Another comic book movie. The fourth one this summer alone, the 3rd Marvel movie of the summer. Is anyone else getting sick of it? Surely there can’t be that many die-hard comic book fans out there just dying to see every tights-clad paragon of virtue ever conceived on paper on the big screen.  I’ve got nothing against superhero movies, some of them are my favorites, but it’s starting to get ridiculous.   People who call themselves die-hard comic book fans are just the hipsters of the nerd kingdom anyway.

But I digress.

Not being familiar with Captain America and his origin story, and being the skeptic I am, I was going to be director Joe Johnston’s toughest sell.   Like all comic book movies, Captain America has to both pay lip service to its die hard fans who know all the details already, and give newcomers to the story a satisfying movie experience with characters they give a damn about without knowing who they are beforehand. That in mind, I went into the theater expecting more of the same.

Captain America, astoundingly, doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the rest of the summer comic book movies.  It’s still a comic movie through and through, but it seems to be aware of that fact, and consequently it comes across as much less self-righteous and melodramatic. In fact, Captain America almost seems to parody its summer movie predecessors;  It’s campy, over the top, superhero fun.

:Note to bad guys: When designing your secret base to protect against a motorcycle-riding hero, make sure your gates aren’t conspicuously ramp-shaped.  Just saying.

Oh... you mean that WASN'T a convenient ramp-gate? My bad....

The square-jawed, morally incorruptible hero Steve Rogers, A.K.A. Captain America, is played by an exceedingly muscular Chris Evans. For the first part of the movie however, his is face affixed, convincingly via computer animation, to the body of a scrawny boy with a healthy sense of honor, until he gets injected with super steroids and becomes the ass-kicking patriot we all know.  He’s basically the ultimate frat guy; good looking and cocky, disk-golfing against the evil forces of HYDRA with his indestructible circular shield of justice.  He assembles a team of ethnically diverse rescued prisoners (one with an astoundingly well groomed moustache and bowler hat, even though he’s been in a Nazi prison camp for who knows how long) to help him, and they provide some welcome comic relief to the somewhat stodgy Captain.

In fact, the cast around the Captain was all pretty top notch, providing a nice contrast to our somewhat depthless hero.  The love interest to Evan’s Steve Rogers is a buxom and beautiful Hayley Altwell (why have I not seen her before??), as the sexily British, yet modernly independent and ass-kicking Agent Peggy Carter.  Tommy Lee Jones is Tommy Lee Jones playing an army guy, and I would expect nothing less from him.  The villain of the story is a gleefully evil Hugo Weaving, as the inexplicably noseless Red Skull, who wields the Nordic Ice Cube of Power (that’s what I think it was anyway, it’s not really explained…), and plans to destroy the world with an army of laser-toting, black clad, faceless stormtrooper ripoffs and a huge stealth bomber thing.

Wait a minute... When did we get to Endor?

The whole thing is gloriously over the top, and I found myself laughing at some of the action scenes due to their sheer ridiculousness.  I’m not sure if that was intended, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  The movie was funny, I found myself laughing frequently,and unlike the heavy-handed ramblings of Thor and the Green Lantern, Captain America seemed almost refreshing.

Much of that was due in part to its writing.  It was a satisfying moment when, at the movie’s climax, as Captain America faces off against the diabolical Red Skull, the villain asks our red, white and blue-clad hero “Do you ever give up?” and the Captain’s response is simply, “Nope.” That simple “nope” in the stead of the genre’s usual lengthy speeches on virtue and black-and-white moral platitudes, a tribute to the surprisingly sharp script of writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

The most memorable part of the movie to me was after discovering his remarkable powers, Steve Rogers immediately gets whisked off on a War Bonds tour, performing to catchy jingles, making speeches, and punching Hitler in the face every night.  This instead of the typical training montage was a welcome and realistic change.  After an ill-received show for G.I.’s in Italy however, Rogers finds his true calling; superherodom.

So overall I enjoyed the movie much more than I expected to.  It’s campy summer fun, and it doesn’t take itself as seriously a the trailers led me to believe.  It did however, seem to be sort of a giant teaser for next Summer’s Avenger’s movie.  Which would have been disappointing if I wasn’t so excited for the movie (mainly because of Robert Downey Jr.’s return as Iron Man).   Another strange aspect of the movie was the fact that I couldn’t figure out, on numerous occasions, if it was paying homage to other well-known movies or just ripping them off. One scene in which Captain America speeds through a forest on his motorcycle is so reminiscent of Star Wars, it borders on plagiarism.

That aside, I can highly recommend Captain America as an entertaining two hour respite from the summer heat.

Feedback please,
-Andrew

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