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Originally, of the four Avengers origin films, First Avenger is a solid third place:
Iron Man was the defining one, first proof that Marvel themselves could actually make a good superhero film, and arguably on par with The Dark Knight, which came out the same year. It remastered Iron Man for the 21st century, in the wake of controversies such as Blackwater, fitting the War on Terror in general, and was led by some world-class casting in Robert Downey Jr..
Thor, meanwhile, had the charisma of Tom Hiddleston as the charming and eminently sympathetic Loki who stole the show. While the film itself wasn't spectacular, the Cain and Abel dynamic elevated it. So, it had Marvel's first top quality villain, and arguably the only really good one they had until the Winter Soldier. Even then... Marvel had a villain problem, though they seem to have worked it out.
(Incredible Hulk was pretty forgettable, and tellingly, most of Bruce/Hulk's Character Development comes in the Avengers films. Yeah, solid 4th place for me.)
First Avenger, by contrast, well. On first watch, it was a fun period piece, but not much else. The acting was excellent all round (Tucci's turn as Erskine was particularly good, considering the limited screen-time), even if the likes of Sebastian Stan were given surprisingly little to work with. There's a reason that Agent Carter, with Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper returning, got off the ground and remains a cult hit.
However, it had a predetermined ending, so there wasn't much tension. The characters were almost all going to suffer Chuck Cunningham Syndrome (the Winter Soldier was a bit of trivia to filmgoers, if they knew it at all, and no one who even considered it was sure that Marvel would use it), and it was basically a pilot for Avengers, Assemble!. All it really seemed to do was introduce Captain America, nobody's favourite Avenger.
And yet. Coming back to it after watching Winter Soldier and Civil War, plus the Avengers films, it takes on a whole new dimension and can be appreciated in a whole new light. It is key to Steve's character journey - and yes, Steve, not Captain America, with the man behind the shield emphasised at all times by Chris Evans' tour de force as Steve. Of all the origins films, it is the one that is most consistently present, shall we say, in later material. Not just in terms of Peggy and Zola's appearances in Winter Soldier, or Bucky as the Winter Soldier himself (I don't think Red Skull's cameos in Infinity War and Endgame really count), but in how it informs Steve's character.
Tony's "I am Iron Man" thing is important in Iron Man 3, while the subject of Thor's Worthiness is raised again when the fact that he's still Worthy in Endgame restores his confidence, but they're both simple confidence boosters, one-off reminders of who they are. Bruce's sudden control of the Hulk is vaguely hinted at in Incredible Hulk, but largely comes out of nowhere.
The events of First Avenger, however, continue to both inform Steve's character. Constant themes include his desire to be "a good man" like Erskine asked of him, rather than a perfect soldier - identified by Ultron, with his line, "Captain America, God's righteous man, pretending you can live without a war", and his nature as a "man out of time", unsure of his purpose, if the world still wants or needs him (it does). Then there's his desperation to save Bucky, and his inability to let go, which proves critical in Winter Soldier and Civil War. In fact, of all the Avengers, I'd say that he arguably gets the most complete character arc, challenged only by Tony.
Indeed, I think that that's what makes First Avenger such a good film in retrospect: the plot may be relatively boiler-plate, the villain likewise, and the action is rather pulpy, but as a character piece it is masterful. It sets up some of the strongest and most conflicted characters in the MCU - indeed, in the genre as a whole - making you really empathise with them. At the time it came out? 3 stars. In retrospect? 4 stars.
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).
I'll admit I've never been a fan of comics, mainly due to their overwhelming america-ness of most of them, so I didn't have the highest of hopes for this film (being quite a classic Brit, I find 'America The Great' thing quite tiring).
Really, even taking into account my expectations, it was quite disappointing. There were a few glimmers of hope, promising a more deep or interesting story, but they were almost immediately crushed by the tedious, flat and unceasing conveyor belt of one-dimensional characters. The only parts I really enjoyed were the SchizoTech elements, but they were also tinged with the feeling that surely HYDRA (I'm assuming it's allcaps) wouldn't be the only people with such advanced technology.
Overall, I found the film quite pointless and certainly very missable. Compared to Iron Man and even Thor, Captain America was a stark and disappointing contrast. By the end, I think I felt about the same as if someone had stood in front of me and monotonously recited the American constitution in full.
