The summer of the comic book movie keeps on rolling with the latest from Marvel, Captain America. Cap just so happens to be in my top 3 favorite Marvel characters, so I was really looking forward to his transition to the big screen. Say what you want about Chris Evans, but I like the guy. He's funny, he was great as both Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four and was absolutely perfect as Jensen in The Losers. So if nothing else, I felt like they had the right guy to play Steve Rogers. Joe Johnston directing also didn't worry me much, as I love The Rocketeer, it's still one of my favorite superhero films of all time, and I'm also a big fan of last year's Wolfman flick.
I'm going to assume if you're reading this blog then you already at least know a little about Captain America's origin. The First Avenger tells that story, and does it quite well. In fact, aside from a few minor liberties, it's almost directly out of the comics. As I expected, Chris Evans does a fantastic job as Steve Rogers, he is both funny when the movie calls for it, and stone cold serious when the situation dictates. As good as he is though, he still takes a back seat to Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. Even with all the talent in the cast of this movie, Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips, Sam Jackson reprising his Nick Fury role, Stanley Tucci as Doctor Erskine, Hugo Weaving absolutely steals the show, and is picture perfect in both likeness and personality as Herr Schmidt, the Red Skull. I was absolutely giddy anytime he was on the screen. One other standout was Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, I felt like he did a great job breathing life into one of my other favorite Cap villains.
It's a bit on the long side, clocking in at just over two hours, which may be a bit much for average movie goers. As stated, it's an origin movie, and not much more than that. For fans of the character, it's nothing short of fan service. Everything that we've been reading for years in Avengers and Cap's solo title is there. It's evident that Joe Johnston and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley obviously care a lot about the character, and did their homework when it came time to bring him to the big screen. I'm sure this will cause some eye rolling, especially coming from me, but Marvel has finally produced a Batman Begins level movie for one of it's characters. The entire time I was watching, I couldn't help but compare the two, and while I still feel like Batman Begins is a better movie, I wouldn't put Captain America far behind it.
If there were any of Marvel's signature cameo appearances of other characters, I didn't catch it. Tony "Iron Man" Stark's dad plays a pretty big role in Cap, and Stan Lee makes his best cameo EVER. But no other little winks for the comic fans in the audience. It is worth your time to stay after the credits though, it's one of the worst kept secrets of the summer, but just in case anybody reading doesn't know what's there, I won't spoil it. Suffice it to say it wasn't as cool as I'd hoped it would be, but it's way too early to pass judgment.
Captain America ends up being the kind of movie that I desperately wanted Green Lantern to be. It doesn't forcefully cram a lot of unnecessary story into it's runtime, instead focusing on what it sets out to do, tell the origin of the character. It still manages plenty of action and entertainment, but more importantly perfectly introduces Captain America to a movie audience that may never have picked up a comic book in their lives. Don't miss this movie.