Captain America The First Avenger is now ten years old and introduced us one of Marvel’s central heroes. Let’s take a look back on this eventful film on its 10 year anniversary.
Firstly the overall perspective of this film holds up as a fairly average film on rewatch. It sets up Captain America to be the moral core of the Avengers and introduces the key McGuffin for the Avengers. While this film was a lot of set up, the heart of the film still shines through.
This film is extremely important in how it shows that Marvel aren’t afraid to keep their characters true to themselves in their films. This method is the key to why Marvel succeeds, because if these characters were completely reinvented to attempt to fit with the modern world, it simply wouldn’t work.
The character of Captain America is nailed, as it shows that while he is a strong man capable of winning fights with ease, he doesn’t lose sight of his humanity. He is a good man at heart, which separates him from the other US soldiers. He keeps his compassion and won’t compromise on his morals, and he wants to desperately fight for his country, showing the strong patriotism he has.
It was definitely right to introduce him this way because some of these ideals are challenged very well in later films such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Chris Evan’s performance also should be noted here, though he improved over the course of playing the role, it is he who shaped these defining characteristics and also became the face of Marvel alongside Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man.
His strongest relationship by far is with Bucky Barnes. It is clear Steve looks up to him and cares strongly about his friend, as is very clearly devastated by his apparent death. The decision to bring Bucky back later on again was a great choice that challenged Steve in different ways, not to mention the fact that Bucky has gone on to become a strong character in his own right.
Another good relationship that Steve had was with Peggy Carter. She acts as a love interest to Steve, the actress, and actress Hayley Atwell sells that connection well, especially at the film’s climax where Steve crashed the film into the ice. At the film’s end, it was also sad that all Steve cared about was his date, to know that he missed his chance.
It was a perfect end to for the character in Endgame for him to get that dance with Peggy in the end. Marvel also did right to bring Peggy back for her own series, as well as a cameo in Winter Soldier. I can’t wait to see Peggy take on the role of Captain in the Marvel series What If, with Hayley Atwell returning for the voice.
The action in this film was decent at best, but it’s apparent that Marvel has definitely improved it over the years with their more recent releases. The montage piece was the weakest piece in the film, as it was just mindless action to beat HYDRA.
Here is another problem with the film. The villain. Red Skull is a one note villain, only expressing over the top villain statements. While it is very hard to make a Nazi other than a one note villain, it would have been better if he had some other qualities to make him more dimensional. Although he is played by Hugo Weaving, it’s one of his weaker performances. He didn’t stick around for the role either, because in Infinity War and Endgame he was replaced by Ross Marquand, and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the performances, which is a shame.
Though it is still a testament to Marvel’s skill that they found a way to recast the actor without being able to tell the difference, and also the fact they brought Red Skull back at all. Hopefully, he is brought for a bigger role against our new Captain or Bucky.
Marvel has since improved it’s villains, with notable ones like Loki, Vulture, Killmonger and Thanos, which has helped to keep the franchise relevant. This has thankfully shown the franchise’s development across the years, as well as keeping Captain America relevant.
Overall while I would rewatch other superhero origins over this film (this doesn’t hold a scratch to Iron Man for example), or the superior sequel in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this film perfectly introduces us to Captain America and Chris Evan’s take on the character.
One which struck a chord with so many fans because of how true to the comics it was, it undoubtedly proved to Marvel that they didn’t have to retcon their heroes for a wider audience, which helped later films like Guardians of the Galaxy do well.
This film is an earnest Second World War film that sticks to the core of Captain America.
By Kieran Burt
Feature image: Marvel/Disney