Thursday, March 8, 2007

Oh, Captain, my Captain

My friend Bob thinks that if James Bond were to die, it would be of much more significance to his country than Captain America's death is to the United States simply because England has less awesomeness to choose from. He's got a point. Look how everyone reacted to the death of Princess Diana. England just doesn't have nearly as many icons as the United States. After James Bond who do you have? Tony Blair? David Beckham? Madonna? Heck, they stole her from America. According to this line of thinking, England losing James Bond would be like the Indians losing Travis Hafner, while the United States losing Captain America would be like the Yankees losing Derek Jeter. Sure, he's Captain Intangibles and all that, and the Yankees would certainly mourn Derek Jeter's loss, but they've got a lot bigger pool of capable replacements than do the Indians.

Still, don't underestimate the loss of Captain America on the American psyche. He embodies American idealism. He represents everything great about the United States. He wears the colors of the flag as his costume. Hell, he fought Hitler! His death resonates on a grand scale. Death of Captain America vs. the death of Saddam Hussein? Death of Captain America much more important. Captain America vs. Bob Dylan? There's plenty of people that don't like Bob Dylan, but there's no one who doesn't like Captain American (except the Red Skull, and he probably at least respects Captain America). Captain America vs. Gerald Ford? Well, Gerald Ford was a president and even Captain America would subjugate himself to the presidents. But then again, Gerald Ford was old and sick. We might just have to go with Captain America. Captain America vs. JFK? Now there's someone whose death resonated on a much grander scale than Captain America.

The point is that Captain America is as glorious an American icon as there ever was. His death is as symbolic a moment as ever has been experienced in the history of the United States. Challenger space shuttle explosion? Things happen when you go into outer space. Bombing of Pearl Harbor? OK, we'll go with Pearl Harbor, because that's what drew us into World War II and basically led to the creation of Captain America. Any assassinated president is a bigger death in this country's history than Captain America's death, but any president who died of old age after leaving office, that's not as big.

Which brings us back to James Bond. He's cool and all and has his gadgets and gets himself into all kinds of traps and action sequences and always stays suave and finds a way to win the day and bed his hottie of the day. But he's no Captain America. And while his newest movie "Casino Royale" is filled with plenty of action sequences and a pretty fine turn at James Bond by relative newcomer Daniel Craig, it seems the whole movie is set up as a way to get James Bond to beat some bad guys in a high-stakes game of Texas Hold 'em. Was Doyle Brunson busy? Phil Hellmuth couldn't find a flight out of Vegas in time? How convenient that James Bond turns out to be a world-class poker, just like the villain of the story. Look, I know James Bond is a superspy and all that, but if I need someone to win a poker tournament, I'm going with one of these guys.

Captain America would have cleaned the plate with all of them in poker or anything else. Though not anymore -- he's dead.

Casino Royale: Royally good

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