Thursday, July 28, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger:
When Captain America Slings His Mighty Shield,
All Those Who Chose To Appose The Shield Must Yield...

Anyone that knows me, and has long, dragged out, "conversations" with me about how comic book movies should be made, will tell you, I've always said that in a post 9/11 world, the only way you could make a Captain America film work would be to set it in World War 2 and then progress later on to modern times. Anything else, given the world climate these days, would be dismissed as American propaganda going full tilt boogie straight into a giant wall of what the world believes in general these days. I know it sounds mean, but its the truth however harsh it might be. With that said, and the horrible memories of such failed films as X-Men 3, Wolverine, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, ManThing, Electra, and two Fantastic Four, two Punisher and ofcourse three Spiderman movies still ringing in my head, as they always do, when I heard that Marvel agreed with what I believed in regards to setting up a proper movie for Cap, who is ofcourse, their biggest icon of all. I looked forward to this film with the same excitement as I did for X-Men First Class and Transformers: The Dark Of The Moon, hoping it would be as good as I was dreaming it to be. And thankfully, my dreams, my hopes, all of it, were well placed, for this film was amazing!

The film starts out in the modern day north pole where a long believed lost secret jet is found, and onboard is possibly the greatest find in all of history. Then we jump backwards to a world not different from what we know of the accepted origins of Captain America, young Steve Rogers is a kid from Brooklyn who wants to go into the army to serve his country in a post pearl harbor world war 2, Steve is small, weak and asthmatic, and he though he enlists many times using different last names, he keeps getting rejected, though this doesn't stop him from wanting to be like his best friend James "Bucky" Barnes, who is soon leaving for basic training and then off to Europe to stomp those goose stepping Nazis into the ground and free Europe, and by proxy, the world, and you know, all that other jazz they told the troops of World War 2. Steve and Bucky's relationship is changed greatly from the original material, which is refreshing, I'll get more into that later. After a night out at Conney Island with Bucky and some girls he'd gotten them dates with, Steve decides to give his dream of being an enlisted man one more shot, and after getting the attention of the recruiter for being there a second time that day, Steve is introduced to a Doctor by the name of Abraham Erskine, a German born scientist who asks Steve alot of questions, and then accepts him into the army as part of a "Special project". As this is going on, we also flash to Norway, where a German officer by the name of Johann Schmidt is storming a monastery for what he calls an artifact of great power, claiming it is older then time itself and was said to once be the crowning jewel of Odin's Treasure Room (a lovely tip of the cap to Thor, marvel's film before this one), which after not falling for a decoy, and discovering where the real one was hidden with in the same room, Schmidt shoots the monk guarding his prize, and then sets off with his troops for parts unknown.

From here we jump between Steve and Schmidt as they set themselves on their collision course, Steve training for the special program he was allowed into, all the other recruits and their commanding officer Chester Phillips, treat him like crap, trapping him under barbwire fences, mocking him as he gets caught in riggings, ect, general military dickery, Phillips tells Dr. Erskine he feels Rogers will be a horrible choice for the program, and suggests another solider who is the definition of what a solider should be. Erskine states he does not wish for that man to be the subject simply because he is a bully, and he feels no good will come from making him a more powerful bully, he then tells Phillips that he's chosen Steve, for he will not only show the best growth potential of the project, but also because he's a good person and he feels giving a good person that kind of power would be best for the world. That night Erskine and Steve talk after Erskine tells Steve he's been picked for the project, he then tells Steve that the experiment not only enhances your body, but it enhances everything about you, your strength, your intelligence, your personality, every single thing about you becomes enhanced to the peak of what it can be. He then tells Steve of how he was working on the serum in his native Germany, and though it wasn't as refined as it was now, he was forced to use it on a high ranking Nazi who would go on to be called "The Red Skull". On the other side of the world, Schmidt has returned to his base of operations high in the mountains of Europe, where we meet Arnim Zola, Schmidt's second in command of a special branch of the Nazi party called "HYDRA", where they make advanced super high tech weapons and equipment for Hitler, its revealed the object Schmidt found is a glowing cube which he claims is all the power and knowledge in the universe, as they are testing they're visited by an envoy of Nazis sent by Hitler to check on their progress with all things super science. When Schmidt refuses to let them in on his newest find, believing it too powerful for just anyone to get their hands on, they then tell him that Hitler wishes to dissolve Hydra, believing its a failed experiment, and in quoting Hitler on the matter, they refer to Schmidt as "The Red Skull". Schmidt then shows them the very power he'd harnessed by using it to destroy them. He then proclaims that Hydra has struck out on its own, believing that the Nazis are limited, he then reveals that he has been wearing a mask all this time, and as a side effect of the early version of the Serum, it turned Schmidt's head into a red colored skull.

