Captain America: The First Avenger was a great origin movie for one of the oldest characters in the Marvel Universe. It was a great decision to do a movie almost entirely in the 1940′s. Director Joe Johnston was definitely channeling Raiders of the Lost Ark and his own The Rocketeer. This was easily the second best Avengers-related movie (right behind the first Iron Man1).
The movie really shines in the first 2/3rds of the movie highlighting how scrawny Steve Rogers physically and emotionally became Captain America. It’s not the best origin movie (Batman Begins) but, from the alley beating to the USO shows to the Bucky rescue mission, I think it had the best hero origin in a movie2. The final third of the movie was just okay. The final battle was kinda blah. It was just set-up to get Captain America to the present which was disappointing. If this movie wasn’t tying into The Avengers flick coming out next year, I think we would have gotten a better conclusion.
Thoughts and observations:
- I was mildly concerned with the casting of Chris Evans as Steve Rogers mostly because 90% of his roles are cocky guys but he really came through. He wasn’t perfect but he sold me on Rogers’ selflessness and devotion to duty.
- The casting in this movie as a whole was great. Hayley Atwell was great as Peggy Carter. I’m glad she was never a damsel-in-distress like most female characters in action movies are regulated to. Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull looked and sounded like he was modeled after an Indiana Jones Nazi villains like Dr. René Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark or Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (and I mean that in a good way). The best bit of casting was Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Chester Phillips. He was the J. Jonah Jameson of Captain America. I look forward to the YouTube video of all his great lines.
- The special effects that made Chris Evans a 90 pound weakling and gave Hugo Weaving a talking skull as a face were very impressive. I expected the effects to take me out of the film a bit (like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) but I found myself forgetting at parts that Evans face was pasted on that scrawny body.
- I enjoyed the hints/easter eggs to future Captain America stories (Bucky (Sebastian Shaw) as a sniper, Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) in the magnifying lamp mirroring how he looks now).
- Listen, I understand that Marvel Films is trying to make their generally all-white superheroes have a little diversity but I found it more believable that a scrawny kid could be turned into a super solider than Captain America’s unit included a black guy (Derek Luke) and a Japanese-American (Kenneth Choi) and there was NO racism. Everybody drank together and sang together. I know its’s a comic book movie and there’s a bit of fantasy involved but don’t go so far in the other direction, ignoring race completely, that it’s ridiculous.
- I did not like how the movie ended abruptly. It should have ended with Rogers either going to Peggy’s grave or visiting her in a retirement home and having that dance3.
- The Avengers teaser after the credits was exciting but all the footage went by so fast, it’s hard to really judge. I need some geek to examine it frame-by-frame like The Zapruder film.
1 For the record, 1) Iron Man, 2) Captain America: The First Avenger, 3) Thor, 4) The Incredible Hulk and 5) Iron Man 2.
2 That made sense in my head but I don’t think it translated to the page.
3 This still might happen in The Avengers but, even if it does, it should have happened here.