He throws a mighty shield, but can Captain America carry a showtune? In Disney+’s upcoming Hawkeye miniseries, we’re about to find out. As revealed in our first official footage of the Jeremy Renner spinoff TV show, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still mourning the absence (and death?) of Steve Rogers… and capitalizing on it with some terrific kick-turns!
Indeed, Captain America: The Musical is now officially canon, albeit they refer to it as Rogers in the MCU. Apparently the hottest ticket on Broadway, the new show is at the center of the Hawkeye trailer, which begins with Clint Barton (Renner) finally spending quality time with his family after the “blip.” So he takes them to see Rogers just in time for Christmas. It’s currently unclear how much of the musical we’ll actually see in the finished series, but there is at least one number that’ll be staged: It stars a presumably baritone Steve belting a power ballad on a set intended to evoke the Battle of New York from the first Avengers movie. My hope is that we get a whole montage that lasts 10 minutes of this.
The inside joke is, of course, that this is not the first attempt to bring Captain America to the Great White Way. In fact, long before Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark made the wallcrawler a musical punchline, old Cap was originally going to star in a real Captain America musical in 1985. The dubious idea was the brainchild of writer Mel Mandel and composer and lyricist Norman Sachs, who intended to make a perhaps much more metaphorical story that leaned into Baby Boomer nostalgia at the height of the Reagan years. It also would’ve looked a lot different than Rogers, the faux show-within-a-show on Hawkeye.
According to a song list that leaked on Reddit a year ago, the second song of the show is about introducing Steve Rogers as a man with “A Slightly Uncommon Cold” (it’s the name of the song). Apparently Steve’s arch-nemesis for much of the show would be a midlife crisis, and finding the old American spirit while his hair grays. Hence perhaps the Act One finale song being listed as Steve and the “Lincoln High School Marching Band” belting “Fly the Flag.”
As per The New York Times, circa 1985, the plot would’ve further involved Cap’s girlfriend—a woman running for president—being kidnapped by terrorists who commandeer the Lincoln Memorial. Yeah, there’s probably a reason the musical never actually crossed the boards.
Be that as it may, the idea of a Captain America show is still an inherently funny concept. It’s unclear how intentionally cringeworthy Hawkeye will make the idea, but after Spider-Man’s own musical mishaps on stage in the last 10 years, we imagine it’ll be pretty grueling. That said, when one looks at the staging of the song we’ve glimpsed where Rogers belts as a chorus of all the people in his life, past and present, sing above and around him, one can definitely get Hamilton vibes. It’s worth remembering that Rogers is a historical figure in the MCU, and right down to the name of the musical in this world, the citizens of the MCU have some deifying reverence for the man.
Still, I think a better musical influence on a Rogers show would be the all-time classic Yankee Doodle Dandy. Originally a 1942 movie musical starring James Cagney and directed by Casablanca’s Michael Curtiz, that World War II pick me up was also loosely based on an all-American historical figure named George M. Cohan. And to paraphrase one of his family members, how marvelous it would’ve been if any of it was true! The highly sanitized and reimagined biography of the first great song and dance man of old Broadway featured multiple patriotic bangers from the turn of the century and up through World War I, which then had new meaning at the start of WWII: “The Yankee Doodle Boy,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Over There.”
You could see Cap singing along for any of these old-timey flag wavers. We already have, in fact, with “The Star Spangled Man” in Captain America: The First Avenger. So go on, Marvel, give us more of those toetappers!