At long last, it arrives: The full-length, action-packed introduction to The Aveng... Oh wait, we're still not there... Credit Marvel Studios for their ambitious project: Bringing out all of their superheroes One by One with the intention to eventually bringing them all together in next Summer's The Avengers. A nifty plan, to be sure, but One that has distracted from the content of each of their movies since Iron Man 2. But at least we've finally arrived at the last precursor, as Captain America: The First Avenger stands as the studio's final character introduction before they step the whole thing up a notch.
Even if you don't know the story of Captain America, the beats will be familiar to you: An earnest, hardworking youngster in 1940's America (Chris Evans' face on top of a shrimpy teen's body) wants nothing more than to serve his country in WW2. After attempting to enlist in the Army several times only to be rejected on account of his physical stature, Steve Rogers' (as he is so called) persistence finally pays off. He's taken into a secret program under the wing of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), with the intention of undergoing a procedure in order to become a super-soldier. The experiment works, and tiny little Steve is transformed into a hulk of a man, ready to defend his country against the likes of Hitler, and his especially evil assistant, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving).
The hardworking youth with a heart of gold. The government sanctioned physical transformation. We've heard all of these stories before, but, luckily, Captain America is smart enough to recognize that fact. Instead of trying to be an edgy, envelope-pusher like The Dark Knight, CA plays into the hands of its familiarity, presenting itself as an 'ah-shucks,' actioneer with more in common with 80's, Spielbergian family adventure than today's blockbuster fare. It's a fun, rousing time, nearly stripped of all irony, and featuring likable, winsome performances by Evans, Tucci, Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, and beautiful Brit Hayley Atwell. Mediocre as its action sequences may be, CA is still a fun romp with genuine naivety and charm. I couldn't help but be a little insulted by the conclusion, which feels cut-off as a means of posturing next Summer's mega-sequel, but on the whole, Captain America drew the inner, 'gee-whiz!,' out of me, and that's a feat worth celebrating.