Comics, Movies

TR Review: Captain America

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?I know I’m pretty damned late getting this movie review up, so let me try and keep this brief — I loved the holy hell out of Captain America. More than Thor, and either as much or almost as much as the first Iron Man, although I’d argue that Cap is the better superhero/comic flick (the edge that IM has, of course, is RDJr.). Although I was worried about having Joe Johnston direct, I shouldn’t have been — he somehow took the ’40s adventure serial style that he used so perfectly with The Rocketeer and meshed it almost perfectly with the modern Marvel comic movie style. I was never bored, was always entertained, and honestly, about the only thing I wanted more of was scenes of Cap and the Howlin’ Commandos kicking Hydra goons’ asses.

Chris Evans did a bang-up job as Steve Rogers, and I really can’t praise him enough. First of all, Cap is very much a one-note character — he’s not headstrong like Thor, not douchey like Iron Man, or tortured like the Hulk — he’s a dude that wants and is going to do the right thing, all the time. But Evans plays him with wit and charisma and even though he doesn’t have that dark side of other Marvel characters, I found his Cap just as engaging as the other Marvel heroes.

Part of that is due to the script, of course, which made the reasonably bold — and smart — decision to make scrawny, pre-super soldier serum Steve Rogers the focus of the entire first act. We really get a sense of Steve as a weakling, and his desire to do right despite his limitations — which makes the action scenes that come later far more meaningful. It helps that the CG-Chris-Evans’-head-on-scrawny-kids’-body technology is pretty solid, of course. And of course, it helps when Evans gets to work with folks like Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, a pleasantly evil Hugo Weaving, and other assorted actors (for the record, Hayley Atewell’s Peggy Carter is fine, if not exactly revelatory).

Are there problems? Sure. Bucky’s death (or, “death”) happens kind of perfunctorily, and the USO stuff feels like it goes on a bit long, although that might have just been because I was so eager to watch Cap bust heads; I don’t know if I’d feel the same way watching it again. But nothing that distracted from my overall enjoyment of the film. The action scenes were pretty outstanding (I saw it in 3-D, which I thought was excellent, by the way), there were a few jaw-dropping moments, and Evans was great. There were some great comic cameos and Easter eggs, but nothing distracting or too obtrusive. Frankly, it was another great Marvel movie.

But let me tell you the most important thing to me, and part of the reason why I love the Captain America movie so much, although it’s something I’ve said before. You know I’m an Avengers fan, so I was a pretty big Cap fan growing up, and I knew all about his WWII adventures, and his origin, and that he was a man out of time, and all that. The latter part is something that crops up in the comics now and then, and has pretty much been Cap’s defining characteristic. I never even thought about Steve Rogers as a 98 lbs. weakling before seeing the trailers for this movie, although I knew he had been one. But watching that scrawny kid stick up for what’s right even when it meant getting his ass kicked, or watching him try so relentlessly to join the army and help fight the Nazis, and especially when he jumps on the grenade Tommy Lee Jones throws, while all the other soldiers scatter — this movie made me realize a whole other aspect of the Captain America character, and one that I think the comics have forgotten — or at least the one’s I read in the ’80s, did. What I’m saying is thanks to the Captain America movie, Cap is actually more heroic to me now. And that, if nothing else, is why it’s so damned great.