5 Great Things About ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

Posted: July 26, 2011 in Action Movies, Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

I could just title this post “Captain America Is Great And Everyone Should Go See It Now,” but that would be a bit lazy of me. So here are five solid reasons to go see what is maybe the best Marvel movie out there.

(Sorry, Iron Man. I still love you, too. Stop looking at me like that, Thor and X-Men 2!)

Anyway, I’m gonna try to keep this spoiler-free, so don’t panic: 

1)      Chris Evans is note-perfect. He’s basically a Gary Cooper that makes sense to a 21st century audience. Sure, he’s square-jawed and earnest, but he’s also dryly funny and awkwardly charming – particularly as the bobble-headed 90-pound weakling we get to know before all the action kicks in. (Anyone worried about how the CGI “skinny-Steve” plays on the screen needn’t worry, it’s pretty seamless.)

2)      The supporting cast is wonderful, while maintaining its “supporting” status. This never feels like “Proto-S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Howling Commandos and Bucky and Professor Erskine and Tony Stark’s Dad and Gruff Tommy Lee Jones and oh also there’s Cap.” This is always the story of Steve Rogers, Captain America, and that makes it all the more impressive that every supporting player feels like a character, rather than a prop, without ever overshadowing the star of the show. (Initially this was going to be a 10 Best list, until I realized a lot of these points were going to be along the lines of “Bucky’s bad-ass” and “Neil McDonough’s Dum Dum Dugan mustache should win an Oscar.”)

3)      The shield is an even better weapon than Thor’s hammer. I was watching the kinda-crappy direct-to-DVD Cap movie from 1990 on SyFy the other day, and every time Cap threw his (kinda-crappy) plastic shield, my heart sank a little, because they just couldn’t figure it out (sometimes it bounced, sometimes it broke stone, sometimes it got stuck in stone, sometimes it just plopped to the floor…a little disheartening). This movie gets that to do a Real Cap movie, it’s essential that the shield is more than a prop – it has to be a weapon effective enough to make sense on a WWII battlefield. And man, does it ever. From the moment it pops up, it has a sense of weight and movement, and whenever it’s used – which is frequently – it never breaks the viewer’s sense of reality (“Wait, how does it always bounce back like that?” NEVER enters the audience’s head).

4)      The Red Skull is a perfect villain. Sorry, Villain, capital-V. He is evil because that’s the thing he wants to be most of all. His HYDRA operation breaks off from the Nazis because the Skull wants to destroy things on a LARGER SCALE THAN HITLER CAN CONCEIVE OF. And if you’re not going to do an Inglorious Basterds kind of movie where you rewrite history so Cap can punch out Hitler (though they do manage to work that in, too), then it’s good to give the guy an adversary that not only SERIOUSLY NEEDS PUNCHING, but is somehow even more insane than Hitler. This isn’t something you can get away with in a lot of modern movies, but the WWII setting helps sell the idea that this really was a battle between Good and Evil. And maaaan, is the Red Skull EVIL.

5)      It has the best final line since “I AM Iron Man.” I won’t say anything more, except it’s lovely and funny and bittersweet and Chris Evans nails it.

6)      OH! Secret Great Thing Extra! Again, I will spoil nothing, except to say that a TV actress we here at Threat Quality Press have long been hoping would pop up in a superhero flick does get a very intriguing cameo. (And no, it’s not Cobie Smulders, who I’m nevertheless ridiculously excited will play S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill next year. Totally different actress.)

And for pete’s sake, you guys know by now you have to stay until after the credits, right? I saw a couple of people walk out and it baffled me. Even sticking around for “Captain America Will Return in The Avengers,” would be a good enough reason, but this stinger just whets the whistle for next summer.

OK, your turn – have you seen it? What was your favorite part? Try to couch it in non-spoilery terms.

  1. CGI Skinny-Steve looks remarkably like Sam Rockwell.

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    I don’t see it myself, but I do want to include Sam Rockwell in pretty much every Marvel movie.

    He is, for instance, my first and only choice to play Dr. Strange.

    And I would REQUIRE him to do his little white-boy-Michael-Jackson-dance that he does in practically every movie he’s in. Wearing the Cloak of Levitation and everything.

    (I have an oddly specific idea of what would make for a cool Dr. Strange movie, yes.)

  3. Depends on the angle, I guess. I notice it here.

  4. braak says:

    He does look a little like Sam Rockwell, there.

    I think the interesting thing is, if you’ve ever read Band of Brothers, which is the book about the 101st Airborne, it comes with pictures in it, and one of the pictures is the office in charge of the unit when they were in training (I don’t remember his name, but he was played by David Schwimmer in the movie) and Dick Winters, the guy who was the officer in charge when they finally went into the field.

    And those two pictures are this amazing contrast, with the first guy all skinny and pinch-faced and his helmet doesn’t fit, and Dick Winters just tough-looking but smiling and casually standing in the middle of a war zone with his parachute. That’s what before-and-after Captain America reminds me of in this.

  5. All great points. I read this immediately after viewing just in case there were huge flaws I was missing, but the more I tried to thing of some, the more I found I liked this. The supporting cast was absurdly great, though I may be the only person who thought Atwell looked better in the uniform than the dress. I really loved how flawlessly the CGI and FX were integrated into the practical shots. I guess it takes a special effects director to make them seamless. It’s a good thing he also understands that story should surpass everything else, too.

    Also, I loved the bike chase scene. Shot for shot and sound effect for sound effect remarkably similar to the ROTK speed racer scene. I believe even the Wilhelm scream happened at the same time.

  6. John Jackson says:

    Wow. I meant ROTJ.

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