Captain America: The First Avenger reminds me of the pulps from old times. Fighting Nazis, being a GI Joe, hanging out with your best friend, learning how to dance and meet girls for the first time, seeing dancers like the Rockettes perform, promoting and advertising. The film had me wondering what it would have been like living in the 1940s or having ancestors from that time period. I would have liked to hear stories about how different New York City looked and how comic books looked. I wonder how it was being at the World’s Fair.
Chris Evans’ character plays homage to Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Clark Kent and Superman, portraying a naive, idealistic nuclear family American with the courage of a being who can move worlds. He fights as an everyman for every man. He is as red white and blue as a Golden Age Captain America costume. You get the idea that this is the type of character you would ask to help you with homework or ask sugar from. He also uses a more subtle humor than when he was in Fantastic Four.
I love the inclusion of Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark as both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers go through a similar story superheroes goes through about morals and saving the world. There is also a great contrast in personalities between the two characters: Stark is an engineer and showman, while Rogers is an honest hardworking soldier.
Stanley Tucci does a great job as Dr. Abraham Erksine, playing Yensin to Chris Evan’s Tony Stark. He plays an important role in a pivotal arc of Steve Rogers’ character deciding to giving some average humanity and heart to a superhero.
I felt Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter was a bit forced as a love interest, but did a great job at acting tough yet feminine and beautiful at the same time. Sebastian Stan does a great job as Bucky Barnes. Even with little dialogue, you really believe that they were friends for a long time. Tommy Lee Jones plays more of his interesting sarcastic self instead of a Joker replacement he portrayed in Batman Forever. The rest of the supporting cast has a short number of lines, but lures the audience into the Captain America mythos.
Hugo Weaving is as menacing as he was in The Matrix and V for Vendetta. However, instead of wanting to control the Matrix as Agent Smith, Weaving attempts to control the powers of Norse mythology and the world as the Red Skull. His performance is great as a tyrant who contrasts Evans’ Rogers, not valuing human life or freedom. His performance as a commander will really want you to humorously go, “Hail HYDRA!”
There’s a lack of connection between the first half and second half of the film. Steve Rogers goes from “not wanting to kill anybody” and not able to to pushing enemies off ledges with ease. All of a sudden, Steve Rogers goes from your friendly neighbor to an unpredictable murderer you may stay away from. The soldiers and participants act as if seeing HYDRA’s laser weapons were common place, taking away from the immersion audiences had reliving and awing at life in 1940s America. I would have liked to see the origin of Captain America’s moves going on the battlefield or how he gained leadership abilities outside of Super Soldier explanations. There also seems to be an arc that does not quite fit about being a leader in a war and dealing with casualties. I wish there were more payoffs to the character introductions at the beginning of the film. We do however get an origin, both humorous and intelligent for his suit that comes with a dance number! Trying to go stealth in a Captain America costume looks funny.
You should not expect an epic trilogy like in the Christopher Nolan series or what was being developed by Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn for Superman. The humor is better integrated than in X-Men: First Class. However, it is not a better film.
However, that is not what First Avenger is trying to achieve; the film is trying to be a B-movie and pulp like Dick Tracy, the Shadow or Doc Savage. You have a love interest, a villain you hate an adventure and superhero children look up to and the direction of Joe Johnston. However, you should be warned: there are scenes with blood.
Captain America: The First Avenger was released July 22, 2011.