When I was a youngster in the fandom, I reflected on potential “world collision” when RAA (Richard Armitage Affairs) spontaneously intersected with my daily life “worlds” I suppose it it becomes more common as an individual fandom evolves and integrates into the normal routine. For a while, I even toyed with engineering an intersection with my professional life.
I often write new classes to teach in the shortened winter and summer sessions to mix it up a bit, and once upon a time, I seriously considered writing a class on industrialization and social class systems in 19th century England which would allow for a full screening of North and South. That has yet to coalesce in real time, but lo and behold, last night I had my first organic Richard Armitage infiltRAtion into a course.
I am currently piloting a course on the History of Popular Culture using comic books as a jumping off point…that is, how comic books affected and in turn *were* affected by American cultural trends. One of the things we’ll be looking the role of the recent surge of comic book inspired blockbuster films within the larger cultural and historical context of the medium. Last night we began the discussion of superhero comics in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
We talked about the social, economic and political climate that gave rise to Superman, Batman and a host of others, but as we moved into the 1940’s, with no conscious ulterior motive, the superhero that I really wanted to have them compare comic book origins to film adaptation was Captain America…a character who was “born” in 1941, only months before the US entered World War II. Unlike Superman and Batman who had long been box office gold, Captain America’s previous venture onto film in the early 1990’s ended up in a direct to video release that was universally panned by critics and fans alike. This made the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger, a part of a growing Marvel film juggernaut, almost virgin territory. It doesn’t hurt that it is ready available for less than $5 on various streaming services (we will not talk about how it was previously available on Netflix…WAS.)
And so it happened that I put Captain America: The First Avenger on the “reading” list for the course, asking the class to watch it carefully and analyze where it is faithful to the original comic book superhero formula, where it diverges, and why. It’s all about the superheroes after all…but then I remembered…
I believe this calls for an assignment revision –
“It occurs to me that we should also examine the comic book villains versus their film counterparts”
I’ll be very interested to hear what they say. Golden age comic book villains tend to be a fairly one dimensional crew. I wonder if an “objective” audience will detect any of the backstory that Richard Armitage is known for weaving into his characterizations.
I will report back….
This message will self destruct in 3….2…..