Twenty years after the release of Tim Burton’s Batman, comic based films have grown substantially in popularity with general audiences and become some of the highest grossing films. With such a large breadth of source material and years of evolution many comic book’s characters are the perfect foundation for a successful film. Marvel has been gambling big with it’s Avengers initiative, and having any one piece of the team as a weak link could make the resulting film fall apart. The story of Steve Rogers and his transformation into “The First Avenger” makes Captain America stand out during a Summer filled with superhero films and makes me even more excited for the upcoming Avengers film.
Captain America: The First Avenger follows Steve Rogers, a 90lb man who is medically unfit for the military but wants nothing more than to help his country by doing his part in WWII. Due to his determination he is approached to train to be part of a program to build a “super soldier” using an experimental serum developed by Dr. Abraham Erskine and aided by Howard Stark. The serum amplifies a persons strength, agility, and the personality traits that the receiver already has. This makes Steve Rogers the perfect candidate due to his courage, determination, and strong morals.
Watching Rogers transform from a frail man to the ultimate soldier was a fantastic sight. The technology used to composite Chris Evans onto a smaller body was not flawless but appeared solid enough that I was able to get lost in the character. Evans played the smaller version of Rogers fantastically, making you feel sympathy for his inability to help but without feeling pity for his appearance and lack of ability. It felt as if Steve Rogers had the drive to take on Hydra single handed, but the lack of ability to do so successfully.
Despite his transformation into Captain America, it takes a long while before Rogers is able to get into the thick of the war. Believing that having only one super-solider would not be effective enough they utilize the Captain as propaganda to advertise the war effort and sell more war bonds. Once he is able to get into the war we are treated to some fantastic action scenes showing off how powerful the Captain really is. As the film goes on the Captain’s abilities seem to become overly powerful. In the comics his abilities are said to be similar to an Olympian; a human at the peak level of fitness and ability. Some of the long leaps the Captain pulls off were a little over the top, but these moments were few and far between.
Some considered it risky to produce such a high profile superhero film as a WWII period piece, but it’s essential to tell his origin properly and to properly develop his character for subsequent films. Marvel was smart in bringing Joe Johnston in as director, due to his previous experience with his previous WWII comic book adaptation The Rocketeer. The tone of the film is a perfect blend of the 1940′s with a little playfulness in it’s representation. This is not a gritty ultra-realistic representation of the war, but it does include a few brief moments of violence that remind you how real the stakes are.
The film connects to the greater Marvel universe of films in some interesting ways that will appeal to the die hard comic fans. The involvement of Howard Stark (As the creator of the Captain’s shield) will likely tie into the relationship between his son Tony Stark and Steve Rogers during The Avengers film. The Red Skull (Played fantastically by Hugo Weaving) is wielding weaponry pulled straight from Odin’s toybox and has some dialog similar to that in Thor about magic and science being one in the same. I was pleased that these elements seemed much more organic than Iron Man 2‘s forced nature of including the larger mythology. There are some additional moments at the beginning and end of the film that lead deeper into the mythology and help establish the tone for the franchise going forward. As with all Marvel Studios films be sure to stay after the credits for another tease for what is to come.
Captain America is a strong film with a few wrinkles that can be easily ignored. Much like the original Iron Man this film features a strong lead who is extremely likable and you’ll have a blast watching them evolve as a character. Captain America succeeds as a fun Summer action movie that fans will love and newcomers will enjoy as well. If you’re ready to dive into the Marvel Studios universe there is no better place to start than The First Avenger.
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Written by Levi Neuland (@welovecult)
Some came into this world with a silver spoon, Levi came out wielding a rusty machete. Born and raised in Western New York state he spent most of his cold winters huddled inside watching bizarre and inappropriate movies for a seven-year-old. More »