Everyone knows Captain America. Some know him as the ultra-patriotic walking flag from the war-torn ’40s. Some know him as the Marvel universe’s answer to an early-eighties Genesis album – not really essential to life, but certainly nice to have around and pay attention to every once in a while. And some know him in his current, always-badass, Ed Brubaker-penned incarnation as Marvel’s answer to Jack Bauer.
The Cap that theatre-goers get to know this summer isn’t really any of those. Instead, he is a bit more empathetic, equally square-jawed and heroic and a lot less Johnny Storm (that’s a good thing).
Captain America: The First Avenger centres around Steve Rogers as a scrawny-but-brave wiener who becomes a buff-but-brave wiener, then a show tunes singer, then a hero. Along the way, the Red Skull attempts to bomb the world, not for Hitler, but for himself.
You know, ’cause bitter dudes whose faces can’t stay on are dicks like that.
Overall, the movie is fun. The way it’s shot invokes the decade quite well, though not as well as films before it (Changeling comes to mind), the action scenes are pretty well shot (barring the ridiculous action montage in the middle) and the patriotism wan’t shoved down the audience’s throat (I’m looking at you, Spider-Man 3).
The problem lies in the characters themselves. While they are all superbly acted, none of them come across as three-dimensional. Even Cap’s character arc feels rushed, like there were parts of it that were cut out for the sake of length. Everyone else, from the Red Skull and Peggy Carter to Arnim Zola and “Dum Dum” Dugan (who was still the most badass character in the film, despite the audience never actually being told his, or his comrades’ names), every character seems like they don’t get a fair shake.
The most compelling character by far, is Tony Stark’s dad, Howard Stark. Throughout the film, he proves why he is the best at everything – from mechanical engineering to piloting a plane. Despite his moustache, you can’t help but want to high-five him and be him at the same time.
Overall, it’s a fun summer movie, but after the full-blown awesomeness that was X-Men: First Class, there is a new standard to live up to, and Captain America: The First Avenger falls short. Hopefully, under the guidance of Joss Whedon, The Avengers (which has a pretty sweet, if sparse, trailer after the credits) doesn’t falter in the same ways.