Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
May 11, 2020 3:36 PM - Subscribe

During World War II, Steve Rogers is a sickly man from Brooklyn who's transformed into super-soldier Captain America to aid in the war effort. Rogers must stop the Red Skull, Adolf Hitler's ruthless head of weaponry, and the leader of an organization that intends to use a mysterious device of untold powers for world domination.

NY Times: "With a dusty color scheme that evokes newsprint and cheap ink, and a production design that captures the Deco-inflected futurism of an earlier time, the movie is nostalgic without making a big fuss about it. And though there are plenty of the usual digital enhancements and overscaled effects, the pseudo-operatic grandiosity that has become a staple of the genre is mostly missing. Instead 'Captain America,' like its unapologetically corny hero, is propelled by unpretentious and plucky ingenuity."

Roger Ebert: "It was a pleasure to realize, once 'Captain America: The First Avenger' got under way, that hey, here is a real movie, not a noisy assembly of incomprehensible special effects."

AV Club: "More than any Marvel Studios film since Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger feels like it’s working from a conceptual checklist titled How To Make A Superhero Movie Fun For Everyone."
posted by computech_apolloniajames (27 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm really glad that I saw this movie without having any clue who Chris Evans was at the time (and what he really looked like) because I was completely taken in by the effects to create pre-serum Steve Rogers. I was also not nearly as steeped in Marvel stuff at the time and hadn't even seen the trailer for it so I didn't know what he would actually look like post-serum. I genuinely bought it. I read some reviews where people found it a little weird looking but that's because they knew they were watching an effect. What's even more impressive to me is that they didn't simply put Evans' head over someone else's body but used a myriad of methods including cgi on his actual body. That meant that the head/body movements looked completely natural and not out of sync with each other.
posted by acidnova at 3:46 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


I don't remember my Marvel history well enough to swear to this, but I liked how MCU Steve Rogers' first job as Captain America was being a tool for war propaganda. Way back in the original comics he started out fighting spies stateside, since the US had yet to join WWII, and in later versions he could just be sent to Europe right away. But the original comic and movie serials and all were themselves pretty much, as I understand it, pretty goofy propaganda (no disrespect to Hitler-punchers intended), and it was a neat choice I hadn't really expected for the adaptation to make that side of the character literally part of the plot.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:29 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


This is one I routinely recommend to non-comics/superhero fans. You don't need to know any backstory, think capes are cool, etc.
They enjoy it, and then I explain the rest of the Marvel movies, saying that this was a Period Piece; the Thor ones are High Fantasy, the Ant-Man ones are Comedy Heist, etc. There's something for most genre fans. Then the Avengers movies are when they all team up. "Oh, now I see how this is a thing. Maybe not for me, but I get it now."
posted by bartleby at 10:17 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]


If there is justice in this world, Ant Man/Wasp III will have a slow motion long pan of Luis delivering one-punch knockouts to much larger and powerful opponents backed by a Morrisey/Smiths song to save the titular characters, while the rest of the X-Cons and Cap mop up the henchmen in his wake. I mean, he doesn't even slow down, and Cap is there with the shield flying everywhere when they try to shoot him...
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:48 PM on May 11


This might still be one of my favourite Marvel movies, for the reasons Ebert (a film old enough that it was reviewed by Roger Ebert in person! Although he didn't stick around for the mid-credits scene, evidently) gives - it's an actual movie. My memory of the time is that Iron Man and this were a pleasant surprise not just because they were good superhero movies, but that they were good movies. I'd need to research it, obviously, but I remember it being head and shoulders above most popular stuff in the solidity of its characterisation, writing and performances. What's even more impressive is that they maintained Steve Rogers as a character with remarkable consistency up to his apotheosis in Endgame - recognisably the same person, and the route by which he gets there from here is clear and understandable. Which, when you consider we're talking about Hollywood and the most expensive and successful movies of the last couple of decades, is remarkable verging on astonishing.
posted by Grangousier at 12:24 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]


One of my favorite moments in all of the Marvel movies is when Steve crashes through that window when he suddenly realizes how much bigger his body is and what "Momentum" is. The series really went out the window in terms of reality later on (though I love it anyway, "Bleeding Edge" technology and all), so it was such a nice moment in 2011 to have a tiny, throwaway physics lesson in that Marvel movie.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:58 AM on May 12


So, recently I watched this British film from the 1940s called A Matter of Life and Death. It's a romantic fantasy film - a British pilot gets shot down on his way home during an air raid, and as his plane is going down he radios in to England to talk to someone one last time before he crashes. He ends up talking to a pretty radio operator and they bond a little during their call - but because of (movie fantasy logic) he ends up not dying, and he tracks her down and they start dating.

When I watched that opening, I thought "Huh, this reminds me of that final scene in Captain America for some reason. I wonder why." And there's a very good reason why - Captain America actually lifted that moment from A Matter Of Life And Death.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Oh - and there's a tiny moment right after Steve first gets treated by the serum, and Peggy, as she's checking up on how he is, reaches out and touches his pec. Apparently that was...unscripted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:02 AM on May 12 [6 favorites]


This is absolutely without a doubt my favourite Marvel movie. It has a real sense of its own identity in a way that most of the others don't.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:35 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


I liked the movie for all the same reasons people have said.

