In the midst of Marvel’s renaissance of super hero movies, after the breakout success of X-men and Spiderman, the studio decided to release a series of movies based on individual super heroes that comprise The Avengers. When the movies started coming out, I primarily ignored them. I was more of an X-men/Batman fan and didn’t think much of them. A few weeks after the first Iron Man movie was released, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. To my surprise, it was engaging and entertaining. Despite this, I still didn’t give Captain America much attention when the first movie came out. Once I saw The Avengers, I had to give the good Captain his due and AMC was kind enough to do a marathon last night for the first movie and the brand new sequel.
The movie starts in the present, and we have a search team discovering something in frozen in snow and ice. There is a glimpse of a shield with the stars and stripes on it and the story becomes a flashback. The story of Steve Rogers is that he is a small kid with a big heart. Even though he’s outmatched by any and all adversaries, he doesn’t back down from a fight, this stance is furthered because of the loss of his parents as a young adult. Rogers has a stick-with-it-ness mentality that has him breaking laws trying to enlist in the army for the Second World War. A scientist takes pity on Rogers and gets him into the army, though no one takes him seriously.
It is at this juncture that the scientist reveals that he has an experimental procedure that could make Rogers the ultimate soldier. The risks are high, but with the chance to fight in the army, beat down a bully, as Rogers puts it, he doesn’t hesitate. The moment the experiment is complete, he becomes bigger and stronger, the innate goodness in him compounded by the serum. The experiment does not go on without a hitch and an agent of Hitler and Schmidt (aka the Red Skull) is there and shoots and kills the scientist. Rogers goes after the killer and catches him, only to have him commit suicide with a cyanide pill.
While the scientist promised a chance for Rogers, the army colonel doesn’t and Rogers is relegated to a show piece, performing in a staged production to induce the masses to donate to the cause by buying bonds. When he is assigned to speak in front of soldiers in the field, he is rebuffed and realizes his dream of being a soldier is just that. The contingent he is with is comprised of one his boyhood friend was a part of and without orders, he takes off to try and rescue them. The mission is a success and he is given the chance to lead his own strike team to thwart Schmidt’s forces throughout the war zone. The movie ends in climactic fashion as Rogers is forced to sacrifice himself to save the world from Schmidt’s madness.
Looking back, I can’t for the life of me figure out why I was so turned off on seeing this movie when it first came out in 2011. From beginning to end, the movie is compelling and well-made. More than that, this movie is another hallmark in what I call the Joss Whedon engine of success. I often wonder if he has had a part in each and every one of these Avengers related movies, which I am sure he has. The vision of them, the themes they possess are both individualized for each hero and yet homogenized as they end up being put together in one team.
This movie possesses all the elements of a great Hollywood blockbuster. Chris Evans’ portrayal of the weak turned strong hero who is held to a standard by a high moral compass is superb. The supporting cast is equally affecting, though I found the character of Peggy somewhat unlikeable as being the only female in the movie, practically. The way their relationship was developed was a bit of a slow burn and it evolves at a pace that makes it more interesting as it moves on. I can’t say I had many, if any complaints about this movie. I doubt any of you haven’t had the chance to see this, and with the sequel out now, you really have no reason to have not seen it.
I will say this, after some careful consideration, it dawns on me why I am so gobsmacked by these Marvel movies. When I was a kid, I read X-men, Spiderman and Batman comics. When I watch the movies, I find myself frustrated by the constant changes being made to the stories. With these movies, I come in fresh. I have never read any of the comics related to any of these characters and each story feels fresh and new because it is.