I had started defending this movie from the moment I found out Chris Evans was cast. With Captain America being one of my favorite characters, mostly due in part to Ed Brubaker‘s writing, I had every reason to be hesitant. After hearing the news about his casting an after watching the movie Sunshine a shit ton of times, I was really looking forward to every piece of information released about this movie. From the first snapshots taken on set, to the first official images, to the first poster, to the first trailer, all I felt was…”meh”. Really wasn’t too impressed, no matter how badly I wanted to be. Despite the fact that I wasn’t too impressed by anything I had seen, knowing the influence of comic book creators on the film, I knew that it just HAD to be good. Lucky for me, I was right. I was right as shit.
Aww, he’s just a wittle guy!
In early 1940’s Brooklyn, there’s a skinny kid with health problems that consistently prevent him from entering the Army, and that kid’s name is Steve Rogers. After a scientist overhears the fact that he continually tries and is rejected, he is offered the opportunity to enlist, thanks to an experimental division. After all the possible candidates for “Operation: Rebirth”, it is determined that Rogers is the best candidate for the procedure, because what he lacks in physical prowess, he more than makes up for in dedication, courage, and a sense of what’s right. The procedure is a success and he is transformed into a super soldier, but sadly, the one person who held the secret to the experiment was killed by a spy during the procedure. I should also explain that there was one other success in this project, but it was being conducted in Germany with the scientific division of the Nazis, and that man was Johann Schmidt, played by Hugo Weaving. The serum is intended to unlock the latent potential in an individual, and in Rogers’s case, it made him a super soldier, but with Schmidt, it gave him super-strength in addition to a bright red skull for a head. Some might call him “Red Skull” because of how much those physical characteristics make him stand out of a crowd. From the birth of Red Skull onward, the film focuses on the evil, scientific division of the Nazis that refer to themselves as “Hydra“, rather than making the bad guys straight-up Nazis. Apparently the Nazis have had it hard enough as it is. Steve’s ranking officer, Colonel Chester Phillips, played by Tommy Lee Jones, doesn’t seem to give a shit about the success and considers the project a mistake, but luckily Steve gets the opportunity to show his strength and power as a mascot known as “Captain America” in order to raise funds through USO shows across the country.
It just looks like someone went into Photoshop and found the Muscles tool and cranked that shit up as high as it would go.
Despite the success that Captain America has, his routine falls a little short when he travels to the soldiers involved in World War II. When Rogers hears of fellow soldiers, including his childhood friend James “Bucky” Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan, Steve takes it upon himself to single-handedly make his way behind Hydra lines to rescue them. After Colonel Phillips sees the success of Rogers, he allows him to take a squad of soldiers, which include Bucky, to go on all sorts of awesome, crazy, Hydra killing missions. Even though the team accomplishes a lot, he unfortunately can’t prevent Bucky from dying on one of these missions. Realizing the severity of the situation, as well as learning of Red Skull’s plan to harness the energy of an extremely powerful, mystical object known as the “Cosmic Cube”, Captain America really steps up his game. After learning that Red Skull is going to try to destroy the entire eastern seaboard, Rogers is able to finally catch up to Red Skull, and getting too overwhelmed by the power of the Cosmic Cube, he is “destroyed”…or something. Being the only one who can stop the plane, Steve takes it upon himself to crash the plane into the Arctic Ocean, rather than allow it to destroy all the cities in America. He “dies”, and everyone is sad. However, we then see Steve wake up in a bed, supposedly in the 1940’s. BUT…after freaking out and realizing it is a trick, Steve escapes into the middle of present day Times Square, and then Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, says something along the lines of, “Are you ready to be in an Avengers movie next summer?”
You guys forgot that this actress was British and has one of those guns that blows things up behind her! You idiots!
