I am pretty proud of myself to sneak in today's timely blog for 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger (trailer) within a couple weeks of the sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier hitting theaters. It was like it was crying out of my backlog box to be watched at this time. I have followed numerous comic book franchises off and on over the years, but have never been a big Captain America fan. I think I own a handful of the comics, and have fond memories of using him a lot in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games.
By the way, if any of you have still been boycotting this film all these years because you could not get over the fact Chris Evans also played The Human Torch from the pair of Fantastic Four films several years ago, just give it a break already. There is a vast difference from Evans then and now, and the thought did not even cross my mind once while watching the movie because Evans does a superb job as Steve Rodgers and Marvel picked the perfect candidate to play the everyman that became Captain America.
In the comic books, the original Captain America run in the 1940s was all about him fighting the Nazis, and was more or less the rah rah USA material the country needed to get through WWII. While this takes place during WWII, the Nazis are not the antagonists. They play a minor role in the beginning of the film, but are quickly pushed off to the side when they are overthrown by another German resistance, Hydra. They are led by one Johan Schmidt, aka The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), who manages to procure the all powerful tesseract from the Thor films to and uses it to make tesseract-infused weaponry showcased throughout the movie.
That rant aside, I still very much enjoyed this film. The first origin act does a tremendous job capturing the essence of Steve Rodgers being an innocent, do gooder everyman who wanted to fight the good fight. The second act kicks off with Cap being the showpiece of a hilarious USO show-style American propaganda tool to promote war bonds, and captures his comic book style uniform to a T, it actually looks so ridiculous in the live action world they thankfully tweak it a bit once Rodgers is legitimately in the line of duty. After pushing back Hydra all the way to their main underground base in a very enjoyable series of montages, we get the climatic final battle against The Red Skull, and it pays off in spades like almost all the other Marvel films in recent years. Watching this film a second time, one of my few gripes I picked up on is a minor pacing gripe with not a lot whole lot of risk really being in Captain America's way as he essentially runs over Hydra forces nonstop through the film, with only minimal setbacks. I guess there is the whole, 70 years frozen in ice thing the filmmakers do a fine job conveying, and Marvel also does a fine job transitioning into bringing him into the modern day with some amusing tomfoolery on SHIELD's part. Like I said, it is a minor nitpick, and ultimately it seemed if there was to be a Captain America film, this was the prime way to go about it with him kicking all kinds of ass in 1940s.
I am thrilled that the first Captain Amercia film we got from Marvel Studios was his origin story from WWII, and not set in modern day. I am of course neglecting the extremely low budget Captain America film from 1990 which I only caught enough bits and pieces off of cable over the years to know to stay the hell away from it. The upcoming sequel is set in modern times, post-Avengers, and I am a little trepid going by the few previews I have seen as it makes Captain America seem like more of a secret agent than the super soldier we got on display here. However, early buzz indicates that this is another winner from Marvel that will not disappoint so I have good faith they know what they are doing.
Other than The Avengers, Captain America: The First Avenger marks the only Marvel Studios release I own, and I think that is saying something. Do not get me wrong, I am a big fan of the Iron Man trilogy, the two Thor films and The Incredible Hulk, but those all wounded up being films that I got the most out of in a big budget action flick experience that I only desired to see in the theaters. Maybe it helps with me getting more out of Captain America's backstory and it taking place in the WWII theater, but in my opinion it rises above all the other Marvel Studios movies that focuses on the individual heroes.
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