Luc Besson thinks Captain America is "propaganda." This isn't the first time that he has railed against superhero movies, previously saying that he finds protagonists with superpowers hard to relate to, and stating his preference for more normal, flawed heroes. Besson is of course far from the first filmmaker - or moviegoer for that matter - to express fatigue with the now constant onslaught of superhero-based pop culture, as it sometimes seems like nearly every possible superhero is now getting a film or TV show made about them.
For reference, in 2017 alone, Marvel has released or will soon release Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok, while DC's 2017 docket includes Wonder Woman and Justice League. Over on Netflix, Marvel already released Iron Fist season 1 this year, with The Defenders and The Punisher soon to follow. The CW continues to be dominated by DC heroes, FOX has Gotham, and ABC continues to air more than one Marvel show. 2018 won't ease up the pace either, with the arrival of the mammoth Avengers: Infinity War on the horizon.
This time out, though, Besson has opted to make his superhero movie criticism less general and more specifically targeted, going after the star-spangled man himself. While Captain America continues to go through all kinds of controversial changes on the comics page, Steve Rogers in the MCU remains a bastion of morality and heroism, despite his current undeserved status as a "war criminal." Despite this, Besson believes Captain America to be nothing more than pro-U.S. propaganda. Here's what he had to say to CinePop on Youtube recently.
"What bothers me most is it's always here to show the supremacy of America and how they are great. I mean, which country in the world would have the guts to call a film Captain Brazil or Captain France? I mean, no one! We would be like so ashamed and say, 'No, no, come on, we can't do that.' They can. They can call it Captain America and everybody think it's normal. I'm not here for propaganda, I'm here to tell a story."
One wonders if some of Besson's criticism amounts to little more than sour grapes. His most recent film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, utterly bombed at the box office in the United States, with a current worldwide total of only $89 million on a $177 million budget. Critics also mostly disliked it, which stands in start contrast to last year's Captain America: Civil War - a movie where Captain America goes against the desires of the US government - which was a critical darling and hauled in over $1 billion worldwide, $745 million of which came from outside the U.S. Clearly they didn't mind the "propaganda."
Another part of Besson's point that doesn't entirely make sense is his complaint specifically about America calling a film franchise Captain America. Considering that Cap has existed on the comics page for many decades longer than he has as a film star, what was Besson expecting Marvel to do, rename him for movie purposes?