Dir. Joe Johnston
Starring Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan
Viewer beware: if you plan on going to see Captain America: The First Avenger to swoon over a shirtless Chris Evans, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Evans only spends about three minutes of the film’s 125-minute running time in all of his bepectacled glory (if you don’t count the scenes where Evans’ body has been digitally altered and shrunk during his pre-Captain America scenes), and spends the rest of the film running around in far too much clothing fighting far too little evil.
This isn’t to say that Captain America is a bad film. Like Thor before it, Captain America is pure camp from our friends at Marvel. It’s silly and I rolled my eyes more than once during the film, but it’s a balls-out fantastic time, a World War II film on par thematically with Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds but without the playful reflexivity. Captain America eschews all context and self-reflexivity (though the connections to the War in Iraq are easy to make, especially in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death) for more explosions, Americana-filled montages, and Nazi hijinx. Who doesn’t want to see Hugo Weaving ham it up for the camera as a power-hungry Nazi hell-bent on taking over the world before Hitler? Or how about watching Stanley Tucci channel Dr. Strangelove as the German scientist who uses some kind of wonder-serum to turn the puny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into the war machine that eventually becomes Captain America?
It’s clear that Captain America isn’t some quasi-cerebral superhero movie in the vein of The Dark Knight or Spiderman 2, but it does offer solid entertainment. American audiences ate this film up, catapulting it to number one at the box office during its opening weekend. Its celebration of warfare is far too appealing in a country on the brink of economic collapse. Its optimism and deification of America reassures audiences that the last decade of warfare was not all for naught because hey, they killed the bad guy.