SYNOPSIS:CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER focuses on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes and Peggy Carter to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull.
No doubt about it, I love me some comic book/superhero movies!
I don’t care which publisher owns the character, I dig this genre and hope that every single one of them not only is good, but successful at the box office too.
Michael Uslan told me not long ago that we’re living in the “Golden Age of Comic Book Movies” and he’s damn right. This Summer alone, there are four major films based on comic books -- THOR, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, GREEN LANTERN, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Hell, you can probably add COWBOYS VS. ALIENS into the mix -- as it’s based on a graphic novel -- bringing up the Summer ‘11 total to FIVE!
And in 2012, we’ve got THE AVENGERS, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, and MAN OF STEEL. That’s FOUR big-ass superhero films!
A “Golden Age” indeed!
Speaking of the Golden Age, I’m here today to give you my take on the aforementioned CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.
I’m a history buff, and I’m quite fond of films that are “period pieces.” In fact, I’m a big “World War II nerd” and have LONGED to see a superhero film set in that era. (I thought a Wonder Woman film would be perfect for this, but the fine folks at Warner Bros. thought better it seems. *sigh*) Well, I finally got my wish thanks to Marvel, Paramount, and their jones for a film based on THE AVENGERS.
This film was just darnn good and the best of the Summer ’11 bunch (sans COWBOYS VS. ALIENS of course).
CAP has everything you need and now expect from a Summer superhero movie blockbuster: Great special effects, lots of action, humor, and the obligatory love story. But what makes CAP work better than most other films of its ilk is that it has all three things needed to kick it up a few notches past the “It was OK” level…
1) A hero that the audience will truly care about.
2) A villain that you love to hate.
And most importantly…
3) A really good story that’s not just a bunch of CGI-produced “WOW!” action sequences.
Look, there are plenty of those CGI-produced “WOW!” action sequences, but they take a backseat in the film thanks to Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America. Director Joe Johnston made a great decision to begin the film by making the audience take stock into the young, wannabe Army recruit Rogers -- a 5 foot-ish, asthmatic weakling who is constantly getting his ass kicked by the bullies of his Brooklyn neighborhood.
We all know that Steve Rogers ends up becoming Captain America, but the fact that he is the same courageous, ingenious, and likable kid throughout -- be it the 90 pound shrimp or the super soldier serum-created Cap -- makes him one of the endearing heroes of this genre to date.
When it comes to “The Bad Guy,” Hugo Weaving’s Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull damn near steals the show. Honestly, I can’t think of the last time I truly disliked the villain of one of these films and desperately wanted to see someone stomp his ass into the ground. Cheers, Hugo Weaving!
As for the rest of the cast, standouts include Tommy Lee Jones (who now gets a Mulligan when it comes to comic book films) as Co. Phillips; Sebatian Stan as the VERY non-sidekick “Bucky” Barnes; and, Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine -- the man behind creating a “Super Soldier” -- as well as the main reason Steve Rogers becomes Cap.
I was also very glad to see Hayley Atwell’s Peggy -- while smoking’ hot (and one of the main reasons she got this gig I suspect) -- be much more than the stereotypical “Damsel in Distress.” I’d love to see more of her in future sequels, but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible (I’m sure most of y’all know WHY, but I’ll simply leave it at that).
Oh yeah! I’m not a fan of building cinematic comic book universes. I know geeks/nerds LOVE that sort of stuff, but I think it restricts directors and creative teams. Regardless, CAP’s tie-in with THE AVENGERS was done the best and most seamlessly I’ve seen compared to the other films. I’ll admit seeing Howard Stark(Dominic Cooper) play a fairly big role in the film -- as well as the winks and nods to THOR -- was indeed sorta cool.
Bottom line, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER has instantly became one of my favorite book/superhero movies to date. It took me back to my childhood and with its RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK vibe.
Man, it would SUCK not to be able to get drunk…
JETT's GRADE: A
A life-long Batman fan, "Jett" is the founder of BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM and resides in the great state of Texas.