Image © Marvel Comics/Paramount.
I have to admit I’ve read very little of the Golden Age CAPTAIN AMERICA comics, probably only his first origin story. I know the character from his rebirth in the Marvel Comics of the 1960s and beyond. Still, I feel I have some knowledge of the character and his origins, and I found this film version handled them quite well. By necessity, it’s a condensed version, but the main characters and story points are there, as far as I can recall, though with some additions and changes. Chris Evans is good as Steve Rogers/Captain America, and plays it with a nice balance of emotions: brave and confident at times, unsure and vulnerable at others, especially around women. The female lead, Hayley Atwell playing Peggy Carter is one I don’t know from the comics, she may be a new character, but she makes a good foil and contrast to all the men in the story, and holds her own well. Tommy Lee Jones is great as the army colonel, and Hugo Weaving is excellent as the Red Skull, both in the red skull costume and out of it. The plot point that gives him an origin similar to that of Captain America is new, I think, but it gave the plot a nice symmetry, and also gave the two a personal reason to clash that made sense. Other Marvel characters had good supporting roles: Howard Stark (father of Tony Stark, Iron Man I assume), and Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos. The latter weren’t named, and while I recognized most of them, I kept looking for Sgt. Fury. Finally I remembered him being played by Samuel Jackson in one of the other films (“Iron Man”?), and there he was all along. I can understand the reason for the casting, but visually it’s a stretch I didn’t make for a while.
Perhaps the oddest visual effect of the film was in the body and physique of Steve Rogers. He’s shown in the opening as a small, thin weakling, and I bought that completely. Then, after his transformation into Captain America by the magic serum, he’s built like a wrestler or weight-lifter for the rest of the film. One of those things had to be an effect, and I can only assume the early version was someone else’s body with the actor’s head digitally attached. If so, it was quite convincing.
Stan Lee has his usual cameo, and it’s a good one-liner. The World War Two setting, costumes and acting were all successful, and there’s even a cheesy musical number that manages to fit in well. The evolution of the character and costume are also well done, if differently from the comics, and the payoff at the end that brings the story into the present day worked for me, but only because I know it’s leading toward the next film, “The Avengers.” Otherwise it’s rather an abrupt ending. It was nice to see Joe Simon and Jack Kirby get their rightful creator credit at the end, too. And I love the fact that the movie logo is derived almost completely from the logo of the very first comic:
Well done, Marvel!
In all, I liked the film a lot, and recommend it.