Captain America: The First Avenger
It’s the first week on the road to Infinity War and that means starting in World War II with the First Avenger, none other than Captain America!
Even as I started watching, I was uncertain whether I should begin with Captain American (chronological in the story timeline) or with Iron Man 1 (chronological in movies made). I had various reasons for either option. Captain America clearly sets up much of the story for the first Avengers movie (in conjunction with Thor), while Iron Man could be a more gentle lead into the overall story and has a very fun character. By the end, however, I was happy I chose to start here.
Right from the beginning, both the strength of story telling and character dialog the MCU has become known for was evident. All the main casts did wonderful jobs, but for me, winner was Hugo Weaving (Red Skull). I love the no-nonsense, intelligent, calculating, psychopathic nature of the villain that was perfectly portrayed. Of course, Chris Evans does a great job in capturing the heroic opposite in Captain America’s uncompromising defense of what is right. Hayley Atwell’s portrayal of Peggy Carter was another strength of the movie, as she nailed the 40’s-style tough woman in a man’s world. If there was any weakness in the characters, it was only the strange appearance of pre-Capt. Steve Rogers, who looked to have Evans’ face CG’ed onto someone else’s body.
The plot of the story also lived up to the levels we’ve come to expect from the MCU, and still holds up well. Here we have highlighted what I love most about the MCU movies. Intelligent characters that don’t make stupid mistakes in order to move the plot along. So many classic superhero movies of old were poorly written with plots dependent on stupidity. But the MCU takes its characters, heroes and villains, seriously and it shows. At every stage, the characters feel true to their nature and their motives. Arguably, the one plot hole that gets mentioned is Capt’s ditching the plane in the arctic. While it is true to character, and a real teary moment, upon analysis, his reasoning does seem weak. But he can be forgiven because people in life or death situation have to make decisions that aren’t always optimal.
Regardless, there were plenty of other great bits in the movie to overcome the very few weak parts. I particularly appreciated how the training montage was shown while Steve was still a scrawny cadet (demonstrating both his physical weakness and his intelligence + courage), while his ‘power montage’ was incorporated into a chase scene that perfectly fit his character. All of this meant the story could keep moving forward through crucial character developments. Importantly for the Avengers franchise, we got plenty of the Tesseract (aka space gem), and even a teaser from the Red Skull about Asgard. Notably, in hindsight, we say that the skull was powerful enough (possibly?) to hold the gem. He clearly appeared to withstand its power long enough to be transported into deep space. Is he coming back in Avengers 3/4? What about future phases?
All in all, after almost seven years, Captain America: The First Avenger holds up well and is a worth place to begin the journey in to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.