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Captain America is Red, White and Blasé

<i>Captain America</i> is Red, White and Blasé

DVD Release Date: October 25, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: July 22, 2011
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action)
Genre: Superhero, Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure
Run Time: 125 min.
Director: Joe Johnston
Actors: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Richard Armitage, Stanley Tucci, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Derek Luke, Toby Jones, Hayley Atwell

While it’s probably not fair to compare superheroes, one still can’t help feeling sorry for poor Captain America.

Sure, considering he was just a scrawny whipping boy from Brooklyn before his big transformation, his new alter ego is one serious upgrade—just for those enviable abs and biceps alone. But when stacked up against the likes of Batman, Spiderman or even his fellow avenger Iron Man, however, he’s a bit of a letdown unfortunately. Yes, he’s the most patriotic by a long shot, but that still doesn’t make him interesting.

To wit, he definitely got the proverbial short end of the stick with that shield. Couldn’t the same people who gave the X-Men all those fascinating mutations and Spiderman his web-slinging prowess fashioned something a little cooler for Captain America to fight with than a red, white and blue satellite dish? If anything, The Green Lantern, easily this summer’s most underwhelming superhero, has to be feeling a little better about that silly day-glo ring of his. At least it was handed down by a dying purple guy and not crafted with him specifically in mind.

All that said, Captain America: The First Avenger, the inevitable prequel before next year’s much-anticipated The Avengers, isn’t entirely devoid of charm. In fact, one can’t help loving that our protagonist wasn’t given a thoroughly modern makeover. Instead of making Captain America (Chris Evans, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) a quippy, unabashed lothario, the filmmakers kept his decidedly old-fashioned sensibility intact. Coinciding with his rather humble beginnings, he’s a good ol’ boy through and through and barely steals a kiss from his lady love (Hayley Atwell, The Duchess) before sacrificing his life for the good of mankind.

See, before Captain America was Captain America, he was hardly fit for military service. As much as Steve Rogers wanted to serve his country (it was World War II, after all), a myriad of health conditions, not to mention that stick-thin frame, always kept him from making the cut. But his willingness to give his life for the cause, despite all the rejection, didn’t go unnoticed for long, thanks to Dr. Abraham Erskine’s (Stanley Tucci, Burlesque) gut instinct. Deciding Steve was the perfect candidate for the superhero serum he invented, Steve’s eventual transformation into someone strong made him a perfect fit for the frontlines.

Of course, a superhero movie wouldn’t be a superhero movie without a menacing arch nemesis, right? And really, there isn’t more wasted potential than Red Skull (Huge Weaving, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole) is in Captain America. In the comic books he’s a downright heinous experiment gone wrong, a power-hungry Nazi who abandons Hitler to form his own military faction called HYDRA. Naturally, Red Skull wants to rule the world himself, and the disfigured sociopath will do anything to do so. But in the movie, he’s not exactly the same harbinger of doom. Instead, he looks like a strange cross between Nacho Libre and Harry Potter’s He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and his brand of scary is more caricatured than anything all that frightening.

So with a milquetoast action hero and a relatively generic bad guy, Captain America is a pretty dull movie. While it’s occasionally brought back to life with the reliable verbal barbs of Tommy Lee Jones (The Company Men) and a well-paced action sequence or two, there’s just not enough about Captain America to qualify as anything above mediocre. But for anyone who didn’t already know the story of the first avenger, well, it provides enough information to prep you for what (fingers crossed) will be far better entertainment featuring an array of multifaceted characters.


  • Drugs/Alcohol: Some social drinking.
  • Language/Profanity: In what’s perhaps a nod to a classier era, there’s little profanity for a PG-13 movie—a couple of instances of as-, he--and dam-.
  • Sex/Nudity: Some of girls dancing on stage have cleavage-revealing costumes. But aside from that, there’s no sex or nudity, just a very brief kiss between Captain America and Peggy.
  • Violence: Before Captain America becomes Captain America, he gets beat up quite a bit. There’s also lots of gunfire (several people are shot and killed at close range) and perilous situations that result in the death of several characters we grow to care about. Red Skill has a gun that vaporizes people when they’re shot, and he uses it extensively. When Johann transforms officially into Red Skull, it’s a bit of a scary process. Plus, he’s a potentially menacing presence as well. A person hangs off a train before plunging to his death. Captain America’s battle shield injures and presumably kills a few people. Considering the film mostly takes place during WWII, there’s lots of talk of killing Nazis.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.