‘Captain America’ Overcomes Superhero Anxiety to Kick Nazi Butt!
Starting with Thor way back in early May, this was the summer of the superhero. Captain America: The First Avenger is the last of four major blockbusters focused around men in tights to round out the summer, and where many thought it would fail it succeeds. The story of Steve Rogers is one of the most enjoyable origin stories of a superhero ever seen on the screen and while it may not be as thought provoking or emotional as this summer’s X-men: First Class, it is certainly one hell of a good time.
Rather than adapt a story revolving around World War 2 to today’s society, director Joe Johnston chose to tell the story as it was always meant to be told. One of the many highlights of Captain America is the 1940s atmosphere. The costumes, settings, weapons, and vehicles all represent the World War 2 era. Even the technology we know does not exist has a certain old-fashioned flourish to it that wouldn’t fit in a superhero movie set in the present. The production designers did a truly wonderful job.
As for the story, it is one we have seen done before on screen many times. For better or worse, the superhero origin has become a staple in modern cinema. Somehow it feels refreshing here though, probably due to the great characters surrounding it. Chris Evans is the most likable superhero (not the best acted just the most likable) to ever set foot in a costume. Anyone who doesn’t find themselves rooting for him shortly after he is introduced has a heart of stone. The rest of the cast is great too. Hayley Atwell has wonderful chemistry with Evans, making for one of the best superhero romances we have seen yet. Hugo Weaving brings all the menace he did to Agent Smith in The Matrix to the Red Skull (as well as a pretty convincing German accent). Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci also have fun in their supporting roles.
In fact the reason Captain America works so well is because of how much fun it is. It never takes itself too seriously but always remains smart. This is the Raiders of the Lost Ark of superhero movies. The action doesn’t disappoint either, one of the highlights being a terrific motorcycle chase reminiscent of Return of the Jedi. Also, unlike many other Marvel movies, Captain America doesn’t come up short for the climax. We get a rewarding confrontation between Cap and the Red Skull as well as some great emotional moments.
Overall, Captain America is so impressive because it makes the typical superhero origin fresh again, mostly thanks to Chris Evans in a career making role. It is also the most fun you will have at the movies this summer. As with all these Marvel films, make sure to stay after the credits to get a sneak peak at what’s coming next. The Avengers can’t come soon enough. (**** out of 4)