Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) movie review

With Captain America: Civil War (2016) just released (and seeing as I’m joining my friends to watch it tomorrow), I decided I should probably get around to what I’ve been putting off for the last handful of years – watching the previous Captain America movies the whole way through.

In all honesty, though being interested in ‘nerd culture’ and enjoying the likes of Comic-Con, I’m not a huge superhero fan. I dislike a lot of superhero movies (especially more recent ones), I haven’t read many Marvel or DC comics, and I somewhat go out of my way to point out the flaws in what everyone seems to love about different superheroes. I’ll even be straight enough with you now, the main reason I’m interested in seeing Civil War – besides to review it – is purely based on my bias towards Spider-Man. I’m a ‘casual fan’ – sue me!

Despite this, I tried to clear my mind of any old judgements I made on Captain America based on my first time attempting to watch The First Avenger, and pretend this was my first viewing (as last time I only made it half way through before my friend and I grew bored of making jokes about him and looking at each of the characters, deciding to just turn it off).

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A quick recap on what this film entails: Set in the 1940s, Steve Rogers is a small man with many medical issues that hold him back from achieving his dream of fighting on the front lines in the army. When his passion towards saving the innocent is found by a scientist who fled Nazi Germany, he uses his best creation -a serum to enhance both the positive and negative aspects of someone’s body and mind- on Rogers to re-create him into the soldier he always wanted to be. But, of course, someone who was working under Hitler in a scientific division of the Nazis -under the title Hydra- wants to take over the world with the power he gained after being the German scientist’s first patient of his serum. You can guess the rest from here.

In all honesty, I did enjoy this film more than I expected. Does this mean I’m going to rush into watching the others and buy all the DVDs and suddenly have a new-found love for Cap. A? No, to most; I’ll be rushing to watch the second title in the series simply to catch up before seeing the third film tomorrow! However, I can appreciate him more as a character now, especially after some of the positive messages that are conveyed in Cap. A’s first modern feature. I like that, despite him becoming a soldier (and of course being fairly patriotic towards America, because of the time-setting and because amURCIAAA) and that being a dream of his for many years, he isn’t doing it because he thinks America is better than Germany or England, but simply because he doesn’t like “bullies”, no matter where they’re from.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

Though, despite enjoying it more than expected, I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s a film I particularly enjoyed. While I’m not going to deny that there’s some things I liked about this film (particularly certain exchanges of dialogue), I found it quite difficult to sit through, to the point where I needed a break before finishing the last half hour of the flick, simply because it had dragged too much for me up to that point. Some may disagree with what I’m about to say, but I feel like the pacing is a little slow considering that this is supposed to be an action movie. I just feel that if you’re going to set up a film as being mostly action orientated (which is what most superhero movies these days do – especially in the Avengers line-up), then you should keep the pace as steady as your shots in a fight scene: clear enough to see, but fast enough to keep the audience’s interest.

My other main complaint about the feature is the villain. Now, I have no fault with the make-up team’s job, as they made Red Skull’s face look like it was genuinely shaped like that, but how can you expect me to take a villain seriously when they look like the love child between Hellboy and Skelator?

2adcef10de544a059f9bfdcf792a23e6 Captain America The First Avenger

While I give them credit for doing a good job on making his character look close to the comics’ design of him, I don’t think this was necessarily a good choice. It’s no secret that film makers alter the image of heroes and villains when adapting a comic onto the screen, while keeping the image close enough to the original that it’s obvious who they are; however, this is done with a purpose. Now, there’s two main reasons a character will be altered for the screen:

  1. The writers/directors feel the original design doesn’t quite fit with their imagining of how the character looks within the story they’re telling. This is something that comic book artists also do – I mean, look at how The Joker’s image has changed over different stories, based on how dark or comedic they want him to be, as to fit with the tone of the current story. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that, in books or on the screen!
  2. The original design, while fine in the comics, doesn’t look nearly as good on screen. This was done in Spider-Man (2002) for Green Goblin’s appearance, as they felt he didn’t look menacing or intimidating enough when dressed so similarly to the comics. Just like above, this is completely okay!

I’ll say it again, so you know I mean it – they did a really good job of copying his look from the comic onto the film, but I simply don’t think they should have done it. My simple reason: he doesn’t seem intimidating, at all. Honestly, when he first revealed his true skin, I burst into laughter, because he just looks too silly for me to take him seriously as a villain. I genuinely would have been more afraid if he looked closer to Skelator in the live-action He-Man movie – a design that is quite similar to what we were given, but different enough to make him less comedic, in my eyes.

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Something I’d like to praise is the cinematography. Throughout the feature, the images and colour schemes are so well done and extremely easy on the eyes. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s worth giving a watch for that alone, it’s definitely something to keep in mind when watching – whether it’s your first time or otherwise.

Overall, it’s a pretty okay flick. Sure, there’s a lot I personally don’t enjoy about it, and much that I’ll have fun complaining about to my friends tomorrow, but I can recognise there is more that other will enjoy to it that I didn’t. It’s worth checking out.

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