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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

what’s on Captain America’s catch-up list… and what *should* be on it?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is now open almost everywhere around the planet — the last big region that hasn’t seen it is Japan, where the film opens on April 19th — and two things are becoming plain. One, the movie is huge: it looks to have earned around $96 million in North America this weekend, which makes it the biggest April opener ever; in the U.K., the film earned just over £6 million over its first weekend (which was last weekend), the second biggest opening of 2014 and more than twice what Captain America: The First Avenger debuted with in 2011.

And two: Steve Roger’s cultural disconnect is a little bit different depending on which country you see the film in.

One of the most charming things about Chris Evans’ man out of time, as I noted in my review, is the little list he’s keeping of the most important things he needs to catch up on… or, at least, the things that other people are telling him are important to catch up on. This week word was emerging from fans around the world that the list is slightly different in different countries. Here’s the U.S. list:


And here’s the British list:


(Both via ScreenCrush.)

I Love Lucy is replaced by Sherlock! (Frankly, he needs to see both.)

Via SlashFilm, we get hints of other international changes:

Our commenters have told us that Aussies have AC/DC, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, and Steve Irwin added to the list, while Koreans get Ji Sung Park, Oldboy, Dance Dance Revolution, and Oldboy. French fans see the 1998 World Cup and The Fifth Element, among other things.

Some of these are a tad odd. Who is telling Steve he should care about the World Cup or Ji Sung Park (he’s a South Korean footballer, apparently)? I mean, he’s around Americans all the time, and Americans care so little about the sport the rest of the planet calls football that we don’t even call it football. Maybe there are some international employees at S.H.I.E.L.D. we haven’t seen…

Anyway, if you could add one thing to Steve’s list that he absolutely must catch up with in order to be considered a with-it 2010s kind of guy, what would it be?

Mine? Doctor Who, of course.

posted in:
easter eggs | movie buzz
  • Froborr

    Besides the things already on the list and your excellent suggestion, here’s a few more:

    The Civil Rights Movement, feminism, the Internet. Silent Spring. Suburbs. Les Mis.

    He’s from far enough back that Chinese and Tex-Mex are probably exotic and alien to him, best to work up to Thai food slowly.

  • LaSargenta

    Anachronism alert: that is not the handwriting or even printing of someone who went to grade school between 1925 & 1940.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I don’t think the lists are meant to be comprehensive or significant. The joke, of course, is that while many people use the phrase “I’ll add it to the list”, Steve actually has a list, that he carries around, and adds stuff to it. They could have stopped there, but they show us a snippet, which contains just a few cultural touchstones for the past 60 years. Things easy to recognize on sight, since the sight gag portion of the joke lasts a second or two at most.

    Point being, while I could be accused of over-analyzing the joke in this comment, I think scrutinizing the items on the list, and contemplating the circumstance under which they were added, is far more egregious. :-)

  • LaSargenta

    Vietnam War, Korean War, “police action”, Marshall Plan, Birmingham, Dewey defeats Truman, Alaska, Hawaiian statehood, The Commonwealth (as opposed to the Empire), Ras Tafari, Pakistan, Teamster Union, Planned Parenthood, Cassius Clay, NHL league expansion, Las Vegas, narcocorrida, Perronistas, it’s a long list.

  • LaSargenta


  • Good point!

    I wonder if it’s Chris Evans actual handwriting…

  • But we’re nerds! Overanalyzing is what we do.

  • Gosh, someone is gonna have to teach him the Macarena. And how to do the wave at baseball games. (When did that start, anyway?)

  • Bluejay
  • Tonio Kruger

    The “Born Again” story arc of Frank Miller’s Daredevil

  • Tonio Kruger

    The Macarena is out of date, anyway. He’d be better off learning the “YMCA” dance.

    And the Electric Slide.

    And the Atomic Dog.

    And, of course, that perennial favorite, the Chicken Dance…

  • Tonio Kruger

    But he didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world was turning…

  • LaSargenta

    The voice over on the trailer…Is that Don LaFontaine?!

