I went to a screening of Captain America: The First Avenger last night, and it left me both satisfied, as well as excited for the next major Marvel project, The Avengers. Captain America may not be the most exciting superhero movie you’ll ever see, but the story is told in a masterful way to introduce the Cap to new fans, while also bridging the other recent Marvel movie’s easter egg scenes together. For knowing jack sh*t about the Captain America series I came away from the movie with a new understanding of the first Avenger, and how he earned that title.
Captain America: The First Avenger is not your typical comic book/superhero flick. You’re not going to see the Cap leaping buildings in a single bound, nor will you see him stop bullets with his bare chest. Captain America as you’ll come to find out is quite the regular guy who just wants to serve his country. I really appreciated the opening half of this film, because it’s done in a way that both ties Captain America to his inevitable role in The Avengers (think flashback), and it also built the bond between the audience and the character of Steve Rogers.
Visually I thought that the weakling version of Steve came of as a little unbelievable, but Chris Evans actually does a fine job of portraying the unnaturally looking puny Steve. I never thought of Evans as a great actor, but he did surprise me in this film. Luckily, the odd looking Steve isn’t around too long, so for most of the movie you get to see Evans as the actual Captain America, and not some skinny dude with someone’s head digitally implanted on his body. Although, creepy Steve does sell the fact that this man is of pure heart and deserving of the super duper serum that is given to him, so ultimately the movie magic used to create whimpy Steve works.
This Version of Steve Rogers Just Didn’t Quite Work
I felt like the film did a good job of setting up Captain America as a man made superhero, but I honestly don’t know much about the comics so I’ll have to leave it up to the fanboys to decide if the film did his story justice or not. Personally, I feel like I have a much better understanding of who the Cap is, and why he’s in the superhero business because of this film. On the other hand though, I’m not sure if this movie helps to make Captain America as popular as some of the other Marvel movie characters that have come out over the past couple of years.
I really didn’t find the Captain to be all that super if you know what I mean? To me he came off as a really athletic guy with some strength, but I didn’t really find him to be super human. Maybe that’s the beauty of Captain America though. I would say he’s the closest to what a real life superhero would look like if people put on b*tchin costumes to fight the evil forces of this world. The movie does a good job of cramming his progression from turd to stud in, but I just never felt like this guy was as special as an X-Men, a Hulk, or a dude with an awesome hammer.
Evolution of the Cap in CA: TFA
He’s just Steve, the guy who always wanted to fight for his country during WWII, but maybe that’s a good thing. His simplicity as a superhero really drives home the point that regular people fighting in these awful conflicts are the true superheroes of the world, and not the science and technology that aids them to do so. The Cap’s regular guy motif really helps to sell an emotional ending that kind of caught me off guard. I don’t know what it was, but during the end of the movie I really got all female up inside.
I guess that’s a testament to how Captain America’s story was told on the silver screen. He might not have awesome powers, but his regular guy fighting for the common man style, makes him very relatable to the real life heroes that have fought in some of the most gruesome wars of our time. Which in turn gives the closing scenes a much more real-life tone versus other comic book movies, and it may take your emotions by surprise (what can I say I’m in touch with my girly side, but I still managed to man-block any tears).
Evans does a fine job of bringing the Cap to life, and I also thought that Hugo Weaving played a great Red Skull, although I would’ve like to have known more about this super villain going into this movie. The film more or less glances over how he became the Red Skull, and his motivations for world domination aren’t very clear. As a Captain America n00b I never felt like the movie explained the mysterious Cosmic Cube that well, and why the Red Skull wanted it in the first place. It’s just kind of there, and you’re like, “O.K. there’s that thing from Thor”, but the film never really explains the cubes overall relation to the Marvel Universe. Regardless, I think Red Skull’s costume and make-up (so glad they went with make-up and not CGI) were executed perfectly, and as mentioned Weaving delivers on the bad guy role.
Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull
Surprisingly, one of my favorite characters in Captain America: The First Avenger was Howard Stark the future father of Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man. I’m not sure if Howard Stark had much to do with the Cap in the comics, but he played a major role in taking Steve Rogers from weakling to stud muffin in the movie. The actor did a fine job portraying the brash nature of the Starks, and I couldn’t help but think about Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of the younger Stark while watching him in action. You can definitely see where Tony gets his personality from in this movie.
Some other characters are also introduced in this film, but for the most part they’re just throw aways. I couldn’t even tell you most of their names, that’s how inconsequential they are. I think some of the men that the Cap enlists in his squad may indeed be from the comics, but in the movie they’re greatly underdeveloped. Hell, I couldn’t even remember the name of the Cap’s love interest (Agent Carter) until I looked it up on IMDB this morning, and the same can be said for the rest of his squad that helped him hunt down the evil Hydra forces of the Red Skull.
The whole Hydra thing is another piece of this movie that isn’t entirely laid out for you unless you know of them from the comics, which unfortunately never made me feel like they were an evil force to be reckoned with. I never felt like the World was truly at risk, so that sense of urgency while watching an action flick never got dialed up to a 10, which was a little disappointing.
I was also disappointed with the overall action in the film. Most of the early scenes involving Captain America becoming the man we know him to be are done in a montage fashion. You never really get to see battles take place in real time. Most of them are just snippets of action set to music to help drive the movie towards its final conflict. It’s almost as if the film’s director hit the fast forward button to conveniently cram in some footage to show how Cap went from a joke to a war hero within 5 minutes. Due to this most of the action scenes in Captain America are lacking a bit of luster. They mainly consist of some gun shooting, a sprinkle of shield throwing, and a few Hydra soldiers getting tossed like rag dolls. You never really get to see the Captain just kick-ass for an extended period of time, which was kind of a let down for me.
Some of the Action in CA: TFA Just Feels Rushed
Regardless, Captain America: The First Avenger is still a great comic book movie, and it’s definitely on the level of Thor or X-Men: First Class rather than the Green Lantern. It does a great job of telling a superhero story set in the 40’s without making the movie seem like it was shot in the year 2010. Chris Evans earned his paycheck by selling the Cap as a regular guy just trying to do his part to save his country from utter destruction by Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull. Most of the secondary cast are throw aways, but they still help to make Captain America feel like he could’ve been a shining beacon of hope for a country in a World War. I came away even more proud to be an American, and oddly enough the movie reminded me of the great sacrifices that our service men and women face everyday of their lives. For this I give Captain America: The First Avenger an EB 4 out of 5 stars! Get out of the heat and go watch it today, and if you do don’t forget to stick around until the very end to see the best Marvel movie easter egg yet, which is essentially a teaser trailer for The Avengers! You’ve been thinking about scoring a replica Captain America shield to hang in your man cave…
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