Since Zoe chose this month’s Genre, I have decided to give her the privilege of posting the final review in her chosen Genre of Comic Book / Superhero movies.
This month, we once again were able to raise the number of entries and it now holds the record of 11 posts (including this one).
Thanks to everyone who participated.
If you missed any of the reviews, here’s a quick recap:
Me – Unbreakable (2000)
Next month’s Genre is Alien movies and it was chosen by Cara, so start sending me your reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 25th of July.
Here’s Zoe with the finale……
Well, folks, I am back again with another review of an absolute favourite of mine for Rob’s Genre Grandeur, of which I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to choose the genre, which was favourite comic book movie. My first submission was The Punisher (2004), a movie that I watched as a teen and loved, and that love has not been dampened over time, no matter what people have to say about it. Anyhow, today I am going to talk about a movie that I adore, that I just enjoy going back to, one that thrills me every time I watch it. That movie is Captain America: The First Avenger.
“General Patton has said that wars are fought with weapons but are won by men. Our goal is to create the greatest army in history. But every army begins with one man. He will be the first in a new breed of super-soldier. We are going to win this war because we have the best men.”
– Colonel Chester Phillips
When I heard that Captain America was coming to the screen, I was a little sketchy about it. I mean we know the story and all that, but overall he would strike you as a little bland. He falls outside of the realm of superheroes we have been introduced to, and come on, a superhero that bears his country in his name is just… so Americanised and ridiculous (yeah, I know that sounds crazy but sheesh, it is the truth). However, when the time came to check it out, I went in hoping for the best, and oh boy, was I ever rewarded. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is introduced to us as a tiny but loyal and determined man who wants nothing more than to join the United States Army, to fight alongside his fellow countrymen to protect his country against the Nazis. Naturally, though, there is an obstacle: he is tiny, not fit enough, and seems to have the world stacked against him. With the chance given to him by Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), Steve Rogers joins the military, and is later chosen for a specialised and secretive project to create super-soldiers for the government. Instead, Steve is the only super-soldier the government gets, and Dr Erskine is killed by a HYDRA spy, an organisation which would become a serious thorn in Steve’s side.
“Whatever happens tomorrow you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.” – Abraham Erskine
Chris Evans was simply the most perfect choice to play Steve Rogers. When I heard of his casting, I could only think of his role as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, and seeing as it was also set in the Marvel universe, wondered if I would ever be able to separate “flame on” from Captain America. The minute Evans appeared on screen, though, he was never going to be Johnny for me again, but Steve Rogers. He was brilliant. He was shy, determined, honourable and trusty. He gave Steve Rogers life, and likability. He was not someone I had any desire to mock or tease or roll my eyes at. He wasn’t preposterous. He was just exactly what he needed to be: the perfect soldier. The perfect soldier soon went on to be the super-soldier, which was really interesting. The story swiftly goes from his rising dreams to seeing them dashed when he became nothing but a marketing scheme for the American government. Evans handles the transition well from a tiny man, to a huge man, from a potential soldier, to an advertiser, and then straight on to superhero. I thought that was brilliant, and Rogers had some of the best character development I have seen in a superhero movie in ages.
The supporting cast was great. Sebastian Stan (just so gloriously delicious, hmmmmmmmm) played James “Bucky” Barnes, Steve’s best friend. This was a character that could easily have been obscured and forgotten about, and instead gave rise to showing us more of Steve’s character as well as the changes that he had gone through. He was nothing short of complementary, and shed some light on Steve’s history. Next, there were both Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips and Hayley Atwell as British agent Peggy Carter. Both were great. Jones provided some fantastic humour to sink your teeth into, and Atwell showed us another side of Steve, something not driven by country. She was cool, because even though she was a woman portrayed in the forties, she was no pushover or housewife. She stood up for herself and did her thing, and she was strong. I liked that. Dominic Cooper played Howard Stark, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the younger Stark in action, as well as the friendship between him and Steve, which provided endless entertainment. He was smart, he was cocky, and he was a realistic younger Howard Stark.
“The moment you think you know what’s going on in a woman’s head is the moment your goose is well and truly cooked.” – Howard Stark
The story itself entertained me, introducing the Tesseract as well as the excellent Hugo Weaving as the detestable Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. Red Skull, the original failed experiment from Erskine, who was forced to try it out then. He was a bad man, in charge of HYDRA, an organisation that was steadily getting to a place that may have been considered stronger than Hitler’s Nazi forces, though Schmidt was in business at Hitler’s behest. Weaving managed Red Skull well, fluctuating from crazy, to just a dash of cheesy, to something I could totally identify with in terms of comic book villains, which was so cool. Steve’s rise from military trainee to the man who saved hundreds of men from Schmidt was interesting, and to see Schmidt’s reaction to meeting his equal, but the one that was better manufactured so to speak, was also something to behold.
I thought it was really awesome how this all came together. The HYDRA armies were crazy, Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) was a good right hand man for Schmidt, and the lengths that they were prepared to go to in order to take over the world (yes, feeling very Pinky and the Brain here) was quite intense. There were funny scenes, there were sad scenes, there were some fantastic action scenes, and most of all there was a good cast, with good chemistry together, and a good story to tell, a story that kept me hooked from the get go. Captain America turned into my favourite Avenger, without a doubt, and this was the perfect way to introduce him.
Captain America: The First Avenger had a lot of work go into it, which is evident. It is a wonderful period piece, with everything working together. The costume design was amazing and needs to be credited. The score worked perfectly for this movie, and it is easy to get pulled in to it, lost in the cinematic depths that it presents, and thrilled time and time again. This movie was fun, something that definitely needs to be seen and appreciated for what it is!