Sunday, February 5, 2012

Just A Kid From Brooklyn: More Thoughts On Captain America: The First Avenger (2012)

What more can I say about Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) that I didn't already say back in July?

Having just watched the film for the 5th time -- (2 times in the theater in 2D; 1 time in the theater in 3D; 1 time on the airplane on the way here) -- I can say that I still love it.

The pacing I so complained about last year seems much better on the small screen. Frankly, once Steve Rogers gets that serum, things move along at a nice clip.

There's a bit too much business tying this film into a larger franchise -- the work is too obvious and even a blind man can see the way the makers are linking this into the film universe that will soon include 2012's The Avengers -- but that's something unavoidable, I guess.

In this day and age, with so much time, energy, and money invested in the Marvel film machine, there's little doubt that the films will be hits. So, without too much fear of total failure, the makers here are less concerned about making a stand-alone piece of drama and more with beginning a sturdy future franchise.

And who are we as viewers to criticize that? Even when I was a kid, comic books rarely stood on their own issue-by-issue. Even a few decades before the rise of the event books of both Marvel and DC, things were rarely resolved in an issue; everything continued and dramas and storylines sometimes played out for years at a time.

That said, Captain America: The First Avenger (2012) works on its own; the bits that connect it to Thor (2011) are almost irrelevant, as are the bits with Howard Stark being Iron Man's dad -- it really doesn't impact the plot in any way.

What matters here are the human moments and, as I said back in July, Chris Evans is just great in this.

Director Joe Johnston, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and the lead actor have managed to add a bit more nuance to the character. I think Jack Kirby would enjoy the way that the character is still the one we're familiar with but more poignant somehow.

It's an odd mix of confidence and naivete and Evans is comfortable portraying it.

Without the benefit of being an alien on Earth like Superman, Steve Rogers is a guy gifted with a powerful new body which allows him to be a war hero even while his exploits lead him into death.

His resurrection comes with a price as he remains cut off from the familiar and the love of his life.

I can't wait to see what Joss Whedon does with the plight of Steve Rogers in The Avengers (2012).

For this comics geek, it's the core of the character: that battle between nearly conservative, antiquated ideals and harsh, modern reality.

Captain America is entirely unironic.

In the 1970s, with Kirby and others writing the exploits of Cap, he was a reminder of what we valued in a pre-Watergate America.

Now, he's a nostalgic souvenir from the last time the lines between good and evil, right and wrong, were so utterly clear.

The experiment is really not about the Super Soldier serum. It's really a question of what will happen if a guy does the right thing all the time?

As Tucci's character implores: Steve Rogers needs to be "not just a super soldier, but a good man."