Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips
Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Sebastian Stan as Sergeant James “Bucky” Barnes
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark
Neal McDonough as Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan
Derek Luke as Gabe Jones
Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine
Director: Joe Johnston
It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his part and join America’s armed forces, but the military rejects him because of his small stature. Finally, Steve gets his chance when he is accepted into an experimental program that turns him into a supersoldier called Captain America. Joining forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain America leads the fight against the Nazi-backed HYDRA organization.
Although making a Captain America movie isn’t as big of a risk as making a Thor movie, it is still pretty hard creating a Captain America movie that takes him seriously. The 1990 film didn’t help this movie’s chances. However like Thor, Captain America is a surprisingly good entry in the Marvel universe. It’s not one of the best, but it is enjoyable, well-made and it does have an engaging story and establishes one of The Avengers’ key members.
One of the best parts about this movie is of course the fact that it actually manages to take Captain America seriously. There are actually stages of Steve Rodgers becoming Captain America, as well as explanations for all the things that happen, for example there’s a reason Captain America decided to use a shield over other weapons. It’s not like the 1990 film where he becomes Captain America and suddenly has this design. I also thought it was a strong decision to have Captain America’s first appearance be in a World War 2 setting. It would be so easy to just have Captain America created and then rush his appearance into Modern day (again like the 1990 film) but it was a great idea to have him in this setting. A lot of the supporting characters end up playing roles in later movies so these characters aren’t just wasted being in the 1940s.
Chris Evans is really believable as Captain America. It is so easy just to have Steve Rodgers be this generic good guy character but Evans makes this character feel believable. The supporting cast is also good, consisting of Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell (the latter of which did a particularly good job). Hugo Weaving plays the main villain Red Skull and although he is good (and better than most of the other Marvel villains) he does seem like a standard villain. I don’t know much about Red Skull but I know that he’s basically Captain America’s biggest enemy so it’s unfortunate that he’s not very interesting here.
The action scenes of course are well filmed, I especially liked how they incorporated Captain America’s shield. I also liked the look of Captain America’s suit, it feels like a war suit than a goofy looking outfit, something that the first Avengers didn’t get right. The only thing production wise that could’ve been improved was Red Skull’s head. It looked a little goofy and even the 1990 film version looked better. An effect that’s worth mentioning is that at the beginning of the movie, Steve Rodgers looks really skinny before he goes through the experiment and I thought that the effects used to show his change was really impressive.
Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good movie. Its sequel, The Winter Soldier, was the movie that really advanced the Marvel series but this first film did do what it set out to do: make audiences take Captain America seriously. Not only that, it had a pretty engaging and interesting story, with good acting and good action. The film could’ve been better if they improved Red Skull but for the most part Captain America: The First Avenger achieves what it set out to do.