Rating: 4 stars out of 5
So what have we got so far? A newly-formed team of mutants discovering their place in the world. Check. A Norse God-slash-extraterrestrial who found his humanity. Check. An awkward protagonist learning what it means to be a hero. Check. And now we’ve got a scrawny Brooklyn who with the help of a super serum, trying to save the world.
If you weren’t privy to what we’ve been letting on so far, we guess that you haven’t been watching a lot of movies these past few months. Summer 2011 can be written down in the history books as the Age of Comic Book Superhero Movies, and its final chapter was put down to paper with the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, the final prequel to the much awaited Avengers movie in 2012.
The classic comic book hero Captain America (or “Cap” as he’s often called), started back in 1941, even before Pearl Harbor. Billed as a patriotic superhero, the character was a reaction to the events in Europe during World War II. After a popular run in which the book sold as many as one-million copies per month and was revived the first time during the immediate post-WWII era, Captain America was eventually brought back by Stan Lee in the 1960s in an issue of the Marvel comic The Avengers.
The film concerns the transformation of one Steve Rogers (veteran superhero Chris Evans), "a 90-pound asthmatic" repeatedly declared unfit to fight in World War II, whose persistence impresses Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a German scientist working for the U.S. military alongside billionaire inventor/future Iron Man progenitor Howard Stark (Dominick Cooper).
Conceived in the months prior to Pearl Harbor, Rogers becomes Captain America and later goes on to combat the Nazis, primarily in the form of the evil twisted scientist Johann Schmidt (villain extraordinaire Hugo Weaving), also dubbed The Red Skull.
The special effects used here to turn Evans into a diminutive midget (he reminds us of Gollum from LOTR), are nothing short of spectacular. Evans played the part of Rogers pre-transformation with unstoppable likability. Kind of like why we always root for the underdog. The best part of Evan’s portrayal happens even post-transformation—of how he remains the same: Earnest, determined and impassioned after he’s buffed up and in costume. Being fanboys, our eyes welled up the moment Howard Stark threw the switch and after some tense moments, Steve Rogers becomes Captain America.
Tommy Lee Jones shows us his sometimes comedic side—quietly funny as Rogers superior officer as well as having some of the best lines in the film. As far as the female lead goes, it's refreshing to see an unfamiliar face, Hayley Atwell, play Cap’s potential love interest, Agent Peggy Carter; while the menacing Hugo Weaving getting his evil on, playing the role of the Red Skull without batting an eyelid. It’s a shame that we couldn’t get to see more of his origin story. Well, he is Captain America’ main foil in the comics.
That said, Captain America: The First Avenger is not like most superhero movies. Of course, you get action and special effects, but what sets it apart is the focus on story over spectacle. The mix of WWII style and flashy modern eye candy is no surprise coming from director Joe Johnston. The former effects guy directed the retro cult fave (or box-office bomb) The Rocketeer.
Captain America: The First Avengeralso reminds us that superheroes don’t have to have superpowers (save for the super-serum) or alien gods or red capes for us to like them. All they need is some good old-fashioned heart and a never-say-die attitude. And like any good comic book movie, stay on till the end credits; we’re pretty sure you will not be disappointed.