Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America 2011
Ahh, my first chance to watch one of the recent crop of Marvel Studios movies and I kick it off with Captain America: The First Avenger, having just watched the 1990 Captain America movie a few days earlier. I was actually a little surprised at how many similarities the two movies had, although I suppose it’s very possible that the similarities are the ones taken directly from the comic book origins. As I mentioned in the last post I’m not very familiar with Captain America, I’ve only seen him in now a couple movies. But the origin is pretty much the same, the only difference is in this movie they used special effects to make the jump between scrawny Steve Rogers to buff Captain America that much more effective. I’m reminded of the scene in the first Spiderman movie with Tobey Maguire, except I believe they didn’t use special effects for that scene, they just shot skinny Tobey at the beginning of the shoot before he started his training and buff Tobey at the end of the shoot where he bulked up naturally. In this movie they have Chris Evans’ face on a short 90 pound wimpy looking kid. My wife was horribly distracted by this, in her words “they put his face on a midget”. I wasn’t put off by it and I thought the special effects for this were excellent and didn’t fall into the uncanny valley.
As far as the similarities to the Cap origin I just watched, there’s the same “It’s Alive” chamber moment of transformation along with sparks going everywhere and the Nazi spy killing the German doctor who created the procedure. The Red Skull was once again the initial recipient of the super soldier serum with some pretty harsh side effects, although in this version he was already a megalomaniac who wanted the procedure done on his own terms and damn the consequences. And of course there’s also the being frozen for a few dozen years, but in this movie it’s only barely touched upon in the beginning of the movie and used at the end as basically a trailer for the Avengers movie coming out later this year. Nearly this entire movie takes place during WWII instead of during the present. I was looking forward to seeing how this Captain America adjusted to the present day, but instead that will have to wait until the Avengers. And I just recently read a news story that confirms this theory that Captain America will be the main focus of the new Avengers movie.
The one subplot in this movie that was new to me was the fact that the Captain America image was created as war propaganda to help sell war bonds. I thought this was a fun sidestory, but I also thought it could have been cut down a bit. It doesn’t make as much sense to me that they would waste someone with his abilities in the publicity racket instead of immediately putting him on the front lines. I know that his picture was in the paper, but I felt that at that period in time he could have done a few events, then they could have easily switched to a look-a-like while sending the real Cap to do some actual fighting.
The Red Skull was the villain in this movie and he’s essentially super-Hitler with no face. He was the leader of his own sub-organization called Hydra, with their own super-goofy salute which they thankfully only used once maybe twice, and his goal was to take over the entire world. The other main thing that bugged me a little about this movie was the high-tech excuse for PG-13. That is, instead of using real guns, The Red Skull found this magic cube that let him create magic guns that disintegrated people instead of putting bloody holes in them. I know why this was done: it let them get away with killing a bunch of people by disintegration because that’s sci-fi violence instead of bloody violence. I would have rather seen non-blood violence using real guns rather than blue-flashy exploding guns. It also let them not use Nazi paraphernalia and instead have high-tech faceless soldiers that the audience can then dehumanize so it’s ok if they die by the dozens.
There is one other thing that I knew about Captain America that wasn’t covered in any of the movies that I’ve watched: Captain America’s sidekick Bucky is one of the few comic book deaths that haven’t been resurrected in some way… at least for a very very long time. So when they revealed that Steve’s friend’s name was Bucky I knew that he was going to die in this movie. And that scene as an action scene was pretty good. As a death scene, it was pretty cliche. There were a couple other cliche comic book movie moments but they were thankfully few and brief. There was the slow motion jumping over an explosion shot, and the girl who wistfully looks up into the sky as the Hero flies away to great peril.
I really liked the costume design in this movie as well. Both the propaganda ready original costume and the combat ready revamped costume worked well for what their purposes were and the shield looked and was used pretty well and fairly convincingly. My side character of this movie was Mr. Stark. He didn’t have a lot of screen presence but he was used enough and his name was used just enough to really catch my interest in him and made me wish there was more of him. Not enough there for his own spin-off movie, but I would love it if they used another Marvel hero from this era that featured him as a side character again. He’s obviously similar to Iron Man‘s Tony Stark, but different enough to be an interesting character. I’m curious how popular he is to other fans of the movie, as I haven’t read hardly anything about this movie outside of Twitter comments and other similar comments from people who liked the movie. And I really liked the movie, my complaints that I’ve mentioned in this blog are all pretty minor. While I was watching the movie I was hooked through and through, it’s not flawless, but it’s an excellent movie for sure. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.