A ship is only as good as its Captain.
Whether you’re sailing the seven seas, splitting the boundaries of time and space across the solar system, promoting the virtues of a balanced breakfast or saving the Earth one plastic bottle at a time, a Captain has a lot riding on their shoulders. Keeping their crews in line, while forging ahead in the pursuit of new horizons.
There have been a lot of great and not so great captains across the history of pop culture. I’ve narrowed it down to six for PopLurker. Six captains that have stayed with me from childhood to adulthood. One could argue that the only ship worth a damn is friendship, so feel free to agree or even disagree with my choices friends.
This Lurker won’t make you walk the plank.
6) Captain America
Things aren’t always easy when you’re Captain America.
You start your life off as a scrawny kid named Steve Rogers from Brooklyn in the 1940’s when stickball and polio were all the rage and you’re in no position to have any part of either. But then you’re selected to be part of a special experiment. You get injected with super serum and wind up with a body so swole gym bros everywhere are both celebrating and crying in their protein shakes wishing it were that simple.
Then you enter World War II, fighting the evil Hydra and doing all you can to keep the Tesseract out of their hands before crash landing your plane into the Arctic. There you lay for seventy years before waking up in the present. Seventy years on ice had to result in one hell of a case of shrinkage. Somewhere, George Costanza is feeling better about that day in the pool.
But now you’re in the present day, you’re a handsome devil in your 20’s, yet you still feel compelled to yell at the kids about their weird music and not getting what “it” is, your best friend Bucky returns from the dead and has it out for you, Tony Stark irritates you to no end then some purple douche named Thanos rolls into town, snaps his fingers and lays waste to half the universe before you could finish binge watching the latest hot show on Netflix.
Yeah, Cap has seen it all. He’s been immortalized on trading cards, comic books and feature films portrayed by MST3K favorite Bolt Vanderhuge to little or no acclaim before Chris Evans brought it back and made enough bank to give Stark a run for his money (pun fully intended).
Just watch your language around him.
5) Cap’n Crunch
When you’re a kid you’ll eat just about anything.
But that’s the thing about kids. We’ll eat all kinds of questionable foods, especially breakfast cereals and bounce right back or bounce off the walls. Trust me I ate enough sugary cereals in my youth, that I’d be sitting in class shaking like a meth addict going through withdrawals.
There weren’t many cereals targeted towards kids that I didn’t like or eat growing up and Cap’n Crunch was one of them. I made the mistake though of trying Cap’n Crunch again a few weeks ago, wondering if it’s taste, texture and enjoyability would measure up at age 38 like it did at age 8. I don’t know if the formula has changed over the years or if; more likely, my palette and taste buds have changed and matured over the years, but as I took that first bite I could hear a voice yelling in my brain that sounded a lot like Gilbert Gottfried screaming, “YOU FOOL!”
Man, they were disgusting. The texture was all backwards compared to the memories rolling around in my brain, those little bits exploding in my mouth like pieces of pre-formed yellow sawdust. No wonder I have coffee in the morning, to go with my…coffee. Who made this guy captain? Is he even a certifiable captain to begin with, he goes by “Cap’n” for shits sakes! Someone check his credentials because there was a mutiny aboard my breakfast table that day.
Growing old is a privilege, but it doesn’t come without the occasional bummer along the way.
4) Captain Hook
Crocodiles are dinosaurs.
I mean, just look at them! They’re clearly an ancient evil beast from a time long forgotten and have survived millennia to terrorize and horrify us to this day. No wonder Captain Hook sweats bullets and shits bricks whenever he sees them, most notably the one that pesky Pan fed his hand to.
Captain Hook is nearly as timeless as those savage terror lizards though, going from stage to animation to the silver screen. I’m old enough to remember watching the animated Peter Pan on the Wonderful World of Disney, and I’m also old enough to have been witness to one of the best movies of the 90’s with Hook. Anyone who says they didn’t like Hook is a liar and to them I have five simple words.
Why do you hate fun?
Find me something about Hook that wasn’t fun. Robin Williams was on top of the world as one of its hottest comedians, the Lost Boys were the kids we all wanted to kick it with, especially Rufio. Tink was…Tink. But the star of the show is the good captain himself. Dustin Hoffman is clearly having a blast, chewing scenery like the croc chewing on his right mitt and carries the film. The bad guys are almost always the most fun because they get to spread their wings and jump with a greater sense of freedom then our heroes.
