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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

MCU Film #: 5  |  full list  |  Phase: 1

Producers: A Marvel Studios / Paramount Pictures Feature Film

I Can Do This All Day

Deciding to fight for his country on WWII, a weakling brave man called Steve Rogers is turned into a super soldier known as Captain America, and will comfront Hydra, a military group with world-domination in mind, leaded by another formidable individual, Johann Schmidt, AKA the Red Skull.

Video Clip: The First Avenger Trailer


The Director

Joe Johnston
Movie Poster
US Release: July 22, 2011

Reviews & Comments

By
August 1, 2011

Up front I’ll give you the verdict: good but not great.

Details: The film version of Captain America serves our favorite hero very well. The script presents him as a man of quiet patriotism and humility—and these ideals are presented with a total lack of irony which prevails in some circles today. Especially telling is the grenade scene for bringing out Steve’s character as a hero even before he is Captain America. Chris Evans suits the role ideally, and he is never recognizable as the brash and silly Johnny Storm from the FANTASTIC FOUR movies. Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter is not given a lot to do other than be attractive; fortunately she is. The best character in the film is likely Stanley Tucci in his charming turn as Professor Erskine, with Tommy Lee Jones getting many of the film’s funniest lines as the abrasive Colonel Phillips. The action scenes are well done even if they tend to go on a bit too long, as is the case with Cap’s pursuit of Erskine’s killer. The whole look of the film is the 1940s come back to life, a throwback to a fond era in film history, since most of us visualize the past only through movies made in that era. And the movie is fun.

Disappointing Points: The script has the major problem: after we see how Steve Rogers becomes Captain America in the film’s exciting first half, things bog down in the second. Clearly the writers didn’t have any clear vision for this part of the film and are only filling in space until they can send Steve to the arctic, making the film feel like two movies: "The Origin of Captain America" and "The Avengers Prequel." Bucky Barnes has no clear point in the film other than (in Roald Dahl’s words) the Obligatory Sacrificial Lamb—a friend of the hero who gets killed; the problem is, it isn’t very moving—unlike the "real" Bucky. And it has a wasted opportunity: the Red Skull gets his hands on the Cosmic Cube and what does he use it for? To power a death ray. This was a letdown for one of comics’ most powerful artifacts; let’s hope they are saving it for CAP 2. And a movie is only as good as its villain and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull is a problem; the character is written as a totally evil monster and Weaving adds nothing to it; true this is faithful to the comic book but even there the Skull wasn’t always so one-dimensional. Lesser bad guy, lesser disappointment: Gilmore Hodge was set up as a minor antagonist for Steve, yet he largely drops out of the picture after Steve becomes Cap (appearing in only one reaction shot, when Steve returns with the POWs).

The film makes a few odd changes to established comics lore: most notably, Bucky Barnes is Steve’s old buddy from Brooklyn and he "dies" by falling off a mountain in Germany, instead of in the North Sea—which would make it a lot harder for the Russians to recover his body if there are plans to bring him back as the Winter Soldier. Arnim Zola, easily one of the weirdest Marvel villains, is presented in a more sympathetic light here, objecting to some of the Red Skull’s excesses; in the comics it’s more likely Zola would shock the Skull with his twisted plans. Cap’s shield is made by Howard Stark in this version. James Montgomery Falsworth is one of the Howling Commandos; in the comics he was the World War One British equivalent of Captain America, Union Jack; this was a reference for the comics fans in the audience, or would have been if they had ever said the character’s name. Here, Cap, not Nick Fury, assembles the Howling Commandos, with Fury reserved fo

Actor

Cast


Actor

Cast Listed in Alphabetical Order:

Chris Evans
Chris Evans
(Steve Rogers / Captain America)
Dominic Cooper
Dominic Cooper
(Howard Stark)
Hayley Atwell
Hayley Atwell
(Peggy Carter)
Hugo Weaving
Hugo Weaving
(Johann Schmidt / Red Skull)
Michael Brandon
Michael Brandon
(Senator Brandt)
Neal McDonough
Neal McDonough
(Dum Dum Dugan)
Richard Armitage
Richard Armitage
(Heinz Kruger)
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson
(Nick Fury)
Sebastian Stan
Sebastian Stan
(James Bucky Barnes)
Stanley Tucci
Stanley Tucci
(Dr. Abraham Erskine)
Toby Jones
Toby Jones
(Arnim Zola)
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones
(Colonel Chester Phillips)

Also Starring:

Derek Luke (Gabe Jones), James Payton (Adolph Hitler character), JJ Feild (James Montgomery Falsworth), Kenneth Choi (Jim Morita).

