Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Countdown to Avengers: Captain America

It's time for another installment in our Countdown to Avengers series with Nerd Lunch and Cavalcade of Awesome!

Mini Review

In a world of modern superhero films, such as Kickass, The Dark Knight, and Watchmen, Captain America has become the rarity: its hero isn’t complicated or morally ambiguous, and he doesn’t have issues. He is, simply put, a good man. 

And, simply put, Captain America is a good film. It’s definitely a worthy addition to the Avengers series, combining heart, a tried-and-true adventure story, and an old-fashioned sense of fun. The film itself could be considered “the little guy”, coming last in the line of a series of successful films and boasting a director - Joe Johnston - who had just come off the messy but enjoyable The Wolfman.

The film isn’t perfect. Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America is great for the most part, but there’s something about him that rubs me the wrong way at times (maybe it’s the fact that he had already played The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four series). Other things grated on me as well, such as the dummy grenade scene (Rogers was really that desperate to be a hero?).

The film’s pro column is much larger than its con, however. The supporting cast is great, with Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, and Hugo Weaving turning in fine performances. Another great aspect of the film is Chris Evans’ transformation. The technique used to morph Evans into “skinny Steve” rarely looks bad, and makes me forget I’d hoped the actor portraying Cap would go method and lose and put back on a bunch of weight.

Avengers Connections

Captain America is a treasure trove of Avengers connections. Not only does it have a lot of tie-ins to the rest of the movies, the film also takes place years before the rest of the series, allowing us to see how some of the Avengers backstory came together. Remember, we heard about the super soldier program back in The Incredible Hulk. Captain America shows us that program first hand.

A big character in the film is Howard Stark, father to Tony Stark/Iron Man. We first meet Howard presenting a flying car at the Stark Expo, seen here in its heyday, years before Tony revives it in Iron Man 2. Howard works on the Super Soldier program along with Dr. Erskine (Tucci) and goes on to serve as the Q to Cap’s James Bond, supplying him with the final version of his trademark shield.

Another big element of the film ties into Thor. Captain America begins in T√łnsberg, Norway, the same village Odin and his forces protect from the Frost Giants in Thor. Pax from Cavalcade of Awesome points that out and more in his breakdown of Thor. Captain America's nemesis The Red Skull (Weaving) discovers Odin’s tesseract in T√łnsberg and uses it to power his doomsday weapons. At the end of the film we see The Red Skull disappear into a rift caused by the tesseract, vanishing into what looks like Thor’s stomping grounds.

Finally, we get to see more of SHIELD and Nick Fury, when Cap wakes up at the organization’s building in New York after being revived in the modern world.

How Will Cap Fit into the Avengers?

Believe it or not, The Avengers will be told through Cap’s perspective. I mentioned that Hulk was an outsider in my breakdown of The Incredible Hulkand Cap is just as much of a loner in a way.

It’ll definitely be interesting to see how Rogers interacts with Tony Stark. From the trailers it looks like they have an adversarial relationship, which contrasts with the friendly relationship Rogers and Howard Stark seemed to be developing in Captain America.

As I said, Cap is definitely a loner, but expect him to pull the team together at the beginning of The Avengers third act.

Some Thoughts from CT at Nerd Lunch

With great power comes great responsibility and all that...

In general, the Marvel Comics characters are filled with flaws and their origins are a turning point in their lives. Tony Stark and Thor are each flawed characters that must face their past mistakes and attempt to redeem themselves for those mistakes by choosing to use their powers and abilities for an even greater good. Even Incredible Hulk had this to some degree. Stan Lee set out to make comics about characters who were people first and super heroes second. And in recent years, this has translated to Marvel having a wealth of material to base movies on. And every one of them, executed well or not, showed great promise because of its source.

But there is one Marvel character who is different because he pre-dates all that. He comes from an older era, the same era that the original DC characters came from. That character is Captain America. Cap is the most DC-ish character Marvel has. So I wondered how well his movie could be executed without the typical Marvel guilt story at the center of it. Surprisingly, the movie turned out great and should be the model for what DC should look at (DC needs to stop trying to be Marvel and be proud of who they are. Green Lantern is not Iron Man. Make a Green Lantern movie. Stop trying to make DC's Iron Man movie. But I digress...).

Cap is one of my favorite Marvel characters and I felt some trepidation about a movie. In the end, it's one of my favorites of the five pre-Avengers movies and I'm looking forward to seeing how Cap does in The Avengers.

Previous Countdown to Avengers Posts


  1. "Other things grated on me as well, such as the dummy grenade scene (Rogers was really that desperate to be a hero?). "

    I didn't see that scene as Rogers being desperate to be a hero. I saw it as that's just how Rogers was. He was willing to jump on a grenade to save everyone else. Period.

    Good review, Robert. I mostly agree with you. The Avengers can't come soon enough.


    1. Good point, Pax. I think I just have a problem with the execution of the scene. It feels awkward to me. It seems like the scene went on for too long. I feel like everyone had time to get away from the grenade but Rogers is still just laying on top of it. He has time to warn people to get away for Denny's sake!

      But you're right about his intentions.

      I can't wait to see The Avengers. It's been kind of a bummer with all the clips they've been releasing and the movie is still weeks away.

  2. yeah from a technical standpoint, this movie is the Bees Knees! I completely appreciate all the pains they went through to make evans look all skinny and wimpy. I'd even go so far to say the film is pretty damn amazing in that aspect, but far from perfect storywise. Kind of hard to do a goodie-goodie guy like Cap justice on film when other films like Dark Knight have made being all dark and moody the norm.

    1. Markus - I thought I remember reading at some point that the technology they used in Cap was the same form Benjamin Button. Good stuff.

      I agree on the Dark Knight angle. I read an article recently - can't remember where now, either or I think - that showed that The Avengers was tracking much better than TDKR for this summer. So maybe heroes like Cap are making a comeback.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I absolutely loved this film, Cap was one of my favourite heroes and I felt they translated him to the screen extremely well. Now bring on The Avengers!

    1. Rodders - I agree - I think they got the tone right. Can't wait until next week!