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Sunday, January 23, 2011 

Captain America movie title will be truncated in Russia, Ukraine and South Korea

The LA Times' Hero Complex section reports that in Russia, Ukraine, and surprisingly enough, South Korea, the upcoming Captain America movie will have its title shortened to just "The First Avenger":
How do you sell a movie called “Captain America” to an overseas market? In South Korea, Russia and the Ukraine, apparently, the answer is you don’t even try.

The film “Captain America: The First Avenger” will have its title truncated to, simply, “The First Avenger” in those three overseas markets, according to Marvel Studios insiders. The choice was made by Marvel, Paramount Pictures’ international team and distributors in those three countries based on market research results. Those involved in the decision are being careful to frame the move as a matter of brand management and consumer awareness and not as a decision tilted by cultural or political winds.

In private, Marvel insiders said that early on in the project’s planning there was talk that the title might need to be changed in numerous international markets but that there was a ”pleasant surprise” — the brand recognition of the comic-book superhero was so strong that it overrode those considerations in many places. That was not the case in Russia, South Korea and the Ukraine.

It’s not uncommon for American films to undergo name changes for overseas to suit the international variables in taste, translation and temperament. Still, this particular title tweak might not sit well with those pundits and purists who frowned on comments last year by the film’s director, Joe Johnston, that suggested that Captain America and his alter ego, Steve Rogers, would be more measured in the way they saluted their country. [...]

One competitor thinks the name change is a good move and might be advisable for more countries. “It’s going to be interesting to see how the movie does internationally with that character’s name,” said Matthew Vaughn, the director of Fox’s “X-Men: First Class.” “I think changing it is smart.”

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige could not be reached for comment due to an intense work schedule on “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” both of which are now in postproduction. Through a spokesman, however, he did not refute the reports of the name change in the three markets.
While I can believe that Russia and even the Ukraine, sadly enough, might not like the character name, realizing how badly they've backtracked under the influence of Putin and Medvedev, that South Korea, of all places, wouldn't like the name, came as a real surprise to me. This is a country that's become an overseas success with cars and trucks from Hyundai, KIA, Daewoo and Ssangyong, might even be making a breakthrough with manhwa, their own version of Japan's manga, that just like Japan, is making an effort to find success in the American market, and they, of all places, have a problem with a movie officially titled Captain America? Now that's really disappointing. That Russia and apparently the Ukraine are still stuck in anti-American mode is also troubling.

And is X-Men director Vaughn trying to jeopardize better chances for his own movie? I'm already aware that it's become a troubled production (the same's been reported about the Green Lantern movie), but he's taking the risk of giving the audience an even better reason to be discouraged from trying it out.

2011 might be the year when comic book movies begin to backfire, because of political correctness.

Update: Warner Todd Huston has written his own take on this at Big Hollywood, and made this observation about the costume as seen in the movie:
I’d dare say that the new costume they designed for the captain of that unmentionable nation was created in an effort to mute the essential American-ness of its traditional comic book design, too. Not that the uniform looks ridiculous by any means. In fact, it edges toward the practical instead of the generally outlandish nature of most comic book costumes (including the original Cappy’s costume).

But the thing is the original Captain America costume is unmistakably a replication of the U.S. flag. The costume in the new movie goes out of its way to mute that effect. Where the original comic book costuming had many stripes dancing vertically across the abs, the new one obviates the effect of the stripes part of the good old stars and stripes. Further, the new costume has various leather straps and gears fastened about it, hiding the stripe effect even more so. On top of that, the red, white, and blue colors are more muted, darker than the original, more brightly colored scheme of the Cappy uniform. The uniform is also replete with pads emulating a 1940s era football uniform effect. These pads also help mute the American-ness of the design giving the eye much more to look at than the more blatantly flag-like costume of the original Captain America.

All of this is likely done on purpose so that foreign audiences can be less “insulted” that a hero would dare wear elements of the American flag upon his person.
He may be right - this looks to be a pretty dumbed down rendition of a classic icon. What would Jack Kirby think if he saw what contempt these filmmakers had for his famous superhero, all for the sake of appeasing a foreign audience that might not even care to see it anyway? Thanks to this, the movie may very easily misfire, certainly in the USA.

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INteresting, I was wondering the same thing before it was released.

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