Captain America: The First Avenger or Saving Captain Rogers
We here at Brave Blog are warning you now that there are going to be spoilers ahead. Our resident moron saw Captain America: The First Avenger last night so such things are inevitable. So unless you want some plot points and surprises spoiled for you, then it is recommended you wait until after having seen the movie to yell at us. It isn’t our fault. Save the anger and bile for another time because apparently our trained monkey that writes this crap isn’t as nearly trained as we thought.
Where does one begin about Captain America: The First Avenger?
I mean this isn’t a bad movie. It is quite the fun little piece of cartoonish action filmmaking and I guess I should be grateful for that. It hits the important things you want a Captain America movie to hit and keeps up the recent trend of Marvel movies not sucking. Still of the 3 movies Marvel has cranked out for the summer of 2011 it is probably 3rd best. Sorry, X-Men: First Class is really a hard movie to top, even with all the little things in it that bothered me. Thor proved that taking the visions of Jack Kirby and putting them onscreen isn’t necessarily the best thing, no matter how entertaining the rest of your movie might be. So what does this attempt at putting Captain America accomplish?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I’m really torn because I liked the movie but something just felt off. It isn’t because the Red Skull has an actual red skull as opposed to a mask (The Skull’s um… skull didn’t become red until the late 80s) or that the movie has the Howling Commandos without Nick Fury leading them, which is a no-no for fans of those characters like me. Those are minor quibbles. I’ve been mulling it over in my head since I left the theater and trying to put the pinpoint on what is the problem with this movie is escaping me. This is a something that only writing at length about the movie for analysis can solve.
What we get in Captain America: The First Avenger is a basic origin story that most fans of the character already know. We get a very interesting take on the Red Skull, who gets painted way more as a Nihilist than anything else and some clever re-writing of who and what Bucky is to the overall Captain America mythos. Of course there is the matter of Cosmic Cube and how it isn’t exactly explained what the Cube itself can do. What it shows it can do is make some pretty neato energy based weapons in a World War II setting. I’m not sure how I feel about tying the Cube to Thor though. The movie even manages to work Arnim Zola into the story. Not the version most comic readers are familiar with but a version that matches with what we know of the character for the time period. Hell my major gripe is probably that with Hydra running around and the Red Skull and Zola in the movie already, would it have killed them to give us Baron Strucker? Hell there wasn’t even Baron Zemo! That and the lack of Sgt. Fury are the 2 things that don’t sit right with me. But again, these are minor quibbles, not issues that ruin the flow of the movie or anything like that.
So what is the issue? What can’t I put my finger on about this movie that makes it a good but not great comic book movie?
It’s not Chris Evans, who is pretty great at getting the honesty and earnestness of Steve Rogers across onscreen. They could not have made him more everyman and believable. Tommy Lee Jones plays Colonel Philips with the right amount of authority and crankiness that you want a World War II Army commander to have. Hell I even liked Hayley Atell as Maggie Carter, even if I thought the entire romance between her and Cap was more than a little bit of a case of “We need to have Cap with a broad” syndrome. Hell even when you eliminate the Nick Fury problem, the Howling Commandos were suitably badass. Even throwing Howard Stark in so the movie could be tied to Iron Man was a good move, even if they made him into Howard Hughes. I mean it isn’t like a lot of back-story was ever given to Howard Stark in Iron Man comics to begin with. So it isn’t any of the actors or their performances that is the problem. The movie even had its obligatory Stan Lee appearance which ironically I didn’t realize it was Stan until it was pointed out to me. How is it I can spot The Human Torch showing up in the movie but not tan Lee? I mine as well have my nerd tags revoked.
The movie is bright and colorful, like a comic book ought to be so that isn’t the issue. The movie is fun and Captain America beats up surrogate Nazis, which is what you want from a Cap movie set in World War II so that isn’t the issue. The actors are all pretty good to great in their roles so the acting still isn’t the issue. What is it about this movie that bothers me so much?
Could the problem be that I am actually trying to find fault with the movie and that is clouding my judgment? Has my curmudgeonly approach to movie-going finally tripped me up to the point that I am trying to find fault with a perfect movie?
No, that is just nonsense. There is no such thing as a perfect movie. There is a serious problem with Captain America: The First Avenger. I know there is and it is slowly becoming apparent to me. For all that the movie does right it still feels like it should have been better. The movie is perfect crossbreed of the action movies of the 80s, with the blood and gore taken out, with the campiness of the 60s Batman TV show. The violence in this movie is way more of the “BIFF! ACK! YURP!” variety of violence than real gritty violence. Hydra doesn’t come off as Hydra at all. No what Hydra is in this movie is what COBRA should have been in the awful G.I. Joe movie from a few years back. Also because this movie is the last one that is leading into The Avengers there is really is no sense of true danger for our main protagonist. That right there is THE problem with the movie.
I know Cap is going to be in The Avengers so I really do not need to worry about him dying at all. What we have here is nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes of exposition for a movie we won’t get to see for another year. It is what I call “Phantom Menace Syndrome”. Why should I care about the Star Wars episodes 1-3 when I know the end result? Provided, Captain America: The First Avenger is way better than any of the Star Wars prequels. Still the problem remains that if I know Cap is in The Avengers then any real element of danger is removed from the equation of the movie.
I mean can I complain?
I buy and read books where multiple books tell an overall story and don’t complain about the first book being exposition. I think I need to let Captain America: The First Avenger slide on this point, no matter how much it may irk me. It really is not a bad movie. I actually enjoyed it. It more than made up for the awful of Green Lantern and it also means that Marvel gets a clean sweep for the Summer Movie Season 2011. So what if it is 3rd best of the 3, it is still way better than the previous Captain America movie and definitely makes up for Reb Brown as Cap in the 70s. So, now that this matter is behind me all that I can say is that is The Avengers is anything less than AWE-INSPIRING then the movies leading up to it were pointless. Please, PLEASE don’t let that be the case. Captain America: The First Avenger deserves better than that.