The real star of Captain America is going to be the Red Skull

Illustration for article titled The real star of Captain America is going to be the Red Skull

Sometimes a superhero is only as good as his enemies, and that's definitely true in the upcoming Captain America movie. We saw some early footage of Hugo Weaving's bad guy this weekend, and now we're totally Team Red Skull.

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Director Joe Johnston, whose previous films include Wolfman and Jumanji, was joined on stage at Comic-Con by Chris Evans, who plays Cap, and Hugo Weaving. Johnston described his vision for the film as being "like Raiders of the Lost Ark, which feels modern and not like you're watching something from 1936." He added, "[Captain America is] not going to feel like a 1942 war movie, even though we're telling the origin story of Captain America." He also gave us a few hints about what to expect in the movie: We should expect to see Steve Rogers' character solidly established before he's transformed, since he wants the audience to love the character before the transformation takes place.

Illustration for article titled The real star of Captain America is going to be the Red Skull
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We did get a very brief glimpse of Cap's silhouette in a teaser trailer, but no full frontal of his suit. So you'll have to trust Johnston when he says that it's the Ed Brubaker version of the suit. Evans said simply, "the suit's fantastic."

Things got awesome when Weaving started talking about his character, the Red Skull, a Nazi obsessed with ancient artifacts who becomes Cap's nemesis. Weaving said he based the Skull's accent on those of weirdo German filmmaker Wernor Herzog and Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer. The image of the Red Skull above is not how he will appear in the film - during the panel, Weaving said he would be wearing "a series of lightweight pieces" on his face. So don't worry - it won't be CGI Red Skull.

Then Johnston showed us an incredibly early clip from the film, which only started filming last week. Though it was a rough cut still adorned with a timestamp, it felt pretty polished. It was the scene where the Red Skull - still in human Nazi form - steals the ancient Norse "tesseract" from a tomb.

We're in Norway, in 1942, in the dim interior of what looks like a castle. A tank destroys one wall, crushing some people beneath the rubble, and Weaving enters through the blasted-out hole. He's in the Skull's trademark long black leather jacket and cap, and imperiously orders some cringing monks around. "It has taken me a long time to find this place," he says, looking into an ancient sarcophagus that his men have wrenched open. "What you seek is just legend," protests a monk. Then Weaving gives one of his trademark arch smirks, and asks why they've gone through all this effort to hide something if it's "only legend."

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He pulls a glowing box - the tesseract - from the skeleton's hands. "The tesseract - the jewel of Odin's treasure room," he gloats. And then he smashes it on the floor! It shatters into a million pieces, and Weaving strides up to a wall we haven't noticed before. Covered in burnished gold, it depicts "the tree of life," and gives way to a secret chamber. Weaving retrieves a box from the chamber and looks inside, his face illuminated with a lurid blue glow.

This scene of a villain in the making was classic campy awesomeness, made sublime by Weaving's great acting. Though I'm sure Evans will make a pretty Captain America, there's no way his gravitas will be able to top that of his greatest enemy. No matter how much you love Cap, you may find yourself rooting for the Red Skull next year when the movie comes out.

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Hugo Weaving Red Skull fan art via Flixster

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DISCUSSION

takimeathead
takimeathead

Let me just say that I, for one, LOVE Captain America. He's my favorite superhero above all the others that I grew up with.

/rant

1) Joe Johnston is making the A#1 mistake of almost anyone that has chosen to remake a fully realized character into their own version:

- Joel Schumacher : Batman and Robin

- Ang Lee : Hulk

2) He's taking Cap's love for the flag away from Steve Rogers and is just going to make him a "good person". Cap is so much more than that. To take away Steve Roger's love for what the flag symbolizes is to take away Cap's motivation. He was a sickly kid growing up, his dad died when he was 4, his mom died of pneumonia when he was just out of his teens, the times was during the early 1940's when America was just coming out from the Great Depression which made him broke and penny-less... Cap had nothing going for him. Yet, he saw what Hitler was doing across the Pond, and he still felt a sense of duty to defend his country. He saw the flag, and he felt that he owed it to those that died to keep it waving to try and serve as best he can.

There's a scene in The Ultimates graphic novel where Nick Fury is leading Cap through the Arlington Cemetery, along the section where the WWII soldiers are. Cap looks around and begins to recognize nearly every soldier that's been laid to rest there. He begins to lament that he was brought back from being in frozen hibernation, that his life and his loved ones were nearly 60 yrs gone, that he has nothing waiting for him in this new future. He is a stranger in a strange land. They stop at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Nick Fury looks up and points out to Steve... "Well, at least she's still here for you." (I'm paraphrasing as I don't have the issue in hand at the moment).

Cap looks up... and it's Old Glory, gently waving in the wind... Steve takes a long gaze at it, and a warm feeling wells up within him, and he once again feels at home.

I can see the rest of the scene in my head... The two marines standing nearby, dressed in their military blues, turn in unison and strike a swift and firm salute to the flag, in which Steve Rogers... Captain America... swiftly responds in kind.

To take this away from Cap is to take Cap away from what he is. LOOK AT HIS NAME, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!! DO YOU THINK THE "A" ON HIS FOREHEAD STANDS FOR FRANCE?!??

/rant