We continue on the superhero train as it trundles through summer 2011. A large part of that is, of course, setting up for The Avengers movie that is due into theaters next year. So let’s get around to the first avenger, Captain America.
The film follows a pretty typical formula–scrawny, nothing guy becomes special in way he wasn’t before (see, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins), his mentor first inspires him to greatness then dies (Dumbledore, Obi Wan, Gandalf), then our new hero gathers strength to go forward with the the difficult journey ahead (killing Voldemort, bringing balance to the Force, destroying the Ring). Other classic manipulations are employed, like the best friend dying (Goose in Top Gun, Pete in Rudy) and our hero falls for his feisty and helpful female companion (Trinity in The Matrix, Marion in Indiana Jones). It is perhaps for this reason of sticking to the tried and true methods of filmmaking that Captain America is relatively successful, at least for the first half. Even its villain looks like the love child of Darth Maul and Lord Voldemort.
Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers with earnestness and a completely ripped superhero body sure to make the women of the audience make something between a gasp and a sign and the men of the audience to scoff and/or roll their eyes. He does the job he is given adequately, although earnestness is much easier to get across than the usual angst actors who play superheroes must portray. Captain America has no dead uncle or parents, no love of his life who barely knows his existence–his biggest problem is that he’s small, which Stanley Tucci fixes in a heartbeat. His personal struggle isn’t as interesting as say, Batman’s and Spiderman’s.
The actions scenes are interesting and never so long that you are bored with them. The classically beautiful but unknown face of Hayley Atwell is by far the most interesting thing in this movie–her Agent Peggy Carter throws punches better than the men.
She is, unfortunately, the only original aspect of the film.