I went to see Captain America yesterday with some of my boys. Out of all the comic book movies that have come out I am probably most unfamiliar with the stories of Captain America and Thor. My expectations weren’t too high for Thor, and therefore I didn’t walk away too disappointed. There were a bit more of mixed emotions concerning Captain America. I cannot speak to how faithful the movie was to the comics but I can speak to the face value of the movie itself in comparison to the other comic book movies. I realize that some die hard Marvel fans might elevate comic book accuracy over the actual quality of the movie. Not sure if I would do that even if I could. But alas, I cannot so I will proceed.
Captain America takes place in the United States during World War II. A small kid from New York, Steve Rogers, constantly gets bullied and beat up, but he is a tough kid who never backs down. His greatest desire is to fight for the United States, but he is too small with too many health complications. It is not enough to help the cause at home; he must fight. Health conditions and constant refusal does not keep Rogers from his dream to fight. In one fateful interview he is asked if he wants to kill Germans. His reply is that he doesn’t want to kill anyone, but wants to stop bullies in any country. It is Steve Rogers’ courage and “goodness” are what get him ultimately accepted as the first Super Soldier.
I found the movie quite enjoyable up until the point of Steve Rogers’ transformation into Captain America. Leading up to the transformation there was this focus on the goodness of Rogers. It was that goodness that would keep him from becoming a monster after gaining all that power. His character set him apart from other men but this character is never fully revealed. I was expecting there to be some sort of temptation or inner struggle with the new found power after becoming Captain America that could only be overcome by his “goodness”. I was found wanting. Instead, it became more about explosions and CGI heroics.
Maybe I had the wrong expectations from such a movie, but haven’t we seen the same epic battle over and over again with little variation? This happened with Thor, in my opinion. Very little character development but a lot of explosions. I very well could be looking for the wrong thing in a movie like this. It did, however, “feel” more like a comic book than many of the other movies in this genre. It was less gritty and more bigger-than-life characters. There was a very clear distinction between good and bad. The bad guys (cannot get more villainous than an evil renegade fraction of the Nazis!) were really bad and the good guys were really good.
The movie was beautifully shot by director Joe Johnston who has experience in creating movies in certain periods within history. He also directed the Rocketeer, which I found to be more enjoyable. And to be honest it was hard to get behind the heroics of Captain America. I know it is a comic book hero, but thinking about the heroics of the men and women who served in World War II, I would rather watch Band of Brothers at the end of the day.
So, it appears that my expectations might have been too high. Nevertheless, I am sure it is entertaining enough and better than some of the other comic book movies out there.
I will end with my tentative rankings of such comic book movies:
1. The Dark Knight
2. Iron Man
3. Batman Begins
4. Spiderman 2
5. X-Men 2
7. The Crow
8. The Rocketeer
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
10. Superman II