Captain America: The First Avenger - Blu-ray Review

'there's real heart here, genuine romance, a care and craft to produce a period superhero film'

Whilst other Marvel releases have groped far and wide to find a range that both satisfied a two-hour narrative arc and a two-year-plus Avengers story, Captain America: The First Avenger benefits markedly from being set within the limiting confines of World War Two. Of course, this doesn't stop Marvel producer Kevin Feige and others with 'greater concerns' from inserting as much Avengers malarkey as they can; there's that subtitle to start with and the traditional epilogue that sadly seems to rule out any chance of an obvious continuation of Caps' story from this point forwards.

Set those concerns aside though and Captain America emerges as the best Marvel film since Iron Man and, probably, one of the better superhero films the current leaning towards the genre has produced full stop. There's real heart here, genuine romance, a care and craft to produce a period superhero film and a fantastic lead performance from Chris Evans, who leaves the right amount of cockiness from his The Losers outing at the door. The whole point about Cap, stressed by Stanley Tuccis' Dr. Erskine from very early on, is that he's a humble man with a respect for his power. If Evans had brought his cocky jock-air to proceedings this could have been a disaster. He doesn't and it isn't.

What it is is an origin story which feels fresh despite the fact that it must be the fifth or sixth we've seen in a very brief period. The hero's historical link to the villain (Hugo Weaving's Johann Schmidt, with Werner Herzog-esque vocal inflections) is hardly new territory but the reveal is well paced and the story well developed. Hayley Atwell has the unenviable job of being pandered to in the position of powerful female lead surrounded by all this male gusto but she - and director Joe Johnston - plays it well, never coming off as the 'quiet but feisty' type and instead emerging as a character with real purpose, desire and intelligent influence over everyone near her. The conclusion of her and Steve Rogers' (Evans) story is engaging, tastefully performed and probably one of the best pieces of emotional manipulation we've seen in this sort of thing.

The subtleties contained within Cap too are a joy to behold. Where Thor had a supporting cast consisting of a monosyllabic Idris Elba and a badly judged Warriors Three, Cap has Tommy Lee Jones in full gruff one-liner mode ('I ain't kissin' you'), Tucci in scene-stealer mode and Dominic Cooper in, erm, Robert Downey's Jr.'s Dad mode. It all meshes brilliantly, as does the decision at the start of the final third not to make us watch Cap counter-attack after Cap counter-attack, Johnston instead opting to skip straight to the meaty plot-based stuff. It's a wise decision and this is a wise film, smartly delivered in a very slick-looking period package. More of this, less of the Iron Man 2s please.

Look further...

'bold, if not entirely successful, [attempt] to do something fresh and different with the superhero and war genres' - From Oedipus To Samuel L. Jackson's Wallet


  1. There's a respect for the source and of the time in Joe Johnston's direction that works, however that framing device at the beginning does the film a bit of an injustice.

    It removes the suspense, threat (it doesn't help that the 'modern' films never mention Hydra) and even in the love aspect that framing device is a bit of death knell (literally?) as I found it hard to engage in it while being aware of the end result.

    I think this particular franchise could have done with a bedding in period, instead it rushes through the conflict. Unfortunate as i very much doubt (unless its a flashback) that we'd see Atwell (in that form at least) or Tommy Lee Jones. We could have gotten an epic WW2 story here instead of the perfectly enjoyable but very quick one we saw here.

    Atwell is amongst the best female characters which I'm not sure is too noteworthy (considering how they're treated as romantic interests/kidnapp fodder but little more) but it sets a higher standard. It has some of the best action shots of the year. In the end i think this Avengers blitz is taking some of the joy away from seeing these characters in their own fully-formed stories.

  2. The build up to THE AVENGERS is taking a lot away I think. I had reservations about THOR anyway but it very much affected IRON MAN 2 and obviously this too.

    I think you're right; all of the Cap films could have been WWII set but because of how they've done this it looks like we'll get something set present day-ish, which will definitely take a bit away from it I think, and yes, losing Jones and Atwell will be a big blow.

    I didn't really have a problem with the framing device but yes, do understand, it does definitely remove some of the suspense.