As not-a-comic-book-reader this Steven Attewell piece on the New Deal era roots of Steve Rogers made me really appreciate that the movies played him straight and true to his roots through the whole run.
posted by mark k at 8:22 AM on May 12


I loved this movie and rank it at least in the top five of MCU films. I really wish that they hadn't rushed Steve Rogers out of the WWII era and had spent a few more movies in that time.
posted by octothorpe at 12:45 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


I'm Team Cap 100%. I loved this movie and need to watch it again soon. Evans' portrayal of Captain America is fantastic, and the movie's take on Cap is refreshing. No grimdark or shades of grey here, he's the Good Guy. It's that simple. "I can do this all day" indeed.
posted by jzb at 1:50 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Agreed! I hate the fact that people seem to turn to grimdark as a default now to show characters that have layers and complexity. Cap may not have some of those particular types of internal struggles and his moral compass never actually wavered (just who he was willing to trust and fight for). But he absolutely has his own complex issues, particularly when it comes to being a "man out of time" and having to reconcile with all that he lost and never actually got over.

[we can reference later Marvel movies here, right?]
posted by acidnova at 2:01 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


I *love* this movie on its own, but also love that it paved the way for my absolute favorite in the whole franchise, which is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Those two Cap movies represent the best of what the Marvel movies can be: delightful, inspiring, human.
posted by merriment at 7:17 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


I’m watching all of the MCU movies in chronological order, and wasn’t sure if there was sufficient interest in a coordinated viewing party. I can take a room temp in FF Talk.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:36 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


I decided to rewatch this when I saw this post on the purple, and unlike sometimes when I rewatch something that I've already seen more than once just to refresh my memory, it absolutely wasn't a chore. Joe Johnston's movie got overshadowed by the Russo brothers' MCU films, but there's a lot in it that still stands on its own, such as Steve's short career selling war bonds. brief appearances by familiar actors (the ones who played Walder Frey and Margaery Tyrell-Baratheon-Lannister-Lannister in particular), and just a lot of neat, funny little bits--hinting that it shares a universe with Indiana Jones, for example, or the fact that Steve's first and cheesiest costume is the one that's the most like the classic comic book one.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:27 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Agreed, octothorpe. I could have watched a whole movie of just Cap, Peggy, and the Howling Commandos skulking in the forests and kicking HydraNazi butts.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:15 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


When I saw this in theaters, I didn't realize it was from the same director as The Rocketeer (which I adore) and most of my previous comics fandom had been DC-based so I didn't know a ton about Marvel characters. But this movie had everything I didn't know I wanted in a superhero movie.

The fact that it was a period piece, the total absence of winking isn't-this-cheesy irony, the (mostly decently accurate) 40s costumes. The way the Howling Commandoes made room in a WWII movie for people who, well, didn't looks like Chris Evans. Stanley Tucci as a wise twinkly-eyed mentor. Peggy fucking Carter.

When the musical montage for the war bonds tour started, I legit whispered oh my god, are they spying on my dreams? out loud in the theater. I was on a first date, and he was not prepared to witness me going from 0 to fangirl that fast.

I have... a lot of issues with later Marvel movies, especially Endgame, but for me this movie is untarnishable.
posted by nonasuch at 10:38 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


When the musical montage for the war bonds tour started, I legit whispered oh my god, are they spying on my dreams? out loud in the theater. I was on a first date, and he was not prepared to witness me going from 0 to fangirl that fast.

"Bring back the girls!"
"I think they only know the one song..."

Always cracks me up.
posted by acidnova at 1:22 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I'm with merriment in that Winter Soldier is my favourite MCU film (and up there as an all-time favourite film in general) but my love for that film is decidedly grounded in this one.

Chris Evans is perfectly cast and the way they wrote Cap in this and the sequel was what made him my favourite superhero.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:55 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


I think we can all agree that there's someone in the Marvel casting office that has visions. Do we even get all the movies if RDJ isn't cast as Iron Man to kick things off?
posted by praemunire at 2:14 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite moments, of many, is his jumping on the grenade and waving people to get away
And I know it’s directly echoed in a much later movie and it’s killing me that I can’t remember which moment I’m thinking of
posted by flaterik at 1:01 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I was supposed to be in this. I had signed up with an extras agency, and was scheduled for a costume fitting as Soldier / POW for untitled WW2 movie.

But I had travelled home from Scotland on an overnight bus (which I don't recommend) and my actual job was getting annoyed at me moving all my leave around constantly, so I missed the costume fitting and decided that the bad rep I was getting for trying to fit these filming days in was not worth the hobby.

It was only later that I discovered that unnamed WW2 film was actually Captain America.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:12 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


> hinting that it shares a universe with Indiana Jones, for example

Tell me more about this! I haven't seen Captain America for a bit, and am planning on rewatching soon.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:13 AM on May 17


It's near the beginning of the movie, when Schmidt retrieves the Tesseract; he says something about Der Führer digging for trinkets in the desert. This isn't necessarily referring to Indiana Jones, as there have been numerous rumors of Hitler actually searching for occult artifacts (which may have been where the creators of Raiders of the Lost Ark got the idea); this idea, particularly with Hitler getting ahold of the Spear of Destiny, has been used in comics before, particularly to explain in-universe why some of the WWII-era superheroes, Superman in particular, didn't just waltz into Berlin and grab Hitler. (It should be noted that many historians scoff at the historical basis for this.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:50 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Rewatched it last night. It passes the Bechdel Test! Only because it's a pass/fail test, to be clear, but it does pass.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:39 PM on May 18


That moment when Steve Rogers jumps on the grenade is my favorite out of all the Marvel movies, and the perfect encapsulation of what his character represented, both then and now: That, in an era of racism and eugenics, the true superhero is the ordinary person who chooses to save others at their own expense. And it's the refugee scientist who lost his family who sees that in Steve. It's corny as hell, but it's also gratifying that we get one superhero who deserves the powers he is given.
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 9:01 AM on May 22 [6 favorites]


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