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I went into this with low expectations. Having seen and hated the Avengers and Captain America in that film, I'm not quite sure what motivated me to watch this one. But I'm honestly glad I did. Where I expected a jingoistic AMERICA FUCK YEAH movie with a self-righteous, arrogant lead, I ended up with a really nice character piece about a man whose heroism is defined, first and foremost, by his goodness. Maybe it's just because I've gotten older, but I've started to turn away from the cynical anti-hero types. The angsting/brooding leads I preferred as a teenager just don't appeal to me as much anymore compared to genuinely kind and good people who just want to do the right thing. In that regard, I really appreciated Steve Rogers and was honestly blown away by Chris Evans' portrayal. Considering that this is a comic book movie, he leant Rogers a depth that made Captain America — a hero that might otherwise be incredibly boring and Stu-ish — the Marvel character I've found most compelling. The supporting cast is also great with all the characters really helping to make the ensemble worth watching. And while Hugo Weaving isn't playing a particularly deep villain, he's just so much FUN to watch.
Were there things I didn't like? Yeah. I admired Steve's dislike of bullies, but I felt the message didn't resonate well due to the United States having by far the most powerful military in the modern world. As a viewer, you really do have to make sure to keep a focus on the Nazis and not let that little factoid slip into your mind. Steve himself was bullied, but it's difficult to ever really picture the USA in the role of the victim. Part of me also just couldn't get over the cognitive dissonance of having Captain America be this perfect Aryan specimen going up against the Nazis. I mean, Hitler would cream himself at the sight of the guy, let's be honest. The plot itself is nothing to write home about but, again, what makes this film enjoyable are the characters. The moments of self-awareness, such as when Steve is booed by soldiers who yell for the girls to come back, are a nice touch as well. Little things — such as Steve being an artist — also developed him as a three dimensional character and helped to prevent him from feeling like a generic power fantasy (the way Iron Man sometimes can).
If I may ask, why didn't you like Captain America in the Avengers (and, more generally, the movie itself?)?
Cap being "the perfect Aryan specimen" is meant to be ironic, atleast in comics and is part of Red Skull being his Shadow Archetype. Haven't seen the movie yet, but it might kind of screw it up by not having Red Skull show his more politically incorrect opinions.
That's a fair point. I feel like they didn't really DO anything with it though. And I feel like it kind of falls apart in a way because Steve has to become a perfect Aryan specimen before he's really able to contribute to the war effort. But it's true enough that it's quite ironic to see Hitler's ideal turned against him.
I think part of it might be due to not really having great context for Steve. They don't do a great job of explaining his past experiences. You see bits and pieces but it's brief and I think including some of the deleted scenes would have definitely helped with that. They also might have wanted to include a brief flashback of Steve when he was skinny because that would help give us an idea of where he's coming from. At times in the film, he seemed way too confrontational and eager to pick a fight with Stark.
@Red Hudsonicus: bear in mind that during WWII, the US didn\'t have the most powerful military in the world. The British Empire had the largest navy on the planet, the Royal Navy (remaining the largest until overtaken by the US in 1944-45), with the Home Fleet alone proving more than capable of holding off the Nazi Kriegsmarine. The Imperial Japanese Navy, meanwhile, was a technological match for the US, and far better organised until mid 1942. Meanwhile, the Red Army was largest (though most primitive) land army of the Allied Powers. Indeed, even the British Army was larger than the US Army until 1942, though that was because the US hadn\'t really mobilised - once it did, quickly outnumbered the British Army.
The US\' supreme and unquestioned advantage was its vast industrial capacity, in both resources and infrastructure, that was far beyond the reach of all but the most speculative Axis ideas (the Amerikabomber, which was the basis for HYDRA\'s Valkyrie, though it never got anywhere beyond designs). They could easily outlast the Japanese military through sheer resource depth, especially after rapidly adapting tactics and advancing technology, while also supplying Britain through the Atlantic Convoys and supporting the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy through the Destroyers for Bases Agreement (use of Caribbean bases in exchange for 50 destroyers), and the Lend-Lease Program (though that went both ways - a lot of US planes flew with the same Rolls-Royce Merlin engines that powered the Spitfire). The vast manpower reserve didn\'t hurt, either.
Of course, it\'s easy to forget that, because the US emerged as the pre-eminent power, rivalled only by the Soviet Union (the British Empire having been exhausted and now in terminal decline), and it\'s been that way ever since. Point being, though, like pro-War sentiment, the US\' military capacity at the start of its involvement in WWII is very easy to overestimate after the fact.
History lecture aside (in essence, the US wasn\'t yet the biggest kid on the block, though it was one of the bigger ones, and only growing - and prone to giving its neighbours a kicking when convenient), I\'d also point out that Steve was an ironic choice. Not just for his looks, but for the fact that short of being Slavic and/or Jewish, he was everything that the Nazis would consider an \'Untermensch\'. His list of pre-existing conditions is pretty horrifying - asthma is just the start. He\'s small, he\'s weak, and in every way \'unfit\'. What the serum did was give him the strength to prove the Nazis wrong.
But yes, it is an excellent character piece, and one that only grows better on rewatching it.
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