Avengers Month: ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ Review
Cast: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper
Plot: At the height of World War II the U.S. Government, with the aid of an escaped German scientist, successful create a Super Soldier. Steve Rogers – now going by ‘Captain America’ – leads the his special squadron against Nazi splinter cell lead by the equally powerful Red Skull.
Plot: When the ‘Captain America’ movie was announced there was some discussion about the relevance of the character in the modern world. Having been created during the second World War as a reflection of what comic audiences wanted to see, Captain was bright, corny and direct to the point…as evidenced by the cover of the first issue that depicts Cap socking Adolf Hitler in the jaw. Some consider the character to be to cheesy for today’s audiences and irrelevant to the modern world. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The current incarnation of the character is still the man from the 1940’s living in modern society and shows the how much the blind patriotism during a time of war is both a simple way of viewing the world and still a very common viewpoint held today.
Viewing Captain America by his name and costume along doesn’t do justice to the character today. This film takes the right direction on the character, keeping his as a product of his original era. Seeing the bright blue muscle man jumping around isn’t quite as cool looking as Iron Man is difficult to accept at the best of times, so creating an alternate history for him to run about it was a smart move.
Chris Evans is perfect as Steve Rogers (making this his fourth comic book character). He is able to embody the strong willed, patriotic man who wants to fight for his country without being corny. His drive to do what he is right feels genuine and it’s easy to get behind him. The character is naive without being stupid and is a strong contrast to the government and military types he’s surrounded by, and his sense of nobility and bravery is easy to admire. Johnston and Evan have both done well to construct a character who is real enough to be likeable while maintaining the strength of the comic hero. Hayley Atwell is equally good in role of the love interest, one of the many tough, independent woman with surprisingly modern attitudes that inhabit most movie set before the feminist movement (there’s surprisingly numbers of those).
Hugo Weaving fares less well as the Red Skull, but that’s not his fault so much as it is the material. The character has zero depth and barely any explanation beyond the age old “he’s like you but came INSANE!” schtick. The enemies on the whole aren’t memorable or even unique. For reasons unknown they’ve rebranded Nazi’s as a Nazi fringe group, alike in almost every appearance except they have a little octopus on their badges. This may have been an effort to annoy any foreign markets, but one would think that making them all faceless gasmask men shooting lasers would be enough to separate them out from the reality of world history. A better rounded movie would be one where the villain was as effectively development and as interesting as the hero – see Thor as as example.
As a comic book adaptation the rest of the movie is hard to fault (although there’s the ending – we’ll come to that). The tone is bright and colourful without being goofy. The action is fantastic without being cartoonish. The character design is particularly well done, showing the development of the character as a figurehead of propaganda turned elite soldier and the relationship between him and the other characters is handled well enough to add some weight to the proceedings.
After the impressive set-piece climatic battle the finale for the movie takes the edge of things. As it’s part of a series the Cap needs to be frozen so he can find himself in the modern era to fight alongside The Avengers but no-one can by the idea that he had no other choice but to crash the plane into the Arctic. Maybe he could’ve crashed into warmer waters, flown one of the escape bombs somewhere else or just jumped out the plane after pointing it in the right direction. Suspension of disbelief gets stretched at this point as it seems as though the hero is suddenly looking for a way out of his relationship. It would’ve been just as easy to use the concept from ‘The Ultimates’ in which Cap has to detonate an atomic bomb in mid-flight and the force of the explosion propels him deep into the frozen waters of the Arctic.
The following scene where he finds himself in the modern world is nicely handled, but by this point the ending had already been shot in the foot. Overall a solid adventure film.
Score: SEVEN outta TEN