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Film Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

Updated on February 8, 2018
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Jason Wheeler is the Senior Writer and Editor at Film Frenzy. He reviews films from across the cinematic landscape.


In 2011, Joe Johnston released Captain America: The First Avenger, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and the fifth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starring Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Stanley Tucci, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kenneth Choi, the film grossed $370.6 million at the box office.


During World War II, Steve Rogers constantly gets rejected in his attempts to enlist in the United States Army and volunteers for a secret government program promising to transform him into the epitome of human potential. He becomes Captain America and goes to war against Nazi Germany and the Red Skull, who has is own plans to dominate the world.


A good film Captain America: The First Avenger is wonderfully entertaining and enjoyable. It's a war film involving a conspiracy by an organization reaching farther than Hitler ever could in his plans to conquer the world with his master race. Said conspiracy is unearthed, along with its leader the Red Skull, about halfway through the film, causing Captain America and his Howling Commandos to focus their efforts on attacking Hydra bases rather than going after the Nazis. Though the film does not have much on the Nazis and the fight against Hitler’s Germany that made Captain America famous in the comics, its focus on taking down HYDRA still works. Doing so establishes the character's legendary hero status and made it so he wasn't responsible for winning the war while also keeping HYDRA's weapons out of action for the most part.

Further, Steve Rogers as Captain America makes for a good hero in the film. He’s a guy wh won't take no for an answer when his efforts to enlist in the army are continuously rejected. One character questions his apparent strong desire to kill Nazis and Rogers' reply is he does not want to kill anybody and is just against bullies. This determination to go against bullies is established in his first scene. He's asked if the casualty counts reported in the papers give him pause and his answer is it doesn't. There is also the scene where he's being beaten up behind the movie theater by a man who kept tormenting others in the theater. His resolve is demonstrated in his refusal to give up and statement of being able to go all day long.

The Red Skull is a great villain and a good foil for Captain America, too. Rather than being full of good will and wanting to stand up for others, Red Skull is a narcissist who believes he’s not bound by humanity’s rules and is essentially a god. His introduction includes shooting a man guarding the Tesseract and ordering the tanks under his command to shell the guardian’s village for no reason other than he just wants the village shelled. Moreover, where Captain America sticks to the orders of his superiors, for the most part, and fights for the greater good of his country and the world, Red Skull betrays his superiors and uses HYDRA for his own goals, showing no concern for anyone other than himself, going so far as to killing one of his own men for just for surviving the raid of a HYDRA base and activate the self-destruct sequence at the base he’s at, even if his own men will be killed when it goes off.

4 stars for Captain America: The First Avenger


bold indicates reception of award/recognition

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Awards

  • Best Science Fiction Film
  • Best Actor (Chris Evans)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Stanley Tucci)
  • Best Music
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Special Effects
  • Best Costumes

Art Directors Guild Awards

  • Excellence in Production Design Award - Fantasy Film

BMI Film & TV Awards

  • BMI Film Music Award - Film Music

British Society of Cinematographers Awards

  • GBCT Operators AWard

Empire Awards, UK

  • Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Georgia Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Original Song (Song: "Star Spangled Man")

Golden Schmoes Awards

  • Best Special Effects of the Year
  • Favorite Movie Poster of the Year

Guild of Music Supervisors Awards

  • Best Music Supervision for Film s Budgeted Over 20 Million Dollars
  • Best Music Supervision for Trailers

Hollywood Film Awards

  • Hollywood Movie Award

Houston Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Original Song (Song: "Star-Spangled Man")

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form

IGN Summer Movie AWards

  • Best Action Movie
  • Best Comic Book Adaptation Movie
  • Best Movie Poster (For its teaser poster)

International Film Music Critics Awards

  • Best Original Score for an Action/Adventure/Thriller Film
  • Film Music Composition of the Year (For the composition track "Captain America March")

International Online Cinema Awards

  • Best Original Song (Song: "Star-Spangled Man")

MovieGuide Awards

  • Best Film for Mature Audiences

MTV Movie + Television Awards

  • Best Hero (Chris Evans - as Steve Rogers/Captain America)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Music, Original Song (For the song "Star Spangled Man," performed by The Star Spangled Singers)

Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Original Song (For the song, "Star Spangled Man")

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Awards

  • Bradbury Award

Scream Awards

  • Best Superhero (Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers)
  • The Ultimate Scream
  • Best Science Fiction Movie
  • Best Science Fiction Actress (Hayley Atwell)
  • Best Science Fiction Actor (Chris Evans)
  • Best Villain (Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull/Johann Schmidt)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones)
  • Breakout Performance - Female (Hayley Atwell)
  • Best Chase Scene (For "Streets of Brooklyn Chase")
  • Fight Scene of the Year (For "Final Battle: Captain America vs. Red Skull)
  • Best 3-D Movie
  • Best Comic Book Movie

St. Luis Film Critics Association, US Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

Teen Choice Awards

  • Choice Movie: Fight (Steve Rogers/Captain America vs. Johann Schmidt/Red Skull)
  • Choice Summer Movie
  • Choice Summer Movie Star: Male (Chris Evans)

The BSC, ACO, GBCT Features Operators Awards

  • Camera Operator

Visual Effects Society Awards

  • Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture


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