It was perceived by many as the biggest risk out of the recent batch Marvel Studios films, but Captain America delivered not only as another solid tie-in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe but as the company's best solo story project since Iron Man.

Captain America: The First Avenger is my favorite Marvel Studios film to date. The scale, story, action and character development present in this project is top notch and does not fail to please. This is the Captain America film that fans of the comics hero have been waiting for and a much needed breath of fresh air from a summer packed with big budget productions lacking heart. As a character, Marvel's Star Spangled Avenger is one of the toughest to transition onto screen without coming across with unnecessary campy overtones, misguided patriotism and a shortsighted storyline (given the specific WWII time frame it takes place in). These issues never came to light; on the contrary, unique, non-comic book canon story elements that were added specifically to the film helped assuage these tentative problems.

Center stage is Chris Evans (Fantastic Four, Push) as Steve Rogers -- a sickly, underdeveloped asthmatic who unsuccessfully tries over and over again to enlist in the US Army during the WWII post Pearl Harbor surge. His closest friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who is now a Sergeant in one of the Army's specialized forward operating combat units, is prepping to deploy to Europe and all Steve wants is to do his part in the war effort. Steve is soon given his chance by a mysterious German-born doctor (Stanley Tucci) who is working alongside a clandestine government program led by a no-nonsense Army Colonel (Tommy Lee Jones), a charismatic and brilliant inventor (Dominic Cooper) and a British Army officer (Haley Atwell) to create a super solider. Though the project garners surprising results, tragedy befalls which causes Steve to be the only success story to come of the risky mission. Throughout the course of the film audiences are introduced to a plethora of memorable characters, one of which is the ruthless and narcissistic Nazi villain the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

The Captain America cast is nothing short of brilliant. From Evans to Weaving and everyone in between, the entire kaleidoscope of characters are played very well and true to form. Evans, who up until the film's release was a questionable choice to embody one of Marvel Comics' most iconic heroes, does not disappoint and brings much needed heart to his role. Atwell's Peggy Carter is the first strong-willed, albeit non-superpowered, Marvel heroine we've been given and she plays the part with a cool yet commanding presence. Weaving is one of this generation's not eclectic actors and takes a villainous character that could easily have come across as silly and comical (i.e. the low-budget 1990's Cap film) and makes him believable.

Effects and action-wise, the film offers quality computer generated imagery (most notably for Steve Rogers' pre-transformation scenes) and fast-paced action beats that seem very realistic when compared to other films of the same ilk. Alan Silverstri delivered a score that, among other beautiful aspects, finally offers a true "superhero theme" for a Marvel character that works perfectly with the project. Fans of the comics will surely delight in the bevy of Easter Eggs that are well known to be hinted at in Marvel movies, including a clear nod to the original Human Torch, HYDRA scientist Armin Zola's robotic form and a Bucky Barnes/Winter Solider tease. While the penultimate scene showing Cap's unavoidable "fall" could have been written with a lot more care, it's final two scenes are so memorable that I easily forgive the prior digression.

Captain America: The First Avenger has a few minor missteps that were inevitable for a film of this scope, but they do not take away from the film's overall enjoyment and successful translation. Director Joe Johnston has given us a film that is full of heart, charisma and hope; I would say it is a combination of Indiana Jones and the Rocketeer with a heavy dose of costumed, heroic grit. Captain America is a fun, action-packed superhero movie that dabbles in dramatic and emotional arcs while maintaining it's lighthearted nature throughout. This is so far my favorite film the 2011 summer movie season.

4 Stars

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, Captain America: The First Avenger stars Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Haley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones and Neal McDonough. The film is directed by Joe Johnston and released theatrically on July 22nd, 2011.



wheels1.5's picture

Great Review (I may be biased because I loved the movie). I'm surprised nobody's mentioned that because this takes place before the other three (obviously), the nods to them are directly part of the story itself. If you're having a Marvel movie marathon after this and Thor come to dvd, it seems appropriate to watch this one then IronMan, The Incredible Hulk, IronMan 2, and Thor, in that order. In retrospect, the references don't seem so awkward and clunky. They seem to flow in that order to me Does that make sense?


Hellboy's picture

HOLY MOLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


gtrman's picture

Great review, I couldn't agree more. I absolutely loved this movie! As I've said before, right up there with IM, and I'll be seeing it again.


Phinehas's picture

Great review about a great movie! (see!? Not always contrarian...) Johnston, whom I actually believed to be the best director for the role long before he was chosen, proved himself (and me) with this film. Pietro, you're dead on when comparing it to the two films on Johnston's resume. It's as though such a film is made for Johnston. Or, vice-versa.