Today: February 28, 2024
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Captain America Cinema

In the run up to The Avengers, which could prove to be the biggest and best (Marvel) superhero movie yet – after all it is written and directed by Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly/Serenity fame, who has also been a regular scribe for Marvel comics – we’ve had origins

In the run up to The Avengers, which could prove to be the biggest and best (Marvel) superhero movie yet – after all it is written and directed by Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly/Serenity fame, who has also been a regular scribe for Marvel comics – we’ve had origins stories for Thor, Iron Man (twice), Hulk (a couple of failed times) and now Captain America. In fact, the film’s official title is Captain America: The First Avenger. As with all of Marvel’s recent films, Captain America has attracted a talented creative team, helmed by Joe Johnston (Jumaji, Hildago), who also happens to have been a Lucasfilms special effects artists from the days of the original Star Wars. Of course, for the fan boys (and girls) it is the right casting of actors to play their heroes that is more important, and Chris “the best thing in it” Evans was a good choice, even considering he has already appeared in the Marvel universe as Human Torch in the rather forgettable Fantastic Four movies, of which he was “the best thing”. Known as much for his good looks and physique as for his acting talent, it is amazing to see him in the beginning of this film as the archetypal 90-pound-weakling. The look was clearly achieved by some Benjamin Button CGI work rather than the Christian Bale starvation method, and it is totally convincing. In fact, he looks less convincing when he first emerges as the buff supersoldier.

It may be finding depths to the story that aren’t really there, but I couldn’t decide if the film was making comments on propaganda, patriotism and the US obsession with imperialist militarism, or a veiled exposé on the MK Ultra experiments carried out by the US government, mostly post-war, utilising “liberated” German scientists. All of those elements are there, but at its core this is a war movie with a superhero and a super-villain (as if the real ones weren’t bad enough). At times I even found myself thinking I was watching a Marvel version of Inglorious Basterds, although it could have easily have been a beefed up, costumed, John Wayne war movie, which were almost as implausible.

Anyone who likes hybridised war and superhero movies is going to love this. Even though it is a heightened reality, there is still plenty of period detail included, to help with the suspension of disbelief, to keep you engrossed in the story, which is very much an origins story that is bookended with the Captain’s arrival in modern times with the obligatory scene with Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury – as well as the post credits teaser for next year’s main event.

It may not be a patch on Iron Man, but it is a close runner-up in the Avenger stakes ahead of Thor (less said about The Hulk the better). And the 3D? Save your eyes and your money and see it in 2D.

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