It seems like this movie has been in gestation forever as I remember when word first came out Ed Brubaker's Captain America was one of my favorite ongoing possibly ever and now with the movie finally released I'm not even sure what I liked about that book, having sold all of it not too long ago. Thankfully I still have some lingering love for this character and the promise of Hugo Weaving playing a Werner Herzog-influenced Red Skull proved at least partially intriguing.
Ultimately "Captain America: The First Avenger" is an okay movie that once again requires that I not hold it up to the standards of actual quality film making, but then again I seriously doubt anyone goes into these movies thinking otherwise, and god help them if they do. It's not the kind of movie I would normally go out of my way to review but then again I run a comics blog so I kind of have to. But in the interest of keeping this brief I'll present my thoughts as a series of bullet points, a format
blatantly stolen from heavily inspired by Mike Sterling of Progressive Ruin. Spoilers ahead!!
*Man, those were some rough trailers, I had to sit through "Contagion", Steven Soderberg's zombie movie without any zombies; "Amazing Spider-Man" which seemed promising until that Mirror's Edge rip-off near the end, and some movie where that werewolf from "Twilight" goes all Bourne Identity. That last trailer featured no less than 17 houses exploding.
*I think this movie did as good a job as they could in explaining to non-comic nerds how Captain America is both a WWII hero and member of The Avengers. Also I really appreciate them avoiding having someone go "My GOD!" upon seeing the frozen Captain America
*Hugo Weaving is a fantastic Red Skull, but unfortunately the script does not give him much to do. He's really evil and there's a couple of good fight scenes but ultimately he doesn't quite stick with you the way Heath Ledger's The Joker or Tom Hiddelston's Loki did.
*I was pretty resistant to Chris Evans as Captain America, right up to the release of the film but as soon as I saw him moving around in costume I knew he was the right choice. Like Weaving I don't feel like he was given the most engaging story, but at least his character had more depth.
*Character-wise the handling of Bucky was a pleasant surprise. Instead of being a Jimmy Olsen he was more a big brother for the pre-Super Soldier Steve Rogers. Not really sure how I felt about them eventually killing him off. I guess you could argue that his death allowed Steve Rogers to finally become his own man and at the same time act as a catalyst for Rogers to finally push to take down Red Skull once and for all, but I don't think the movie did the best job at conveying that. Hopefully this won't result in a Winter Soldier appearance, that would be goofy.
*I hope this movie results in typecasting for Tommy Lee Jones, he plays a curmudgeon quite well.
*The most toyetic set piece is Red Skull's totally sexy Murder Wagon.
*I did find this movie had a bit of a conflicted view on the war. On one hand the bright palette and complete lack of acknowledgment of the atrocities of WWII gave its portrayal of war as being about as serious as some kid bumping action figures together in his backyard. That's fine, there's nothing wrong with trying to tone down the reality of war in order to make for a more family friendly film that has tie-in action figures and a main character that appears on cartoons. But then again there are scenes of soldiers being vaporized, graphically shredded in plane propellers, shot in the head, and so on. I guess it's too cliche at this point to acknowledge what that says about America's relationship with violence.
*I doubt I can think of a superhero movie with more costume changes for the main character. Captain America goes from dopey, literal interpretation of his comic book costume, a vaguely Ultimate 1940s inspired costume to the movie costume.
*I guess the movie was going for a sense of symmetry but it was kind of goofy having two scenes involving characters performing a dangerous experiment while their sidekick slowly counts off progressively rising multiples of 10 on a dial.
*I'm not going to lie, I loved each and every one of the nerdy easter eggs, like the hint at Arnim Zola's eventual fate or showing Steve Rogers drawing in a sketch book. I actually grabbed my girlfriend's arm at that last part, ecstatically whispering "Oh man! I can't believe someone remembered he's an artist!" I had no idea I could still get so excited about such things.
*For me the hands down funniest part was seeing typical comic relief character, Dum Dum Dugan, viciously mowing down people with a pump-action shotgun. Yeah, I suppose I have a different sense of humor than some.
*The real star of the movie was that spinning green torch at the beginning of the movie. What's his story? I want to learn more!