Now that I’ve warned you that I have no intention of being anything other than a fanboy blogger in this review (written, by the way, whilst wearing a Captain America t-short, AND Captain America pants) I’m going to lay my cards on the table: I absolutely liked it. More than that in fact; I think I loved it. It is certainly the movie I hoped it would be.
The film captures the character of Captain America, and more importantly Steve Rogers, perfectly. He isn’t a one dimensional guy, who does good things for the sake of being good. He does things because he believes them to be right, and in the film we see him break the law, fight in the street, and even go AWOL, all in the cause of doing the right thing. This sort of intelligent and nuanced portrayal is likely to be a surprise to those who only know the character as a man with the American flag on his chest, but should be an absolute joy for fans.
Along with Steve Rogers, the film also captures perfectly the tone of the comics. When Johnson signed on to direct the film there was an assumption amongst bloggers (myself included) that The First Avenger would feel like his previous WWII action adventure, The Rocketeer. Quite surprisingly, it doesn’t. Instead, it matches the tone of previous Marvel films, with a great deal of passion for the characters and the source material, but also a sense of wit and humour that means that it isn’t overly reverential.
Being a Marvel movie, there are a number of hat-tips for fans of the comic, including The Howling Commandos, an entire scene almost straight out of The Ultimates issue one, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to one of Captain America’s teammates from the WWII super team The Invaders. We even get to see Captain America punch Hitler. What’s great about these moments is that none of them feel forced, unlike some of the references in Thor and Iron Man 2. Consequently, they’re fun for those of us who do understand them, without feeling like a plot-speed bump, and no distraction for the rest of the audience.
In spite of the respect for the source material, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely did make some changes to the mythos, most notably by their aging of Cap’s sidekick Bucky Barnes. There are hints of the Ultimate Comics version of the character, but (*PUN ALERT*) ultimately, he’s an entirely new creation for the film, and a perfectly judged one at that. His relationship with Steve, which provides much of the motivation for Steve’s drive to realise what he can do as Captain America, manages to avoid an obvious and clichéd big brother/little brother relationship, and is very much one of equals.
Similarly Peggy Carter is now a character, rather than just a girlfriend. Indeed, she’s one of the stronger female characters in all the Marvel films thus far, and certainly one of the more rounded and sympathetic. Consequently when we do see her relationship with Steve growing, it feels believable, and leads to a genuinely emotional climax.
Thus far this review has been little but praise for Captain America, and it seems a shame to ruin it with criticism. So I won’t (What? I warned you at the top this was being written by a dribbling fanboy), except to mention that the film feels very episodic. This isn’t a bad thing, and indeed it makes it feel a little like a series of comics, or a 30s style serial, it’s just slightly curious. All told, though, the film is great. Thoroughly entertaining, and without a doubt the most complete Marvel movie since Iron Man. This fanboy wasn’t disappointed, and I’m sure you won’t be either.
Roll on the Avengers.