By Sharon Eberson / Monday, Sept. 20
With the mega-success of "Iron Man" leading off the summer and a more modest boost from "The Incredible Hulk," there was no question that more Avengers movies would follow, and Marvel Studios soon announced that a Captain America movie (tentatively titled "The First Avenger: Captain America") would be on the release slate by 2011. When Samuel L. Jackson showed up as Nick Fury at the very end of "Iron Man," an "Avengers" movied seemed destined as well. Zak Penn ("X-Men: The Last Stand," "The Incredible Hulk") is at work on the screenplays for both.
Who will play Captain America?
One buzzworthy mention for the part was Matthew McConaughey, who recently co-starred with "Iron Man" himself, Robert Downey Jr., in "Tropic Thunder," and who certainly is buff enough for Captain America's spandex coveralls.
That's a rumor, so far. Here's another that gained a little Web-action traction before it was blown to bits in a just a few weeks:
Actor Derek Luke, in an interview with MTV News about Spike Lee's "Miracle at St. Anna," said, "I heard they offered Will Smith ‘Captain America,' " adding that the rumor "just shows you how times have changed."
The bloggers went ballistic, as they tend to do, for and against.
The Ain't It Cooll News shot down the rumor, saying, "Multiple sources from MARVEL have confirmed that Derek Luke, of Spike Lee's MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to Will Smith and CAPTAIN AMERICA. Marvel never offered the part, nor did they approach or entertain a conversation about Will Smith for CAPTAIN AMERICA. That said - I'm sure they have a few parts that they'd like him for, just not Captain America.
"So there ya go. They haven't gone insane and we don't need to b e confused, angry and scared about it anymore."
Then Marvel honcho Stan Lee told Moviefone.com it just wasn't so:
"I would love us to do something with Will Smith, but I don't know that he's Captain America. That would be a long shot. It would be a real leap to make Captain America black ... then again, I don't know. It might be a really smart thing. If Barack Obama becomes President who knows ... suddenly a lot of our characters will be black!"
Asked if original cast members would return for an Avengers film, Lee added:
"I would certainly expect to have all the stars back. Downey just has to be Iron Man. And Ed Norton has to be the Hulk. I didn't think that the first [‘Hulk'] movie was all that bad. But obviously the second one was better and Ed Norton's performance had a lot to do with it. Like Robert Downey Jr., he's very believable, he's very credible. I hope Ed gets a sequel, but they don't keep me in the loop on these things. I also hope Samuel L. Jackson comes back as Nick Fury ... even though I didn't think David Hasselhoff's interpretation [TV's "Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD," in 1998] was that bad. But I'm probably in the minority on that. I feel the same way about ‘Daredevil.' I thought that Ben Affleck did a good job. But as for final casting, I'm guessing right along with you. Like Will Rogers always said, ‘I only know what I read in the papers.' "
At a Comic-Con panel for "The Spirit," yet another Samuel L. Jackson film in a busy year (he plays the villian, The Octopus), Jackson addressed the fact that Nick Fury was white in the comic books - until the Ultimate series in 2001, when he was drawn as a bald black man based on ... Samuel L. Jackson. When a fan asked about a Fury action figure, Jackson said, "When I was growing up, Nick Fury was a white man." Then he cracked up the crowd and himself by saying his Fury is proof "that you too can grow up to be a black man."
Who would you like to see play Captain America on the big screen?
Just as I posted this blog entry, The Associated Press moved this story:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures will globally distribute the next five movies made by Marvel Entertainment Inc., including "Iron Man 2" and "Thor" in 2010.
The two companies made the announcement Monday as gross box office receipts for "Iron Man," which Paramount distributed, hit $574 million worldwide since its release in May.
The deal will also cover "The First Avenger: Captain America" and "The Avengers" in 2011 and a future "Iron Man 3."
Distributors reap a fee related to ticket sales, in addition to recouping their upfront marketing and distribution costs, while the rest goes to the production company.
After the announcement, Viacom shares were down $1.02 or 4 percent, at $24.49, while Marvel shares fell $1.77 or 5.1 percent, to $32.64 amid a broad market downturn.