The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

| April 10, 2019

For better or worse, a generation is now growing up with the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and whatever that says about the direction of Western Civilization will be left to history depending largely on who writes it.  Avengers: Endgame brings the hammer down on this series on April 27th, so for the next few weeks I am going to take a look back at the films that have built a massive phenomenon.  Are they any good?  Let’s take a look . . .

Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Origin stories are a dime a dozen – an exhausting dozen to be honest.  But good ones are rare and therefore you treasure them.  To recount the origins of Steve Rogers/Captain America might have been easy to hammer together with lots of portents and action and soft trailer lines and heaps of obvious World War II references, but Joe Johnston’s (who also directed the The Rocketeer) approach to this character is not only well-made but it’s created with loving care, loving detail and a reminder of a time gone by, an America whose population pulled together when the world needed her.

It’s also very innocent.  Here is a movie that could have been made in the 1950s during the Cold War.  You feel the sense of national patriotism but the story ebbs toward the fears that would follow it, a fear of national infiltration, of a paranoia that things are being eroded from the inside.

That idea is brought to life by Cap’s chief nemisis, The Red Skull whose vile (and disturbingly far-reaching) forces are infiltrating every facet of American life.  In the midst of this potential calamity is the story of Steve Rogers, the 90 pound weakling who, through a successful experiment becomes a durable and indestructible super-soldier – BUT – it doesn’t change his personality.  Normally in a movie like this, such an experiment would turn the hero into a jerk, but Steve remains the same patriotic and good-hearted kid that he was before.  The situation has shifted and so has his perspective as he moves into battle.

Captain America: The First Avenger is a good-hearted movie.  It’s a fun movie with a lot of period details and comic book spirit that I’m afraid that rest of the MCU hasn’t been able to capture.  Here you feel like you’re watching a living comic book – a good one!  The others largely feel like modern-day action movies.  They’re not bad, but they rarely feel as special as this one.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.