CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: The Ferris Bueller of Comic Book Movies

How much could the star spangled man REALLY have in common with a school ditching teen? Read on to find out...

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By ruadh - 7/13/2014
As someone who has studied screenwriting for just over two decades, I tend to watch movies slightly differently than most of my friends. I of course still get sucked in by certain movies, and it's something I truly cherish when I am so involved that I don't see the strings or wait for the formulaic beats to strike. Something like Captain America: The Winter Soldier is definitely one of those. But another thing that struck me is how it's one of those rare movies where the main character is the same person at the end of the film as he was in the beginning. And that's the same reason Ferris Bueller's Day Off has remained one of my favorite scripts. Once I made that comparison though, I realized just how much these movies have in common.

 
The main character: An incredibly strong willed character who knows their objective. And though they may stumble along the way, there's actually very little doubt that he will overcome the obstacles placed in his path. He begins the film with a certain attitude, and set of beliefs, but unlike most films, he finishes the film without having learned his way of doing things is the wrong way. In fact, the journey he takes more or less reinforces that he is correct with his methods and philosophies.

 
The Dynamic Character/best friend etc: Another departure from most films, the person that goes along on the ride with the main character is the one who ends up being the most changed by the journey's end. In most films, the dynamic character is someone that comes along towards the end of the first act, and calls attention to the main character's issue that they must overcome by film's end. This is usually a best friend, a love interest, a smirking scoundrel, or even sometimes the villain. And it can even be more than one of those (in most romantic comedies, the love interest and the "villain", or basically opponent, are actually the same character). This time though, the dynamic character comes along with the main character, and while they DO attempt to point out the issues with how the main character handles situations, it's this character that ends up having rethought themselves by the time the credits role. This character goes along on the journey to grow, rather than helping the main character to do so.

 
Opponent #1: This character pulls some strings along the way to put obstacles in the way of the main character, though they're never really able to defeat him. Their big confrontation with the main character in the beginning of the second act actually sets the main character off on his journey. In the end, the first opponent's life is turned utterly and completely upside down by his pursuit of the main character. He is another one of the people in the film drastically affected by these events, while the main character is actually not.


 
Opponent #2: This character was once an ally of the main character, prior to the events of the film, but at this point is a bitter and ruthless enemy. This character is also in pursuit of the main character, and even gets the upper hand over him in the final act. But, in the end, this character realizes what their true relationship is with the main character, and they end up preventing the main character from being defeated by the first opponent. This character is perhaps the most changed by the end of the story.


 
Secondary Dynamic Character: This is a character that also comes along on the journey with the main character, joining after the primary Dynamic Character. This character actually does little to question or challenge the main character though, and is a much more willing companion. Though they go on this eventful ride, they are changed very little in the end compared to most of the rest of the cast.


 
Minor Opponents: Of course there's other obstacles for the main character, and they provide mild hiccups in the main character's progress. Ultimately, he is able to overcome them quickly and with seemingly little effort. 

 
Minor Dynamic Characters: And then there's other supporting characters who blindly assist the main character. They even actually seem like they could switch to be opponents or obstacles, but ultimately are tools for the main character to reach success.
 
So there you have it. Yes, the main character goes on a major adventure, and turns things upside down practically everywhere they go in the story. And certain things about their situations are definitely very different. But it's their basic outlook, philosophy, and way that they conduct themselves when faced with challenges that are in no way altered by the events of the story. Like I said, if nothing else, their beliefs and methods have been proven to be correct.
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WYLEEJAY - 7/13/2014, 3:46 PM
I want to see Marvels Dynamic character, wrestle Buellers Secondary Dynamic character, in a baby pool filled with green Jello while wearing bikinis.

Thank you for this! Thumbs up.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 3:52 PM
Well thank you! Turned out way dryer than I intended but glad you enjoyed it.
Odin - 7/13/2014, 3:59 PM
good job :)
WYLEEJAY - 7/13/2014, 4:18 PM
No prob. I had to check what I was typing three times to make sure I didnt accidentally say I wanted to see the two dudes in bikinis wrestling. Only Gusto enjoys that kinda thing.
Doopie - 7/13/2014, 4:31 PM
A nicely written piece and a good read. The comparisons are there for sure. I have to disagree about not being able to tell the beats of CA: TWS though, particularly in the third act. When they explained the plan with the chip things they had to insert into each Helicarrier, I pretty much knew beat-for-beat how it was going to go down. I'm with you on the rest though. It's definitely nice to be sucked in to a film that much that you don't notice, or forget to notice, how things are going to play out. That happened for the most part with this movie.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 4:59 PM
Thanks Odin, sorry Mark...

