(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing the title "Captain America: The First Avenger" from the trailer for this film)
(Pictures of Captain America from original Marvel comics are shown)
Doug (vo): Not only was his design so silly, with the bright blue, the giant bullseye and the little wings on the side of his head, (some screenshots from "Captain America" (1990) are shown) but there was already a movie made in the 80s that looked like it was made in the 70s that, big shock, was not very good. In fact, there's even (title card of) a Nostalgia Critic review of it. So, once again, I was a little hesitant to see what they were gonna do with this.
(We are treated to trailer clips and screenshots from the movie)
Doug (vo): But, luckily, once again, they've turned out a pretty good product.
Doug (vo): Captain America starts off as a wimpy little soldier, conveyed through some pretty impressive computer-generated effects. Not to say it's flawless, but you kinda look really hard to notice. His goodwill and courage convinces everybody that he'd be perfect for a new experiment, one that could lead to a league of superhumans that could stop Hitler and his Nazi thugs. He agrees to the experiment and gets turned into a beefcake. But the scientist is killed, thus, he's the only supersoldier there is. One of the problems, though, is that nobody knows what to do with him. He's seen as a hero to many, so, rather than actually put him in combat, they just kinda put him in advertisements. Big shows, dance numbers, all sorts of good stuff promoting the good of the war, but he's not really doing that many heroics. Finally, they agree to send him into combat, and he does a great job. That is, until he comes across the evil Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving. Through action, adventures, stunts and all sorts of great effects, Captain America fights off Nazis and saves the day more times than you can count.
Doug (vo): Again, not having read that much Captain America, I didn't really know what to expect from this film, and I also wasn't really sure if this was gonna catch on in a market where we like things that are new and current, and this takes place back in the 40s. But through some good writing, some fun stunts and, again, some very likeable actors, this movie turns out to be a good...adventure. Yeah, I use the word "adventure". It's not really as much of an action movie. Don't get me wrong. There's lots of fistfights and great stunts, but I don't know. Maybe the 40s setting makes me think a little bit more of, like, Errol Flynn and flying planes and spinning around. Adventure just feels like the more proper word. The director of this movie (Joe Johnston) also directed The Rocketeer, and it really shows. This guy knows how to make the time period look good.
(Stills of the main character, Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, are shown)
Doug (vo): They also both star very similar main characters who are not...dull, but not the most interesting either. But they're good, they're sort of the typical hero you would see in the 40s, very simple but very likeable, naive but always looking to do good. Even some of the typical cliches are played with a little bit, like there's a scene where this guy grabs this kid and he throws him in the water, trying to escape. He's about to jump in and save the kid, but the kid says, "No, go after him. I can swim." God, isn't that refreshing? The Marvel movies really do seem to have this great technique of taking cliches that exist, and either playing with them or only taking the best aspects of them. The ones most people are tired of, they kind of say, "Yeah, we're not doing that. We know you don't like them and we know you think they're boring, so we're only going to stick to the ones that are classic for a reason."
(Stills of other things in the movie, including some emotional scenes, are shown next)
Doug (vo): And this one does have a lot of the classics. The bad guy with the disfigured face, the triumphant symbols of America everywhere, the heroic stunts, the mad scientist, all that good stuff. It's light-hearted, but it doesn't steer away from some heavier moments either. When somebody dies, it really feels like they die, and when some characters are separated by a long distance or even time, you do feel legitimately bad.
(The villain of the movie, the Red Skull, is shown in several stills and footage)
Doug (vo): If I do have one major criticism of the movie, it's with the villain. I know it sounds strange, but this is the one thing the 80s film actually did better, that is, when they actually showed him. Through most of the original film, they couldn't show the Red Skull and he looked pretty ridiculous, but when they did show him, he looked fleshy, he looked creepy, he had these beady eyes, he had this great voice. Hugo Weaving is fine when he just looks like a human, but then when he rips off the mask and shows his real face, it looks pretty lame. It just looks like a plastic mask, where the other one looked really juicy. The villain as well is kind of a little dull. Not that I remember him being, like, really annoying or stupid or anything, I just don't remember that much about him. That does seem to be the one weakness of the Marvel films is, while they do a great job portraying the heroes, they don't usually portray the villains that interestingly. I remember Red Skull was a big bad guy, like this was a really intimidating villain, he was the one Captain America always fought. Here, he's just kind of like any bad guy you'd see in any other movie. Not insultingly bad or anything, just kind of standard. And part of a hero's journey is how intimidating the threat is that he's going up against, so if the threat isn't that intimidating, you don't get as invested. But like I said, he's not horrible, just not anything that great.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): But honestly, much like Thor, this was a film I didn't think they could really do. I didn't think anybody could take Captain America seriously, but watching it, I actually found myself doing okay. It was clever that they just painted the wings on the side of his helmet. It was clever the changes that they made to his outfit. And it's even more clever that in future movies, they would update the outfit to fit the rest of the Avengers. This is a Marvel movie that you can tell is kind of a segue, but unlike Iron Man 2, it feels more natural. It stands on its own as a good movie. It has a good beginning, middle and end, it has a good journey, it has good character arcs, it has good concerns. If the villain was a little stronger, it probably would've stood out a little bit more, but as is, I was once again really impressed. I wanted to know what was gonna happen to Captain America next after the credits rolled. At this point, I was finally realizing, Marvel is really making traditional comic book movies work. They didn't have to pretend to be anything else or talk down to you or hide behind anything. With just a few cleverly planned out updates, they were making comic book movies that comic book fans have always wanted to see, and even better yet, they were giving a wider audience comic book films that they didn't even know they wanted to see. These films were showing why these stories were successful, why people got into them, why they were worth making movies about. Again, I'm not gonna act like this was the greatest one or anything, but it is the point where I realized, if you truly embrace a world and an environment, you don't need to make as many changes as you thought. And with the end credits advertising that the next big movie was gonna be The Avengers, the ultimate cement of Marvel's staying power was about to take place.
(A scene showing Captain America and his soldiers breaking in to a bad guy's hideout is shown)