  • *I Love Lucy* is out of date, too. And what’s the point of watching an old sporting event? The idea is not that Steve needs to understand modern stuff but all the stuff that the modern stuff is built on.

  • Bluejay


  • LaSargenta

    I hate 90% of Billy Joel’s music. Especially that song.


  • Steve seriously needs to catch up on Billy Joel AND Bruce Springsteen. :->

  • Bluejay

    Oh man, he’d seriously dig Springsteen. They’re like spiritual twins.

  • LaSargenta

    Springsteen I’ll give you, but Billy Joel? Feh.

    I think he’d like Neil Young, too, all the way from Buffalo Springfield to Crazy Horse and throw in his visual work as “Shakey”, and a whole lot of Marvin Gaye.

  • David_Conner

    Good point! Steve might actually find modern American food more surprising than the technology. I suppose as a New Yorker he probably got exposed to a wider range of cuisine than most Americans of the time, but still… When you see some stuff from the ’40s and ’50s describing pizza as an “exotic” food….

    Other things to add to the list – comedy that also gives a sense of the times: Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, George Carlin, P.J. O’Rourke, Chris Rock, Johnny Carson would do as starters. Maybe Bob Hope, if only to reassure himself there’s only about a decade’s worth of stuff as funny as what he’s already seen….

  • Chronos

    Disappointed Doctor Who didn’t make it on there :(

  • David_Conner

    “Maybe there are some international employees at S.H.I.E.L.D. we haven’t seen…”

    SHIELD *is* supposed to be an international organization, but it’s in that weird, nebulous way of a lot of improbable fictional security organizations. Typically, this goes one of two ways. Sometimes, they’re theoretically international, but in practice they seem to be about 99% staffed by natives of the nation of the film’s origin (usually but not always America – but note, e.g., that “international” anti-Godzilla units are 99% Japanese.)

    The other way it can go is having a genuinely international organization, but one that can fight bad guys a lot more effectively than any such real-life organization. (See the UN Security Council, where about 95% of the bad stuff is actually being done by one of the permanent members, one of the permanent members’ close allies or business partners, or they don’t mind the bad stuff because it’s hurting rivals, not them.)

    But for the lists, I think they had some sort of contest or vote in the different countries (I know I saw something about that for the UK, at least.) So naturally the suggestions will tend to be a little parochial – more “stuff Steve Rogers should know about (the UK/Korea/Australia)” than “stuff Steve Rogers should know, period.”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    (usually but not always America – but note, e.g., that “international” anti-Godzilla units are 99% Japanese.)

    Or U.N.I.T., which at one time stood for United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, which is staffed almost exclusively by Brits.

  • I guess you haven’t seen the film yet? In the scene this list is from, Steve mentions how much better food tastes today. “We used to boil things a lot.” he says, with some disgust. It’s a great scene.

  • RonnieConnelly

    “Oldboy” was apparently awesome enough to mention twice (maybe they meant the original and the remake).

  • David_Conner

    I saw it, I was just trying to underline the point. Further underlining, the wonderful Lileks Gallery of Regrettable Food:

  • Oh, I loved Lileks!

  • bronxbee

    Ah, the GORF… Lileks was/is brilliant at his cultural presentations.

  • RogerBW

    Captain America is American. If he wasn’t interested in British/Australian/Korean/French pop culture in the 1940s, why would he care about it now? This seems a frankly perverse thing to localise.

  • Bluejay

    Well, for one thing, in the age of globalization, cultures are less isolated and localized. *I’m* American, and I know about AC/DC, Sherlock, Dance Dance Revolution, and The Fifth Element, and I wasn’t even trying.

    Also, the list contains suggestions from other people. Who knows who Cap’s been talking to (especially in a supposedly international organization like SHIELD)? I doubt that Cap had a strong interest in Black music in the 1940s, but he put Marvin Gaye on the list because Sam Wilson recommended it.

    And obviously it’s just a fun way for the movie itself to ingratiate itself with the international audiences that it’s well aware it has.