I must admit,I really like Captain America.I really like the character Steve Rodgers. He's just a genuinely nice guy with no emotional baggage or dark past which really is refreshing to see. I liked seeing him become more than just an american propaganda figure and actually going out and fighting battles. And the good thing is that he really needed no character development,the only development he went through was turning into an actual hero rather than just a propaganda icon. I also like the message the movie conveys about always staying true to yourself and to always be the best person that you can be,and that's what Steve embodies. I think Captain America/Steve Rodgers is one of my favorite avengers and I'm really glad to see how things go for him in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Out all the heroes in Marvels' cinematic universe, Captain America is a unique one. Unlike his compatriots, Iron Man and Thor and Dr. Banner, Cap doesn't go through much of a character arc. He doesn't learn a lesson and become a better person for it. It's the opposite actually. He already is a better person, it's important that he DOESN'T change. Just like Eskrine says, "You must promise to me that you will stay as you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man." I do think that is a very character driven film, which might explain why the plot sometimes seems rushed during its second half.
The first half is superb, it establishes Steve as a likable underdog, who does the right thing no matter what. He has a good set of morals and he isn't a jingoistic sort of Captain America boasting about home and country. Instead the choice is to emphasize his great humanity, (also present in the comics) Steve is a very moral and upright human being. Surprisingly, Chris Evans is able to convey this wonderfully. He's not like some animated interpretations of the character who give him a booming voice and a boring personality. Chris Evans keeps a human tone. Gentle almost, but still very firm. This is a man of great compassion but also of great resolve. It's refreshing to see this kind of old school hero after many movies portraying dark and brooding protagonists.
Evan is perfectly cast and the strong supporting cast isn't to be counted out either. He and Sebastian Stan have good camaraderie, they feel like they've been friends for years. Tommy Lee Jones is enjoyable in, honestly, a role you'd only want to see played by him. Hayley Atwell is strong and sympathetic as Steve's love interest. The growing metaphor of dancing partners is a smart way to watch their romance evolve among everything else in the film. It adds a sincere warmth.
When we get to the second half, it gets a little rushed as I mentioned above. But I'd argue it's less about Cap trying to stop the Skull and more about finding his place as a symbol. It comes full circle when we see at the end, a child holding up a trashcan lid (just as Steve does in the beginning, the first of many foreshadowings) with Cap's shield colors painted on it. By the end, he's become that symbol.
The film is not perfect, but it is a good one. I'd personally recommend it.
With a title like ''Captain America'', there are only two kinds of movie you can make. You can either go with a tribute to the silver-age, two-fisted serials, or you can make an introspective, 21st century exploration of 1940s propaganda. The movie we get flounders between the two, and fails to deliver either.
The movie starts at well enough, giving us a likeable protagonist with relatable origin story. The transition from weakling to all-American superman is nice to watch. It is probably the first time in a movie we get to see how a superhero would really end up: the subject of military interests and crass, smultzy commercialism. The problem is that this doesn't last. The movie almost immediately starts spewing out clichés and stale action tropes. Maybe the corny love plot, hammy villains, and perfunctory melodrama are supposed to hearken back to the old serials, but if they wanted to do that, they should go the whole distance and provide imaginative action scenes too. Instead of Indiana Jones though, Captain America opts for bad sci-fi laser battles and CGI fireballs. Watching this reminded me of the atrocious screen adaptation of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen; big on the CGI anachronistic tech, small on the heart.
It also fails as an examination of 1940s sentiments and propaganda, which is a shame because they seemed to be going down that route early on. Captain America gains his fame as a stage character in propaganda shows. It seemed to me that the natural thing to do was to run with the propaganda element. They should have made the villainous Red Skull the Nazi propaganda equivalent, and their inevitable battle the product of two propaganda machines desperate to show which side is boss. It would be interesting arc to have Captain America built up as a warrior on stage, but being unprepared for the real conflict on the front. But they couldn't do that, because they discarded any sense of down-to-earth, gritty realism with Norse magic and laser guns.
I wouldn't go so far as to call Captain America a bad film, but it certainly lacks enough good qualities to deserve a recommendation. It is neither clever and introspective, nor good brash fun. I was never bored, yet I was never impressed.
I knew this movie would be good. I knew it from the moment I saw the preview. What I couldn't have imagined was how good it would be
First off and most notably, it eschews most of the modern tropes for super hero movies. This movie is pure idealism, and that works very much in its favor. And that's not to say that it doesn't try to look at some of the issues the good cap would have, just that it makes them subtle and keeps them from detracting from the movie, or causing a cliche-fest.
The characters in this movie are all very likable, and while some didn't get a whole lot of time to develop, the ones that did were able to do so in a realistic and interesting fashion. As for those who didn't, they at least have a feel of realism to them and an air of badass.
The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed, and the special effects are (usually, the vaporization ray looked a little...off) top notch.
The film did have its problems. The movie isn't the best paced movie out there. It feels like it ran a bit too long and at the same time, the ending was a bit rushed. It can also get a bit goofy sometimes, but its never a deal breaker. None of these faults are enough to be.
The bottom line is that this is a must see movie and an excellent addition to the Avengers canon. Overall, I give this film a 8.5/10 (great)
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