Captain America: The First Avenger (dir. Joe Johnston, 2011) – Rejected by the military service, Steve Rogers finds his second chance in Project Rebirth and takes on his new identity as the all-American superhero.
The young Captain wins us over with a heartfelt origins story, though disappointment abounds in his weak opponent.
Contrary to critics’ belief, Captain America is someone’s favourite. Who wouldn’t root for the underdog to come out on top? Chris Evans embodies the hero with natural credibility, and there is just something genuine about the actor that makes him one of the most likeable Marvel superheroes so far.
The First Avenger marks the debut of the scrawny patriot before his transformation into an all-American icon. We spend much time with the little guy who hates bullies and never stands down from the big fights. Strength in his old-fashioned beliefs far exceed his thin physique, but the earnest fellow has us standing behind him.
When Steve Rogers packs on muscles through a super-soldier project, we cheer heartily at his deserved triumph against odds. In no time, he harnesses his new-found abilities and leaps comfortably to the forefront of action.
The barrage of warfare that follows is not quite as exciting as hoped. Fight sequences barely begin before they end. The World War setting feels as underutilised as the side characters. Steve’s best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) could have used a good set-up to fan-favourite Winter Soldier, but his underwritten role is mostly sidelined.
Understandably, the focus falls on Steve himself. Only his nemesis Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) shares the limelight. It feels apt for an origins story that the same experiment has spawned both hero and villain. Left scarred instead of enhanced, Schmidt emerges as the Red Skull. Despite his apparent lack of beige pigment, the man is about as threatening as a block of margarine. He barely puts up a fight against the Captain before crafting his own doom. Oh Steve, you were hardly ever at risk of suffering anything more than a scratch.
Well, that is even if he is undeniably a risk-taker. It is painful to watch Rogers dodge watchful eyes in the dark, with his shield on his back painted in vivid blue, red and white. To have Captain America run in the dark, cloaked in what has to be the most conspicuous costume ever designed! Surely, the genius inventor Howard Stark had a little more in him than to agree with Mr. Mad Rogers.
At the end of the day, it is before Steve Rogers dons the costume when he wins us over, and that seems enough for now. Having fully acquainted with the first Avenger, we can’t wait to meet the rest of the team.