Sure, Hook won’t hesitate to take you out if you look at him cross, but his rapier-like wit has made him an endearing character and to leave him off this list would be bad form, bad form indeed.
3) Captain Rhodes
All Captain Rhodes wanted to do was keep everyone and everything in line.
It’s not his fault he’s a raging, tyrannical fuck-bucket, zombie apocalypses aren’t exactly a walk in the park especially when walking in the park is no longer an option.
You try and remain rational while being sequestered underground while the eggheads plead with you that they can find the right way to control the living dead. They can be trained, reasoned with and re-integrated into polite society. But, you’re Captain Rhodes the leader of this squad and might makes right damnit! The hell with burrowing underground and hoping to find a cure or; failing that, co-existing with these brainless twits. The zombies or the scientists you ask? It’s all the same in Captain Rhodes worldview.
Shoot first, ask questions later. Thinking gives you wrinkles, the best solution is to eradicate the zombies and start over with a clean slate. It’s not Rhodes fault the doctors got in the way of his bullets, their ideas and theories were way out there and they wouldn’t listen to his version of order and reason.
And if no one likes it, they can choke on ‘em.
2) Captain Planet
Cartoons are the best.
I’ve watched plenty of cartoons in my life, and I’ll continue to watch cartoons until I’m an old, old Lurker.
I’ve mentioned in previous writings that I watched Fox Kids as much as I possibly could. If I happened to be home, I’d check out Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, X-Men, Samurai Pizza Cats and Spider-Man. I didn’t watch them religiously, but I certainly didn’t change the channel while they were on my TV. Same thing went for TBS and Captain Planet. I never went out of my way to watch it, but if it was on I wasn’t going anywhere for the next half hour.
I’m not sure why I enjoyed this show exactly. The premise of the show was fairly cookie cutter and paint by numbers, the Eco-Villains would hatch a new scheme to destroy the planet because they liked to “pollute and plunder”, the Planeteers would jump to action to stop them, and combine their powers to summon Captain Planet if things got too squirrely. While I’m all for environmental awareness and preserving the planet for future generations, let’s be honest, we were all on board for the Planeteers sweet powers, except for maybe Ma-Ti, he always seemed to me like he pulled the short straw though when it came time to assign superpowers. I mean, heart?!
Sure, heart is cool I guess, you can argue he was the cohesiveness of the unit, the glue that kept everything together, but I would’ve felt gipped standing next to Linka and her command of wind or Wheeler being assigned fire…Fire! Fire! Settle down, Beavis!
Visually though, Captain Planet caught my attention and if nothing else that damn theme song burrowed its way into my brain and wouldn’t let go, and with any luck I’ve got it embedded deep in your head now as well. You can thank me in the comments.
1) Captain Picard
Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk?! They’re out of their minds!
Pfft, hardly. Kirk laid the groundwork sure, but Picard is a whole other level of badass pimptastic among the ranks of Starfleet.
Would Kirk be able to handle the nightmare known as the Borg? Would he have been able to recover after being assimilated? Not likely, and if the Borg were going to assimilate anyone from the OG run we all know it would’ve been Spock. Could Kirk match wits with Q, much less tolerate his constant desires to needle Picard with his trickery and mischievousness?
Kirk was a farm boy from Iowa, again Spock would’ve been the more likely target of Q’s whims. Really shows who the MVP of the original series was now, doesn’t it?
Speaking of tolerate, only Picard could tolerate an annoying shit waffle on the level of Wesley Crusher. Picard eventually warms up to the kid, exhibiting a begrudging level of respect, but astute viewers of The Next Generation know that was all an excuse to saddle up next to the boy’s mom Dr. Beverly Crusher any chance he got. Their sexual tension was hotter than Picard’s beloved Earl Grey tea.
While Picard may not get around with the same level of fervor and frequency as ol’ James T. Kirk or even his own number one; Commander “Beard and Bloat” Riker, Picard knows his way around his “ready room”, and with his accent and quiet and confident swagger, the good doctor will wrap things up with her patient, STAT, and make a house call to the captains private quarters. I’m sure there have been many a fan fiction written about Dr. Crusher and Picard “beaming each other up”, and if there hasn’t, well…
Make it so!
Jonathan is steering his ship through Twitter.