Captain Britain Joining The MCU. Give Me Fucking Strength - Quill’s Scribbles
You know there are some points in my life where a person or a movie studio does something so stupid and moronic that my only response is… what the fuck are you doing?
DC, what the fuck are you doing?
Marvel, what the fuck are you doing?
Kevin Feige… what the fuck are you doing?!
Yes, apparently Marvel Studios are considering putting Captain Britain into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Something I’m sure every comic book fan in the land has been crying out for. Now I’m sure you’re wondering what I, a British person, may think of this. Do I feel patriotic? Proud that such a ‘beloved’ British icon is going to be part of the MCU?
Yeah, I can’t say I’m excited about the prospect and the reason is because… um… how do I put this?… Captain Britain is quite possibly the dumbest thing to ever come out of Marvel (and I’m including Howard The Duck).
Captain Britain was created by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe to be the British equivalent of Captain America. But whereas Captain America took off and became a relatively integral part of the American comics industry, Captain Britain never had quite the same impact with us Brits. In fact in contrast with Captain America, he’s actually a very obscure character. While he does have his fans (very few fans), most people have either never heard of him or, like me, can’t stand the fucking sight of him, finding the character to be more patronising than patriotic.
There’s a number of reasons why Captain Britain never took off, but first let’s quickly sum up his backstory. Brian Braddock (smirk) was born into an aristocratic family in Essex and educated at Fettes College In Edinburgh. Because his family were no longer rich enough to fraternise with their academic peers, Brian was a quiet and lonely child because he was too proud to fraternise with the lower classes (and I’m sure we in the lower classes were eternally grateful for that, you stuck up git). After his parents, Sir James and Lady Elizabeth (oh I do beg your pardon) die in a laboratory accident, Brian gets a job at a nuclear facility at Darkmoor. When this facility is attacked by a terrorist, Brian gets on his motorcycle (a motorcycle? Oh come now! Surely that’s far too lower class for him. Shouldn’t he be riding a horse and cart? Pip, pip! Tally ho chaps! We’ll give the ruffians what for!) and goes looking for help only to then crash and get seriously injured (you had one job! That’s you off the Queen’s Christmas card list). He is then saved by Merlyn (yes, that Merlin) and is offered the chance to become Captain Britain. He’s asked to choose between the Amulet of Right (pffft) and the Sword of Might (tee hee). Brian chooses the amulet and he transforms into the champion of Great Britain, fighting for Queen and country and all that is pre-shrunk and cottony… Oh no, wait. That’s from Captain Underpants. Have you ever read Captain Underpants? It’s a brilliant series of books. Very funny. Did you know that DreamWorks are doing a movie adaptation? I’m very excited! :D
Now you may have noticed that I wasn’t really taking this seriously. And really, how could I? It sounds more like a parody of Captain America. But no. Apparently we’re supposed to be taking this very seriously. So come on. Let’s be serious about this for a moment. No! Stop sniggering! Control yourselves, please! This could very well be the next big thing in the MCU.
As I said, there are many reasons why Captain Britain never really took off. The most glaring example being how stereotypical it is. He comes from an aristocratic family. He went to a boarding school. It’s incredibly painful. He’s one step away from spending Sunday afternoons playing croquet in the grounds and sipping tea in the gazebo before retiring to his four poster bedroom where his butler will give him a glass of port as a nightcap and remind him to get up early in the morning so he won’t be late for a spot of fox hunting with the chaps from Grantham House. I mean Jesus Christ!
Another big reason why Captain Britain doesn’t work is because we don’t really have the same relationship to our flag and our country as the Americans do. Oh sure we can be patriotic on occasion, such as on remembrance days or royal events, but America takes it to a whole other level. Americans love their country. They love their flag. They’re proud to be Americans. To the point where they even have laws dictating how you should take care of your flag. You can actually get punished for not cleaning your flag properly. In some states it’s illegal to wash your flag in a washing machine because it’s disrespectful. That’s insane! Like… it’s just a piece of cloth! Calm down! Brits, generally speaking, don’t have that kind of relationship. In fact kind of the opposite. We often mock our country and view it with a certain amount of disdain. The only people who feel truly patriotic about Britain are the royalists and other such nutters. People who passionately believe that Britain is the best country in the world, who love the Royal family and harken back to the UK’s glorious yesteryears (which never actually existed). While both Captain America and Captain Britain are both equally dumb ideas, I can see why Americans would be drawn to Captain America. An American patriot who stands for American ideals and wears the American flag across his chest with pride. Captain Britain on the other hand, with his Union Jack and his Amulet of Right, is more likely to produce snorts of laughter from us Brits.
