During World War II, Steve Rogers is a sickly man from Brooklyn who's transformed into super-soldier Captain America to aid in the war effort. Rogers must stop the Red Skull – Adolf Hitler's ruthless head of weaponry, and the leader of an organization that intends to use a mysterious device of untold powers for world domination.
Let me start by saying it right away. I hate Captain America. The reason is quite simple. He's perfect. And in storytelling, perfect characters mean emptiness. The beauty is in the light that shines through the scars of the body and the soul. I thought that Captain America had no soul, and you know what? I was dead wrong.
I had seen Captain America in all the Marvel movies, except this one. In those films, he's perfect, always dead serious and at the end not much fun. In a sense, he's the perfect opposite to the wildly fun Iron Man.
And then, my friend Gruic gave me the spark to go back and watch the entire MCU from the beginning:
- Iron Man was fun!
- The Incredible Hulk had a good first part, but then was really average.
- Iron Man 2 was a disaster.
- Thor was a great surprise, as I expected a really bad film and saw quite the opposite.
So here comes Captain America: The First Avenger. Let me jump right to it. I loved it! It reminded me of the good old stories with Nazis performing with paranormal activities. In a way, this film is almost like a depiction of the video game Return to Castle Wolfenstein. It got the all package. Nazis, references to the Führer, great and stylish design, train heist, a scent of the 40's, fights in planes, you name it!
But let me start with the beginning.
The reason I hated Captain America so much is that he was perfect. You should have seen my face when I discovered him as a frail and small man at the beginning of that film. That was just brilliant, truly magnificent. It was so much fun, every frame was a delight to watch. I actually never learned what was the backstory of this character and how he actually became Captain America.
Suddenly, Captain America actually has a name, Steve Rogers. He's being bullied and you cannot not root for him. Because we always love seeing the little guys succeeding against the bullies. That's why we all love Back to the Future and Marty McFly going against big bullies.
Also, in this film, we actually never know if Captain America is immortal or not. Of course, from the beginning, we know he will reappear in the future (or actually in the present day), but throughout the film, we just see him as extremely strong, or even a step further (obviously, even the strongest person couldn't manage a shield like he does.) I think that was extremely clever, as I really physically hate watching immortal characters fighting each other on screen. This is more boring that watching a cloud moving.
I really liked the concept of providing only this power to a weak man, so that he would never forget where he came from. That really touched a chord in me and I think this is a concept you can duplicate on other areas of life as well.
Also, I was very surprised to see Hugo Weaving in that film. He is so talented to play bad guys, as we, once again, all loved him as the bad guy in The Matrix (I said The Matrix, I did not mention the sequels, all right?) And his red face, àla The Mask was pure evil and worked beautifully. The contrast with the white from his teeth (yeah, that may be an odd comment) was really great. That was the designer in me talking here. Moving on.
The look of the film is really great as well, and while I am sure I would not have gone this way if I was a producer on this film, I must admit that the modern look worked very well. It embeds quite nicely with the old touch and we still are able to breath this scent from the 40's - I'm talking about the 1940's, in case someone reads this review thirty years from now.
So, overall, this is really a big action movie, without too much meat on the bone, but still very, very enjoyable. Therefore, I am really surprised to give it 7 out of 10. I was so sure to experience an awful film that I may raise the bar a little bit too much. Maybe I'll review it in a few years and will give it only a 6 or even a 5. But surely, I won't give a lower rating than this. Go, Cap!
True to "Captain America," this is the modern (comic book) version of the All American movie. Good guys versus bad guys without a lot of ambiguity. _**NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT**_.
This movie is pretty much perfection for the genre. Entertaining A to Z story with high-end Hollywood professional movie making throughout.
**This is a long form review initially published in 2011:**
Though it ran at over two hours, I did feel that it had plenty of room to go further than it did. I honestly felt like Red Skull could have had a film all to himself, and actually kind of suffered for making him as intriguing as he was.
Chris Evans was an interesting choice as the titular role of Captain America, given that he's already played American sweetheart Marvel Super Hero "The Human Torch" in _Fantastic 4_ and _Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer_. He didn't Oh-My-Gosh blow me away type-thing or what have you, but he was pretty great.
