Terminal Lance #134 “The First Avenger”
July 22, 2011
If you’re not sure what Abe’s referring to here, you’re probably either in the Army or not in the military at all. Most Marines will gladly tell you that we get the Army’s hand-me-downs, the shit they no longer need or want after they get their new gear every couple of months. The point here is that of course the Army would get something as awesome as Captain America–a fucking super-soldier–while the Marines are left to play in the dirt with… themselves.
Anyway, I don’t really have a whole lot to say on the strip, but I am going to talk about the movie!
Today was an immensely exciting day for me.
I’ve been waiting–for many years now–for the release of a Captain America film revival. Thankfully, with Marvel’s Avengers series building up, I’ve finally been gifted with the film adaptation of my all-time favorite super hero. Yes, Captain America has been my star hero for years. I like Batman, I like Superman, I like Spider-Man, I like Iron Man–but Captain America holds a place in my heart rivaled by no other.
So, needless to say, I found myself at the midnight premier of the film tonight and am going to give a quick review of it for those of you interested in seeing it.
I’m sure you’re all aware by now the basic premise of the story. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a weakly 90lb kid repeatedly tries to enlist into the Army during WWII. He’s turned away a few times before being discovered by a scientist, Dr. Erskine, who takes an interest in him due to his persistance and heart in the matter. No matter how many times he gets turned away, his moral obligation to the call of duty keeps him trying at MEPS. Generous amounts of computer effects are used to turn Chris Evans into a 90lb, 5 ft-nothing vagina, but its actually admirably done and you probably won’t even notice with today’s technical wizardry.
Anyway, to make a long story short, Steve is injected with the coveted “Super Soldier Serum”, exposed to “Vita-Rays” (I don’t think anyone’s ever actually explained to… anyone… what “Vita-Rays” actually are) and locked in a scary tube. When he emerges, he’s grown about a foot in height and is so swoll’ and shirtless you may notice every woman in the theater trying desperately to cover their massive boners. I don’t know how much Nitrotech Chris Evans must’ve free-based in order to achieve such mass, but I have a feeling his workout routine involved Arnold Schwarzenegger and mud-wrestling grizzly bears.
Moving on, the scientist that invents the Super-Soldier Serum is immediately assassinated afterward, preventing anyone from ever being able to concoct such madness a 2nd time. However, Steve Rogers wasn’t the only person injected with this stuff. Before defecting to the US, Erskine gave the serum to Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), a Nazi with Hitler’s “HYDRA” command. The serum “had side-effects” (holy shit understatement) and turned Hugo Weaving into a Nazi with a red skull for a head and apparent super-strength. This differs from his actual origin story in the comics, but whatever it works and isn’t really any more ridiculous.
Without spoiling too much, the Captain goes on to personally lead a team in fighting the Red Skull’s group and ultimately the guy himself.
In the short run: This movie was a lot better than I expected.
Why did I expect it to be bad? Well, I used to be a huge Jurassic Park fan. Why does that matter? Because Joe Johnston was who ruined the franchise with his ball-punchingly awful Jurassic Park III. The movie was horrible–it completely missed the theme of Spielberg’s first two (don’t play God) and decided to turn it into a mindless monster flick with dinosaurs. Joe Johnston directed Jurassic Park III, and he also directed Captain America: The First Avenger.
Back to Captain America, the World War II setting is relatively well-done. My biggest complaint about it is just that it felt very artificial–which I was more or less expecting with another Marvel Studios film. Everything was clean, polished and camera-ready. In an era where good films tend to lean toward a grittier, more realistic approach, I have to admit I think the artificial “movie” look is getting to be very dated and somewhat unpleasant.
Outside of the aesthetics, I suppose two things stood out to me most that I did not like. I didn’t like the laser guns. I’m sorry, but they added nothing to the story and more or less completely ruined an otherwise fine art direction. Laser guns aren’t cool, and the cheesy pseudo-ninja outfits the HYDRA Nazis were wearing weren’t cool either. As much as we all hate Nazis, you have to admit they had some pretty badass uniforms–all of which were completely stripped away and replaced with cookie-cutter “futuristic” soldiers with laser rifles and energy weapons. Guns are cool, Nazis look really cool already–you didn’t need to make them some kind of bastardized future-soldier Nazis.
My second biggest gripe was the montage scene. Holy shit Joe, a montage scene? Really? This is still World War II right? Instead of showing some gritty, hardcore WWII action with the Captain and his band of merry men slaughtering the shit out of Nazis, you decided to gloss over about 80% of it with a completely inappropriate montage of them blowing shit up with the Red Skull basically shaking his fist at them. It’s hard for me to think of any situation outside of John Cusack movies about skiing in the 80’s where montages are effective and appropriate, but it absolutely didn’t work for me here.
Outside of that, I found the movie to be largely entertaining, and easily the best comic movie to come out recently (not counting Christopher Nolan’s Batman series of course, since those are really on a whole other level of filmmaking). I was honestly expecting Jonston to destroy my beloved Captain, but he ended up pulling through with a movie I wouldn’t mind seeing again. Chris Evans did as great of a job as anyone could as Steve Rogers–I absolutely loved the revamped costume, and the majority of the movie is well-executed, sans a montage.