In the midst of World War II, a teenager Steve Rogers wants nothing more than do his patriotic duty and join the Army. The only problem is that he’s a scrawny kid with asthma. Rogers is eventually allowed in because a scientist sees something in him. Specifically, Rogers is supposed to be the subject for the first Super Soldier serum. This bulks Rogers up, makes him stronger and faster. After a showing off these new powers, the government decides to turn Rogers into Captain America, an icon for the war effort. However, Rogers isn’t satisfied just making movies and going to USO shows, he wants to be fighting alongside America’s finest.
One of the biggest flaws of the movie is that the entire film feels like a cheap plug for The Avengers. Think about the title for a second. Why “The First Avenger”? Why not just “Captain America”? Without giving anything away, the ending to this movie is one of the worst in any superhero movie and it pretty much solidifies this film as a two-hour trailer for The Avengers.
Also, this movie’s not going to win a lot of points for originality. The film suffers from a litany of cliches. Tommy Lee Jones plays a cookie-cutter grizzled army character, the transformation scene is blazingly standard and the love story between Cap and a lady military adviser – Peggy Carter – is pretty boring. The filmmakers try to add a little drama by hinting that Peggy is smitten with Howard Stark (a stand-in for Howard Hughes). The problem is that they spend so little time together that there’s really no suspense that they’re an item. Even worse is a brief scene where a secretary comes onto Rogers as he’s gaining celebrity. It’s bad enough that the contrived romantic misunderstanding rears its ugly head, but it’s a short scene that adds nothing, nada, zilch, bupkis to the story.
Also, the Red Skull is a pretty lame villain. While he does show moments of villainy, such as introducing a gun that basically evaporates people, he and his cohorts spend most of the movie sitting around looking evil. Yeah, Lex Luthor did the same thing in Richard Donner’s Superman, but the Red Skull doesn’t quite have Gene Hackman’s charm. All in all, this film has very few surprises.
So with these faults, does this film hold up? Surprisingly, it does. First and foremost, this is an action movie and there are plenty of action scenes that will excite audiences. These sequences run the gamut from the streets of New York to the middle of World War II.
Captain America is a very likable hero. In a day and age where every hero is some kind of anti-hero with a billion skeletons in their closet, it is refreshing to see a genuinely kind hero with a good heart. It’s faithful to the character and it befits the time of the movie when most heroes were very white-bread. Chris Evans not only has the right look, but he gives a very all-American performance. To be honest, most of the other performances weren’t much. Very few of them of them stood out, but at least none of them were bad.
Also, this movie does a great job of placing itself in its time period. The locations, the music, and even the actors look out of the 1940s. One particularly memorable scene is when Captain America first dons his outfit and tours. It befits the time period, shows how he’s becoming an icon, offers a little levity and works as a stark contrast to the following war scene.
Overall, Captain America will be a definite crowd pleaser. Anybody who goes into this movie looking for a good time and excitement will definitely find both.