Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Review

Captain America is a boring superhero. It’s nobody’s fault really, unfortunately it’s within the design of the character himself. Batman has the history and trauma (not to mention the villains), Superman has the powers, Iron Man has Tony Stark (or more specifically Robert Downey Jr) and Hulk is, well, the Hulk!

It doesn’t make Captain America a bad superhero, he is still one of the most iconic and a fantastic leader of The Avengers, but put him in his own origin movie and the flaws of the character become apparent quite quickly. Captain America’s powers is everything a human can do but better. Coupled with a superhuman moral compass and the ability to be ultra-patriotic, he hardly jumps of the page as the most dynamic hero to front his own movie.

Captain America works best when he his faced with issues that are not black and white/good guy vs bad guy. Captain America has an infallible moral compass so begin to subvert his idea of right and wrong, then you get a hero with some sort of interesting conflict. Add the fact that Captain America is the ultimate “fish-out-of-water” and you get more facets to the character that make him even more interesting. It’s just a shame that we get none of that in The First Avenger. It’s even more of a shame that we get the most generic superhero origin story that Marvel have produced so far.

There is a lot of potential in Captain America – which is a shame that his origin movie is so generic

It’s not an awful movie. In fact, for the first hour, up to the point where Captain America actually decides to fight bad guys, the movie is a really good take on the iconic superhero. I was as sceptical as many when Chris Evans was chosen to play Steve Rogers but he is actually a great choice. He can do the moral, forthright hero much better than most. He is a great foil to the more shady characters or heroes with a degree of grey (like Iron Man). He gets to do some great heavy-lifting with the first half of the movie, making Steve Rogers a really likable character that you want to become a superhero.

Unfortunately, the moment he finds his inner-hero and rescues a group of soldiers from the clutches of the villain, he becomes boring and generic. All the character potential we saw at the beginning of the movie falls away and we get a gung-ho, cartoon character rather a believable heroic man in a suit.

Its even worse when a potentially great villain is wasted as well

This extends itself to the villain as well. Hugo Weaving is another casting coup for the Red Skull but gets very little of any substance to do. We have seen cackling, crazy villain countless times before. Thor’s Loki and Heath Ledger’s version of Joker has demonstrated how a villain can make the hero so its such a shame that Red Skull is as one-dimensional as the hero he is trying to defeat.

The issue is of course the Avengers. This movie was clearly a rush to introduce a key Avenger before the amazing tent-pole movie of 2012’s summer. It means that Captain America doesn’t get the movie he deserves. His heroic deeds are mostly seen in montage and even the heartbreaking, character building moment of tragedy seems rushed and brushed aside.

There is room for a good love story – something else brushed aside.

It’s even more apparent in two other aspects of the film. The romantic relationship is definitely there with great potential, its developed, built upon and even broken down just to be pushed aside with the final ten minutes of the movie. The other great facet of Captain America is the idea of a 1940’s soldier in the 21st Century. It’s such a shame that this aspect of the movie is rushed with the final four minutes too.

I’m hoping that now Avengers is done, Captain America will get the sequel he deserves. He is a great part of The Avengers and demonstrates what can be done with the character if you give him a little bit more to do than shout patriotically and jump off over-sized tanks as they explode.

Overall, Captain America is as generic an origin movie as you’ll get. The moment he becomes the recognisable version of Captain America, we get nothing we haven’t seen before. A rushed love story, a dull villain and clearly under-thought finale hide the potential the superhero has. Potential I hope we get to see in his stand-alone sequel.

Rating – 3

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

I hope they take advantage of how good a character he is for the sequel
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