Doopie, good point. Even the best movies sometimes pump the brakes to toss some exposition at the audience, and that gives you a chance to see down the road.
MercwithMouth - 7/13/2014, 5:33 PM
Awesome. Bueller is one of my favorite movies. Still haven't seen Cap2 yet, but the similarities look pretty spot on.
dethpillow - 7/13/2014, 5:39 PM
great article! right on.
i think it holds up too, i wanna rewatch them both now of course cuz it's easy to do superficial readings like this. but i think this just might hold up.
good stuff
and for that you get a dracula headphone cat...
=(6^._6^)=

does Black Widow have much development in Cap 2 tho? i'm trying to think of what you mean, and maybe it's really obvious. but i'm not seeing it.

Lhornbk - 7/13/2014, 5:58 PM
Ehhh......I can see where you're coming from, but it seems like a pretty far stretch to me.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 5:59 PM
Well, when I was first seeing Cap as someone who doesn't change in the film, I started thinking about how most of the people around him really did. Widow was the easiest to me since she spends the most time around him. Much of her back and forth with him is about changing him and his habits, etc, but it shifts over time to them discussing her own and how they may not be the best way to go about things. In the end, Widow not only agrees with Steve, but actively goes about dismantling the spy organization she's a part of and essentially protects all her dirty secrets. She went from someone who embraces the grey area of their duties, and never really letting anyone know who she truly is etc, to completely bearing herself to the world, atrocities and all.

She was the first character that I realized was a mirror for Cap's character, reinforcing his own beliefs.

I will admit I've only seen the movie once though, and the parts like Doopie was mentioning, I let my mind wander to thoughts of my son. I've mentioned elsewhere how I felt massively guilty when I went to see Cap 2, as my son is deeply into super heroes, but is too young to see something like that in the theater (and too active to actually sit anyway). I probably won't see another movie in the theater until Avengers 2, partly for that reason. Damn him.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 6:01 PM
@Lhornbk, I can agree that it's a stretch, and the whole concept is very tongue in cheek, but I feel pretty confident that my comparisons are true. Of course one is a fun 80's teen romp, and the other is an action thriller, but still.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 6:12 PM
Ugh...I meant baring.
staypuffed - 7/13/2014, 6:31 PM
Nice work! I never thought about this until now, but it totally works.
pesmerga44 - 7/13/2014, 8:02 PM
You ever read the theory that Ferris is actually a figment of Cameron's imagination who is just an extremely lonely highschool student with an emotionally possibly physically abusive father. It is quite an interesting theory and it makes some sense.

http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/teamt/leon-thomas/renegade-cut/40340-renegade-cut-camerons-day-off
TheBrownHornet - 7/13/2014, 8:06 PM
Eh??
SuperCat - 7/13/2014, 8:11 PM
Enjoyed reading this. "Bueller" is a classic!
Growler - 7/13/2014, 8:15 PM
Excellent piece!

This is the kind of article this site needs more of - well-written, well argued and completely fresh.

Thanks!
Holmes - 7/13/2014, 8:17 PM
Good read but idk, the characters are the same? you can do that with a lot of movies. but its very interesting, but i also gotta disagree with the beat thing,i thought CAP2 was kinda just another predictable superhero movie, i saw the whole thing coming really, it just was more exciting than Thor 2 and Ironman 3. good article though
Holmes - 7/13/2014, 8:19 PM
but i have to see it again, its been awhile
Mercwitham0uth - 7/13/2014, 8:54 PM
Cap didn't marry a horse. Comparison officially invalid.
SwanRonson - 7/13/2014, 8:57 PM
I love both.
SuperSpiderMan5778 - 7/13/2014, 9:00 PM
I tried to humour you only bc I'm watching this movie now bu I dont C the clear and straight comparison
McGee - 7/13/2014, 9:12 PM
Bullshit ruadh. If it's sooo much like Ferris Bueller, then where was that scene where Cap loses his virginity? Hmm?




I don't remember seeing Cap bust a nut inside old ass Peggy. In fact, I think he remains a virgin in Winter Soldier too! Whereas Ferris....you know what? That clip I posted is from another film with Matthew Broderick. I'm so sorry ruadh. Great article.
McGee - 7/13/2014, 9:13 PM
I'm sorry to Matthew Broderick too for having Mr. Ed as a wife. :(
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 9:14 PM
Pesmerga, I actually have, but it's just too much for me. Kinda fight clubby. But still brilliant. I can at least appreciate the thought that goes into such theories.

And thank you, staypuffed, Growler, and Supercat!

Holmes, it's not that the characters are the same but more the relationships with the main character as well as how his journey affects everyone around him far more than it affects him. That's something you cannot say about most movies. There are more specific parallels I've detailed in the article, but again...this was firmly tongue in cheek. I see it as being valid, but it's also a joke.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 9:15 PM
No worries McGee, you'll get me next time!
pintoman - 7/13/2014, 9:19 PM
That's pretty bad. When you put up the pics side by side, you can clearly see they are not any more similar than any other movie. You might as well say they both use humans (some men and some women), there are cars in both films, they both happen on Earth, they both have titles and credits, the both have a start and a finish...etc
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 9:21 PM
It might help if you read the text though.
TheDesertGorilla - 7/13/2014, 9:31 PM
If that's the case, then practically every other Marvel movie (except Avengers) is basically Ferris Bueller.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 9:33 PM
Not really though. Thor and Tony are majorly different characters by the end of their films. Banner may be too, I'd have to dwell on it more. Steve has changed by the end of First Avenger, but not the sequel.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 9:35 PM
Actually yes, Banner has also ceased trying to rid himself of the Hulk, and has now embraced it and learned to at least somewhat control it.

