Rather than doing typical sequels, Marvel has come up with a plan to take their vast universe and spread it across several different films. These movies (Iron Man, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk) are loosely tied together with references to one another and a few reoccurring characters, culminating in The Avengers film due out next summer. The films can stand alone, but the plots become richer and more exciting when put together.
Captain America: The First Avenger fits nicely into Marvel’s superhero puzzle; its transition from comic book to the silver screen was nearly seamless. But what makes Captain America really stand out in Marvel’s slew of superhero movies is the character development and the setting. The film takes place during World War II and follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he transforms from a seemingly average guy into a super soldier.
Unlike Thor and Tony Stark, Steve Rogers comes from humble beginnings. He is nothing more than a scrawny boy with unwavering bravery and a resolve to fight injustice. Rogers is a leader not because he is the biggest and the best, but because of his determination to do good for others. He is a hero long before his transformation and remains relatable after he gains his powers.
Instead of just providing a basic backdrop, the setting creates a situation where Rogers’s heroism is necessary. He doesn’t become a hero by accident; it is the environment and circumstance that propel him into the role. In one scene he tells Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), “I don’t want to kill anybody. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.” Rogers works well in a setting where the bullies are obvious. The film’s antagonist is a power hungry Nazi known as Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), the leader of terrorist organization HYDRA. In a tie-in to Thor, Red Skull steals the Asgardian cosmic cube to gain unlimited power. Though both characters are a product of the same circumstances, Rogers’s deep seeded goodness makes him a hero whereas Red Skull’s desire for control drives him to villainy.
The film uses real props and effects to maintain a sense of realism. Unlike Green Lantern’s completely CG costume, Captain America’s costume and shield are real and translate well from comic book to film. Along with props, Captain America‘s action sequences are well executed and thought out. It is clear that the director used more practical effects and less CGI to keep the movie grounded. However, when used, the CGI is not too noticeable. The most CGI is used to make Chris Evans appear smaller to fit Steve Rogers’s appearance before he’s injected with the super serum.
At its heart, Captain America: The First Avenger is a story about good versus evil, but the way it is told makes it unique to the superhero genre. Steve Rogers’s powers don’t make him a superhero; his humanity does. He isn’t in it for revenge or glory; Steve Rogers is an average person who wants to stand up for others. A hero you can’t help but root for.
Meghan Cannistra is a college student majoring in English. Along with watching movies, she loves to read and write and enjoys fairy tales, ghost stories, and comic books. When she isn’t busy chasing her two cats, Doom and Gloom, around the house she is browsing Netflix for something good to watch. Check out her Figment page, as well as her blog, Ink Stained Octopus.