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Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger
Director: Joe Johnston
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Cast: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Armitage, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, Stan Lee, Sebastian Stan
Synopsis: After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
1960's Cartoon Intro to Captain America
Origin of Captain America
Origin of Red Skull
Best Marvel Studios film since Iron Man
After several months of anticipation, Marvel Studios has finally revealed it's last solo superhero movie that leads up to up to the "Avengers." If anyone had told me that this film had a chance in hell of being remotely interesting, I would've laughed so freaking hard that I'd probably damn near wet myself. Seriously, I could have easily written an entire hub on why this film was going to fail not only among critics but among movie goers as well, but you want to know something funny? If I had done that, then I would've been completely wrong in my assessment. Not only did "Captain America: The First Avenger" prove me wrong, but it actually turned out to be arguably Marvel's best super hero film since "Iron Man."
At the risk of sounding conceited, I usually have a great gift to tell whether or not a superhero/cartoon/anime will adapt well into a live action format. Once I'm able to learn everything about the character's history, I'm able to deduce exactly what his/her appeal is, and who the fan base would be outside of comic book readers. Granted, I'm not always right in my assessments, but for the most part, I'm usually right in my predictions. For example, when I first heard that "Spider-Man 3" would be introducing Venom, I knew it was going to fail because Sam Raimi openly admitted before the film was even released that he never liked Venom at all as a character; which is never a good sign when you hear a director of any film admit they didn't like one of their own characters.
Then there was "X-Men 3" and "Batman & Robin", as I remember distinctly telling my brother that those films would not be well received among most fans BEFORE their initial releases. Why? Because from reading the plot synopsis of both movies, it was fairly obvious both films would try to cram too much crap into them. And, the directors of both films wanted to take the franchises in entirely different directions than what was previous established; something that any true movie fan will tell you is a big mistake when dealing with major film franchises, as you never want to stray too far away from what made it popular to begin with.
Anyway, I do apologize if I'm coming off as egotistical, but I'm merely trying to make a point here. Don't get me wrong, I do have a lot of respect for the character himself, and I understand his appeal quite perfectly. However, in today's conflicted society, where American ideals are perceived to be less than good among most countries, and the fact that we're currently a nation divided among itself, then it's easy to be skeptical on how well "Captain America: The First Avenger" would do in the box office. Plus, the silly flag uniform doesn't exactly help either. However, like "Spider-Man", I was glad to be proven wrong by this movie. Not only did it put away all doubts that I previously had, but it also reestablished a new found hope in Marvel Studios.
Since "Iron Man", I began to lose faith that Marvel Studios even knew how to tell a great story anymore. Sure, "Iron Man" was a great film, as the main focal point of the movie wasn't about being some elaborate setup for the "Avengers." Granted, there were references to the "Avengers", but the main focal point of the movie was about the journey of Tony Stark. About how he comes from being this introverted person that only cared about himself to eventually realizing there's more to life than his own selfish ambitions. "Iron Man" not only told a great character driven story, but it also carried a lot of great underlining themes in regards to war profiteering and terrorism that still reign true to this day. That's why I loved the first "Iron Man" movie so much, as it didn't over emphasize the concept of it being some sort of elaborate prequel to the "Avengers." Sure, the references were there, but it never took away from the main story of establishing who the character was and what drives him, as the references were subtle. Whereas "Thor", half the damn movie felt like it was nothing more than a set up for the "Avengers"; which is fine, but the references should have been a helluva a lot more subtle. Hasn't Marvel Studios learned anything from "Iron Man?"
Don't get me wrong, I don't expect all movies to have psychologically complex stories (ala "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight"), nor do I expect them all to have powerful underlining themes like the first "Iron Man" film. However, I do expect them to have well developed characters that allows the audience to connect with them on some level, as it doesn't matter if the story isn't that great. Sometimes a well developed character, and their relationships can more than make up for it. Granted, I'll be the first to admit that "Captain America: The First Avenger" isn't exactly going to win any accolades for innovative story telling, but it does recapture what made the first "Iron Man" such a great film; emphasizing on who the character is first and foremost. That's where Marvel Studios messed up with films like "The Incredible Hulk", "Thor", and "Iron Man 2", as they focused so much on the novelty aspect of setting up sequels and leading to the "Avengers" that they forgot that it's really about focusing on the character. That's the biggest issue that I had with all the other Marvel Studio films thus far, and it seems with "Captain America: The First Avenger" they finally gone back to basics.
Yes, there's still small references to the eventual "Avengers" culmination, but it never overshadows the heart of what this movie truly is. A journey about one man that wants to serve his country so badly that he volunteers for a government program that inevitably forces him to lay his life on the line various times to serve his country.
What I really loved about this movie was the direction that Joe Johston and his writers took it. Instead of merely basing this film on aspects that most audiences were already familiar with pertaining to Captain America like patriotism, Joe Johnston takes kind of a Christopher Nolan approach to the character. Emphasizing the story on aspects of the character that were always there before, but most fans would often miss about Captain America; that behind all the symbolic patriotism that he represents, he's still just a man that wants to fight for his country. A man that has been bullied all his life, due to his diminutive thin stature, but genuinely wants to make a difference in the world. In the end, isn't that a great concept that we can all relate to on some level?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing this film to any of the "Batman" movies that Christopher Nolan has worked on, as that would be absurd. However, the approaches that Nolan and Johnston took to each perspective franchises is eerily similar in the fact that they emphasized on aspects of the character that most people never would've thought of when portraying each of these superheroes respectively. With "Batman", Nolan emphasized on the psychological aspects of the characters themselves, which led the movie series to delve into different aspects of the character that nobody ever thought putting into a movie before about "Batman." With "Captain America", it's sort of the same deal. Joe Johnston doesn't over emphasize the story on Captain America being some symbol for patriotic sentiment in the United States, but rather a man that wants to be a part of something bigger than himself to help others.
Plus, I was highly impressed with the special effects of this movie, as it was simply amazing how Marvel Studios made Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) go from being a vertically challenged thin man in stature, to a muscle bound super soldier so seamlessly that you won't believe your eyes on how realistic it looks.
As for the actors of this movie, I thought everyone played their parts rather well. Hugo Weaving was perfectly cast as the menacing Red Skull, but I would've liked to have seen more of his character, as he's rarely in most of the film. Another great casting choice comes from Tommy Lee Jones, who plays the tough as nails Colonel Chester Phillips, that comes off tough, stern and offers a subtle bits of humor when necessary. However, the performance that impressed me the most was Chris Evans. Given the nature of his character, it would've been very easy for almost any actor to ham up this role with a lot of cheesy acting. However, Chris not only nails the heart of who Captain America is on a personal level, but he also makes him highly sympathetic for audiences to relate to his character.
Indeed, it seems like Marvel Studios has finally decided to go back to basics with "Captain America: The First Avenger", by remembering to make the focus of the story about the character first and foremost. Now, we can only hope that Marvel models their future solo superhero movies the same way, but only time will tell. In the end, I'd give this film a solid three and a half out of four. Truly a must see film for any superhero fan to see in 2-D only, as 3-D is barely noticeable.