Frequenters of the internets will have seen that casting for “Captain America: The First Avenger” has been a big news item over the past week or two. The short version is that “The Office’s” John Krasinski (aka Jim Halpert) was initially in the running and an early front-runner for the role. He was then voted the fan-favorite choice by MTV readers, and now it looks like he’s no longer in the game.
As I’ve said before, Captain America was the hero in my first comic book and is still my favorite superhero of all-time. I’m pretty open to different interpretations for the big screen for most heroes and comic book properties, but Captain America is really the only one I have very definite opinions about. Some of my thoughts on the Cap movie from a while back can be perused here.
My first reaction upon hearing the possible casting choices for Steve Rogers in “The First Avenger” was disappointment. Not that any of the choices seemed awful, but none of them seemed quite right. As I read different posts online and continued to mull it over, it began to seem like Krasinski wasn’t actually a bad choice. In fact, he seemed like a pretty good option.
Yesterday, my friend and freelance entertainment journalist supreme Josh Wigler shot me a message over GMail chat that revealed he was having similar thoughts about Krasinski being a good call for the role. The following is our conversation which I think not only makes a compelling argument for why Krasinski could actually be pretty great in this role, but also relays the aspects of Cap that this movie needs to get across for it to do justice to this hero—which leads to me monologuing a lot about what makes Steve Rogers such a unique and interesting character in the Marvel Universe. Please, read on and let us know what you think in the comments section.
WIGLER: Man, I am warming up to John Krasinski as Cap. It’s so fucking bizarre, but I think it has potential.
GIBBONS: Dude…ME TOO!
WIGLER: For real? Or you just being a dick?
GIBBONS: No. I actually think it could be kind of good. He needs to bulk up…
GIBBONS: …and actually act instead of just being himself, but presuming those two things can be done, I think he’d be good.
WIGLER: Yes. Agreed. I think he’s by far the best actor of anybody mentioned so far…
GIBBONS: Plus, I don’t want some preppy asshole type playing Cap. Cap was a shrimp, not a stud. He just needs to look American and kind of handsome but not like a model.
WIGLER: …and he is the only one who I think could handle himself opposite RDJ [Robert Downey Jr. aka Iron Man aka Tony Stark].
GIBBONS: Ha ha! Good point. I could see a buff Krasinski giving RDJ orders and smacking drinks out of his hand. Plus, I love tall Cap and short Tony. Short Tony makes so much sense. He is a rich nerd, not an uber athletic stud.
WIGLER: How short is RDJ?
GIBBONS: Well… he was as tall as Tina Fey in heels [at the Oscars]… my guess is 5’8”.
WIGLER: And krasinski is like 6’4”?
GIBBONS: More or less. But yeah, acting-wise that can help give him the authority over RDJ. I think this could work. Also, Cap need not be humorless.
WIGLER: Yeah, that’s a big misconception.
GIBBONS: and cap is kind of a funloving character too
WIGLER: I think Krasinski is a charming dude and can bring a good helping of that to rogers
GIBBONS: I just can’t picture those other kids doing their “I’m a sexy hunk guy fighting nazis” act working. I think Krasinski can also get that Cap isn’t just a badass soldier. He is a symbol and a patriot and… well… more that than just a soldier. Without Steve Rogers, Cap isn’t the same. I love Bucky, but he can never really be Cap for me. He isn’t the man that Steve is, which I think is more important than the costume.
WIGLER: Talking to you about this, I am even more convinced than ever that Krasinski is right for the job. I think he would not just be adequate, but potentially fantastic.
GIBBONS: Agreed. And has a frame to build on, which works as a 5’10” Cap is not gonna cut it.
WIGLER: How old is Rogers supposed to be? College? Or high school?
GIBBONS: Like 18. Maybe 20. I believe he was a college student or, rather, college aged when he tried to enlist in WWII. He is working while all his buds enlist. He is refused due to his level of wimpiness, so he does the experiment that leads to him becoming Cap to help his country. So, when he is in the thick of it in WWII, I’d say he’d be like 22 to 24. Then he wakes up in the future and has probably aged a year or so.
Age is one reason why I think going young for this role, but not like “Gossip Girl” young, is good. In comics, I always imagine Stark as like 37 to 40 and Reed Richards is like 45ish. Steve Rogers in my view of the Marvel U is like 28 to 30.
