The Captain's Theme

Captain America: The First Avenger came in at No. 1 at the box office this weekend ($65.8 million opening weekend)—with a little help from one of our own.

Captain America is different from the rest of this summer's crop of superheroes because he doesn't live in Lisa Frank-inspired other world of Asgard (like Thor) and doesn't travel to a planet to meet other alien superheroes (like the Green Lantern). He spends the entirety of his movie on Earth, and the bulk of it during World War II.

This means he doesn't get futuristic guns or ships, doesn't have a robot-controlled Iron Man suit, and he doesn't even get a grappling hook. His powers, though super, are almost too human—he basically has extra speed, strength, and agility (and a cool shield that can stop bullets). How is that supposed to help against the modern supervillian?

Well, there is one weapon that existed during the 1940s that Captain America gets to wield powerfully: propaganda. It comes in the form of a USO-style anthem, "The Star-Spangled Man."

(FYI: This isn't really a true video—you think we'd give away Captain America plot details so easily?—it's just a still image as the song plays.)

I have to say, I love this. I feel like most superhero movies lazily go for a modern-rock soundtrack—Iron Man 2 had an all AC/DC soundtrack, for example, and even Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland had a theme by Avril Lavigne—so this retro-sounding song is, if nothing else, refreshingly different. (It's also way less emo than Spider-Man 2's theme "Vindicated,"  by Dashboard Confessional.)

The best thing is that this song wouldn't exist without one of our locals. The song was written by Northern Westhchester's Alan Menken. (His neighbor, Stanley Tucci, is also in the movie.) It makes a little bit of sense, because Disney recently bought Marvel Studios Films (even though Paramount Pictures is also putting out Captain America: The First Avenger—it's complicated). I'm pretty sure Disney has Menken locked away in a tower somewhere, making him churn out songs for whatever is needed, be it a yearning princess song for a movie like Tangled or a 1940s-style rallying ditty for Captain America. For a while, I was down on Menken for writing a bunch of songs that were all same-sounding, but now I'm back on board.

Which superhero has won the summer for you? What's your favorite Alan Menken song? Let me know in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios. © 2011 MVLFFLLC. ™ & © 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

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Westchester's Pop Culture

About This Blog

Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY

Articles Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester Magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at, where she is a staff writer.

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