A Nerd’s Review of the Marvel Cinematic Universe… Thus Far, Part 5

Captain America: The First Avenger

It’s time for the final installment of my review of the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU.  Today, we will be looking at Captain America: The First Avenger, starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, and Samuel L. Mutha F****n’ Jackson.  It was directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Jurassic Park 3).

For those of you who don’t know, Captain America is a character that was created in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.  He and his sidekick, Bucky, traveled all over Europe beating the crap out of Nazis, and the Red Skull.  After World War II ended, Cap’s popularity waned and his comic was cancelled.  He was brought back some years later, and his miraculous return was due to the fact that he hadn’t died, he was just frozen.  For 20 years.  And still alive.  Supposedly, the Super Soldier Serum that turned him from frail Steve Rogers into Captain America kept him from dying.

Oooookaaaay…

Now, if you can believe it, that corny story made for a pretty good movie.  Not an Oscar contender by any means, but a good, entertaining flick.  It sticks pretty closely to the source material, and when it deviates, it is still faithful to the characters.  For example, before becoming an elite soldier, Captain America is a propaganda tool, being used by the USO to sell war bonds.  The entire time, he wants nothing other than to serve his country.  In the comics, Cap was sent straight to Europe to fight the Axis Powers.  But, the longing to fight and to serve is true to form.

All throughout the first act, Captain America is a frail man from Brooklyn, Steve Rogers, who wants to enlist and fight in World War II.  Only problem is, he has a list of health problems that is a couple of miles long.  After trying to enlist five times, he catches the eye of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, in an excellent performance), who allows Steve to enlist so he can volunteer for a secret Super Soldier experiment.  Steve goes to boot camp, manages to survive, and is given the serum by Erskine and Howard Stark (Cooper), and he becomes Captain America, living symbol of American patriotism.  After Erskine is killed by a German spy, there can be no more super soldiers, so instead of risking Steve on the battlefield, he is recruited by the USO.

Over in Europe, Johann Schmidt (Weaving) is up to no good.  He is trying to turn a mysterious tesseract, supposedly from Odin’s vault, into a weapon.  Hitler wants it to win the war, while Schmidt simply wants to take over the world, so, after rescuing a squad of men from Schmidt’s organization, HYDRA, Cap is enlisted to stop Schmidt, aka Red Skull.

Although the story of Steve Rogers becoming Captain America and subsequently being frozen for over sixty years is a tough pill to swallow, it doesn’t really come across that way.  It is well done, and not very cheesy.  Chris Evans is a great Captain America.  The character is an earnest young man, and Evans pulls it off without a hitch.  As someone who hasn’t seen Evans play anything other than the cocky asshole (Not Another Teen Movie, both Fantastic Four movies), I was surprised by his performance.  He was simply excellent in a role that could easily be overacted and come across as a doofus.  Tommy Lee Jones, as Steve’s commanding officer, is good as always, and Hayley Atwell is a believable love interest for Cap.  Dominic Cooper, as Howard Stark, has Robert Downey, Jr.’s mannerisms and cadence down pat, and is a perfect fit for Tony Stark’s father.  Weaving is good as Red Skull, but he is prone to overact a bit.

Again, this movie isn’t too serious.  It’s a good popcorn flick, with lots of good action.  But if you want intellectual stimulation, then don’t watch a superhero movie.  Now, I just have to wait, like, four months for…

Avengers

The Avengers!

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