Captain America: The First Avenger
November 12, 2011

I thought I’d already reviewed this movie when it came out in theaters this summer, but apparently not. I enjoyed watching Captain America: The First Avenger, but I didn’t have much to say about it. Since everyone’s moved on to wondering about Marvel’s The Avengers, this film feels a little like marking time, like a preview of the thing you really want to see, as indicated by the subtitle and the movie’s final “bonus” scene.

The production company stuck closer to the standard origin story than some other superhero movies, so comic fans knew most of what would happen. The only surprises were in the details around the big set pieces full of effects and small character bits to give the actors something to do. Chris Evans (Captain America Steve Rogers) and Hugo Weaving (The Red Skull) did great jobs, the effects to make Evans look skinny at the beginning were believable, and Tommy Lee Jones was himself, which is just what you want from him. There wasn’t enough Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine, and Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) was my favorite part, a cool bundle of excitement as a blend of James Bond and Q.

It’s a good thing I liked the movie, since this isn’t a disc you buy for the extras. There’s an unexciting commentary by production staff Joe Johnston (director), Shelly Johnson (director of photography), and Jeffrey Ford (editor). There’s not much new information here, so I gave up after 20 minutes of listening to similar-sounding men natter on. There are also four deleted scenes (five minutes total), which can run with or without commentary by the same folks.

The four-minute “Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer” shows us S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) stopping a convenience store robbery. I have no idea why this was made, but dang, I like the character a lot better now. (It’s really only three minutes of scene and a minute of credits. Movie-making today, sigh.) Maybe that’s its purpose: to get us more excited about The Avengers. It worked.

Seven featurettes provide light amounts of the behind-the-scenes information I was seeking. Unusual in my experience, there’s no “Play All” option, and one of them, “The Assembly Begins”, is a two-minute promo piece for The Avengers.

“Outfitting a Hero” (11 minutes) presents the costume in comparison with the comics, as well as explaining the treatment of the shield. In addition to the movie producers and writers, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada appears, as does now-retired editor Ralph Macchio, current editor Axel Alonso, publisher Dan Buckley, director Joe Johnston, and star Chris Evans. The similar “Behind the Skull” (10 minutes) explains the super-villain from the movie and the comics with help from Hugo Weaving.

“Howling Commandos” (6 minutes) briefly covers Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and the supporting team of international soldiers, while “Heightened Technology” (6 minutes) talks about the sci-fi aspects of the weaponry and vehicles created and the design of the Hydra soldiers.

“The Transformation” (9 minutes) is about making “skinny Steve”, showing what they filmed (with big Chris) side-by-side with the end result (Chris made tiny). This was my favorite of the extras, since it tackled one of the biggest questions I had about the film and dealt with one of its unique aspects.

“Captain America’s Origin” (4 minutes) brings Joe Simon on-screen to explain the creation of the character before showing his grandchildren at the premiere. There should have been a lengthy piece on the creation and history of the character in the comics, as they’ve done well on other Marvel movies, but that would require Marvel acknowledging how much Jack Kirby and Joe Simon did for them.

I’m glad to own this, and I can see rewatching the film later, after viewing The Avengers, perhaps, but the package isn’t outstanding. It’s a shame that this movie seems to have, due to timing, not gotten quite the attention it deserved from either viewers or the production company.

15 Responses  
Jim Perreault writes:  

I’ve always found the title a bit of a misnomer, since in the comics he joined after the team was formed, making him the 6th Avenger.

Up through the origin, the movie stayed pretty close to the comic. But after that it was pretty much it’s own story, incorporating lots of bits from the comics along the way. (I loved how they worked in the cover of Captain America #1.) We knew how it was going to end, but how they got there was all new.

I think the writers did an amazing job, especially considering they had no previous exposure to the character.


Johanna writes:  

That’s a great way to put it, Jim, that the destination was familiar but the journey had plenty of new scenery.

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