American movies distributed overseas invariably end up with confusing, off-the-mark titles — often because of the language barrier or the hasty way in which a pirated copy is created. But sometimes Hollywood has to go along with changing the titles for more political reasons, as was the case with Captain America: The First Avenger. The studios figured that with anti-American sentiment overseas, it made the most sense to simply go with The First Avenger.
Then Paramount’s overseas department spoke up, flatly refusing to lowball the very patriotic superhero movie. They argued that Captain America himself is too strong a brand to be diluted into other countries and languages. (And anyway, even if the name were erased from the title, wouldn’t there be at least ten instances of characters addressing Chris Evans by his superhero title?)
So that means that even in places like France — with whom we had our own “freedom fries” debacle in 2003 — “Captain America” will be emblazoned over posters and movie theaters.
However, there are three countries where this flag just won’t fly: Russia and Ukraine, which were never introduced to the original Captain America comics during the Cold War; and South Korea for the usual reasons, though especially because of the American military’s position within the country’s affairs. (Even though the young population loved Iron Man 2!)
I feel the way I do about movie titles the same way about country names: There should be one universal name that everyone refers to. Unless, say, Sony had been able to keep Friends with Benefits‘ original title of Fuck Buddies, then you may have run into a problem with overseas marketing. There’s a difference between being a prude and being patriotic.