Review: ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

The best attempt thus far at bringing Cap off the page and onto screens. Too bad it was hamstrung by “setupforsequelitis.”

After the United States enters World War II in 1942, every able-bodied American man is being sought for the effort. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to fight for his country but deemed physically incapable by the US Army. A chance meeting at the World’s Fair introduces Rogers to Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who is experimenting to create the perfect soldier, but Erskine wants to ensure his candidate is a good man first. While the experiment succeeds, Rogers newfound strength is put to use in propaganda films and USO tours to boost war bond sales as the patriotically costumed “Captain America.” Yet when he learns his buddy Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) has been captured, he finally proves himself with a daring rescue but also puts himself at odds with Erskine’s earlier failed experiment in perfecting humanity: Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), better known to his peers as the Red Skull.

When casting for this Marvel Comics film began, many resisted that Chris Evans could pull it off after his turn as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films. Evans put that to rest very quickly and breathes new life into a character that has gotten the short end of the stick both on film and television for years. While the film beautifully captures the era of Captain America’s creation and his contribution to fighting the Red Skull and his HYDRA organization, the third act skews deliberately into setup for the upcoming Joss Whedon-directed Avengers movie and loses focus on the good Captain himself.

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