Everyone please rise and remove your caps for the national anthem…

 

Ok now that we’ve all done that I can tell you what I think of Captain America: The First Avenger. Actually I haven’t seen it yet; I’m about to and then I’ll finish this article, because (like almost all comic book movies) it’s all about pre-show jitters and those are kind of hard to capture post-show.

 

Every comic book film coming out now has huge expectations of it because of people like us. We absolutely pump these things full of potential before we go see it, some more legitimately then others. We don’t just do it for fun though, we love these things (well, we loved the original) and we put an insane amount of hype around them because they hold a very real merit to us. I am no exception to this concept; I hold these movies to a very high bar which force them to either glide over with grace and dignity or fall flat on their faces. This one holds a very special place in my heart though so I’m sorry if put any personal bias into it, but isn’t that what makes it special (ahh, how sweet). I have always loved Cap; he just fills me with pride and a sense of good. “But Tim, you talked about how you don’t like a black and white sense of good and evil in your X-Men review, why is this so different?” Well thank you unrealistically knowledgeable fan of my articles for bringing this up; that is normally true of me but (like everyone else) I grow weary of my overtly analytical view and venture into the shallow end for a mixture of fun and not drowning in cynicism.

 


This movie is not just any movie though; it is a very important stride forward into what could be the most important comic book film of my lifetime (or just a feature length preview for the most important comic book film of my lifetime). The upcoming Avengers movie may just be that final push into a true Marvel Universe represented in movies instead of just hearing Spiderman’s origin every six years or so. That being said there are many reasons for me to look forward to this movie. So here I go, the rest of this article is entirely post-movie as the first part is prior to seeing it. Be prepared for excitement, action, emotion, and maybe even a little propaganda; all coming up next.


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Welcome back, I just got home from the theater and I have to say I’m incredibly impressed. I truly think this movie could change comic book movies for years to come; it is certainly the first of its kind. This is actually what I wanted, not pretty close but what I wanted. It’s almost like they are actually basing these things off the comics now instead of just using it as a reference point (what a concept). “But hasn’t the latest Batman series done that?” Mostly, even so this is a totally different kind of movie, this is the kind of movie that little kids scream “Awesome!” at not a philosophically heavy and dark thriller.




The one thing that is most important (you might even call it a “priority”) in all comic book films is staying true to source material, that’s not to say acting and general filming quality (which are executed pretty well by the way) don’t matter, but the whole reason they are able to make this movie is due to the huge fan base of the source material. You wouldn’t change a retelling of WWII just because you like your ending better, would you (yeah I’m looking at you Tarantino)? So why change the story we all know and love so well (no, “to make more money” is not a legitimate answer), even if it is fictional? The First Avenger gives me a great retelling of the original story in a different format, and isn’t that the whole point of this film.

 

The two most important things you have in all of movies though (comic or otherwise) is writing and acting, both of which this movie has. The writing is actually based of the source material so I don’t really have to discuss that very much but I’ll just say it’s great. It really is a fun story with good 40’s nostalgia that is just all around well written. The little things are there to make you remember it’s the 40’s without anyone having screaming it at you; the outfits, the cars, and just the way everyone holds themselves just feels very right for the era. The acting is something that is not really focused on in this film, but I guess the point of an actor is to make you forget he’s acting. The characters are able to make you like them and perform their roles correctly. The overall feel of most characters is very likable and re-late-able, both of which are (at least in my opinion) the quintessential points of this film. If I don’t feel bad when Steve Rogers gets rejected from the army for the fifth time this movie didn’t do its job; but it does very well, not only do I like them I really feel an emotional connection and I’m able to see myself in some of their qualities and that helps me really get wrapped up in the whole thing.


 

I do have a few gripes with this film but the more I think about them the more they seem necessary. I don’t particularly like the way they handled Bucky and the Red Skull in this film, but there was really no other way to continue the series into the Avengers without it. There are ways to render this though with the ever present suspended animation thing in the Captain America series. I didn’t really like the hugely technologically superior Germans either, I’m ok with all the futuristic guns but they even make their forms of transportation very futuristic. These are horrible gripes though; they hold so little merit within the big picture. The only reason I’m even talking about these is because of how little I have bad to say about this film.

 

For the most part this story is perfect, it starts out with an obviously modern team finding a shield frozen in the ice before going back to the 1940’s to tell the tale, Red Skull is after the Cosmic Cube, and Rodgers gets both the super serum and “Vita-Rays”. This is actually the Captain America I know and love, not just some “good enough” likeness but the real thing. That alone should be enough to make this movie great but it could hold its own as an action movie too. If you’re not a big Captain America fan you have to realize before seeing it that it was a war comic in the 40’s and 50’s, it shouldn’t be anything other then an action movie. If this were Batman I would be angry but it’s not, this is a war/superhero movie involving a war/superhero, it’s not going to deliver any sort of Oscar winning performance.


 

The one thing I was really expecting to cringe at was all the overtly pro-American propaganda, I’m not anti-American by any means but I was really expecting some bad USA chants, luckily I found none. They didn’t really have Cap and Bucky fight Nazis as much as they fought Red Skull and his followers, this avoided all the cliché parts I was expecting. Speaking of clichés this movie is full of them; however it’s an action movie, what’s an action flick without clichés? Think about it and tell how boring that would be, the only way it would be remotely ok is if you added a voice over and made it a documentary. Yeah there is unrequited love, yeah you can physically feel the exact moment the love interest hits, yeah there are cool explosions in slow motion, yeah there is a jock who picks on Steve in the army, yeah there’s… ok I think you get it. But if anything this just adds to the fun, again this isn’t Batman, this is Captain America.

 

What is this movie about? I think it’s the ultimate underdog story told in a way we can all relate to. The movie can be summed up with one scene, Red Skull asks Rogers what makes him special and Rogers responds with “Nothing, I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.”. That scene is far more significant then I think was originally thought to be, he didn’t say it in a sort of cocky way but in a very literal sense. What makes Rogers special is nothing; he saw himself as an expendable role in the big picture that he literally lays down his life for, his humility makes him the perfect candidate for someone to give such a great gift to. They could have made any of the tuff-guy troops a super soldier, but only Steve Rogers could be Captain America.

 

In conclusion, this movie does exactly what you want it to; you just have to make sure that’s what you want. If you want a Captain America movie that was just like the Captain America comics then you’re in luck, if you’re looking for anything other then that you need to check your priorities and see something else. This is what we’ve been waiting for we just need to realize that, if you think Hollywood hates us now wait until we turn down what we have repeatedly screamed over for so long now. So please see this movie and voice your opinion on it because that’s exactly what Cap would want.


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