Back in the states Steve has been introduced to Peggy Carter, a British intelligence officer who is involved with Erskine's project now dubbed "The Super Solider Project", she explains what it is as she takes Steve to the project's base of operation, a secret facility behind an antique's store in Brooklyn, not far from where Steve grew up. Peggy leads Steve into a very back room where he sees the doctor and various other people involved, including Harold Stark, a rich technology firm owner who works super secret projects for the government, Steve is placed on a table with what looks to be a special injection chamber on it, Steve is strapped in, the chamber closes around him and he's injected with the super solider serum, which after they think it hasn't worked, has not only worked, but has altered Steve into a whole different man, growing taller and more muscular, literally becoming the peak of human perfection. The officials in viewership cheer and claim this is going to tip the war in their favor. As they cheer, a spy deep inside tries to steal the one vile left of Super Solider Serum and then shoots Erskine dead, before rushing out to get to the harbor and his hidden mini-sub. Steve, instinctively, chases after him through the streets of Brooklyn with out realizing how more advanced his body has become, he does catch him, but he takes a suicide pill and dies before Steve can bring him in for questioning. After this, for whatever reason, Steve is, not used as a solider, but a PR machine, being called Captain America and wearing his trademark suit, is sent around the states with dancing girls doing a song and dance show to raise war bond money, until he's in Italy, and discovers that Bucky's unit was captured, and against orders, he singlehandedly saves then all, gaining the respect of not only the troops, but of the high up brass as well. From there, and still using the Captain America name, Steve is tasked with creating his own commando unit, tasked with taking down Hydra, and helping to win the war.

As you would expect the film from here becomes your classic war film with the us vs. them mentality, Cap and his crew start taking out and looting Hydra equipment gathering more intel on Hydra's plans and how they operate, eventually leading them to capture Zola, The Red Skull's right hand man, who after awhile gives up the location of the headquarters for Hydra, and Cap and his team get their raid on, leading to the final showdown between Cap and The Red Skull, which comes full circle to the opening sequence of the film, and then lightly deals with Captain America being woken up 70 years in his future, and the shock that causes, and ofocurse, a lead in to the Avengers film at the end, as is customary with all recent Marvel films. Over all, the film was great in not only giving you a back story for Captain America, one thats true enough to the original that we all know to be pleasing to the hardcore fans, and tweaked enough to make the few new additions better, its truly a great film over all, my only real dislike in the film, had nothing at all to do with the film itself, it had to do with how rudely the guy parked next to me and my family at the Milford Drive In (in Milford NH where I went to see the film), who kept stating all the recent marvel movies were setting up for a film about "The Justice League" got when I corrected him, claiming I was wrong and that I should mind my own business, which, after seeing the after credits scene with Cap and Fury, which leads to the teaser trailer for The Avengers, lead to me giving him a big middle finger, and a threaten of a fight until he saw how tall and muscular I am, which lead him and his date to find another spot to park for the second film. But that aside, I found nothing wrong with the film, I totally loved it.

