Although I am not a comic book guy, I have more and more been developing an admiration for how Marvel has been expanding their movie universe.
Now Captain America joins Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk, in this surprisingly solid summer super hero movie that just might be the best of the bunch so far.
Much like the recent X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, this is an origin story crossed with an alternate history scenario, and also like that film, it largely works.
Here our hero played by Chris Evans, who we first meet convincingly CGI-ed as a scrawny runt constantly rejected by the military, gets genetically modified into a tall muscular super soldier for action in World War II by a German scientist (Stanley Tucci).
The villain, the intense Hugo Weaving as a Nazi official with a sinister secret, is planning on destroying the United States with his HYDRA terrorist organization ("Hail, HYDRA!"), and, of course, it's up to Captain America with the help of love interest Hayley Atwell, best friend Sebastian Stan, and the always reliably gruff Tommy Lee Jones as a stern army Colonel to stop the looming wave of world domination.
Weaving, especially after being revealed as Red Skull (not sure I want to try to explain that), appears to be having a blast with his scenery-chewing-and-spitting out prowess, and his treatment of Toby Jones as a beleagured Nazi chemist/lackey is terrifically savage stuff.
The star-spangled man with a plan (as Jones calls Evans) is as engaging as he is unshakable in fight scene afer fight scene. Evans mostly acts with a stoical demeanor, but its not without humor.
There's a satisfying use of circular dialogue throughout in which key lines are effectively repeated, and Evans holds his own with the exceedingly capable cast.
Director Johnston handles with film's aesthetics, at times metallic; at times grimy, beautifully, with all the gravitas that GREEN LANTERN was so sorely missing, and he sets a sturdy tone that takes itself just seriously enough.
There were some pacing problems here and there, and Alan Silvestri's generic action movie score was a bit intrusive, but since CAPTAIN AMERICA is such a smart and ginormously entertaining mainstream Marvel movie, I feel like a heel complaining.
As for the Marvel Universe aspect, you can always expect cameos from franchise characters such as Iron Man's dad Howard Stark (this time played by Dominic Cooper), and Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury (that can't be a SPOILER! right? I mean, he's in all of these films).
You can also expect the traditional Stan Lee cameo, and more importantly, the after-the-credits scene which here doubles as a teaser trailer for next summer's THE AVENGERS which, as you probably know, assembles several of their super hero strands into one big ass Marvel movie event package.
Here's hoping that will be as solid and super as this is.
Daniel Cook Johnson
Film Babble Blog is written, produced and directed by: Daniel Cook Johnson - A Triangle area, N.C. based writer. His work has appeared in The Chapel Hill News, The Raleigh News & Observer, and Independent Weekly.