Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Before Watching the Movie:

Captain America was one of the first comic books I ever read. Part of the Streets of Poison series. I don’t really remember the plot, but soon after I was cold to all of the Avengers because of a plot point in a New Warriors comic. It wasn’t until the Post-Heroes Reborn arc by Mark Waid that I read any sort of solo story about him.

At the time of this movie there were two Captain Americas running around the Marvel Universe. Bucky was still carrying the shield and taking on, I think, Baron Zemo in a post-Civil War/post-Secret Invasion/Post-Siege Marvel Universe. Steve Rogers was running the Avengers/SHIELD. It was kind of convoluted, but I suppose Marvel Comics didn’t want this movie to come out and have people confused as to wise Steve Rogers wasn’t around. Anyway.

I remember the theater experience for Thor as not quite thrilling me. The trailers for Captain America: First Avenger didn’t quite wow me. And already there was anxiety building about whether or not The Avengers would be anything but ridiculous in the next year. However I would claim Cap as my favorite

of “the big three” Avengers. All they needed to do was to get the shield throwing down right and I’d be content.

Notes While Watching the Movie:

  • Probably the last time we see the Paramount logo
  • Starts off in the present
  • Darker tone – should be the tone of Agents of SHIELD – Who are these guys?
  • Now flashback.
  • That is a giant tank. A comic book tank
  • Indiana Jones feel.
  • How did the guy in that tank hear Red Skull’s threat?
  • The puny Steve Rogers is pretty good effects. Holds up well.
  • Stands up to loud asshole at movies… my hero.
  • Garbage can shield is great visual.
  • I can do this all day.”
  • Human Torch Android.
  • Scale trick is well done.
  • Chris Evans tone during his speeches is what sells him as the character. Light, but firm enough to not be a whine.
  • Tucci is pretty great.
  • I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.”
  • Red Skull/Zola feel like an older Bond movie.
  • Zola’s science is tighter than Howard Stark’s
  • Tommy Lee Jones is Excellent. Suggests more to that character.
  • Flag scene.
  • Grenade scene.
  • Why me?” Scene
  • Going back and forth between tesseract and Captain America projects is good juxtaposition
  • That poor painter
  • All of this is very charming.
  • Similar to Incredible Hulk origin scenes.
  • I can do this!”
  • Too much gun for that lady. Smaller gun might have stopped the Hydra goon.
  • Driver looks like younger, evil, Wil Wheton
  • Go get him! I can swim.”
  • Battle world story for Secret War – everyone shot with tesseract gun is actually transported through space.
  • Rogers is actually pretty good on stage.
  • Not quite the War Machines at Stark Expo.
  • The monkey in uniform sketch shows Rogers is good at drawing/artist
  • No Bucky for like an hour. And then he dies with almost 40minutes left in the movie.
  • I think Phillips is a smart guy that doesn’t get the acknowledgement he would like.
  • Why does Philiips not like Rogers?
  • Why does Stark’s spy plane have his name on it and is shiny?
  • If this was a Metal Gear game he’d have to stuff those guys into lockers or something.
  • I’m Captain America.”
  • I’ve knocked out Adolf Hitler over 200 times.”
  • Do you know how to use that thing?” “Okay.”
  • What was Bucky mumbling?
  • Good score.
  • The most intentionally well written story yet. Joss Whedon?
  • The shield sound is distinct to light saber
  • Invaders?
  • Montage is too quick.
  • Convenient zip line?
  • Bucky death is rough even though he is barely in the movie.
  • Did the Hydra goons in the back hear that speech or are they just stepping with the crowd?
  • Motorcycle scene from Last Crusade with Bond gadgets and a little bit of Return of the Jedi.
  • Ring of Fire!
  • I can do this all day.”
  • The most toys. GI Joe vehicles and play sets. Wasted opportunity.
  • How did Cap become a pilot and what is he sitting on if the chair just ejected? Ouch.
  • Sky beam!
  • Crash into the ice is pretty good
  • Nice corridor shot on Peggy.
  • Garbage can shield.
  • I had a date.”
  • Also kind of has two sting scene.

After Watching the Movie:

Captain America: The First Avenger is the first intentionally well written Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. Iron Man is a happy accident with a lot of good stuff coming from Robert Downey Jr. Incredible Hulk is fine, but not celebrated. Iron Man 2 tried to double down with two Starks (one being Sam Rockwell) and two Iron Mans (one being War Machine). Thor is great, but feels like some kind of Marvel/Shakespeare experiment that they still needed to adjust the levels on. However the first Cap movie is well written, well cast, well scored, it only really has some issues with the third act.

The writing isn’t innovative, but it serves the story well. This isn’t a story that blows up the genre. It is one that takes the comic book stuff and massages it into a fun adventure movie. There are action and story beats that come from Indian Jones, James Bond, and Star Wars. The plot is a bit of a hero’s journey, but also contains most of the comic book material which was written as a serial.

There is a lot of charm that endears us to depowered Cap. The flagpole scene, the grenade scene, and the “Why me?” conversation get us on Steve Rogers’ side before any of the fun Captain America action gets us excited for him. Similar to Stark building his first suit in the cave and Thor being human on earth. Except Chris Evans brings an integrity to character that shadows anything similar the actors of those other characters are bringing.

The Hydra and Red Skull stuff kind of gets glossed over. This is the first confirmation that Marvel has a villain problem. Aside from Loki, all of the bad guys in these movies are evil versions of the hero and have less to do.

Post-origin the story starts to juggle a lot of pieces. All of those pieces could have their own arcs, but a two hour movie doesn’t allow them to develop. The Invaders (that is what I’m calling Cap’s crew) get shoved into a montage. Steve and Agent Carter get snippets of scene and side eye moment that is expected to be their love story. Red Skull and his plan are completely shoved away until we need that third act CGI battle, which seems a bit less CGI and more practical in this movie.

The Captain America trilogy is my favorite of the Marvel movies. They slot into the larger Marvel Universe story, but also stand on their own better than the other films. Maybe Civil War less than this one and Winter Solider, but I’ll save that determination until I watch that movie.