Directed by: Joe Johnston
Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan
Courage comes from one’s soul in a way no other physical element can aptly predict. It makes for the ultimate soldier in battle to fight the enemy and protect allies. It defines why the protagonist of this feature gets the opportunity to turn into the ultimate physical human specimen. By combining the genuine nature of patriotism and duty, Captain America: The First Avenger properly introduces us to one of the best comic book characters Marvel has to offer.
Wanting to serve in World War II and make a difference, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) constantly gets rejected because of his minuscule stature and health problems. Due to his perseverance and willingness to serve, he gets recruited to take part in the super-soldier program, which turns him into the ultimate fighting machine. With this newfound strength, Steve must take on the threat of Hydra and their use of the Tesseract.
Opening in 1940s Brooklyn, The First Avenger will stun you using the computer-generated effects to make Chris Evans look much smaller and skinnier. A startling visual, especially if one knows what the actor looks like but it displays the true nature of this character. The courage, selflessness, and bravery stand out and promises if, given the ability of a super soldier, it would not be used for selfish means. This idea explains much of this film and pushes Steve to do his best for his nation and rise above and beyond when necessary.
Taking place during World War II, this feature takes a look at multiple fronts of where soldiers had their use. Most were out in battle but Rogers, even with his undeniable new strength, initially gets utilized as a way to sell war bonds and be an icon people can believe in back home as Captain America. Similar to the Uncle Sam iconography, Captain America represents patriotism with the goofy outfit. Going in this direction works well for the story because it addresses the goofy nature of this Captain America outfit in the real world, and as it shifts to being more battle-ready, the silliness goes away. Serving as an origin story, The First Avenger sets up Steve for what he will become in the present-day and the beginning of his arc says plenty.
This film also introduces the force of Hydra, a unit tangentially related to the Nazi Party, with ambitions for world domination led by Red Skull portrayed by Hugo Weaving. Seeing this great actor have some fun with these types of characters always becomes a source of joy for me and he hammed it up as Red Skull. While the character feels like a stock villain who simply has aspirations of world domination, Weaving brings a ferocity to him and poses a real threat to Captain America.
Rounding out the cast we have the ever-grouchy Tommy Lee Jones as some war general, the best friend Bucky Barnes portrayed by Sebastian Stan, and the love interest Peggy Carter played by Hayley Atwell. The relationships Steve has to each of these characters play a major role in the decision making throughout the feature. He breaks away from his war bond performances to save his best friend and gets the opportunity to save him after constantly going the other way around. Atwell’s portrayal of Peggy Carter establishes her as someone not to mess with and a pioneer for women in the military within this universe. The moments Carter and Steve share within this feature develops a blossoming love, which gets even more heartbreaking as this series of films continues. In addition to these integral side characters, The First Avenger also has some lovely appearances by the likes of Werner Herzog, Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, and Natalie Dormer. If Marvel does anything exceptionally well, it’s certainly the amount of bit parts it gives to tremendous actors and allowing them to cash in an easy check.
Pulpy and inspiring, Captain America: The First Avenger sets up the ultimate boy scout and puts him through the wringer physically. It demonstrates why Chris Evans was always the perfect person to portray this cheesy yet incredibly virtuous person. The battle sequences look fairly decent but do not really contribute to what makes this a well-made film. It stems from the ideology of this character and how it opposes his enemies, but also those on his side.