For a long time, I’ve always thought of Captain America as the lamest of the Marvel superheroes. With his two main activities being spouting annoyingly patriotic jargon and prancing around in a helmet with little wings on it, I would have thought it would be very difficult to make a serious movie about Captain America. But Marvel is gearing up for an Avengers movie and Captain America is an Avenger, so they had to go for it. And I thought: what the hell. Why not? I liked Iron Man and Thor. Chances are this one will be good too. The story sounded promising, at least:
An undersized American with a host of medical problems gets his shot at contributing to World War II when he is tapped for a supersoldier program.
The trailer didn’t let on much more than that, but there had to be more. I was a little worried that the more would be stupid, but now that I’ve seen it, I can tell you emphatically that it is not. In fact, Captain America is nearly flawless in every way, and that’s rare, especially for a superhero movie.
Unlike Thor and Iron Man, which are set in the present day, Captain America is set in the 1942, just after the Americans entered World War II. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a short, scrawny guy whose medical records read like a list of conditions that will get you excluded from military service. He is fruitlessly banging his head on the wall of bureaucracy trying to get enlisted. Then by a freak chance, Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a scientist involved in a secret supersoldier program, overhears his reasons for wanting to enlist and taps him for the program.
How they got Chris Evans to look like this, I don’t know, but I’m really frigging impressed.
The army head of the program, Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) would rather have a muscle-headed douchebag for a test subject, but Erskine and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) an agent on loan from Britain, insist that if they’re going to give someone insane amounts of power they’d rather it be someone who’s not a mentally unbalanced bully. This, as it turns out, is a sensible attitude, because Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), the German head of a similar program known as Hydra, has already roided himself up and is creating his own army to take over the world.
With any luck, Steve won’t come out looking like an extra in the Mos Eisley cantina scene from Star Wars.
Steve does get chosen, but the program is sabotaged before the rest of the supersoldier army can be created so they end up with just one guy: Steve. In a surprising turn of events, instead of sending their new superhero out to kick ass, they put him in a silly costume and have him dance in USO shows to get people to buy war bonds. That’s where the silly costume comes from, which makes more sense than anyone in the army (or, god forbid, Steve himself) choosing it.
Dear Diary: I can crush spines with one finger, and they’ve put me in a chorus line.
I may have to rethink my career choice.
But of course this is an action movie, so he can’t prance around forever. While touring with the show overseas he finds out his best friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), along with most of his unit, has been captured by Hydra. His poncey reputation is dealt a death blow when he strolls into the enemy base in his Captain America outfit, hands the bad guys their asses, and strolls out with close to 400 prisoners.
What? Yeah I’m a hero now. Wanna make out?
From then on he and his top rescued prisoners, including Bucky, Neil McDonough as mustachioed gunslinger who looks like he walked off the set of Deadwood, JJ Feild as your stereotypical British guy who says stuff like “what what!” and token representatives from the African American, Asian, and French communities (Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi and Bruno Ricci) who don’t really do anything. Their awesome team of awesomeness spends the rest of the movie finding and destroying Hydra’s bases and all the cool stuff Schmidt has made, like the helicopter powered rockets and the tank as big as an office building.
They’re a lot more impressive after they steal some ray guns.
As great as it is to see the little guy get the glory and the hot British girlfriend, my favorite parts of the movie were the ones that tied Steve’s story in with Tony Stark’s. In the beginning of the movie, Steve and Bucky attend the Stark Expo that Tony was getting nostalgic about in Iron Man 2. Tony’s daddy Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), also fills a role similar to Q in the James Bond movies, creating Steve’s more basdass combat outfit and his bulletproof shield.
And we have here a memory fabric that can retain its shape as a wing… oops that’s not for you.
Captain America is also connected to Thor though Johann Schmidt, who is after a glowy cube like the one they keep in that box in Asgard, which is kind of like a plutonium crossed with whatever was inside the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. You may recognize this cube from the bonus scene at the end of Thor. Finding it leads to a hilarious situation in which they have vaporizing ray guns but not digital clocks
Start the countdown! *click*click*click*click*
The only thing that really dimmed my enjoyment of Captain America was the framing device they used to connect Steve’s story to the present so he could be in The Avengers. It makes Captain America rather sadder than the other Avenger films. I would have liked it much better if Steve got to stay in his own time and keep going with his own story.
What can I say? I’m a girl. I need me some love plot payoff.
But other than that tiny blip, I thought Captain America was super awesome. It’s not as funny or sweet as Iron Man or Thor but it’s probably the most balanced of the three. Chris Evans was perfect for the role, with his all-American looks and actual ability to act. I’m getting excited for The Avengers, which will not only feature Chris Evans but also Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth AND Jeremy Renner (They’re going to have to issue a warning to straight women with heart conditions for this movie!) but it will also be directed by my hero Joss Whedon. If you’re also getting excited, go see Captain America already and make sure to stick around after the credits so you can see the trailer.