I grew up on Captain America. After The Hulk, he was my favorite. In fact, as I got to my double-digits Captain America probably took over as my top good guy. I grew up small. Smallest in my class. Smallest on the field. Smallest on the court. Wherever I went, I was the smallest. And Captain America always seemed the most realistic superhero. A super serum that just makes you bigger, stronger, faster… Like steroids on steroids.
All of that said, I wasn’t excited when they announced Captain America: The First Avenger. I was just leery about the outfit, the villain (Red Skull is so lame), the tone… everything. I was more worried about them making a crap film and screwing this up than I was excited about them making a good film. Then they announced Joe Johnson as the director and I checked out. Completely. He is a safety pick who will give you a watchable big-budget turd. Then it came out and got some good reviews and even then I wasn’t excited. I couldn’t see it anyway because I was shooting White Space, but I’m not sure I would have anyway. I love the movies. I love being transported to another world, or someone else’s world… but more than that I hate to be let down by the thing I love.
When I finally did catch up with it on DVD, I truly had a great time with it. I don’t know if I was going in with such low expectations or if it was just plain fun – but I enjoyed just about every second of this film. The best thing they did was set it in the past. It enabled them to really latch onto the hokey tone of the film, which was completely milk toast. It worked because that is Captain America; the all-american, boring superhero. All of the lighting, set design and action fit that tone perfectly. The battle scenes were like a G.I. Joe cartoon come to life. No blood, no guts… but there were some stakes, especially with Bucky dying (something I didn’t see coming because I didn’t think they would go all the way). Chris Evans was great as Steve Rogers, from his physicality to how he carried his naive, wants-desperately-to-be a hero good guy.
The one downfall of the film was Tommy Lee Jones. He was fine as the grumpy military guy who doesn’t want anything to do with Steve Rogers. However, once he does prove himself – his character never has a moment where he at least says ‘hey bud, sorry about being a dick all this time.’ And Rogers just keeps saluting him. I understand, that is who Rogers is… but come on. It’s like saying Tim Tebow can’t QB after he’s won you the super bowl.
I also never really understood Red Skull’s world domination plan, but I don’t think it mattered. This wasn’t high brow entertainment. This was a comic book come to life – in a good way. I will give Johnson credit, he is infinitely better than Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil) and Tim Story (Fantastic Four). Not saying much, but I did enjoy this film and look forward to seeing what they do with this character in future installments.