The few changes they did make I rather enjoyed greatly, the idea of Steve Rogers being the younger and weaker kid who was always getting beaten up and had to be watched out for by Bucky, the older and stronger kid was a nice reversal of roles, where in the original stories, Bucky was the weakly teenager who Steve took on and trained and would dress up in outfit and fight crime and nazis with him, thankfully in this version Bucky does not wear a hero outfit, but, as with all versions of the story, he does die, and it fuels Cap on to victory, which is odd because the guy who plays Bucky, Sebastian Stan, claims he's signed on to do more then just one film, maybe we'll see him in Avengers as Bucky's revived incarnation The Winter Solider? Or in flashbacks? The plot doth thicken. I also liked how the movie served as a means to introduce a key part of world war 2 marvel, that most people forget because they weren't actually made during the 1940s, I'm speaking of The Howling Commandos. the comic book was created in the early 1960s and is seen by many as the first official retcon in comic books, retroactively putting Nick Fury (who's white in the original marvel universe) and his crack unit of misfits turned heroes, The Howling Commandos, into Marvel's 1940s lore, long before they became founders of SHIELD. In Captain America, basically Cap and Bucky are put into the group to replace Fury at the head, simply because movie universe Nick Fury is too young to have been in World War 2, and I must admit, when i saw Dum Dum Duggan's trademark mustache, I did yell out with delight because of how perfect they got him, and the others as well. This film really was, in a sense, a love letter to some of the best comics of decades long sense past and an era almost completely forgotten thanks to retcons and reboots and the out and out whoring of Wolverine to the masses. I also will go on record as saying that though most will complain about the awkward and kind of creepy looking CGI they did on Chris Evans before he was injected with the serum, to make him look as small as they did, I personally liked it, it worked way better then having someone else with his face CGI'd on or something. I loved that Stark was not played by Robert Downey Jr. I do love him as Tony Stark, but he just didn't really fit the concept of what his father should be, plus if he did that, then you'd get that whole Star Trek Worf playing his grandfather in Star Trek 6 nonsense, and no one wants that.

So at this point, you're ofcourse asking yourself the big question, is it really worth going and seeing this film? And your answer is, ofcourse, YES, it is more then worth going to see it, its a brilliant film for comic book fans, for world war 2 movie fans, for sci fi world war 2 films, for action movies in general, its just such a great film for so many levels, specially how they work both the traditional Cpatain America suit in, as well as the one from marvel's ultimate line, which is ment to follow more along the lines of the movies and allow for reinvention and such. I truly do commend the staff for taking what is to many holy land in comic books and making it the perfect blend of traditional and new enough to bring in new readers and fans, and also to perfectly set up for the Avengers, which looks so perfectly amazing and has be excited already. So yeah, if you get a chance, or want a good film you can enjoy thats not gonna bore you like The Tree Of Life did, then by all means, you gotta see this one.

But if you aren't convinced yet, here is a trailer to show you the awesome...




  1. I really, really liked this movie. Like you said they gave a good homage to the old stories of Cap and the history involved. My only real complaint is how quickly the glossed over Bucky dying. Then. mentioning it only once later. It didn't seem like they got the point across good enough for me. But, only one thing to complain out isn't bad in a world where we almost expect failures because of the Xmen films and ugh Spiderman 3. I really liked how they took classic Cap and mixed it with Ed Brubaker's new story and made it viable with the Cosmic Cube and introducing Zola, and Erskine, and everyone else in that story. It flowed well, and it was very enjoyable. I also agree about the Howling Commandos. It was nice to see Dum Dum Dugan and all the rest. They really are doing these so much better and learning from their mistakes, everything can't be perfect, but what isn't perfect can still be good. Also, the Avenger's teaser gave me wood. That was awesome.

  2. I think they glossed over Bucky's death because of how it happened, freak accident while in the middle of a mission, Cap, being Cap, wouldn't have actually stopped the mission when he'd seen anyone, even his best friend for all of his life, fall to certain death, that was what that scene was trying to instill, that Cap always finishing the mission, then mourns those lost once the mission is done, it wasn't ment to show he glossed over it, it was ment to show that Cap always puts duty over everything else, the line later about Bucky was to show that he did infact have emotions about the matter, but he bottled them up till it could be channeled properly into defeating the enemy, which it did.

    I'm just glad we actually got see Bucky, and more so, a James "Bucky" Barnes that wasn't written like an annoying teenage sidekick or simply put in the story knowing he's going to die... or die and then come back years later as The Winter Solider, then take up the Captain America name later on, whichever the case maybe. We got to meet and get to know Bucky, what he liked, disliked, the fact that this time around it was him always watching out for Cap, instead of the other way around, he was a full on person, which means all of us who've known for generations that he dies, for once actually felt something when he did, instead of "oh he's captain america's sidekick, he dies and cap gets emosad over it..", we never got that before.

    Also, I'd have liked if they went the way the new Avengers cartoon went and had James Fury, the father of Nick Fury leading The Howling Commandos in World War 2, and then Cap and Bucky teams up with them after freeing them. It would make sense, and allow for more Dum Dum Dogan and Co. to appear in the modern times as the top brass of SHIELD instead of no connection that we know of as of yet.

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