In a series of films that have contained a suit of techno-armour wearing one percenter, a raging id monster and a hammer throwing Norse God, by far the most delicate touch Marvel has needed to apply was for the star spangled Avenger.
How, in this day and age, post 9/11, do you make worldwide audiences buy a guy who dresses in old glory and flings a red, white and blue shield at wrong doers?
Simple, you go full Indiana Jones.
Yes, that OTHER cinematic WWII based Nazi puncher held the key to cracking the Captain America conundrum and that’s to go full action/adventure.
Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Jumanji and *ahem* Jurassic Park 3) before embarking on his Spielberg-lite directorial career worked on the original Raiders Of The Lost Ark in a special effects capacity which pays off in spades here.
The other problem Captain America has to defeat is how on earth do you make a fun, kickabout World War 2 movie in a time where Saving Private Ryan exists and not be hideously insensitive?
Once again Marvel combats many issues by hurling charm at it and hoping for the best. Opting for melodramatic, “Zee Jermanz” style accents over subtitles may be somewhat awkward but the superior casting of Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell papers over so many cracks it doesn’t really matter.
As Captain America, Evans nails it, making a straight laced, stand-up, nice guy interesting And endearing in a genre usually crammed with wisecracking ass-hats, but it’s Atwell who truely impresses as the take-no-shit Agent Carter; feminine, smart and supremely capable she may be one of the greatest female roles in comic book history.
The villains, however, fare less well. It’s not THAT Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull or Toby Stevens as his scientific lickspittle Armin Zola are bad, far from it (Weaving in full make up looks spectacular and incredibly comic accurate) but the script doesn’t fully utilise them as legitimate threats.
Another major hurdle the film fails to scale is it’s own plot. Spread out over a period of months the film almost takes a biopic style view of the run time, making leaps in time by utilising montages to fill in the gaps and leaving the film feeling episodic and disjointed.
However, in addition to it’s sting casting, the film manages to pull some aces out of the hat to halt a fatal nose dive not least being an musical interlude detailing in a incredible meta-sequence the good Captain’s time as a propaganda symbol. Plus Cap’s costume is one of the best comic to movie transitions I’ve ever seen, not 100% comic accurate but keeping all the correct details while being totally practical.
Not amazing, but good enough with plenty of room to build on, Captain America succeeds in realizing a difficult character and is well worth a salute.