Captain America Ignores Its Roots for Easy Money

Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics in 1941, Captain America was among the first American comic books intended as an explicit work of patriotic, political propaganda: The cover of the debut issue, available months before Pearl Harbor, famously featured the titular costume hero punching out Adolf Hitler.

A nod to that classic beatdown has been worked into a retro-styled poster for Captain America: The First Avenger, but the film, directed by George Lucas protégé Joe Johnston (whose credits span Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and The Wolfman), seems itself concerned with a more timely fight: It's the latest, and last, Marvel Universe prequel to superhero supergroup flick The Avengers, finally due out next spring after half a decade of build-up encompassing two Iron Man films, two actors cast as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, and the establishment of the de riguer post-credit teaser scene. (Spoiler alert: Captain America doesn't have one).

The film concerns the transformation of one Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), "a 90-pound asthmatic" repeatedly declared unfit to fight in World War II, whose persistence impresses Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, heavily vamping), a German scientist working for the U.S. military alongside billionaire inventor/future Iron Man progenitor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). Steve is soon chosen for a top-secret military experiment, for which he'll be injected with a serum that, as Colonel Tommy Lee Jones intones, will turn him from a weakling into "a new breed of super soldier" assigned to "personally escort Adolf Hitler to the gates of Hell." Not that Hitler — or anything else ripped from real history or recognizable life — is really on the radar of this hokey, hacky, two-hour-plus exercise in franchise transition/price gouging, complete with utterly unnecessary post-converted 3-D.

Team USA: Chris Evans fights Nazis in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Team USA: Chris Evans fights Nazis in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Details

Directed by Joe Johnston. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Based on the comic books by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, and Dominic Cooper. Rated PG-13.

Related Stories

More About

Shortly after Steve (who is played in both super-size and diminutive form by Evans via still-creepily uncanny head-replacement effects) emerges from the experiment as an enlarged, greased-up Ken doll, a spy kills Erskine. Without his champion, this human-engineered living weapon is relegated to what an opportunist politician claims is "the most important battlefield of the war" — the media offensive. Touring the country fronting a live propaganda show designed to sell war bonds, star of his own comics and short subjects, Captain America becomes a folk hero for the folks left at home. But on the frontlines, he's a joke. Then, with no apparent combat training but a roadshow-bred sense of showmanship, he mobilizes a rescue mission to liberate his best friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and incidentally frees 400 Allied soldiers for good measure. Steve gets some vague support (and the film gets a spark of much-needed swagger) from his ostensible love interest, Peggy (Hayley Atwell), a tough-broad British soldier who has some kind of role in the operation that's neither specified nor apparently anything that would muss her lipstick.

The lead villain here is Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), a.k.a. The Red Skull, a Nazi whose obsession with the occult is a bit much even for Hitler to take. Having almost cheerfully "left humanity behind," Schmidt has assembled a splinter cult called HYDRA, through which he operates labor camps focused on harvesting energy from the Tesseract — a glowing cube thingy that Schmidt pillaged from Norway — and funneling that energy into weapons. It's never clear what this power force actually is, but somehow it's transferred to laser guns, which shoot streams of something or other to vaporize their victims on contact.

That putting such a corpse-obliterating weapon in the hands of Nazi soldiers would have been something of a Holocaust game changer is one of many rich parallel-historical details that the film doesn't care to grapple with. Captain America assembles a ragtag multi-ethnic band of soldiers to help carry out his elite missions, but there's not so much as a single mention of the ideological divides that plagued the times—and, subsequently, spawned the original anti-Fascist Captain America comics. So what is Captain America fighting for? Apparently nothing more or less than screen time in The Avengers.

 
My Voice Nation Help
6 comments
nyran125tk
nyran125tk

all super heroes come from this era.. Or close to it. it was as time when we needed Super Heroes , so these Marvel adn DC geniuses gave us some.

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

If you know ur marvel mythology it actually makes a little more sense, the cube or "Tesseract" is actually the cosmic cube, its was shown briefly in the Thor movie as an artifact in Odins Vault. Ironman 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America all link to each other in subtle ways, but admittedly, you kinda have to know what your lookin for

Toymaker Hollis
Toymaker Hollis

I love how you rip this movie to shreds and noone even mentions the fact that the newest haryy potter film adds charchters that wernt even in the book at all. I have not heard on bad reveiw of the latest potter flick.I guess you didnt get paid for wrighting a review of captain america so you tore it apart.I for one thought it was enjoyable.but once agin we have a douchbag who wants REALISIM in his MOVIE. hey dumb ass I go to the movies to escape from reality! but if you want to go that way then let me ask you this how come you want to cheer when captian america gets pumed with a "super soldier" formula and you boo when pro athlets do it?see this is why I dont read movie reviews there usually WRONG some of my fav movies have often gotten bad reviews and most movies I hate get five stars for example the sappy bullshit teen love drama that was twilight.that movie is about wearwolves and vampires as much as james bond is about spying lol.

cybercy
cybercy

Thanks. I'll just save my money and wait for it to show up on Redbox!

Azguki
Azguki

Actually, Captain America does include a post-credits "button" scene, but it was not shown during press screenings.

mauricio
mauricio

The information is very interesting.

 

Now Showing

Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

Powered By VOICE Places

Box Office

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!

Loading...