I’m not going to judge this movie against my usual standard. For example, I’m not even going to mention plausibility when it comes to the plot. Not much here is expected to be real. This is the world of comic book pulp, and this is Captain America: The First Avenger. It stars Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, eventually to become Captain America. This came out in 2011 from Marvel Studios (distributed by Paramount Pictures). It’s based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Images are from the DVD, and details are from Wikipedia.
I’m not going to detail the plot. Since this film was a great commercial success, the story is already out there. Here are the take-aways.
Steve Rogers was not always Captain America. We see him in one of the opening scenes as a puny patriot (Paul Warren) attempting for maybe the fifth time to get past the physical requirements and into World War Two. Sometime you need to let me tell you of my similar experience.
It’s a no-go. This skinny kid would need to be carried into combat by somebody twice his size. The Army does not even need mess cooks like Steve.
However, Steve never gives up. And that’s what there is about the future Captain America. This is a scrawny but spunky patriot. He catches the attention of scientist Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci). Erskine has plans to create a cadre of super soldiers, and he needs a test subject. Erskine nods his head, and Steve gets his status stamped 1A. He’s in the army now.
First formation with the army’s special unit sees British Strategic Scientific Reserve officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) addressing the troops. She’s hot, and she’s sharp. First out of the bag she puts a loud-mouth recruit in his place with a solid punch to the face. She has more where that came from.
Erskine and Carter, along with Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) watch Steve as he goes through the sifting exercise that will filter out the candidate for the first conversion. In a series of subtle tests Steve displays remarkable qualities that set him apart. He perseveres in the crawl beneath live fire and barbed wire when another soldier attempts to foul him up. When his companions fail all attempts to retrieve a banner atop a flag pole, Steve merely takes down the flag pole and snatches the banner off the ground. In a final test, Colonel Phillips tosses a dummy grenade among the troops, and all duck for cover, except Steve, who covers the grenade with his body. He’s the candidate for the first conversion trial.
The conversion is for some reason carried out in a secret lab located in mid-town Manhattan (??). It’s a resounding success. The scrawny Steve emerges from from the mummy enclosure a super athlete of proportions that catch the attentions of Officer Carter. But not for long. Immediately a German spy, who has infiltrated the operation, reveals himself and opens fire with a pistol, killing Erskine and others before making a break for the door. Super Steve gives chase.
The chase continues out on the street, with Carter and the spy trading shots, and Steve chasing the spy down on foot. When the spy’s high jacked taxi cab crashes near the waterfront he jumps into a submersible vessel he has secreted by the pier and attempts to escape under water. Steve dives in, out-swims the boat, smashes through the boat’s canopy, and tosses the spy up onto the pier. The fight ends when the spy chomps down on a poison capsule. As he dies, the spy salutes Hydra, the extra-Nazi enterprise aimed not at winning the war for the Nazis, but at taking over the entire world.
With Erskine dead, the super warrior program is ended. Steve is marketed as Captain America to sell war bonds. It’s a great campaign and goes well state-side, with Steve becoming a national hero. It does not go well overseas, as real soldiers object to Steve’s basking in glory while they do the actual fighting and dying.
Then comes word that Steve’s friend, Sergeant James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and his unit, “the 107th,” have been captured by the Germans. Steve enlists Carter’s help and swipes a plane and a parachute and goes on a solitary mission to rescue the 107th. Dressed as Captain America, he kicks ass and brings the 107th back to American lines almost intact.
In the German camp (really a Hydra operation) Steve has noticed a map featuring the remaining Hydra operational sites. Captain America and a band of brothers embark on a campaign to demolish Hydra before they can attack the American east coast with super weapons kept secret from their Nazi superiors.
All goes almost well, as Bucky falls to his death from a speeding train, and Steve takes command of a Hydra jet bomber heading to wipe out New York City. Steve has no recourse but to crash the bomber in the frozen Arctic, this after exchanging loving farewells with sexy Peggy.
And that brings us around to how the movie opened up, with investigators in modern times finding the Captain America shield frozen in ice inside a strange crashed aircraft. Steve comes to in a phony hospital bed and is told he has been asleep for over 70 years. There is obviously going to be more. We know there is going to be more, because Sebastian Stan has been signed for additional roles as Bucky Barnes. Keep watching.
Readers, this is the 21st century, and if modern times have done anything for us, it has given movie makers the ability to turn fantasy into reality with the aid of computer-generated imagery. It’s all done well in this flick, maybe not was well as in another recent film, San Andreas, but definitely suitable for a comic book story transported to the big screen. Keep watching.