“Who’s strong and brave, here to save the American way? Who vows to fight like a man to defend what is right night and day? Carry the flag shore to shore for America, from Hoboken to Spokane? The Star Spangled Man with a plan!”
It’s Captain America!
This film. Was. So! Amazing! Excellent storytelling! I had a goofy grin on my face almost the whole time with sheer delight at how good it was. It had a great cast, plot symmetry and character parallels, unexpected twists, an overly ambitious villain, (“his target is…everywhere!”), and an admirable hero! Plus it was chock-full of fantastic dialogue. I gave up trying to write down all the great lines, this is one I’m going to have to go see again, and it will definitely be joining my personal collection when it comes out on DVD.
This is a Marvel comic movie. Marvel is doing a fantastic job handling their properties, tying them all together and making me eager to see more. It really feels like you are watching a comic book universe come to life. Did you see Iron Man and Iron Man II? Did you see Thor? And the tags at the end of them all? If so, you’ll have an extra level of appreciation for Captain America, but you can totally enjoy and follow it even if you haven’t.
The good guy (Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, played by Chris Evans) is really good. The bad guy (Schmidt, aka Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving) is really bad. And just like in X-Men:First Class, their character and choices define them, not their superpowers. Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) describes his transforming serum by saying, “[it] amplifies everything inside, so good becomes great, bad becomes worse.” It’s why the pathetically weak and tiny Steve Rogers is chosen for the experimental procedure in the first place, and the Dr. asks him to promise that he will “stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”
Boy, is he good. Chasing bad guys, saving innocents, respecting women, braving the odds, serving his country, and literally incapable of getting drunk. Even though he’s beefed up for most of the movie, what I really loved about our hero was how heroically he acted before he got his strength. How he would stand up against “bullies” even when he didn’t actually stand a chance, because it was the right thing to do. He was principled. It reminded me of 1 Timothy 4:12, which says,
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
It’s not exactly the same, but the idea that you can still set an example and make a difference even if people perceive you as too weak, small or young is inspiring and powerful. And it’s reinforced by the fact that the other guys on Captain America’s team prove themselves to be just as heroic, effectively contributing to their missions even though they aren’t “super soldiers.”
Then of course there’s the whole good-versus-evil theme. It’s very clear cut, very black and white. It is interesting, however, to note the 40s-era propaganda style featured throughout the film. (I spent some time on my other blog deciphering the lyrics to the USO song featured in the film, and they are very…propaganda-y.) It seems so obviously manipulative, and it makes me want to re-evaluate the things I’ve seen lately. Do I recognize modern propaganda every time I see it?
Oh man, this move was so good. And yes, you do have to sit through all the credits to get to the tag scene, but the music while you wait is terrific. And you will be rewarded with a glimpse at Captain America, the first Avenger’s fellow assembly members. Summer 2012!