The most effective scene in the entire movie when it comes to solidifying Captain America/Steve Rogers is one that you can see in the trailer. When Colonel Phillips tosses a “live” grenade into a group of soldiers at boot camp, everyone runs away, except for Steve, who dives on top of it to try to save other people. That was an effective scene in the trailer, and is just as effective in the movie. It’s difficult to try to explain why Captain America is such an enjoyable character, but for me, it’s that state-of-mind, that self-sacrifice, that courage that drives him and everything he does. Chris Evans was able to really capture that essence in the ways I knew he could. He was funny when he needed to be, vulnerable when he needed to be, and beat the shit out of Nazis when he had to. Oh, and by the way, I’m just going to make things easier for myself and refer to all of the bad guys as Nazis. What was I saying? Oh yes, Evans was awesome at punching Nazis. In fact, all of the actors and actresses were really enjoyable in this movie, and despite not naming her earlier, I’d like to point out that Hayley Atwell was good as Peggy Carter. My one complaint with Steve Rogers, and it was something that couldn’t be avoided, was when Steve was a scrawny kid before the experiment. I’d say he is small for 30% of the movie, and half of that time it is pulled off really well, the other time things looked kind of weird. Unfortunately, that was the nature of the beast, and it certainly had to be a more drastic difference in size with this film than something like Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man. Other than that, all of the effects were really convincing, and the “gloss”, if you will, of everything really added to the sense that this movie took place in the 40’s as opposed to present day.
A little bit of trivia is that this is the first film that Hugo Weaving didn’t require any makeup for.
There were quite a few instances where the comic book nerdery came out and I would internally say, “OH MAN IT’S THAT GUY FROM THAT THING THAT HAPPENED ONE TIME”, but I prefer not to mention them all. I can’t help but point out one of my biggest delights, which was knowing that Captain America’s secret squad was actually the Howling Commandos, which included Dum Dum Dugan. Seeing Dum Dum getting broken out of the Nazi camp was awesome, and seeing the Howling Commandos so their thing, despite not being called that, was still great. Another moment was also seeing the actual first issue of Captain America, featuring him punching Hitler in the face, being used as part of the USO campaign that Rogers was involved in. One thing that I think made this film stand out from all the other Marvel films was the passage of time. Most other stories have involved a series of events taking place that are all directly related to one another, and Event A causes Event B which causes Event C, and the movie’s over. The time between Operation: Rebirth to the first time Steve fights Nazis is over a year, and once he takes charge of the Howling Commandos, we only see a montage of some of their missions, which we are to assume takes place over weeks, if not months. I guess it just kind of helped show Cap as a symbol of good who is continually proving himself, rather than someone who gets kind of thrown into things.
I’m still trying to figure out what that “A” on his helmet stands for. His name is Steve! There’s no “A” in Steve!
The reason I feel that I didn’t have high hopes for this movie is because nothing can really be adequately captured in a few seconds for a trailer. The trailer shows quite a few scenes of him running and jumping, but it’s all out of context and not that impressive. I remember saying about the Incredible Hulk movie that one of the best parts was seeing Tim Roth‘s character run faster, jump higher, and hit harder than everyone else, which is what the appeal of the action sequences were in this film. I could probably watch Captain America beat the shit out of Nazis all day. He punches a guy, throws his shield at a bunch of guys, hits them all, drop kicks a guy in the chest, then jumps over a tank, then catches his shield, then smashes someone with it. That might not be EXACTLY what happens, but close enough. Just to reiterate, I was nervous that the action scenes wouldn’t be cool because of the trailer, but they were all awesome. Similar to Thor, this movie served as a prologue to the upcoming Avengers film, but this film was far more entertaining than that one was. It was slow in parts, but once it picked up, I just didn’t want it to stop. Thor was a little anticlimactic, or at least, you only recognized the film as a first step towards the Avengers movie, whereas this movie felt like a complete story that could stand on its own. Well, except for maybe the whole waking up in present day thing, which could have been confusing. I think this might be the first superhero movie I’ve seen since the first X-Men that made me want to go out later that night to see it for a second time. Instead, I’m writing this review to encourage you all to go see this movie, then punch some Nazis in the face.
Wolfman Moon Scale