GIBBONS: He is junior—age-wise—compared to most of these guys, but is from the 40s, so he is their elder. Plus, his ability to command and authority are more about what he knows, what he stands for, what he believes and who he is as well as being a great strategist. It’s not about age or physical seniority. I think that is something to be considered, and one reason why Steve Rogers is always the leader in the Marvel Universe…
Pretty much everyone else who is a superhero in the 616 came across their powers accidentally. Cap was a hero before he ever got his because he was willing to sacrifice himself for a worthy cause. He is the only one who chose to be a superhero, but did so not because he had selfish motivations, but because it was the way he could do the most good to help his country in a worthwhile fight
With that in mind, I think Krasinski works because he is likeable and you trust him and he can play a good guy. Cap is the ultimate good guy! He had great responsibility and great resolve and thus volunteered for great power. It’s a very different character than anyone else in the Marvel U and I think an actor that can pull that off is key.
WIGLER: Man. You just gave Captain America a very long but thoughtful blow job… and it was lovely to behold.
GIBBONS: Ha ha!
WIGLER: I agree with all of that though. I think that Krasinski isn’t just the best choice of the people currently rumored for it, I think he actually is a great pick regardless.
GIBBONS: Who and what Captain America is and stands for is one of the anchors that holds the Marvel U together. He is the end of the spectrum that is the ultimate good guy. He literally is one end of the scale. No one is more of a good guy than him. No one is less flawed than him. It’s interesting, he is the bar by which the rest of the Marvel U judge themselves and numerous comics say so. He’s not interesting because he rises above a character flaw, he is interesting because he never falls to them.
So his heart, so to speak, is the most important part of his character.
WIGLER: Right. He needs to be able to get that across. Which means, much more important than finding a bodybuilder is finding an actor. Like, a really fucking good one. You need, basically, a guy who comes off physically as a young dude that is inspirational enough to inspire Robert Downey Jr, which is a tall tall order.
GIBBONS: Exactly, and at 6’3” or thereabouts, Krasinski can bulk the hell up too.
Silly as it sounds, The Office provides some good examples of why this work. Halpert’s best moments are when he does actually lead the office and he plays a character that inspires a certain loyalty. It’ll have to be altered for Cap, of course, but yeah… I think he can do it.
And really, all those other young punks… Downey Jr will make them look stupid. Cap needs to be played by a guy who can make us all buy that RDJ’s irreverent Stark instantly holds Cap in the highest regard. I need to buy RDJ’s jaw hitting the floor when they pull Cap out of the ice. He can be snarky Stark throughout the movie, but when Cap says jump, we have to buy Tony actually listening to him.
WIGLER: But, I do think there can and should be a degree of Stark going “This is it? This is Captain America?” and being proven wrong.
I can see Krasinski proving RDJ wrong. I cannot see Chace Crawford doing that.
GIBBONS: i think the process between Tony and Cap goes awe then disbelief then confirmation of awe.
GIBBONS: I cannot see any of the other options for this role doing that. In fact, Krasinski being such a goofball looking guy helps that a lot.
WIGLER: Agreed. That’s kind of what I’m trying to say. You look at him,,without a mask or a uniform or a shield, and your initial response is “Really?” But give him all of that stuff, give him some bulk and he will prove everyone wrong.
GIBBONS: Right! In my mind it is more like this… They see Cap in the ice and Tony is floored. You can instantly see him be like “Wow.” Not only does Tony, as a hero, have a spot that instantly respects this guy, but it establishes exactly who Cap is. If his rep can impress this jerk off, then he truly is someone everyone admires. Then he thaws out, is a boy scout and dated and goofy, and Tony comes to, “Ok, this guy must have had a good PR campaign.'” But then, danger strikes or whatever and Cap is in the suit and instantly a leader, as he just commands that respect, and Tony gets to “OK, I was right to be in awe.”
You can’t have those two on screen without Tony completely doubting him for a while. It doesn’t make sense for their relationship if that doesn’t happen. There’s respect, but it is earned through action, not just each other’s reputations.
WIGLER: Yeah, exactly.
GIBBONS: I think the fact the Krasinski isn’t like a Mark Valley makes one aspect of why I think Cap is so interesting work. Cap is not just an old soldier, he is an old soldier who is younger than all of the other senior heroes in the Marvel U. He’s older than the young heroes, younger than the old and yet he inspires and leads them all.
After that last point, we both kind of trailed off, but I think we raised some good points about why Krasinski works and what any actor needs to deliver to the role of Captain America. Assuredly some of you will agree and more will likely disagree, but either way, I hope conversations like this are at least like the ones the people casting this flick are having. Otherwise, I’m pretty nervous to see the final product. Cap’s a tough hero to get right, but if they can, I really think few onscreen personas could be more fun, inspiring and epic.
[If you enjoyed this, check out Josh and I discussing Chris Hemsworth being cast as Thor.]