Avengers Spotlight: Captain America – The First Avenger
By Troy-Jeffrey Allen
May 3, 2012 - 22:49
In anticipation of The Avengers, I’m revisiting the Marvel films that lead up to the May 5th release. Ill be examining why certain films captivated the zeitgeist, why certain films failed to impress critics, what each film meant for Marvel Studios’ end game, why The Avengers film could be a bigger sales boost for comic books than the New 52, and how Marvel has augmented Hollywood’s game plan.
Lastly, Captain America (a personal favorite)…
There was a time in film where good guys were just good guys because they stood tall, spoke with certainty, and always got the girl. Like any medium transitioning through the decades, the definition of a movie good guy (and bad guy) changed with the times.
With Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel Studios took a considerable risk by producing a $140 million film featuring a pragmatic protagonist. How is that a risk? Look at the existing leading man landscape: You have a brooding boy wizard in Harry Potter, a spastic best buddy to the Transformers in Shia LaBeouf, a brooding vampire male model in the Twilight series, an untrustworthy pirate in Jack Sparrow, and a trio of bumbling alcoholics from The Hangover II. You could make the argument that movie audiences don’t want their heroes forthright, they want them rife with uncertainty and anxiety. Could the no-nonsense Captain America stand a chance against such not-so-stiff opposition?
Comfortably falling somewhere between Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and the Indiana Jones trilogy (there was no fourth), The First Avenger may come off as quaint, but that’s part of its charm. Director Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer) uses music, symbolism, and a methodical pacing to deliver the type of film that is rare in this era of frantically cut, shakey cam cinema. As a matter of fact, Johnston’s inspiration doesn’t just come from the comic books Captain America originated from, but also from film serials. Comic book’s distant cousin.
I’ve heard complaints that the film’s exploits feel abrupt or are mostly comprised of montages. However, in the “chapter play” tradition, the filmmakers are embracing the idea of the never-ending cliffhanger. Sequences aren’t meant to end, they’re meant to lead the audience into the next adventure. --which is something it does very effectively, even past its final credits.
Despite the efforts of Marvel, Johnston, an irreplaceable Chris Evans, and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McNeely, I still wonder if Captain America can maintain an extended franchise. A direct sequel is in the works and there are definitely plenty of subplots to play off of for future Cap movies, but is the character able to survive in a cinematic sea of modern metrosexual leading men?
Wait, What am I thinking? Of course he can. If anyone can step out of the past and take on a bunch of snotty upstarts it has to be Captain America.
…And that’s it. Avengers time. My brain is officially tired and I can only imagine that the best possible remedy for that is massive superhero violence.
At the risk of not enjoying my first (of many, I’m sure) viewing of the movie, I’m going to put the smartphone’s QWERTY away. Expect a totally bias review sometime in the strange hours of the morning.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this exceptionally nerdy retrospective. I hope it wasn’t too pretentious or overlong (probably). And, most importantly, I hope this movie doesn’t suck.
Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00