I had to let it sink in to be sure. I should start by saying that I’m a huge comic book fan. I don’t read Captain America comics monthly, but I’ve been on and off The Avengers and various other Marvel books for years. So, I will be writing this review from a fan’s perspective. I won’t talk about the cinematography, blah blah blah… all that stuff was good and nobody really cares. The acting was decent- Chris Evans doesn’t have much personality in the role, but neither does Steve Rodgers so it works. Big question: Did they get it right?
As a comic book fan, these past few summers have been great. My twelve-year-old self would have literally exploded if you told him that Thor, X-Men, Green Lantern, and Captain America were all coming out in the same summer. My level of excitement for this summer stacked up like this: Green Lantern– most excited (because GL has been my favorite book since the 90s), but knew I’d be disappointed. Next was Captain America. I loved that this movie was going to be a Captain America WWII story and trusted Marvel to make it great. Third was Thor. I had no idea how they were going to make a good all around Thor movie and avoid it being silly, but it was the first of the summer and if it was going to crash and burn, I was going down with it. Last was X-Men. For some reason, I felt very little excitement for another X-Men prequel, but was hopeful. They ended up ranked like this for me: Thor, X-Men and Captain America tied for second, and then after a huge drop off, Green Lantern.
I liked a lot about Captain America. They stuck pretty close to the comic book. For that I say THANK YOU! Green Lantern did not and that is what ruined it in my opinion. Scrawny Chris Evans looked pretty good, and we got a little sense of Cap’s ‘never give up’ attitude with the back-alley brawl and his constantly trying to enlist. Unfortunately, all that kind-of goes out the window after he becomes Captain America, which I’ll explain in a moment. Cap’s relationship with Bucky was great, transitioning from a big brother type to sidekick. The love interest seemed a little forced, but okay, the Captain deserves love too. The Red Skull is a fun villain, who gets clearly beaten but not necessarily destroyed, which is the way it should be.
One example of what I love about Cap is actually in 2006’s Ultimate Avengers-The Movie animated film. The Avengers are fighting The Hulk and Cap gets tossed around and beaten to a pulp, but keeps getting up and running back at him just to get pounded again. Cap’s “never give up” attitude. In Captain America, they started building that character trait early on, but never gave him a chance to showcase it, as the super-hero never really seemed out-matched or in all that much trouble. It’d be like if Rocky just took down Clubber Lang without breaking a sweat. Of course we’d be happy for him, but would we learn any valuable life-lessons? Am I the only one who gets all my valuable life lessons from the Rocky movies?
They also never really showed just how powerful Cap is. The first scene of him after he transformed was cool, and a great “alright, here we go” moment. He chases down a car, then the sub, and catches the bad guy, but then we don’t really get much else. It takes a while to get to the action. I get it. It’s an origin story. They are trying to build character, which I appreciate. But in this movie, after waiting so long to see Captain America in action, we see a guy thrown out of the water, then two guys thrown out of a truck, then a big montage scene of Cap and his men going on various missions, and I kind-of hate montages.
When Cap is fighting with his team, he doesn’t really look much better than they are. It seemed like the only thing that set him apart was his uniform and the fact that he is tossing his shield around like a Frisbee, which does look cool and I’m happy they just went for it with the shield. The best show of Cap’s power doesn’t really come until after the credits when he sends the punching bag flying. I feel like that should have come earlier, have the army try to figure out what he could do so they could use him in action. Instead, the army just dressed Cap up, and sent him on tour selling bonds.
The Captain America uniform story didn’t work for me either. They explain the uniform by putting Cap in it to try to sell war bonds. Great, but why does he keep it on after he actually starts fighting? Everyone already knows who he is from being a national celebrity so he doesn’t need the mask anymore. If anything it just makes him an easier target. What they should have done is given him the mask to protect his identity (he’s not invincible, so America’s enemies could easily take him out once state-side if they know who he is), and then just add the uniform to make him the symbol of America’s might. Chris Evans also just looked dopey in the mask, like the guy in the adult Captain America Halloween costume from Target. He should have looked a little more formidable than that.
Really though, I’m probably being too critical. The movie was very enjoyable, I’m glad I saw it, and I would see it again. Sure, I didn’t leave the theater yelling, “OH MY GOSH THAT WAS AWESOME,” but it was great seeing Captain America on the big screen, and they’ve now set up next summer’s The Avengers perfectly. Well done, Marvel! I can only hope DC does just the same in the future with the Justice League. So I’m going to go ahead and say that I like this movie. Do you?