ByscreenPhiles, writer at
writing from a not-so-secret location in Washington, DC

I recently purchased [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](movie:254973) via iTunes and I noticed something: Marvel has managed to make one of their dopier characters, Batroc the Leaper, sort of awesome.

And when I write 'dopey,' I mean his greatest problem was that he was created by two non-French men, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Batroc first appeared in Tales Of Suspense #75 in 1966 and his Frenchness was defined by speaking in broken English (as close as a word bubble gets to a foreign accent) and occasionally saying things like "Sacre bleu!"

Such portrayals weren't unusual. For instance, there's also the Kangaroo (an marsupial native to Australia), that was also then name of an Australian super villain who looked like a musclebound version of Crocodile Dundee.

In the comics Batroc was a master of Savate, a French form of martial arts that combined kicking with elements of boxing, which was somehow equated with jumping about during his early appearances.

And speaking of the French, it's worth mentioning that they also came up with Parkour, or freerunning, which is a way of getting from point A to B in the most efficient way possible, while maintaining as much momentum as possible.

When it's done well, it pretty awesome.

So Marvel Studios' efforts to rehabilitate the character was to first take him seriously. No "Sacrebleu's," no witty catchphrases, just focus and intensity.

Second was to hire Georges St-Pierre, an actual MMA (Mixed martial arts) fighter, which meant that the athleticism that you see on screen the man is actually capable of doing.

No CGI (as far as I can tell), no body double.

And third was to get rid of the mask and skin-tight costume. Certain things make the transition to features easily, while others have to be left by the wayside (though you'll notice that they retained a similar color scheme as his costume from the comics) in the name of a reality, of sorts.

And it worked brilliantly. Batoc was transformed from a joke to a pretty awesome villain.

Now if only they can do the same for Squirrel Girl.

Yes, she actually has the powers of a squirrel.
Yes, she actually has the powers of a squirrel.

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