Unlike some other forms of entertainment the title of a movie isn’t that important. With books, the title is one of the biggest reasons why people will pick it up and give it a chance. They do have plot summaries on the back cover, but unlike with film, books are unable to effectively broadcast a sense of what they will be like. Movies have trailers to suck potential viewers in, as well as provide a short plot tease and give an idea of how they will be composed visually. If we like a trailer a bad name isn’t going to stop us from seeing the film, and actually it seems nowadays that movie producers try to chose the least harmful titles possible. What we are left with are very short titles that give us an idea of what we are looking at, but don’t reveal enough to push us away, Ex: Drive, Contagion, Our Idiot Brother, Warrior. However, sometimes a title ends up saying a lot about a film even though we may not have realized it when we purchased our ticket. Captain America: The First Avenger was one of those films.
Looking back at the title I should have been able to see it before hand, but just as the colon in the title suggests, Captain America really is an amalgamation of two different films. On one hand you have Captain America, Marvel’s take on the origin story on one of their most beloved superheroes. Yet, on the other hand you have The First Avenger, Marvel’s extended commercial for their big upcoming franchise hit The Avengers. Now the split between the two films wasn’t quite as exaggerated as I make it seem above, but while Captain America was an extremely entertaining and well-crafted look at the story of Captain America, the need to tie the film into a larger story world kept it from being great.
Honestly, if Captain America: The First Avenger could’ve been a one off movie it might have been my favorite action film of the summer. It was filled with some excellent and really likable characters, and beautifully captured the WWII aesthetic. In particular I really liked Chris Evans as the titular hero. I thought he would struggle to maintain Steve Rogers scrawny kid mentality throughout the film, but I thought he did an excellent job maintaining his character’s personality and motivations throughout the film. Even when he was saving the world as a super soldier, Evans was able to portray Roger’s quiet confidence and continued anxieties. Not to mention that Dominic Cooper was awesome as Howard Stark, and Hugo Weaving was his usual menacing self as the main villain, the Red Skull.
Still, despite these performances Captain America: The First Avenger struggled when it needed to make its main character more than what he was. I don’t want to ruin anything, but all of the action sequences after the 2/3 mark of the film were way too over the top and didn’t have any emotional build up. They also did not really seem to fit in with the rest of the film. The whole first 2/3 of the movie was there to show that Captain America overcomes any of his physical limitations with heart and desire, and then they made him more superhuman than he needed to be. Also the framing story that allows for Captain America to make it into the present really kills the emotional connection between the characters. The first sequence pretty much gives away the ending, and it makes all of the connections Roger’s makes in the past seem hollower and unnecessary.
Overall, the film was great. It had great action until the end, and was filled with some well-developed characters. Its minor failures were the product of trying to make the film something more than it needed to be. Captain America was good enough on its own. It didn’t need to evolve into a 2 hour Avengers commercial.
Up Next: I take a trip far away from Hollywood and partake in the experience that is Waking Life.