“Captain America: The First Avenger” was directed by Joe Johnston, based on the Marvel comic book series and is the 5th film in the first phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Johnston had previously directed 1994’s “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, 1995’s “Jumanji”, & 2001’s “Jurassic Park III”. The film stars Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Derek Luke, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper, Stanely Tucci & Tommy Lee Jones. After Marvel had success bringing other heroes to their universe such as “Iron Man”, “Thor” & “Hulk”, Captain America was next in line. Marvel had attempted to make a ‘Cap’ movie in the early 90’s along with Roger Corman’s “Fantastic Four” straight to video film. Both were critical and commercial failures. After Marvel’s success with their Disney films and also Fox’s “X-Men”, Sony’s “Spider Man” & Universal’s “Hulk”, Marvel continued to expand their newly formed cinematic universe.
In 1942, a Nazi officer, Johann Schmidt (Weaving) and small group of men find a ancient relic in a German occupied town in Norway known as “The Tesseract”. With this relic, Schmidt will not only take over the Nazi party but wipe them out along with the rest of world with his newly formed faction, HYDRA. Meanwhile in New York City, Steve Rodgers (Evans) is desperately trying to enlist in the Army but because of his small stature and medical problem his constantly denied. Even with his best friend, Bucky Barnes (Stan) returning and reassuring Steve that’ll all work for him in the end, he still has his doubts. However, his luck changes after he meets a German scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (Tucci). He created a serum that can enhance the human body and create what they call a “Super Soldier”. He also explains how he originally tested on Schmidt and that left him horribly disfigured, turning him into the Red Skull. Despite disapproval from Colonel Chester Phillips (Jones) but some unlikely support from British Agent Peggy Carter (Atwell), Rodgers agrees to the procedure & takes the serum. Using Dr. Erskine’s serum & Howard Stark’s (Cooper) technology, the serum turns Rodgers into Captain America. With super strength, speed & agility, Cap can now take the fight to the Red Skull & HYDRA and hopefully end the war.
Captain America is a popular character within the comics but hadn’t made the leap to big screen but after Iron Man & Thor, it was only a matter of time before Captain America. Chris Evans nails it as Cap and really plays the part both emotionally and physically. While the film doesn’t hold back on visuals, the performances really carry the film from beginning to end. Johnston did a fabulous job with the visuals as well as visual storytelling and takes the audience on a wild adventure which is how Marvel’s origin stories should always begin. Another great performance is actually Hugo Weaving. His portrayals of villains or anti-heroes have always been top notch, such as “Agent Smith” from “The Matrix” or “Megatron” from the “Transformers” franchise or even “V” from “V For Vendetta”. One big complain for the MCU films is always the lack luster villains. Red Skull is good but does have that one off characteristics.
Overall, this was a solid debut for the Cap but had one of the strongest lead performances following Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man”. Ironically, this makes Evans’ 7th comic book film but by far his best. He played Johnny Storm / The Human Torch in 2005’s “Fantastic Four” & its 2007 sequel. He voiced Casey Jones in the 2007 animated Ninja Turtles film, “TMNT”. He starred in “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” & “The Losers”, both which are based on the graphic novels of the same name. This film was last prior to the release of “The Avengers”, which was the end of the first phase in the MCU. Cap would go in to 2 more sequels both solo films as well as the next 3 “Avengers” films. Despite the Red Skull returning in “Avengers: Infinity War”, Weaving, unfortunately, did not return. Instead, Ross Marquand would play the character in both “Infinity War” & “Endgame”. Hayley Atwell also would continue her role as Peggy Carter in the spinoff show, “Agent Carter” as well as other films like, “Ant-Man” & “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Stan would also return as Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier in both of last 2 Cap films & the Avengers films, he even had a small cameo in “Black Panther”.