Sunday, September 25, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

During April of 2010, Marvel Comics launched a crossover event called Heroic Age. This was suppose to emphasize the Marvel Heroes being... "heroes." It was a result of the grey areas the Marvel characters tread upon during the Siege and Civil War crossover events (and most of the 90's Marvel books in my opinion). Comic book fans criticized the Heroic Age event's timing because it coincided with DC Comics' Brightest Day crossover event. I was in the same boat as these fans... until... I watched Captain America: The First Avenger.

Captain America: The First Avenger carries the spirit of the Heroic Age not just for Marvel Comics but with anything to do with the moniker "hero" (Green Lantern film makers should take note). Before Captain America was the star-spangled WWII hero, he was a puny kid from Brooklyn, NY named Steve Rogers. Small in stature but not in heart. He stood firmly for his beliefs. A CGi shrunken downed Chris Evans (isn't as bad as it sounds) plays the runty idealistic Steve Rogers who kept on being rejected from enlisting in the US Armed Forces. He was determined to join the fight against the Axis Power and kept on trying. He even traveled miles to different cities hoping a recruitment office would accept his application. This tenacity caught the attention of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who was waiting for the right candidate to test his Super Soldier Serum on. With the help of Dr. Erskine, Steve Rogers was enlisted into Colonel Chester Phillips' (Tommy Lee Jones) special unit which confused the Colonel as to why a sickly runt was assigned to him. Dr. Erskine proved his point to the Colonel by throwing a grenade into the middle of the training unit. Everyone scattered for cover except for Steve Rogers, who jumped on top of the grenade to protect his fellow soldiers. The message of the movie was clear, Steve Rogers is Captain America even before the Super Soldier Serum. The serum was just a catalyst to help his physique catch up to his indomitable spirit. Heroes doing Heroic things (Green Lantern take note)! Marvel Studios successfully transferred the Heroic Age on screen.

Under Joe Johnston's direction (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo) and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely screenplay (both wrote three of the Narnia movies) Captain America: The First Avenger felt like an episode of Band of Brothers at times but, with some exaggerated comic book elements. During the montage of Captain America's tour in Europe, I thought he was going to run into Captain Winters and Easy Company (I watched too much Band of Brothers). Speaking of HBO's World War II series, Captain America's tour around the U.S. selling war bonds reminded me of John Basilone in The Pacific. The creative team was definitely conscious about the tone of war movies set in that era. They also dabbed a bit of steampunk to Captain America: The First Avenger for a surrealistic feel. Most of the impossible tech was reserved for the villain of the movie, the Red Skull. The diabolical Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith of The Matrix) took on the role of the insane Nazi. Hugo Weaving was able to balance his acting between over the top villainy and straight vileness with success. I hope he'll show up in The Avengers. Another thing I appreciated about Captain America: The First Avenger was that Chris Evans as Captain America kept his mask on. Whenever I walk into a super hero movie, I'd make it a game to count how many times the hero will take his mask off. The ironic thing about Captain America keeping his mask on is that, he doesn't have a secret identity so, he doesn't need a mask to hide his face. Still, the mask was kept on throughout the whole movie when he was in costume. Maybe it was taken off once... just maybe... but... with the other super hero movies, the heroes who needed to protect their identity kept on taken their masks off (or have them conveniently ripped off). Captain America: The First Avenger is definitely recommended. Marvel Studios has done a great job with their recent movies. This will be another buy for me when it comes out on blu-ray on October 25th. I hope the blu-ray has the full The Avengers trailer at the end like it did at the theater. Go Heroic Age!


(a bit of interesting trivia: Captain America: The First Avenger made more money with its foreign release vs domestically)

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