But I’ll say one thing for Captain America. It may be a stupid idea and he may talk as though he has the Declaration of Independence shoved firmly up his arse, but at least he doesn’t act all high and mighty or try to lord it over everyone else. No. He fights for the common man and that’s largely because he was a common man himself. A wimpy kid off the streets of Brooklyn determined to become a soldier and fight the Nazis, wanting to protect his country from injustice. His inner strength, good will and patriotism is what made him a prime candidate for the Vita-Ray experiment and he represents an aspirational figure that kids can look up to. Captain Britain is precisely not that. In fact he represents what the majority of Brits actually hate. An overly privileged, upper class prick who has great power bestowed onto him despite the fact that he’s done very little to actually deserve it.
And that’s by far the biggest problem with Captain Britain. As a character, he just doesn’t appeal to us Brits. He’s above us and he sees himself as above us. We don’t want to see that. If we wanted to see that, we’d just watch BBC Parliament. Let me give you an idea of the kind of characters we in the UK love:
Derek Trotter, more commonly known as Del Boy, was the main protagonist of the hugely successful sitcom Only Fools & Horses and is arguably one of the most beloved characters in British culture today. A market trader and con man who sells hooky gear on the streets of Peckham and often gets into trouble due to his get rich quick schemes.
Dave Lister, a vending machine repair man from the sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf. This lager drinking, curry loving slob ends up becoming the last surviving member of the human race and a Godlike figure to a new race of people that evolved from his pet cat. As the series progressed, he helped his robot Kryten break his programming and become fully independent, and it’s this that helps him to grow and mature to become the space hero he is now in the current series.
Victor Meldrew, from the sitcom One Foot In The Grave. A middle aged man forced into early retirement and having to find ways to pass the time, be it through peculiar hobbies or shouting at the weird events happening around him, much to the dismay of his wife Margaret.
Basil Fawlty, from the beloved sitcom Fawlty Towers, has become one of the most iconic characters in British culture. A traditionalist, right wing hotelier desperately seeking to raise his social status and to become successful, but is forced to work with people he absolutely despises, including his incompetent Spanish waiter Manuel.
Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) is the main character of the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. Housewife to her eternally suffering husband Richard, she’s a pompous snob desperately seeking to maintain the illusion that she’s wealthier and more socially important than she actually is. However her attempts to climb the social ladder are often ruined by her working class sisters or her senile father.
And finally, just to bring this back into the realm of comic books there’s:
John Constantine. The chain smoking, working class magician from Liverpool who fights dark supernatural forces on a regular basis and frequently has to make morally dubious choices, often resulting in the deaths of his friends and loved ones.
Now what do all of these characters have in common? They’re all underdogs. Working class. Losers. Idiots. Failures. Those are the types of characters we’re drawn to as a culture. The reason why I included so many sitcom characters is because I feel they perfectly demonstrate the difference between British and American culture. America is brimming with idealism and aspiration. The idea that anyone can become greater than their humble origins, and this is reflected in their culture. In most American movies and TV shows and comic books, the main character is often smarter, wittier, tougher and/or funnier than the audience, representing someone they can aspire to be like. Here in Britain, where our rigid class system is permanently ingrained into us at an early age, we mostly accept the fact we’re likely going to stay where we’re at for the rest of our lives and so our media reflects that by giving us characters that are in similar situations to us. The reason we identify with the likes of Constantine and Lister and Del Boy is because they operate on our level and share our problems and worries. They’re one of us. When Basil Fawlty and Hyacinth Bucket arrogantly disregard their working class roots and try to raise their social status, it’s funny when they fail because serve them right for looking down on us. But when Del Boy eventually becomes a millionaire at the end, we’re legitimately happy for him because we like the character, we want to see him succeed and we’re glad he managed to succeed without compromising who he is. And that’s why Captain Britain will never be accepted by us. He is above us and has power over us and we don’t like that. People with power and authority are to be mocked and shamed, not to be celebrated or aspired to be like.
The idea that Kevin Feige is even considering putting Captain Britain into the MCU for me proves what I’ve been saying about Marvel all along. That they don’t care about creating a coherent or entertaining universe, that they’re adding characters and storylines just for the sake of adding characters and storylines, and that Kevin Feige clearly doesn’t have the slightest fucking idea of what he’s doing. If he did, he honestly wouldn’t think Captain Britain would be a profitable or worthwhile project to pursue. I also feel extremely annoyed by all of this. Remember when Feige said we were definitely going to see an LGBT+ superhero appear in the MCU at some point in the next ten years? Or just recently when he said we were totes going to see Miles Morales’ Spider-Man show up in the MCU at some point in the future? All of these vague half-promises constantly pushed back to make way for more ‘important’ projects like an Ant-Man sequel, an Inhumans TV series or Captain fucking Britain.
Regardless of what your thoughts are on the state of the MCU right now, I think we can all agree that when you get to the stage when you’re seriously considering Captain Britain as a legitimately good idea… maybe it’s time to take a break and reevaluate just what the fuck it is you’re actually doing.