 

Synopsis

By Julio Molina-Muscara
August 1, 2011

The film opens in present day with the discovery of a buried aircraft in the Arctic. When American agents investigate, they find a rounded red, white, and blue shield under the ice…

The story shifts back to 1942: Nazi troops led by Johann Schmidt, the head of a German sciences division called Hydra, invade a church in Norway to recover a hidden object that was once in Odin’s treasure chamber—a glowing blue cube…

In New York, Steve Rogers, a short and skinny young man, unsuccessfully tries to enlist in the military, but is rejected once again because of his poor overall health and physical condition. At a movie theater, he makes a bully mad, and gets beaten in an alley. Steve refuses to quit and is saved by his pal James "Bucky" Barnes.

Bucky is wearing a war uniform. He has just been assigned to the 107th Infantry. Bucky tries to console hi pal by inviting him on a double date to an Exposition by famed inventor Howard Stark. Uninterested by either the inventions or his date, Steve stops by another military recruiting station and is caught by Bucky. Steve's explanation about wanting to do something for his country in the lines is overheard by Professor Erskine who is looking for candidates for his Super Soldier program.

Erskine meets Rogers at the exam room, and after questioning him to confirm that Rogers is a brave, good man, the doctor signs his approval form to finally enlist him as a soldier.

Rogers is sent off to Camp Lehigh for training. The camp is under the command of Col. Chester Phillips who clearly considers Rogers unfit for the assignment. Steve also encounters brash bully Gilmore Hodge and pretty British agent Peggy Carter who he falls in love at first sight. 

At the camp, Rogers proves being the weakest but also the smartest and bravest. In one occassion, Phillips tosses a grenade into the midst and it is Steve who throws himself on it to protect everyone. Steve is also the only one who can get a flag by using his wits. This is what makes Erskine select Steve as the 1st to receive the super soldier serum, 

The night before the experiment, Erskine tells Rogers that the serum was used before on Johann Schmidt. The serum wasn't ready. It made Schmidt stronger but not without side effects. It also increased Schmidt's evil ways. The serum amplifies the qualities of a person. In Steve's case, he was chosen because being weak, he understands the value of strength, and will respect it. Being a good man, will just make him even better.

Meanwhile, Schmidt has his chief scientist Arnim Zola experimenting with the glowing cube, the Cosmic Cube, to power new weaponry. The experiment is a success. Hydra could now use those weapons to rule the world. After murdering three emissaries sent by Hitler, Hydra independs itself from the Nazis. 

Schmidt learns that Erksine has been located in NY, and gives the order to eliminate him.

The next day, Steve is taken by Peggy to the secret Super Soldier lab. Witnessed by Colonel Phillips and other high level staff, Rogers is placed in a machine, injected with the Super-Soldier Serum and bombarded with Vita-Rays. The process is controlled by Howard Stark. Rogers cries in pain but begs to receive the serum at full power. Devices short-circuit, and it first seems that Rogers did not survice the ordeal. But, he emerges a foot taller and very muscular from the capsule after the unbelieving eyes of everyone, including Peggy's. 

At that moment, a Hydra spy sets a bomb off to cause confusion, shoots Erskine fatally and makes his way out shooting everyone out of his way. Erskine reminds Steve to be a good man before passing away and he pursues the villain on foot. Rogers realizes he can run fast enough to catch the car. After a wild chase, he apprehends the killer as he tries to escape in a minisub. During the fight, the last tube of serum is destroyed. And the Hydra agents swallows venom to avoid becoming captive of his enemies.

