Have you ever noticed how United States Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell looks like Jack McBrayer in old age makeup? Have you also ever noticed how Arnold Schwarzenegger is melting into a Tommy Lee Jones doppelgänger? And what of Smokey Bear’s “no eye contact” policy as of late? What’s that guy hiding?
“Hey brahs, is this where the party’s at?”
Captain America: The First Avenger
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, T.L. Jones
Directed by Joe Johnston
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood returned to Captain America, the smilin’ Nazi-smasher whose previous leaps from the comic book page always left something to be desired (they gave him plastic ears in the 1990 Matt Salinger version!). Director Joe Johnston does our favorite fictional soldier justice here, though, presenting a swift, believable adventure that doesn’t skimp on action or heart. This should come as no surprise—Johnston directed 1991’s criminally underrated The Rocketeer, which was basically Captain America with a jet pack.
Shrimpy Brooklynite Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is determined to join the Army so he can go whup up on Hitler as Captain America: The First Avenger opens; alas, a battery of health problems produce nothing but rejection stamps for the poor schlub. Steve’s multiple enlistment efforts quickly catch the attention of a military scientist (Stanley Tucci) on the lookout for a runt of iron will he can morph into America’s first genetically engineered super soldier. Throwing caution to the wind, Steve agrees to get injected with the scientist’s wacky juice, and shrimp turns to stud in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, treachery is afoot before our hero can even really check out his brand new sweat-dappled physique. Thrust into action, Steve Rogers must save any superfluous mirror flexing for another time.
The treachery that gets Captain America into gear involves a Nazi splinter group called Hydra, headed by the nefarious Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). Schmidt is totes obsessed with this ancient Norwegian power cube that can instantly blast any human into Cheeto dust. The guy’s plan is to overthrow Hitler and conquer the world himself, because who needs Hitler when you’ve got the Norwegian power cube? Of course, Johann didn’t count on crossing paths with a shield-throwing warrior from the States of absolute resolve and truly epic calf muscles. Indeed, Steve Rogers gives Hydra a run for their money across Europe, blowing up their spots with a little help from his hand-picked back-up posse that includes a mustachioed beer guzzler named Dum Dum.
Although the dialogue could be stronger in places and the ending feels a little rushed, Captain America: The First Avenger delivers everything else you could want from a movie based around this revered Marvel Comics hero—heaps of engaging action sequences (all propelled by that anachronistic but totally fun 1940s “aw, shucks!” patriotism), several sharp dashes of humor, and a depiction of bone-chilling villain Red Skull that thankfully doesn’t look like they just stapled beets to some idiot’s face. Spider-Man and Tony Stark may top Captain America in terms of basic cool factor, but this boy in blue is still a hoot to follow into his various battles.
FINAL SCORE: Three and a half Norwegian power cubes (out of four).