4 years ago Iron Man rewrote the super hero genre in scope and quality and Marvel embarked on one of the most ambitious gambles in cinema… a planned 5 movie cycle culiminating in next year’s The Avengers.
Each movie (Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America… and, if pushed, Iron Man 2 since its tag leads into Thor) built on the universe and expanded the interconnection. Also, each move (again, forgetting Iron Man 2<g>) improved upon the formula in different ways. Captain America is a huge benefactor from this learning curve. With this movie, we have the be most believable villain and an incredible balance of humor, character, and action. All of these existed elsewhere in the cycle, but only in elements and not so well balanced. Overall, it is possibly my favorite of the movies so far, or tied with Iron Man, which (up till the end) had some of the best music and action out of the cycle.
What is interesting for me was this was the movie I had the least interest in. Captain America, to me, was a jingoistic, nationalistic nightmare of a character when I was growing up. It was the antithesis of where I wanted the world to go. The script takes pains to avoid these aspects, especially the cynical aspects of the middle of the film, and talks more about justice and bullies and morals than the flying of a particularly flag… at least until near the end. During the final confrontation between our hero and villain, the villain talks about a future without flags (OK, in all the wrong ways) and our hero says (paraphrasing): not in my future! That set me back on my heels a little, though it may have been culturally accurate for the time. It didn’t ruin the film, but it seemed a back-track from the rest of the message to me.
One of the other main pluses this movie had going for it was the cast. Tucci is just, simply, brilliant. So is Weaving. Evans, does a great job as our hero and as our CGI pre-hero. I have to admit the process of making Evans a 90 pound weakling visually was only 98% susccessful for me. There were many times where it may have looked real, but something felt off in perspective or kinematics. I didn’t even realize what it was until until the transformation, only that something was a little off. Mostly I shrugged it off, but it is quite the acheivement, despite any of the flaws or weaknesses. And most of the success here does go to Evans, who managed to incorporate the sensibility into Captain America.
Clearly there is a francise here to exploit, and they intend to. The sequel is already planned. If Marvel can keep up the writing and directing on these films, they stand to create an enduring mark on film. More than most out there, they realize it is story and character that brings in and keeps an audience, not just f/x. While movies like the Transformers may belie that, in general, I think the statement holds and makes for better business.
Now, as a complete side-rant, and I rant as someone who strives to make the credits in films, can we talk about the absurdly long credits in films today? I know this is a hot topic around the spheres, but c’mon, do I need to the know the chef and the sous chef and the guy who tied the chef’s shoes? Seriously, no one cares. Put this on file and available on the web for folks looking for support teams, but let’s get credits down to less than a measurable percentage of the film’s running time. Particularly for films like these that tag at the end with bridging material. Rant over.
Now, go see this film if you haven’t already!