I hadn’t expected much from this movie – I like old-school Nazi-punching and early Avenger Captain America but these days he has a bit of a Superman issue – grim n’ gritty is the place to be, with Cap coming off as a bit corny in the best case and some sort of symbol of nationalist excesses in the worst. I did get sucked in by the First Avenger byline, though, since I liked Thor a lot and plan to see the Avengers. Just for reference, this covers the 2D version only – I have been finding 3D hit or miss lately and so we decided to try this one in the normal dimensions.
I am glad I did – this movie was great fun. The cast was, by far, the best part. Chris Evans’ double role as wimpy Steve Rogers and buff Captain America was good enough that I barely noticed the massive CGI work needed to allow it. Hayley Atwell pulled off the somewhat tricky combination of a pinup girl and a hard as nails soldier well. Tommy Lee Jones basically played himself, though that’s not a bad thing. Hugo Weaving was by far my favorite – his megalomaniac anti-Captain was truly great, I though.
This one also had plenty of nerd nods – Cap cycles through his classic costume (with pirate boots and little head wings) before settling down on something more practical, you have Tony Stark’s dad, who probably-not-coincidentally looks a lot like a classic Tony Stark (The coolest dude with the heart of steel, with the little swinger `stache). He serves, well, basically as a stand-on for Tony, at least in the inventing and piloting sense. Cap’s commando team is also full of real characters from the comics, though I only really recognized Dum-Dum / The Irish One. (It also featured something from Odin’s toybox in Thor, and set up the post-credit scene in that movie, if you care).
The summary is simple – great cast + taking the source material seriously + clever writing = good movie. Shocking! It was not entirely a nerd fest, either – my 9 year old daughter is unfamiliar with most of the sources and Burgandy is much more of a DC fan, but they followed it pretty well and enjoyed it. As portrayed, Cap is a very human hero, for all of his slightly-superhuman prowess, and his lack of chauvanism and willingness to sacrifice himself are at least as important as his red-gloved uppercut (though you get to see a lot of this, too). Combine all of that with some city-sized Nazi super-bombers and a rocket car or too and I am in my movie happy place.