Captain America: The First Avenger Review

Let's face it.  The Avengers series has been in a downward spiral since Iron Man was released.  The Incredible Hulk was good but nothing special.  Iron Man 2 was a massive disappointment.  Thor was a film that everyone thought was cool because Kenneth Branagh directed but had a paper thin story when it turned its attention to Earth.  That left Captain America: The First Avenger to not only right the ship before The Avengers, but connect hundreds of loose ends between these films and next year's film version of the All-Star Game.  I am finally happy to report (at least when it comes to recent Marvel films) that Captain America: The First Avenger is a success.

Captain America: The First Avenger follows the puny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he tries to find a way to enlist with the U.S. Army (which is busy fighting the Axis powers in World War II).  Unfortunately, for Rogers his health problems prevent him from joining the cause.  That is until a scientist (Stanley Tucci) tests a super serum on him that changes him into Captain America.  Captain America quickly discovers that there may be a force more powerful than the Nazi party in Hydra (an organization similar to the Nazis in the Indiana Jones series).

The thing that Captain America: The First Avenger does best is that it completely embraces the 1940's style.  From the very patriotic (and original) songs to the soldier lingo to the cartoonish villains this film captures not only the 1940's atmosphere but homages the films of that era.  Joe Johnston (a normally very safe director) has to be given a lot of credit for going out of his comfort zone and creating something that could have easily been perceived as ridiculous.

The second most important thing to this film's success is that most of the cast gets what type of film they are in.  This is no going-for-the-Oscar Holocaust film, it's just a fun, adventure romp set in that time period and Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci and Hugo Weaving get that.  Chris Evans actually does for this film what Chris Hemsworth did for Thor.  They both embrace the stupidity of their roles but they both perfectly mix that with a sense of hubris (in the case of Hemsworth) or nobility (in the case of Evans).  Evans seems to be a great pick for what is to be the leader of the Avengers, but that will really come to the test when he is put in the same frame as Robert Downey Jr.  Tommy Lee Jones was only in the film to shout out one liners but he nailed every single one of them.  He was actually the best part of the film as he embraced the lunacy of what he was doing.  Tucci was also great in his limited time as the father like figure to Captain America.  Hugo Weaving got the same idea as everyone else.  He embraced the cheesiness of the film but he tried to hard in doing so.  Weaving tries to portray Red Skull with a Wener Herzog-like accent, but he unfortunately couldn't hold it thought the length of the film.  Instead of coming across as goofy (and kind of cool) the accent came off as irritating.

The final thing I have to give credit to in this film is its script.  The film is written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (with some uncredited help from The Avenger's director Joss Whedon) and they pull of this major challenge of a script.  Unlike many of its predecessors, this script is able to integrate the Avengers storyline into the film's regular film without it making it seem like a jarring attempt to set up the sequel.  How Rogers goes from World War II hero to present day leader of The Avengers feels completely organic.  The screenwriters also create what might be the first romance in a superhero film that feels organic.  Some of these films just write in a romance to have a woman on the screen (I am looking at you Thor).  Captain America: The First Avenger, on the other hand, creates an independent woman in Peggy Carter (played well by the reliable Hayley Atwell) and never at any point rushed the romance between her and Rogers.

Captain America: The First Avenger is a return to form for the Marvel franchise and is the best superhero film in the Summer of the Superhero.


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