Captain America

18 08 2011

In the past, I’ve given superhero movies negative reviews for being too predictable and boring. Walking into the theatre to watch yet another superhero movie, Captain America, I expected more of the same.

Thankfully, Captain America isn’t totally predictable, nor is it very boring. In fact, it does everything that a good superhero movie should do, in addition to creating some unique flair for itself along the way.

The movie starts off in a similar way to any other superhero movie: we see a wimpy young kid getting beat up by men who are stronger than him. However, Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) is different: there is seemingly nothing he hates more in life than bullies. For that reason, he stoically takes the punishment that they dish out, fearlessly staring down his attackers.

When World War II rolls around, the U.S. military initially rejects Steve Rogers’ application because, in addition to being tiny, he has a number of severe health issues. Nevertheless, the army sees heart in the kid, and decides to give him a chance – with a small catch.

To overcome his physical weakness, Rogers must undergo some genetic alterations that turn him into a larger, stronger man. The procedure is extremely painful, but, in the end, a vigorous Captain America proudly emerges from the transformation chamber.

It would be easy to say that the rest of the movie is filled with standard superhero material: a very bad man is hurting innocent people, and the only person powerful enough to stop him is our heroic protagonist. Thankfully, Captain America makes an extra effort to distance itself from its predecessors.

Since the movie is set almost entirely during World War II, it has a unique, old-timey feel to it. The scenes are slightly yellow and faded, which makes it even more triumphant when the red-white-and-blue colored Captain America enters the scene.

It feels like we’re looking through an aged comic book, and the effect is perfectly suited to the atmosphere of the movie.

I’m not sure why Captain America wasn’t released on the 4th of July weekend. It seems like a perfect way to complement our southern neighbour’s annual patriotic festival. Three weeks later, however, Captain America stands perfectly tall on his own.

Put simply, he doesn’t need to be told when to support his country: Captain America does it every day on his own. At one point in the movie, the scientist who did the genetic alterations to Steve Rogers points wordlessly at the young man’s chest, smiles, and nods.

And that’s the essence of Captain America. Regardless of how big you are, it’s the stuff inside that counts. This movie, like Captain America himself, has some serious heart.