In 2012, Fury’s Avengers will fill our cinema screens with more superheroes and supervillains than you can shake a hammer at, but, before that can happen, there is one more Avenger that we have to meet. Ironically, he is the first – Steve Rogers, aka Captain America.
In Joe Johnston’s Captain America we are back in the 1940s and a wartime familiar to cinema goers, with its red lips, smart uniforms, square chins and endless courage and cheerfulness in the face of the Nazi threat. However, Captain America is faced with an enemy so evil, it is prepared to annihilate Nazi Germany for not being nasty enough.
As the film opens we meet and get to know and like the weedy, bullied and brave little man – Steve Rogers (Chris Evans – Sunshine, Fantastic Four). All he wants is to serve his country like his friend ‘Bucky’ Barnes (Sebastian Stan – Black Swan), but there’s not a doctor who will sign him up. That is, until he meets German refugee Dr Abraham Erskine (a heavily accented and schapps swilling Stanley Tucci), who is searching for the perfect soldier. Not one who wants to kill, but one who doesn’t.
We soon discover that Erskine’s initial experiments in Germany went rather wrong. As can be calculated by the alias of its unfortunate subject Johan Schmidt (Huge Weaving) – Red Skull. No one is evil enough for Schmidt, not even the Nazis, and so he plans to blow everything and everyone up, using another of those weapons discarded by the rather careless Nordic gods.
Captain America looks as wonderful and smart as one would expect from Joe Johnston (personally, I have some deep affection for his October Sky). The cast is just as good. Chris Evans and Hugo Weaving play the good and the bad with enthusiasm and vigour. Rogers is very likeable, which is, I suppose, very necessary. They are supported by the impeccably beautiful Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell – The Duchess), the ever popular Tommy Lee Jones (doing just what we would expect from him) and the superb Toby Jones as Red Skull’s slimey sidekick Dr Zola. And then there is Tony Stark’s old man – Dominic Cooper plays the allies’ greatest inventor and armourer Howard Stark. Sometimes, the accent wavered about a bit but, generally, Cooper did a good job of not stealing thunder away from Robert Downey Jr who will, of course, have a major role to play in the Avengers.
Mention should also go to Captain America’s shield which is a character all in its own right, as a cross between a boomerang and a very expensive and ornate dustbin lid.
Despite a good storyline, actors and script, and a fast pace, I found myself feeling a little jaded through Captain America. Almost slightly bored. If the film had stood on its own, I don’t think I would have felt like that. My problem is, I am now Marvelled out – I don’t need to see any more teasers for The Avengers. I am a Samuel L Jackson fan (Big Sam as I affectionately think of him) but I will be relieved when I can enjoy him again in films of his own, rather than in two-minute segments promoting a movie I may be too bored to see. And what if, after all this, it’s not any good? It’s no surprise that there is yet another ‘secret’ scene at the end of Captain America, to go with all the others. I can’t be bothered waiting for them, these days. Better to watch them on YouTube.
I should also mention another influential factor – I saw Captain America in 3D and I regret that choice. Despite seeing it at an excellent cinema on a digital screen, far too many scenes were frustratingly and distractingly dark.
I enjoyed Thor very much but I think that if I had seen Captain America before that I would have been just as bored by Thor. I don’t want to give anything away, so suffice to say that the ending of Captain America had nothing to do with the film it closed but with the film to come.
As a film in its own right, I would have enjoyed Captain America far more than the Avengers will let me.
I realise, though, that I may well be outvoted on this one and so it’s a pleasure to close with a very different opinion from a good friend.