So far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I'd slot Captain America clean in the middle. I liked _Iron Man_ and _Thor_ more, but _Iron Man 2_ and _The Incredible Hulk_ less. Marvel Studios stated that the movie they wanted to make was set in the 40's, even though the rest of Marvel Cinematic is modern-day. This was 100% the right move to make, why? Not because of the setting, aesthetics or direction, but because it's fuckin' smart. How do you have the world appreciate an Uncle-Sam loving upper-middle class white male military blindly-loyal patriot? You make him fight the God damn Nazis, that's how.
It may seem strange, but I actually enjoyed the opening of _Captain America_ the most, which he spends a a meek, asthmatic Steve Rogers, yet to undergo the Deus Ex Machina Super Serum. It really showed the best of Evans acting ability, as well as the writing of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely whom together wrote _You Kill Me_ and The _The Chronicles of Narnia_ Trilogy.
I watched it in 3D, which was more bearable than usual. As the films of MCU progress, each of them becomes more and more a prequel to _The Avengers_, _Captain America_ being the most to date. Despite its almost-entire lack of _Avenger_ cameos, this more than previous films felt like a prequel for what's to come, which is not strictly speaking a good thing.
I had plenty of minor issues with _Captain America_, and though their was quite a number of them, all were minor, and ultimately, the only part of me that regrets watching it was the part that keeps thinking "My fucking God, I have to wait a YEAR before _Avengers_ comes out?!"
Steve Rogers, a scrawny young man, wants to enlist in the US Army and go overseas to fight in WWII. But his size and health means his attempts at enlistment always end the same way -- a 4F rating. Until a scientist sees him and recruits him to try out for a special training program to create a super soldier.
WHAT I LIKED
The Marvel universe sticks pretty close to classic script with him being given a serum that jacks his body into super muscle mode. He's already brave and smart, so it would seem like a no-brainer to send him overseas? But the guy in charge of his training doesn't want him, he's just one man, so Rogers ends up doing public relations back home. And he is quite shocked that the men overseas don't react as positively when they see him as the crowds back home. I really enjoyed the way they handle the first battle scene for him, basically him figuring things out as he goes, a far cry from his battle-hardened approaches later.
I even liked his interactions with Agent Carter. I had thought it would be more subtle than it was, and I hoped we'd see a bit more of her operating on her own (after all, they gave her character a whole series on TV!), but she was second fiddle to the hero.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
The challenge with a lot of American movies of the war is that it is as if they are the only actors in the war, no allies, just them, and that level of nationalistic narrowmindedness is a bit grating. That may be a small gripe when the show is called CAPTAIN AMERICA, not CAPTAIN OF WORKING WITH ALLIES, but still, it's annoying. I also was disappointed there wasn't a lot more on Red Skull. His history, his abilities, other pursuits, all of it was left basically unreferenced. Sure, some of it shows up elsewhere in the Marvel universe, but a bit more crosswalk would have been nice. I felt he really wasn't that well-fleshed out as the uber villain he could have been.
THE BOTTOM LINE / TWEET
As an origin story, it lacks pizazz
Definitely the most underrated of all the MCU films, Captain America: The First Avenger is a great war film done comic book style about a little guy making a big difference. Red Skull is one of the better villains simply because of how fantastic Hugo Weaving is. Peggy Carter is a great heroine and Hayley Atwell's performance is an absolute joy. Also, Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci light up the screen whenever they're on.
With strong action scenes, nicely developed characters, and seamless CGI, Captain America: The First Avenger is perfectly fine as a stand alone film. Shameful that so many audiences were just going out of obligation for The Avengers, because this movie has a lot to offer.
Probably only my third time viewing and first in at least 8 years and while it's not great, I did find it to be pretty entertaining and Chris Evans embodies the role so well. Red Skull and the heavy prosthetic they placed on Hugo Weaving still was pretty silly looking, however, making him one of many weak villains in the MCU. **3.25/5**