit theaters on July 22, 2011 - although, with the recent shakeups at Disney, and the impending lawsuit against Marvel by the estate of Captain America creator Jack Kirby, Is The First Avenger in danger of never making it to the screen at all?