Why Captain America did not become a greater symbol of his country of origin is a mystery to me. He’s so American that he makes Superman look unpatriotic. He is eminently wholesome, incredibly strong, proud, and totally committed to the “inalienable rights” of every person. He’s like the result of an experiment in which a boy scout troop was cross with a bald eagle and an American flag. He bleeds red, white, and blue.
This movie should have opened on 4th of July weekend… every year… since 1776.
Captain America: The First Avenger is yet another example of a movie which I had very little interest in seeing, but the positive response from friends and critics, combined with my long-time love for comic book super heroes (and the fact that my brother was in town) was enough to get me to a 10:35pm show on Sunday evening.
Captain America is the fifth movie in Marvel Comics’ theatrical version of their Avengers super team. It was preceded by Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and most recently, Thor, and it will be followed next year by the Avengers movie, which will feature all the heroes from the previous 5 movies and a storyline equal to the massive undertaking of this project. If Iron Man was the best of the movies and Iron Man 2 the worst, then Captain America fits nicely into the middle of the pack. It was directed by long-time friend of Steven Spielberg, Joe Johnston, who was previously responsible for The Rocketeer, Hidalgo, and Jurassic Park 3, among others, and Johnston’s particular style of film making seemed to fit well for the Cap.
Here’s what I mean: Captain America is an old fashioned movie. It is not filmed like a music video. It does not contain pointless sensuality (or virtually any, really), It has a symphonic sound track, and Captain America fights Nazis. Nazis. Captain America is within the same genre of films as the 3 Indiana Jones movies. (I don’t consider the so-called “fourth” one to be a movie at all.) It’s fun, action-packed, funny, and pretty far-fetched. And it just works well. Nothing about it really stands out as incredible or mind-blowing, and some of the effects reflect a smaller budget than some of the other Avengers-themed movies. I didn’t ever say “WOW!” out loud or under my breath, but it was highly enjoyable and I feel comfortable recommending it to anyone 10 and up.
Chris Evans plays the title role of the wholesome, 1940’s Steve Rogers to a “t”. He is supported by Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones and a host of other actors that you will all recognize but be unable to name. Captain America’s long-time nemesis, the Red Skull, is played by Hugo Weaving who seems to get himself cast in the right movies (The Matrix and LOTR trilogies to name a few). All the actors seem like they’re having fun, which makes for easy watching, even if your sure that none of their names will end up on an awards ballot that does not contain the words “kid’s choice” in the title. If you know the story of Captain America, you will enjoy appearances by some of his original friends, and you will also appreciate the way that the movie uses time. For those of you who don’t know Captain America from Captain Kirk, you’ll probably think the movie is cheesy, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
He runs around in a red, white, and blue uniform, and, while they did try to tone things down a bit in the costume department, He is still obviously not going for stealth, unless the Red Skull attacks an American flag store. But for all his lack of subtlety, Captain America is loyal, brave, true, and willing to give his life for the good of man. These are qualities that are reflected not only in American ideals, but in Scripture as well. Christians are called to live lives of boldness and sacrifice, giving our lives for the greater good. Of course, the greater good of which we speak is the good of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God, while the good for which Captain America fights is the ongoing physical freedom of the people, which is still noble, though not as eternally significant.
The real charm of Captain America is that it does not take itself too seriously, which makes it much easier to watch in general. For a comic movie to take itself seriously, it has to be so incredibly good that you forget that you paid 25 bucks to watch someone in a costume fight 50 ninjas at once while jumping from an exploding building in a speeding motorcycle. But when a movie with an inherently goofy premise (a 90lb guy takes a syrum that turns him into a superhero so that he can go stop a guy with a red skull/face from taking over the world) takes itself too seriously without being mind-blowingly good, it becomes impossible to take seriously at all. Captain America avoids this by being fully aware of what kind of movie it is from the very beginning, a really fun and enjoyable side dish to a nice bowl of pop-corn. If you want a serious, dramatic, and morally ambiguous film, wait until the fall, but if you still enjoy a movie with good good guys and bad over-the-top bad guys, lots of action and wholesome values, go see it.
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