Occupation: Super Soldier. Special Skills: Throws Shield Well.
Captain America: The First Avenger, the latest Marvel film to hit theaters, came out of the gate strong with positive reviews from both critics and fans, and a box office return that just inched beyond fellow Marvel hero, Thor. The last piece of groundwork laid for The Avengers next May, the film is also the final superhero adventure of the summer.
Following the exploits of Steve Rogers, the 98-pound weakling turned one-of-a-kind super soldier, the WWII-era adventure boasts brilliant perfomances from its cast, spectacular visuals and action sequences, and plenty of tip-of-the-hat moments to fans. Chris Evans, who previously made his mark on the Marvel universe as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in the two Fantastic Four movies, IS Captain America, throwing the shield, refusing to back down, and punching Hitler just as you would expect on the comic book page. Surrounding him is a magnificent team of actors, which includes Hugo Weaving as the rogue Nazi scientist, the Red Skull, Tommy Lee Jones as crusty Colonel Chester Phillips (who gets the lion’s share of the one-liners), Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, a woman who could’ve single-handedly fought off the Nazi invasion of Britain and still look good doing it, and Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine, the man who sees the true hero inside Steve Rogers.
Many of us had faith that director Joe Johnston, who brought comic hero, The Rocketeer to the big screen in 1994, would give another WWII-era hero the film treatment he deserves. Thankfully, our faith was rewarded. Moments of humor, tension, and drama are all balanced beautifully while still maintaining the fantastic feel of a comic book adventure in an alternate history. Punctuating all of this is the score by composer Alan Silvestri, which blasts you with heroic horns and military drums, giving the film the sound it definitely required.
Continuing the theme of interconnectivity in the Marvel film universe, as well as acknowledgment of the source material, Cap features several overt nods to Thor’s mythology, Bruce Banner’s future research, and most notably, the Stark legacy. (Dominic Cooper gives a Howard Hughes-like flair to the young Howard Stark, previously played by John Slattery in Iron Man 2.) Coming right off the pages of Marvel’s other notable WWII title are the Howling Commandos, the team originally led by Sgt. Nick Fury (later changed to Jack Fury) which includes “Dum Dum” Dugan (Neal McDonough), Gabe Jones (Derek Luke), and “Pinky” Pinkteron (JJ Field). Dugan’s iconic bowler hat and mustache, and Pinkerton’s red beret are the perfect touches to maintain the comic routes of these characters. Even Hydra scientist, Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) gets a brief moment that references his comic book counterpart when his face appears smushed on a tiny television screen. But this all pales in comparison to the biggest post-credits sequence yet, a teaser trailer showcasing the majority of the Avengers team, several of whom are sporting new threads.
Captain America: The First Avenger, in short, is a hell of a good time and another example of Marvel Studios knocking one out of the park. Let’s hope that they can keep their record unblemished on May 4th when The Avengers hits theaters.