In commemoration of the upcoming CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019) as well as AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019), I’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit ALL of the films relating to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In addition, for my reviews of the other films from the MCU, click the following links:
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Cast: Chris Evans (GIFTED , and upcoming films KNIVES OUT  and THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT ), Hayley Atwell (CHRISTOPHER ROBIN , and the upcoming BLINDED BY THE LIGHT ), Hugo Weaving (MORTAL ENGINES  and THE DRESSMAKER ), Sebastian Stan (DESTROYER , I TONYA , THE MARTIAN , and the upcoming MONDAY  and THE LAST FULL MEASURE ), and Tommy Lee Jones (MECHANIC 2 , MEN IN BLACK , II , and 3 )
Director: Joe Johnston (NUTCRACKER  and JUMANJI )
Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Narnia: LION, WITCH, WARDROBE  and DAWN TREADER )
Composer: Alan Silvestri (MARWEN , THE WALK , THE CROODS , PREDATOR  and 2 , and the upcoming THE CROODS 2 )
Cinematographer: Shelly Johnson (HURRICANE HEIST , and the upcoming GREYHOUND )
Editors: Robert Dalva (JUMANJI) and Jeffrey Ford (STREET KINGS  and HIDE AND SEEK )
This is my honest opinion of: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Set between 1942 and 1943 during World War II. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a diminutive and sickly young man from Brooklyn, New York. He’s made five attempts at trying to enlist into the Army, but because of his many problems, he is rejected each time. However, defected German scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) overhears Steve and his conviction to join the fight overseas and enlists him into a top secret government experiment to create the ultimate soldier, the same one that created Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), leader of Hydra, a Nazi science division that seeks to break away from Hitler and take over the world by adapting an ancient source of God-like power to his own technology. Steve survives his experiment and becomes every bit the perfect soldier that was promised. However, a Hydra saboteur destroys all other serums, making Steve the only one of his kind, and instead of being put on the front lines, he’s used as a marketing gimmick to sell war bonds. Unable to sit on the sidelines long, he learns that his long-time friend Bucky Barns (Sebastian Stan) has been captured by Hydra and sets out to free him and prove his worth as both an American symbol and a capable soldier.
I think out of all of the Phase 1 movies, and IRON MAN, this one has aged the best.
One of the primary aspects that makes this movie so particularly timeless for me is Steve Roger’s character. Unlike most superheroes who need to learn how to be heroes, Steve is a guy who already has that gumption and unshakable determination. His obstacle isn’t learning how to be a hero, he just hasn’t met anyone who will give him the chance to be because he’s too scrawny and sickly. Even once he gets his “superpowers,” his core character never changes. He’s still a patriot at heart, he still has a positive outlook, a determination to be out on the battlefield and serve with his brothers in arms, and be a true credit to his uniform. Having said all that, I can already hear the haters crying out, “Well then he has no real character arch!” Honestly, I think that’s part of what’s so fascinating about him. From the moment we first see him on screen to the final moments, he remains a steadfast soldier and an all around good guy just trying to be a good guy. He’s not motivated by personal tragedy, like the death of a loved one. From getting his ass kicked in an alley because he wanted some asshole to be respectful as the cinema showed footage of the war, to fellow boot camp cadets sabotaging his progress, even to using him as a mascot for buying war bonds, he never gives up, nor does he retaliate against his haters. Superheroes like that are rare. And true, I can’t say that makes him the most complex of characters, but I don’t need every superhero to be so. Simplistic and old fashioned works fine enough in a sea of complex characters. And seriously, I will never get tired of that line of his. “I just don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.” A defining line, to be sure.
But now it’s time for the negatives, of which there are a couple.
Can someone please tell me why this movie starts off with SHIELD guys finding the plane that Captain America went down in? Isn’t this technically spoiling the ending? I mean, okay, we know an Avengers movie is coming out the following year, but seriously, couldn’t someone at least try and keep the ending a secret?
Can’t talk about a superhero movie without its resident supervillain. And… yeah, I’m a little mixed. On the one hand, I love Weaving and Red Skull is certainly a fun opposite to Steve, but here’s my issue. Weaving’s acting is way too hammy for this movie. When the camera isn’t on him, the movie plays itself pretty straight. Like, this is a modern-made war film. The characters, the drama, everything feels real, or real enough. But once we shift to the bad guys, they feel out of place for how silly they are. Red Skull reminds me more of an Austin Powers villain. He has this secret, cheap-looking lair built on the side of a mountain, the way he carries himself and talks, even when he interacts with Zola (Toby Jones), it feels like they belong in the old Batman cartoons. I wouldn’t mind so much if the movie was as goofy as these characters were. It just makes for a jarring viewing experience.
Overall, I really enjoy this movie as an old-fashioned, well-executed superhero movie. The action is great. Every battle scene looks like it belongs in an actual war film. Cap throwing his shield around and smacking bad guys in the face always looks painful. Cap himself is an easily likable bloke, among many other qualities. Only the villains fall short, as well as some clumsy special effects and not enough development between characters. But that doesn’t sour the entire experience. I like this movie and I think it’s worth checking out.
My honest rating for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER: 4/5