Back at the lab, they discover that Erskine’s formula cannot be duplicated, dashing Phillips’ hopes of creating a super-soldier army. The Colonel wants nothing more to do with Steve Rogers. At this point a Senator steps forward to recruit Steve for a mission…

…which turns out to be touring the country wearing a red-white-and-blue costume in a patriotic show to sell war bonds as Captain America 

Captain America becomes a sensation, starring in shows, movies, even his own comic book! But, Rogers feels he is not really making a contribution. 

During an appearance before American troops in Europe, Cap is heckled by soldiers who have seen real combat, and have no respect for an entertainer in a silly costume. 

He finds Peggy Cater on the scene, along with Col. Phillips. Learning that the audience consists of survivors of a disastrous mission by the 107th Infantry, Bucky Barnes’ unit, he asks Phillips for permission to mount a rescue for any troops who may be prisoners. Phillips dismisses his suggestion with contempt. 

Peggy arranges for Howard Stark to fly Steve behind enemy lines. Rogers jumps off the plane, and makes his way into the Hydra base, freeing hundreds of prisoners who turn the base into chaos. Finally, Steve finds and rescues Bucky on a lab and as they escape the facilities, being in self-destruction, come face to face with Schmidt. Cap and Schmidt fight briefly and Schmidt removes his human mask to reveal a crimson skull-like face, the effect of the serum on him. the reason he is called the Red Skull. Schmidt and Zola escape before the whole complex is destroyed, but that is not certain for either Cap or Bucky.

As Col. Phillips is drafting a press release about Captain America demise by the enemy, Cap shows up with Bucky and 400 other soldiers, all rescued from Hydra and holding some of their weapons. They hail Captain America as their saviour, and Phillips finally recognizes the true value of Cap. 

Back in the States, Cap is cornered by a woman who kisses him in the mouth, enfuriating Peggy in jealosy. 

At Starks’ lab, Rogers picks a shield made of Vibranium, a light-weight rare strong metal that can absorb impacts. And gives Stark ideas on how to configure his uniform.

Cap assembles a team, the Howling Commandos Bucky is one of the members. Cap leads them against Hydra bases Cap saw on a map of them during his rescue mission. 

When they learn Zola was on a train, they attack it but it was a trap. During the battle, a side of the train is blast off, and Bucky falls to his death among the mountains with Rogers not being able to hold his hand.

Zola is captured and locked in an American cell where Phillips learns about Hydra's plans to rule the world. 

Cap, the Howling Commandos, Peggy and Phillips army attack the last Hydra base, located in the Alps. The Red Skull escapes on a plane carrying several atomic bombs but Cap is able to infiltrate the plane. After defeating the villain’s minions, he comes face to face with the Red Skull. During their fight, they accidentally break the device holding the Cosmic Cube. When the Skull grabs it, he vanishes into the stream of light to the sky. The Cube falls to the ground, burns a hole and drops into the ocean. 

Knowing the plane is carrying those bombs and is directed to New York City, Cap calls, Peggy answers, he tells her that he will bring the plane down in the ocean to save everyone. Peggy tries to disuade him from sacrificing himself and find another way, but there is not time. Cap crashes the plane on icy waters and the communication is lost after the two chat about meeting on a date to dance. 

In the days that follow, a submarine recovers the Cosmic Cube, but no sign of Captain America. The Army—and Peggy Carter—go on without him, but his heroic sacrifice inspires the nation.

Suddenly, Steve awakens in a hospital room. I appears to be 1943, but the baseball game on the radio is from 1941. Rogers breaks out of the room which is revealed to be a stage set, and races through the building out into a Times Square that looks utterly unfamiliar to him. 

He is promptly met by Colonel Nick Fury who apologizes for the charade. They merely wanted to make the bad news easier for him to digest…he has been asleep for nearly seventy years. Steve reacts, "I had a date."

EPILOGUE: After the credits Steve is training on a heavy bag when Nick Fury mentions he has a mission for him, "You’re not the only hero." Then we get a teaser trailer for THE AVENGERS.

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