The Marvel Cinematic Universe that started with Iron Man in 2008, and without missing a step, continues hurtling towards its initial goal of The Avengers in 2012, has been lauded for remaining as true as possible to the comic book origins of each superhero, while still maintaining a sense of plausibility in the real world. Though I had some gripes about the way Thor was ultimately portrayed, it does seem (fingers crossed) that I have nothing to worry about come August 4th.
As we continue our buildup towards Captain America: The First Avenger, we take an fan’s look into some of the movie’s supporting characters, to see just how well they hold up to their comic book counterparts. We’ll start off this series first with the “father” of Captain America, Doctor Abraham Erskine, who will be played by Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci.
First and foremost, let me just say how happy I am to see that, while certain changes have to be made to the movie’s mythology so as to fit in with the rest of the epic they are trying to tell, the powers-that-be behind Captain America are not messing around with the origin tale one bit. Based on the trailers, the movie follows the journey of Steve Rogers, a young man who, despite his weak constitution, will do anything to serve his country as it prepares to enter World War II. He is assisted in this quest by a brilliant biochemist and a Nazi defector, Doctor Abraham Erskine, who is looking for a men with courage and heroic potential for his experimental procedure.
Erskine mentors the young Rogers, reminding him constantly that he does not need a fighting-fit grunt, but rather, a “good man”. The relationship between the two develops into a father-son dynamic, with the orphaned Rogers looking up to this German scientist as a role model for strength and humility. Unfortunately, this is soon cut short, when, soon after the success of the experiment, Operation: Rebirth, Erskine is soon killed by a Nazi spy, leaving Steve Rogers as the only product of Erskine’s genius.
Despite the role being a relatively small one in the grander scheme of things, I have no doubt that director Joe Johnston intends for the character to be as memorable as possible, casting the likes of Stanley Tucci, who recently received critical acclaim for his portrayal of sympathetic antagonist George Harvey in The Lovely Bones. Tucci brings with him a gravitas that every Marvel movie needs, in order to transcend its comic book origins and truly capture the audience’s attention on the silver screen. I’m personally very happy with Tucci’s casting, seeing it as being in the same mould as casting Shaun Toub as the mentor Yinsen in Iron Man and Stellan Skarsgård as the Erik Selvig in Thor – that of a father figure anchoring the leading man. Despite the small roles for each of these, they owned the screen each time they appeared and, in my opinion at least, became a more important part of the story, second only to the titular hero.
So remember the name Abraham Erskine, as a character to watch this August 4th when Captain America: The First Avenger opens in Singapore.