US Release Date: 07-22-2011
Directed by: Joe Johnston
- Chris Evans, as
- Captain America / Steve Rogers
- Hayley Atwell, as
- Peggy Carter
- Sebastian Stan, as
- James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes
- Tommy Lee Jones, as
- Colonel Chester Phillips
- Hugo Weaving, as
- Johann Schmidt / Red Skull
- Dominic Cooper, as
- Howard Stark
- Richard Armitage, as
- Heinz Kruger
- Stanley Tucci, as
- Dr. Abraham Erskine
- Samuel L. Jackson, as
- Nick Fury
- Toby Jones, as
- Dr. Arnim Zola
- Neal McDonough, as
- Timothy Dugan
- Derek Luke, as
- Gabe Jones
- Kenneth Choi, as
- Jim Morita
- JJ Feild, as
- James Montgomery Falsworth
- Anatole Taubman as
Chris Evans as Captain America.
Movies reveal something about superheroes that comic books do not. On the drawn page the heroes look mysterious behind their masks and ultra masculine with their exaggerated muscles stretching their costumes to the point of looking painted on. However, when a real life person dons such a costume it tends to look ridiculous. What was awesome on the page is now a bit silly on the screen.
The makers of Captain America: The First Avenger understood this and came up with a great way to introduce his patriotic costume. After getting suped up by some scientist's gizmos and super serum what not, Steve Rogers is sent on a war bond tour to raise money for the war effort. He wears his red, white and blue costume as dancing girls sing his praises. While doing a USO tour in Italy he decides to swing into action while wearing the costume, giving birth to to most patriotic looking superhero this side of Wonder Woman.
The previews made much ado about Steve going from a 90 pound weakling to a muscle stud. It is the films best special effect. It looks like Chris Evans with the skinny body as well as with the muscular one. I wonder if either one is actually him.
Evans has the look but not the commanding presence. We root for him early on as he is an underdog and you always root for the underdog. Once he becomes studly, he loses much of his personality. Evans should have played him with more insecurity. Rogers has been picked on his whole life. That would have left some emotional scars. Evans pulls off the action scenes well enough but he never lets the audience in to see the character inside. His romance with a British girl is lukewarm at best.
Tommy Lee Jones on the other hand walks away with every scene he appears. The guy has real screen presence. Playing a tough Army officer is the kind of role he is meant to play and as such, is the most convincing person in the film. His line, "I'm not gonna kiss you." drew the largest laugh from the audience.
Even though Evans comes across a bit bland, the action scenes will entertain you. My favorite one happens right after Rogers gets his muscles and chases a Nazi spy across New York and into the Hudson. It is the one moment where Rogers seems amazed by himself and thus the most real. If only the writers could have written more scenes that reveal something about Rogers other than just he really wants to serve. Hell, the movie never even says why he is so gung ho to do that.
For a superhero action film, Captain America: The First Avenger is a great viewing. The villain is over the top and the pacing is just right. Too bad that Evans is all costume and little charm. Stay tuned for a preview of the Avengers movie after the credits. Robert Downey JR demonstrates more charisma in his very brief clip than Evans does the entire film.
Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger.
I think you're a bit harsh on Evans Eric. I think his rather stoic persona has more to do with the writing than it does his ability as a performer. In fact, until he actually goes into action as Captain America in Italy, I think he does quite well conveying the character. Later on, when the blonde secretary attempts to kiss him, he again shows his insecurity. When he's fighting the Nazi's, or rather the Hydra's, all emotion seems to go out the window, but it seems intentional by the filmmaker's and not because of some shortcoming of Evans. Perhaps his reserve was in part to distance this superhero from the cockiness displayed by the Human Torch, another Marvel superhero also played by Evans.
As for his gung ho desire to serve, it is explained at the beginning of the film when he tells the recruitment officer that his father served during WWI and he wants to serve in the same infantry unit as his dad.
Tommy Lee Jones is great. His "I'm not gonna kiss you." line drew the biggest laugh from my audience as well, but nearly all of his lines and moments are great. He definitely brings some pizzazz and personality to the proceedings.
Along with Jones, the rest of the supporting cast has a few other standouts. Weaving does as good a villain as you'd expect, even if he does come off as surprisingly restrained. Dominic Cooper is good as Howard Stark, presumably the father of Tony (or is that grandfather?). I agree that Rogers and Peggy keep their relationship low key, but I still enjoyed Haley Atwell's portrayal and found her quite attractive. I also like Stanley Tucci as the scientist behind the super-solider project. The group that Captain America puts together to help him takedown Hydra is disappointingly bland though and without enough distinctive personalities.
I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the film, as I did with this year's earlier superhero film, X-Men: First Class. Something to do with the juxtaposition of science fiction and history intrigues me. Perhaps that's the route the producers of the much stalled Superman and Wonder Woman franchises should take. They could reboot them in the era they were originally created; Superman in the 1930s and Wonder Woman in the 1940s.
Like most of the rest of the audience, I waited around until after the credits to see The Avenger's preview, but it's so short and the credits so long, that I almost wish I hadn't bothered. I'm sure I could have found it online somewhere. It's gotten to the point now that I don't know why they bother to make people wait to see these little post-credit scenes. They're not a secret anymore. Just show them directly after the final scene.
This has definitely been the summer of the superhero film. I'd put this one just below X-Men: First Class, but above Green Lantern and well above Thor.
Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Yeah Eric you are too hard on Evans. He is fine in the role although I agree he is best in the pre-muscular scenes. I also agree that Jones steals the movie. Even at 64 he is believable as a still-in-the-field, tough-as-nails Colonel. It certainly helps that men are aging slower today than 70 years ago. Jones could easily pass for a man of 50 during WWII.
The movie does a good job of capturing small town America in the early 1940s. There are plenty of interesting details included in the background. It will be fascinating to see how Captain America reacts to the modern world in the next movie. He is a great All-American superhero.
I liked that they included Tony Stark’s father Howard (not his grandfather Scott). Plans were made to have cameos featuring other Marvel characters of the age such as Magneto (who was a Nazi prisoner of war) and Wolverine (who was a soldier in the field). Namor the Sub-Mariner was also supposed to be in one scene. Apparently there was a problem getting legal clearance for these characters so their scenes were scrapped.
Sharp eyed viewers will spot Stan Lee as an old man heckler in the crowd at one of the war bond tours.
One bit of revisionist history portrayed in this movie bothered me. The United States military was racially segregated until President Truman, by Executive Order, integrated it in 1948, several years after WWII. Derek Luke’s character, along with several other African-American soldiers, are all shown to be serving alongside the white soldiers. While this may be how we want to think of our country it isn’t historically accurate.
But there I go nitpicking while trying to find something original to say about this movie, which for the most part is wonderfully entertaining. 2011 has been the summer of the superhero at the movies and, like Scott, I rank this one just behind X-Men: First Class.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures Entertainment (2011)