Steve hasn't learned anything by the end of TWS aside from his way being the right way.
BlindJustice - 7/13/2014, 9:36 PM
@ruadh - BIG THUMBS UP! I'm a huge fan of both films and your article breathes new life into both... Not that Cap: TWS needs new life breathed into it right now though. ;)
Comedian03 - 7/13/2014, 9:39 PM
Cool article, it was a fun read.

It's amazing how many movies this applies to when you actually start breaking them down.

The Dark Knight Rises is basically The World Is Not Enough
Thor is a copy of The Prince of Egypt

Are the 2 biggest CBM related ones that I've seen pointed out.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 9:42 PM
Damn, haven't seen World is Not Enough nor Prince of Egypt, so will have to take your word on those!

But thank you Blind Justice and Comedian. I appreciate when peeps enjoy and understand what I'm going for here. So many apparently aren't so I'm worried I didn't convey well enough. I've been guilty of shorthands that just confuse my readers.
McGee - 7/13/2014, 9:42 PM
Hellicarrier.....Ferrari!
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 9:45 PM
Haw!

Actually, in keeping with Cap doing necessary damage to change Widow, I think the Ferrari may be SHIELD...
Comedian03 - 7/13/2014, 9:54 PM
I definitely recommend checking them out, not because they're good films, but simply because some of the comparisons between them are just uncanny.

Cracked did a good job of summing up the comparisons between TDKR and TWINE, which is a lot more than just the plot, a lot of it is nearly matching scene for scene.

"Sure, there's the obvious fact that both are about a suave, attractive action hero who owns an arsenal of expensive gadgets, likes to say his own name, and must overcome his physical limitations so that he can stop a terrorist kingpin from setting off a nuke in a major city, but that's lots of movies -- it's when you go scene by scene that you realize The Dark Knight Rises is The World Is Not Enough as told with rubber costumes.

-Both films open with a prologue that features a midair action sequence in which the villain's henchmen willingly sacrifice themselves to rescue their master.

- Then we cut to a scene where the hero's elderly British caretaker moodily reminds the hero that he's getting too old for the hero business.

- After that, there's a scene in a poorly lit doctor's office wherein a doctor points at some X-rays to inform the hero that his body is falling apart after years of leaping off buildings and punching supervillains into submission, which triggers a somber midlife identity crisis.

- The hero then meets a beautiful no-nonsense brunette businesswoman with a vaguely defined European accent.

- But suddenly, another beautiful no-nonsense brunette woman appears. She doesn't serve any purpose to the story except to step in as the hero's replacement love interest after the other woman is disqualified from this position for reasons that will soon become clear.

- Meanwhile, the villain from the opening action scene reappears -- a powerful, bald terrorist leader who talks funny and is impervious to pain. The hero is forced to once again don his hero shoes to deal with this destructive madman and pays a visit to his personal quartermaster, who describes to the audience all of the gadgets that will eventually be used in the film.

- The hero pursues the villain to his secret underground lair for a one-on-one showdown -- Batman races around the streets of Gotham in a rocket-powered motorcycle, and Bond races around the streets of London in a rocket-powered ... um, boat. Jesus, that movie is stupid.

- The villain is able to exploit the hero's failing body in order to gain the upper hand, defeating the hero and stealing a nuclear bomb in the process.

- Physically and morally crippled, the hero has to fight even harder to regain his strength and confront the bald terrorist again, only to discover that the bald terrorist is merely a hired goon working for the true villain -- the no-nonsense, vaguely European businesswoman he had sex with earlier! She subdues the hero and forces him to sit through a detailed monologue about how she plans to carry on her father's legacy, which somehow involves blanketing an entire city in a cloud of nuclear murder.

- The hero miraculously escapes, there is another chase scene in which the bad guys crash and die in their own getaway vehicle, and the bomb is detonated safely out of harm's way. In the confusion, the hero absconds with the emergency replacement girlfriend who was clumsily introduced in the film's second act and retreats to a secret vacation spot to be spied on by his elderly British caretaker.
ruadh - 7/13/2014, 9:56 PM
Heh heh, thank you for that. That is remarkable really. Mine is mostly a joke but that is surprisingly close!
batz11 - 7/13/2014, 10:09 PM
Two classics...interesting and fun read, well done!

Oh, still gets me to this day...

ruadh - 7/13/2014, 10:10 PM
I wanted to work him in so bad but he never has direct interaction with the main character...maybe Gary Shandling...
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