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July 25, 2011

Movie Mondays: Captain America: The First Avenger

Title: Captain America: The First Avenger
Director: Joe Johnston
Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby)
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, and Tommy Lee Jones
Release Date: July 22nd, 2011
MPAA: PG-13

After failing attempt after attempt to fight for his country, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) gets the chance with a top secret experiment. After receiving a serum, Steve Rogers becomes the ultimate soldier for the US Army, under the persona known as Captain America. In the meantime, though, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) has found the Cosmic Cube, an all powerful relic from another world. After harnessing the power of it, Schmidt/Red Skull plans for his Nazi organization, HYDRA, to take over the world. Now it’s up to Captain America and the Howling Commandos to stop Red Skull once and for all.

From IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/media/rm4253335296/tt0458339

Time for one last Marvel movie for this year. And what better way to end it than with Captain America: The First Avenger. You know the hero. You know the comics. But just how good can he be on the silver screen (and no, the TV films don’t count)?

If you’ve seen the other Marvel films, like Iron Man or Thor, than you’ll get the feel of this one. Action, comedy, and a little bit of heart. However, this one also has many different aspects that keep it from being the same Marvel rehash. For one thing, it’s a period piece. And a well done period piece at that. It has a good balance between being modern and being a throwback to forties pulp and serials. Of course, I should have expected no less from Joe Johnston, director of The Rocketeer.

From IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1789298432/tt0458339

It was also a smart move for Marvel Studios to make Captain America: The First Avenger one of the later of The Avengers films. Had it been earlier, I don’t know how well the more fantastic elements of the film would’ve been received. But having it after Iron Man and Thor allows it to go beyond the imagination, with such key items as the cosmic cube and important key figures such as Howard Stark.

Also, the film is fairly faithful enough for the fanboys, but is also a great introduction to newcomers.

Are there some liberties with the film? Of course, plenty of them. Just as it should be, as most of these creative differences serve the film well. For one thing, Red Skull operates HYDRA. This is probably the best liberty they took. Why? Because after so many damn movies about Nazis, it’s time they spiced it up a bit. And besides, HYDRA fits into the story line as easily as a hand in a glove.

Taken from IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3338648320/tt0458339

But it’s not just a well written story the film needs. The other important aspect is Captain America. He’s the heart of the film here. If Captain America was written as a jockish oaf, the film would’ve just been a typical action flick. But here, Captain America is an extremely likeable and rootable hero, thanks in part to both the writing and Chris Evans’s performance. Evans plays both skinny Steve Rogers and serum Steve Rogers well. On one hand, when Rogers transforms into Captain America, he doesn’t suddenly lose all of his traits. He’s still compassionate, unsure of himself, and always the old kid from Brooklyn. When it comes to the skinny, asthmatic Steve Rogers, Evans exudes bravery, courage, and dedication, making us believe that he would be selected for the program. Let’s put it this way – if Tony Stark became Iron Man because of his brains, Steve Rogers became Captain America because of his heart. A hero in every sense of the word.

From IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3305093888/tt0458339

And of course, you could have a great lead, but you need a strong supporting cast if you’re ever going to have a good film. It’s a pretty big cast, so rather than talk about all of them, I’m just going to highlight a few.

Hugo Weaving as Red Skull: Actually, as much screen time as Red Skull gets, he’s not the main focus of the film, just the one and only main antagonist (and for a sensible reason). With that being said, Hugo Weaving does a good job with it. The necessary villain for Captain America and a great introduction to newcomers.

Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter: As much as it was a stretch to think she could be somewhat of a drill sergeant during those times, it wasn’t really a stretch to think that she could be an (non-sleeper) agent. Not when you look back at WWII and find a few exceptional female agents such as Hélène Deschamps Adams. Atwell put enough life into the role of Peggy Carter, although I didn’t buy the romantic interest between her and Rogers. Maybe flirtatious friends at the most. But without the sexual heat being cranked to eleven, nor a back story between the two, the romance at the end felt forced.

From IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2479472384/tt0458339

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes: In this film, Bucky isn’t a teenager, but rather an old friend of Steve Rogers who is around the same age. This doesn’t bother me, just like it didn’t bother me that Chris O’Donnell played Robin. A kid running around with a machine gun just would’ve been ridiculous on the silver screen. Still, I would have liked both his costume and sidekick partnership to be implemented more into the film. Not that I’m complaining too much.

Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark: Easily one of my favorite performances here. Tony Stark meets Howard Hughes. All the class and flash you’d expect from him. Now I wish they’d make a Howard Stark film (think The Aviator meets the Marvel universe).

From IMDB.com http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2613690112/tt0458339

Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine: Another one of my favorite performances. Tucci makes Dr. Erskine a very sympathetic character. And the moments between him and Rogers are the most heartfelt moments of the film.

All the production values here are great. Although some of Captain America’s wire stunts are sometimes way too over the top, none of the CGI or explosions are cheesy here. And although everyone will probably have a complaint or two against Captain America’s armor, the costumers did a good job and prevented the film from being a fashion disaster. Last but certainly not least, is the illustrious Alan Silvestri. I hated how the hero motif gets played over and over and over again. But otherwise, it’s a decent score.

When I went in to see Captain America: The First Avenger, I was expecting just a popcorn escape from the mundane weekend. However, I went out of the theater feeling very pleasantly surprised. Captain America: The First Avenger may not be the best superhero film of all time, but unless Cowboys and Aliens is beyond amazing, Captain America: The First Avenger is probably the best superhero film of the year.

Andrew Hudson
ahudson@comicattack.net
@Hudsonian

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11 Comments



  1. The movie was plain fun. Loved the little easter eggs in the movie and I even liked it better than Thor. It was cool to see that the movie even had a connection w/ the Thor film that we didn’t have to wait until after the movie to see. And speaking of that…waiting for the credits to end has never been more worth it!


  2. Kristin

    Just got back from seeing it a bit ago. It was fun. It felt like it was missing something…some soul. And I really wish they had made time for more Cap/Bucky interaction. I felt like that relationship was downplayed too much. And Bucky went out like a bitch, too. I wouldn’t have minded that they didn’t use the iconic “deaths” of the two of them if Bucky had a better exit. But it seemed like they were just rushing through, had to get rid of him, and decided to toss him off. It was disappointing.
    However, I did enjoy the film. The acting from everyone was fantastic. Chris Evans really impressed me (was not at all impressed with him in Fantastic Four, but then, that was a shitty movie anyway). Also, total eye candy for the fangirls. Tommy Lee Jones was funny. The Howard Stark character…while amusing, felt very tacked on, a desperate attempt to tie the Captain America movie in with the other Marvel films. He really could have been anybody. Stanley Tucci was brilliant, as he always is, and Hugo Weaving made a great Red Skull (great makeup job on him, too).



  3. Bucky’s death did seem a bit sudden but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll show up as Winter Soldier in Cap 2. Tony’s grandfather seemed like a perfect way to tie the films and considering how he was worked into the story made perfect sense to me.


  4. Andrew Hudson

    @Kristin: True, I wish they had spent more time with Bucky. The problem sometimes with the new modern comic book films, is that since they have so many tie ins, references, and plotlines, that it leaves little time to focus on anything. However, since he fell into a cold river, let’s just say we should put the idea of him being dead on ice. Also, who knows, maybe the blu-ray will have a few extra scenes with him ;D

    @InfiniteSpeech: Howard Stark is Tony Stark’s grandfather? I’m pretty sure that he’s Tony Stark’s father. And it makes sense for him to be Tony’s father, since there’s always the chance that Tony Stark just happened to have an older father and a younger mother.


  5. SpidermanGeek

    You are correct, Andrew. Howard Stark is Tony’s father, not his GrandFather.



  6. I just assumed they would use the same guy that played his dad from Iron Man 2. But if that was his dad then Tony was born right after WW 2? That doesn’t make sense if you consider the timing of Iron Man and Iron Man 2.


  7. Andrew Hudson

    Tony probably wouldn’t have been born right after WWII. Howard probably “settled down” during the sixties, considering that Tony Stark is probably somewhere in his forties.



  8. Good point. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the Stark family. I just assumed “Grandfather” because of the different actor used. I figured Marvel was attempting to stay consistent even with the small parts.


  9. Aaron Nicewonger

    Saw it.
    Loved it.
    Thought it was great.
    It felt a bit rushed, like the whole story was on fast forward. But that’s kinda necessary to cover a few years of character development and decades of homages/nods/easter eggs.

    But I felt that it was a perfect send up of a beloved character.
    And even the scenes that were a bit cheesy, felt perfect, like they were right out of a 40s serial.



  10. […] for Best Summer Comic Book Film of 2011 is a tough call. I’d have to say it’s between Captain America: The First Avenger and X-Men: First Class, with the former possibly winning by about an inch. And the winner of the […]



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