Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

captain america the first avenger poster 2011 movie chris evans
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Fun, light, pretty smart

Too easy for Captain America...needs a bigger challenge

Movie Info

Movie Name: Captain America:  The First Avenger

Studio: Marvel Studios/Marvel Entertainment/Paramount Pictures

Genre(s): Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): July 19, 2011 (Premiere)/July 22, 2011 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

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The 98 lb. weakling is about to take on the King of Beach!

A team in the Arctic discovers a crashed ship…inside a relic from World War II.  Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) dreamed of fighting for his country but was always told he was not fit for duty.  When Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) recognizes that Rogers possesses something most men do not have, he is selected for an elite operation to create a Super Soldier to lead the United States to victory over Hitler and his men.  Unfortunately, Dr. Erskine’s first experiment the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) has seen limits to Hitler’s ability to control the world…and his organization HYDRA is the next step in the master plan.  When Steve Rogers finds himself transformed into Captain America, he must stand for truth and justice as he battles the forces of evil.

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Shop Smart and Buy American!

Directed by Joe Johnston, Captain America:  The First Avenger is a Marvel Comics World War II action-adventure film.  The movie is the fifth film in the MCU Phase One rollout and follows Thor (also released in 2011).  It was released to positive reviews.

At this point in the MCU, I was all in.  The movies were well defined and interconnected, but the concept of a shared universe to the scale of the MCU hadn’t really been done.  While there is criticism (and I admit I have some burn out), it was fresh and new when Captain America:  The First Avenger was released…and it still has that crunchy-newness to it years later.

The story is essentially a World War II superhero movie bookended by modern day sequences.  The origin story of Captain America is told with some modifications, but it generally holds true.  The movie starts to set-up bigger parts of the MCU like the Cosmic Cube, HYDRA, and in general, the Avengers, but it feels a little more stand-alone and complete than some of the later films in the series.

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More Howling Commandos, Please!

Most of the credit to the film can be given to Evans who gives the earnestness needed for Captain America who is good beyond good.  Evans shines in his role after portraying a number of other superheroes in different franchises.  He has a strong romantic lead in Hayley Atwell (who spun off into her own short lived series Agent Carter), and Tommy Lee Jones plays his normal grumbling self.  Hugo Weaving is a decently creepy Red Skull and Toby Jones will return later as Arnim Zola.  Sebastian Stan’s role in the movie rather small, but has lasting implications in the MCU while Dominic Cooper gives a decent performance as the young (and brash) Howard Stark (who was later replaced by the older John Slattery).  The movie has a number of the Howling Commandos (led by Sgt. Fury in the comic) and it would have been good to see more of Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough), Gabe Jones (Derek Luke), Jim Morita (Kenneth Choi), Jacques Demier (Bruno Ricci), and future Union Jack James Montgomery Falsworth (JJ Field).  The film also features small cameos by Jenna Coleman and Natalie Dormer, and Samuel Jackson returns as Nick Fury.

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I hold the power in my hand!

Visually, Captain America isn’t as flashy as some of the bigger MCU movies since it is set in the past, but there is a nice quaintness to it.  The movie has some fun with the classic costume through USO-Bond shows and the design on the Red Skull is also strong.  I kind of wish that the movie had gone for the traditional HYDRA uniforms from the comic especially since the 1940s aspect gives a bit of kitschiness to the movie that would have allowed it.

Captain America:  The First Avenger is often overshadowed by a lot of the bigger MCU movies, but it stands strong on its own.  If the MCU had ended with this film for some reason, I think more people would love it and rank it high among comic book movies…but in the sprawling world of Marvel, it is a mid-tier film (especially since Captain America:  The Winter Soldier from 2014 is one of the top films).  Captain America:  The First Avenger is followed by the final entry in the Phase One series The Avengers in 2012.

Related Links:

Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America:  Civil War (2015)

The Avengers (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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