Main cast: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Tommy Lee Jones (Colonel Chester Phillips), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Sebastian Stan (James “Bucky” Barnes), Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark), Stanley Tucci (Dr Abraham Erskine), Toby Jones (Arnim Zola), JJ Feild (James Montgomery Falsworth), and Hugo Weaving (Johann Schmidt/Red Skull)
Director: Joe Johnston
I’ve always thought Captain America the most boring of the A-list line-up of Marvel’s superheroes. I mean, that guy is the poster boy for chemically enhanced super-strength, and he has a shield to hide behind or toss around like a frisbee. Worse, he has the personality of a propoganda poster – flat and unconvincing. Still, it is inevitable that he has his own movie too under Marvel’s movie renaissance.
I have my doubts about Chris Evans in the role of Captain America. I mean, sure, he’s gorgeous, and acting chops aren’t mandatory for this role, but still, he’s not exactly someone I normally see in that role. Still, ultimately he looks pretty okay in that role. He has pretty biceps, nice abs, and hot thighs. Steve Rogers is hot after getting all ‘roided up with America’s blessing. Get juiced, skinny people – it’s clearly the way to go.
Anyway, this movie is a loose adaptation of Captain America’s origins. It is 1942 and World War 2 is spreading across the world. Nazi officer Johann Schmidt gets his hands on a mysterious device called the Tesseract, which helps him become the Red Skull and form HYDRA, your typical global terrorist organization run by your friendly megalomaniac.
Meanwhile, Steve Rogers is a sickly fellow who only wants to serve in the army like his best friend James “Bucky” Barnes. When Steve does get recruited, it’s to become a guinea pig for the Scientific Strategic Reserve. He gets pumped with super juice, and lo, he becomes all hot and muscular. Just give him a shield and here’s Captain America, woo-hoo! Inevitably, Bucky is declared MIA while fighting in HYDRA territory, and Captain America would not let his BFF down. Red Skull is going down!
On paper, this movie isn’t bad. It’s not amazing – it’s actually very predictable, with so many standard action movies tropes that I can easily see the “twists” coming from a mile away because I’ve seen them all before. Still, there are explosions, near-death escapes, and chases, so this movie should be adequate for some harmless few hours of entertainment.
Unfortunately, the movie is also pretty stupid. Or rather, the villains are all super stupid and incompetent. Enemy soldiers, said to be trained to be the most powerful and deadly, can’t aim when confronted by the good guys right in front of their face! Captain America bravely charges into a suicide mission to save some prisoners of war… only to have these prisoners of wars, with him in charge, taking down a battalion of supposedly hardened and skilled killers, even when these good guys are unarmed, because the villains are deliberately written as so incompetent that they may as well be running around in clown suits. When the bad guys are so stupid, the good guys’ victories don’t seem as grand as they could have been.
The script also makes a big mistake by telling me in the opening scene that Captain America somehow became frozen and he is thawed in the present day. Therefore, I don’t feel the need to get emotionally invested in his developing romance with SSR agent Peggy Carter, or his bromances with Bucky or other soldiers, as I know these people would all be old or dead when Captain America wakes up in the present day. If the movie had kept the fate of Captain America in the penultimate moment of the movie under wraps a while longer, instead of throwing it at my face the moment the movie opens, I may be more engaged by this movie.
As I’ve said, Captain America: The First Avenger is an average film. It’s pretty interesting how Marvel is tying up all their heroes in one big ball of movie franchise – Tony Stark’s father is one of the chief researchers in SSR’s super soldier program – but this is easily the weakest solo superhero entry so far.