Next summer, Marvel Studios will attempt something no other studio has done. They will take four film franchises and merge them into one film under the direction of Comic-Con god, Joss Whedon. The Avengers will be a massive film, one that is highly anticipated, but before we see the team assemble we have to get to know the first Avenger, Captain America. Joe Johnston had the difficult task of not only making the all-American-hero relatable to modern audiences, but also re-creating the world of the 1940’s, but with a believable sci-fi slant.
Chris Evans plays his sixth comic book related role as Steve Rogers. Steve is too small to be accepted into the army during World War II, but he is the perfect candidate for Project: Rebirth. Steve is to be the first in a line of super soldiers that are made to take down Hitler and the Nazis. But soon after Steve’s metamorphosis his mentor and Project: Rebirth creator, Dr. Erskine, is killed thanks to a secret Nazi science division called Hydra. Steve is left as the only one of his kind, and must decide whether he is up to the role of being Captain America. Steve has to choose fast because Hyrda’s leader, Johann Schmidt, is in possession of a cosmic cube that can turn the tide of the war, and would mean disaster for the allied forces and the world.
I was very reluctant to accept Evans in this role. He’s always played the ‘funny guy’ in most of his films, so playing the always serious Captain America didn’t seem like his cup of tea. However, it was Evans charm and humbleness that made this movie work. Captain America has a commanding presence in the comic books, but in this film he’s just starting out, so he has fears, doubts, and a personality that any decent person can relate too. This makes him accessible to the audience and makes the rest of the film a nice ride. However there are a few shots where he looks ridiculous as 'skinny Steve.'
The Matrix and LOTR’s alumni Hugo Weaving plays Evans rival, Johann Schmidt, or the Red Skull has the world will come to know him. Weaving face spends most of the film red, and computer-generated, which makes his acting abilities limited as far as performance, but still terrify as Captain America’s polar opposite. The other major supporting cast members include Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips and Hayley Atwell as Cap’s love interest, Peggy Carter. Atwell plays Carter perfectly as a woman who is tough as nails, but also has a sensitive side that woos not only Steve, but the audience as well. I don’t need to tell you that Jones does what he always does; which is be awesome. Has Colonel Phillips he is Steve’s biggest opponent, but soon becomes his biggest ally. Classic Jones.
The person in this film I was watched closely was Sebastian Stan as Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes. In the comics he is Captain America’s teenage sidekick with an important future. In other interpretations, such as this, he is the guy who fights Steve’s battles before he could win his own. Stan did a perfect job for what he had to be, and possibly become in later films. Another member of Cap’s team, included Neal McDonough as the classic Marvel character, ‘Dum Dum’ Dugan.
Joe Johnston has directed such period pieces as The Rocketeer and October Sky, so I knew he was the right man to bring this 1940’s icon into the 21st Century. To me, the film seemed to go by fast, which means leaving out time for character development, but it was such a great ride it didn’t seem to matter much. Captain America isn’t anything deep or complicated, but just a simple film about a simple hero. Marvel has really hit gold creating their own film studio and the films they create. Mainly because they listen to writers like Ed Brubaker and Mark Millar who have kept the character thriving for so long. If only other studios would do the same with their comic book properties. I, however, did find it a bit odd that Stan “The Man” Lee made an appearance in this film. Even though his is the creator of most Marvel characters like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four he had nothing to do with Captain America except being the head of Marvel. But “The Man” is still awesome in my book so he can make an appearance in the next Batman film for all I care.
Captain America: The First Avenger closes out a summer full of superhero films, with another batch due out next summer. Johnston and co. was able to bring out why this character has lasted for over 70 years, and has continued the cinematic journey that Marvel has been taking us on for the past few years. I look forward to Whedon’s The Avengers next summer not because it’s a comic book film, but because it’s full of great characters we already know. Now let’s see how they all work together. If you’ve seen any Marvel film you know to stay after the ending credits, and this one no different. Someone get Cap Netflix so he can catch-up with the rest of the world, but don’t show him Jersey Shore!