The superhero movie genre has really impressed me lately. X-Men: First Class was superb, Thor was a lot of fun and was almost brought to "good movie" status by Anthony Hopkins and Kenneth Branagh. Both Iron Man movies were great, and of course there is no comparing Christopher Nolan's Batman films to any other. We have come a long way from Danny DeVito as the Penguin - and let's just try to forget the monstrosity that was Wolverine. I have been looking forward to The Avengers since it was first rumored, and even more so since Joss Whedon took the helm. So I was confused and disappointed with Captain America.
Set during the last 'good' war the United States has been a part of, it is furiously patriotic but not obnoxiously so. Steve Rogers is played by the exceedingly handsome Chris Evans - who had been able to show off his acting talent more in Push, of all things; a very underrated movie that is like X-Men on crack. I also just discovered he was the Human Torch in The Fantastic Four, does this man do anything other than superhero movies?! Anyway... Steve Rogers is the 98 pound weakling you were warned about. He is desperate to fight in the war but would be of more use as ammunition than as a soldier. After an unnecessarily long sequence of him really, really, really wanting to fight, he gets the chance. He is spotted by Dr. Abraham Erskine, portrayed by Stanley Tucci, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite actors. The Doctor sees past the tiny stature (and weirdly disproportionate head) and chooses him to be the first subject in a super soldier experiment.
It works, then things go wrong, and Steve becomes the one and only soldier of his kind. Of little use on his own he is made a figure head, dubbed Captain America, dressed in tights and sent around the country to sell war bonds. This is the best of the long sequences in the movie, and perhaps my favorite part of the movie, period. You watch Steve go from shy, unsure and wishing he was doing something more, to confident, charismatic and with the knowledge that what he is doing, silly as it may seem, really is helping. It also gives us a few amusing scenes where Captain America fights Hitler single handed, and allows him to respond to the question "Do you know what you're doing?" with "Oh yeah. I've knocked out Adolf Hitler over 200 times."
Other than the humor in some scenes, however, the movie was sadly forgettable. The villain, The Red Skull (played by Hugo Weaving, who has apparently made a career around being weird as hell*) was scary looking, and the suspense around revealing his face was drawn out well enough, but he was less of a super villain and more... just a Nazi, really. They don't need anything else to be terrifying.
I was saved from utter boredom by The Girl, Peggy - Hayley Attwell - and Colonel Chester Philips - Tommy Lee Jones. Peggy is suitably badass for a WWII British Agent, at one point standing boldly in front of a speeding car to shoot the driver, and is only once dressed provocatively. She is more of another character than a love interest, and I appreciated that. The Colonel is a lovable cranky man we all know Tommy Lee Jones to be, and most of the more amusing scenes have him to thank for carrying them. Toby Jones, the weird Truman Capote look-alike is the Red Skull's sidekick and is more interesting than his master.
Really, what saved this movie for me was the teaser trailer for The Avengers we were surprised by at the end. The ending of the film is such an unnecessary downer it was fortunate that there was something to pick it up after the credits rolled.