Captain America: The First Avenger is synonymous to Iron Manand Thor in the sense that it serves as a predecessor to the anticipated 2012 The Avengers, as made evident by the title. While, yes, being one of the better superhero-adaptations, it’s — exactly like the large proportion of its kind — laced with a derivative protagonist, a highly foreseeable storyline and an overal feeling of unoriginality.
The film unfolds in the present, where our superhero Captain America (Chris Evans; Fantastic Four, Scot Pilgrim vs. The World) is found frozen in a block of ice. After cutting back a number of decades to the time of World War II, we meet Steve Rogers. He has ample courage, but is trapped in an unfitting body. Simply put: He is a weakling unable to defend himself. However, he has a good heart and equal intentions. Having the conviction that not fighting for his country is a right he doesn’t have, he, without giving up, makes ample attempts to be accepted into the military. And his perseverance proves rewarding, as he eventually does succeed. But only because he caught the eye of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci;The Devil Wears Prada, Lucky Number Slevin) who’s in dire need of a fitting test subject for an experiment to create a “supersoldier”.
Dr. Erskine was not in search for a physiologically fit man, instead he aimed for a person capable of understanding respect for great power. Rogers being the pushover that he is, knows it all too well. After first being used merely as a symbol for the United States of America, he takes it upon himself to eradicate an organisation titled “Hydra”, lead by the supervillain The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving; V For Vendetta, The Matrix Trilogy) who’s only objective is to gain absolute power, and to destroy New York. Why they wasted his time as a propaganda puppet instead of utilizing him for military situation baffles me, seeing anyone can wear the disguise and serve as said puppet.
My main issue with our lead character lies largely on a personal level. Seeing that I am the last person in the world to be even a tad patriotic for any country (as I find the idea of patriotism asinine), I couldn’t bring myself to admire or sympathize with Steve Rogers, finding his stance rather fatuous than heroic (although they don’t necessarily exclude each other). And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they threw in a tediously nationalistic theme utterly fatiguing to listen to.
That’s not to say that Chris Evans’ performance was bad. I found that he exhibited potential playing the gallant Captain America. A big surprise, seeing I had an aversion towards him before (after watching both Fantastic Four films).
One of the film’s main strengths is Hugo Weaving as the diabolical Red Skull. Certainly, he’s a single-layered evildoer, yet that didn’t refrain him from being an enjoyable antagonist (though note that he was aided along greatly by the majestic make-up). However, this is really yet another case of the enemy being “cool”, as opposed to being a character we genuinely despise, which is how a truely great oppugner should be. Think Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The World War II setting is another attribute that works beneficial to the picture. However, an allotment of its potential is laid to waste due to the copiousness of laser-guns and other comic-book-esque futuristic technology. Perhaps it’s just me but I find Tommy Guns to be more exciting in an action sequence.
It’s been said to death by now, but only for being a truism: The superhero-genre is absolutely worn out, and Captain America: The First Avenger certainly doesn’t help the issue. I am hopeful, that the film all these adaptions have been leading up to will bring something else to the table, but I fear for the worst.
Note: I chose not to see the 3-D version of the film for two reasons: One, I prefer the afternoon screening, which only played in 2D. And two: None of the films in 3-D I have seen –while not always terrible– weren’t truely worth those extra 2 euros.