22 March 2010


Unlike all -- and we mean all -- of our fellow comics blogs -- not to mention every Hollywood rumor site and film blog that deigns to venture into the realm of superhero cinema -- your favorite comicsblog - namely, abbracadabbling -- has spared its loyal dabblers from the  embarrassing grist and grind that comes with being a part of the Great Rumor Mill. We expressed our outrage over the way these same supposedly authentic web destinations did everything quite in-authentically when covering the Sony Pictures / Spider-Man 4 debacle, and we weren't about to do the same with Captain America.  

Today, we're ready to throw our far-more honest hat into the ring, as by all reports, actor Chris Evans has not only been cast as the starring lead in The First Avenger: Captain America - - but as of today, according to both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, he's accepted.  Tonight, we explore all The First Avenger -- as NEWS of the BLOG continues!

That Chris Evans has accepted his destiny to play Marvel's oldest superhero property, Captain America, is a decision the actor no doubt did not accept lightly. To be cast as a World War II - era super soldier turned super hero is certainly a part Evans can just a certainly play with physical perfection, but it's a nine-film deal that will see the actor committed to Marvel Studios' movie machine for quite some time. By taking the role, Evans is agreeing to star in a trilogy of Captain America movies, as well as the much-discussed Avengers film and a bevvy of other Marvel films yet to be announced, where he more than likely will find himself portraying Cap in a cameo. That's 9 films, dabblers, and not an easy stunt for any actor to do, or commit to, either. 

That Evans did commit solves two huge problems for Marvel: (a) continuity, or replicating the unity of comic book storytelling on the Silver Screen, which when dealing with Hollywood star power and ego isn't as easy as doing with characters of pencil, ink, and color on a comic book page and (b) the cost associated with making the hope of continuity a reality. With their goal of making the ensemble Avengers movie actually happen, snagging and keeping  (by which we mean, affording) the stars they wanted becomes a tricky situation; Samuel L. Jackson, for whom the reoccurring role of S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury was basically modeled on, has apparently bowed out of a similar 9-film contract because Marvel couldn't meet his high price tag.  Glitches like that have made some critics of this comics-to-film model already criticize the process of being potentially unachievable, where actors - and audiences - may view films like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor as merely lead-ins for something bigger and better yet where they won't be the singular star.

Much to his credit, Evans has apparently, on the one hand, over-looked that aspect; the deal he's struck with Marvel offers him below $1 million (per film, we're supposing.)  That's pocket change for someone like Jackson, but we think his decision places Evans into a far-different caliber of actor: a super one.  Moreover, casting Evans in the first place is another affirmation of how the Studio is taking yet another step away from two practices that have been the hallmark of superhero cinema casting: (1) finding big-name, top-dollar stars to fill don the capes and tights (see any of the first four Batman movies or even Marvel's three Spider-Man films) and (2) finding an unknown yet very hunky actor, putting them into the tights, and seeing if they can fly...or, um, act (like Brandon Routh in Superman Returns).  As we all know, even if we may not want to admit it, neither approach worked that well.

The Evans' choice follows the formula of Warner Bros. and Marvel's more recent approach, finding a lesser-known yet proven actor and seeing how they fare as a super hero.  This move took Marvel to great places when they cast Robert Downey, Jr, as their Iron Man, and earned Warner Bros and DC Comics a billion dollars when they did likewise by asking Christian Bale to become Batman.  Evans, however, may be a safer bet than Downey or Bale. Though Marvel's success taking this third and alternative route for casting didn't pay the dividends they'd hoped for either of their Fantastic Four films, those two films did place the words 'Marvel' and 'superhero' onto his more modest by comparison resume. 

A review of the other actors whose names have been filling the columns of news sites and comics blogs for weeks -- each the falsely-prophesied heir to the shield of Captain America  since casting for the part began in late January - helps to clarify Evans' appropriateness for his new part.

On the star-power side, actors who likely had payday demands exceeding their value to the film, were studs like Ryan Phillipe -- who confirmed just last week at Austin's SXSW that he was up for the part yet also responded to questions about such with the same vague 'see the web' references that John Malkovich did last December when denying Spider-Man rumors -- and Phillipe's Stop-Loss co-star, GI JOE franchise leading man and fellow stud, Channing Tatum.  Marvel sought Tatum out themselves, and while the actor is not going to be their Cap, the possibility is there, we believe, for Tatum to find his chiseled chin in some kind of costume beyond the fatigues he'll be wearing as 'Duke' in the GI JOE sequel.

Although their names mean little now that the hoopla and speculation have come to an end, we don't want to be remiss in getting to the other side of the equation we tossed your way earlier -- the 'unknown yet very hunky actor' side of superhero casting.  John Krasinski, star of The Office, did four readings and two screen tests for the part; Mike Vogel (Cloverfield), Wilson Bethel (The Young and The Restless), Garrett Hedlund, and John Krasinski, an early favorite to play Cap, were also among the candidates for First Avenger.

Of course, none of them will have that chance.  Chris Evans quickly moved to the front of the audition line, and as of today, has safely assured his part in the history of superhero cinema. Not that he hadn't already done so.  Even before coming to Captain America, Evans has tucked plenty of 'comic books on the Big Screen' experience beneath his belt, whether he's wearing a shirt or not. Aside from his twice-playing on-screen hot-head and hottie Johnny Storm, the Fantastic Four's Human Torch, Evans also starred in the superhero-like Push and did voice-over for the 2007 remake of TMNT.

And those films speak only of his past; Evans' will be seen on screens twice this year as two more comic book adaptation movies make their way into theaters. abbracadabbling will have a full-on report of the first of those films, Warner Bros' The Losers, on the blog this week.  In The Losers, a DC Comics / Vertigo Comics story of ex-CIA operatives out to clear their names by wreaking havoc on the insiders who sullied them, Evans plays Jensen, one of the titular gang, and will be joined by other fan favorite actors including Star Trek and Avatar's Zoe Saldana and Watchmen's Jeffrey Dean Morgan.   Interestingly, Evans now is billed second, following Saldana, for The Losers on the Internet Movie Database. Prior to today's Captain America announcement, Evans found himself billed (if memory serves us correctly) as fifth -- maybe sixth.

On the slightly-distant heels of The Losers which opens nationwide on 23 April, Evans next comics movie is Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, a Hollywood remake of more alternative comic book fare, but one with a significant fan-following nonetheless.  As Lucas Lee in Pilgrim, Evans will be playing against the main character as one of his new girlfriend's seven evil ex-boyfriends.  More to come on Pilgrim, too, but as the movie won't be here until 13 August 2010, we figure we've got some time.

And by the time we get around to our reviews and reports of all-things Pilgrim (or maybe not, who's to say, really?) and especially by the day it debuts on the big screen, Chris Evans will be hard at work on Captain AmericaWith filming set to begin shortly, questions like who's the bad guy? and what's the film going to be about? are burning questions in many dabblers minds, even with all the good news we've brought you tonight. 

So Dabblers, take heart; you'll be stoked to know that we've got all those answers -- and so much more Captain America info -- to bring your way.  But you'll have to  stick around the comicsblog all this week to find outAs for this evening, we've just got one thing left to say: Congratulations, Christopher Evans. You're going to make one hell of a Captain America.  

The First Avenger: Captain America is set to debut on 22 July 2011.

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