  • Bluejay

    And actually, the more I think about it, the more genius I think these lists are. Captain America is, at some level, the guardian of our idealized version of America. And Ideal America is supposed to be welcoming of all cultures, taking in the best that the world has to offer. So the tweaked lists give international audiences the impression that, hey, what’s important to them is important to Captain America too, and that their culture is a significant enough part of the fabric of America to merit inclusion in Cap’s list. Maybe it’s a pleasant fiction, but what else are ideals for, if not to aspire to? ;-) And if there’s any Marvel character that it’s actually appropriate to do this for, it’s Captain America.

  • Tonio Kruger

    For what it’s worth, I’m American too.

    And AC/DC is not that obscure. My middle brother knew about it before I did and he did not exactly hang out with the type of kids who were into foreign music. Moreover, they used to play an AC/DC song at the local church dances attended by my Catholic Singles group. Once again, not the type of crowd you associate with foreign music.

    I was surprised to see Skippy the Bush Kangaroo on that list since it has been years since I’ve seen that show in syndication — and I was living in Michigan at the time.

    The Fifth Element was made by the same guy who made The Professional and La Femme Nikita and I never thought of those as especially obscure films. Indeed, Luc Besson is probably one of the few French directors most American movie-goers of my generation will recognize. I certainly don’t picture them recognizing the name Francois Truffaut unless they’re big, big fans of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

    And Dance Dance Revolution got referenced by the American show Ugly Betty so once again it can’t be that obscure.

    But I guess I’m just showing my age. :-)

  • Tonio Kruger

    So what is in the ten percent of his music that you do like? I’m guessing “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” since you quoted from that song on another thread.

    However, I could be wrong.

  • Bluejay

    Yeah, that’s what I was saying in my first paragraph. Those things aren’t that obscure.

  • I think it’s not so much that these things are obscure, but that they’re not likely to be the first (or even second or third) thing that pops to mind when you meet a century-old defrosted guy who needs to catch up on what he’s missed. :->

  • Bluejay

    Yeah, but according to whom? The Korean SHIELD agent whom we never see (but who might have bumped into Cap on a few missions) might have some different ideas.

    I suspect Thai food and Nirvana wouldn’t have been second or third on *everyone’s* list either. At least *I* wouldn’t have mentioned them right off the bat. :-)

  • LaSargenta

    I was intrigued at how they made him more international… he even spoke an idiomatic phrase in French to the Algerian merc. ( I’m remembering it as >on y va<, but I could be wrong.) I think we need to give the character credit for being deeply curious about the world, and I could imagine that someone who already feels like a foreigner in his own country being exhaustively curious about others and the deeper you look at a culture the more likely it is you'll at least start to learn the language.

  • LaSargenta

    Yup, and My Life, Piano Man and Downeaster Alexa. Esto es.

    [Edited to add and sometimes I find myself humming “you may be right, I may be crazy…”]

  • Bluejay

    he even spoke an idiomatic phrase in French to the Algerian merc

    He’s clearly progressed from the first film, when he didn’t know what “fondue” meant.

  • Well, that *is* an issue. We could imagine that SHIELD is international in nature, but we don’t actually see that in the film.

  • Bluejay

    Well, Cap’s talked to a lot of people we HAVE seen, too. Coulson seems like he’d be a Beatles fan. And I can see Tony Stark being into Dance Dance Revolution. ;-)

  • LaSargenta

    He’s had a lot of time on his hands for thinking. Also, I assume that there were a lot more missions after that ‘fondue’ conversation during WWII where he was exposed to more about French and German (and I assume Swiss, Italian, Russian, Polish, etc.) culture.

  • LaSargenta

    I think I was in high school before I realized AC/DC wasn’t from the US. I mean, they were so popular and played on every damn station (and at football games) why would I think they were furrin? I realized that The Guess Who (composers of that immortal song, “Running Back to Saskatoon”) and BTO were Canadian long before I knew AC/DC was Australian.

  • I can actually *hear* RDJ as Stark singing the praises of DDR. :->

  • Tonio Kruger

    Actually it would seem to be more in character for Stark to be reverse engineering it. :)

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