Why I Wanted More From Captain America

*There may be minor spoilers in here.  In case you care.  But really, nothing you shouldn’t be able to predict if you’ve ever actually seen a comic book movie.

Today I went and saw Captain America: The First Avenger.  I went because I like comic book movies.  Also, because Joss Whedon, the man responsible for Buffy, Angel, and Firefly, is directing The Avengers, which comes out next year.  I’ve been informed by more knowledgeable people that I prefer Marvel movies to DC movies (with the exception of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies).  I’ve never read a comic book in my life, so I don’t really know who actually belongs to which universe, but I’m taking their word for it.

Source: Digital Spectrum Films

While Superman is an alien who comes from outer space and basically has zero flaws, Marvel characters seem to be either incredibly ordinary or supremely messed up.  Peter Parker is a science geek.  Wolverine has serious anger issues.  Thor is a spoiled brat.  Tony Stark is a selfish, womanizing jerk.  And Steve Rogers is a weakling.  These characters are messed up and flawed, which is what makes it so interesting when they end up in a position of power.  With Superman, we never doubt that he will use his power for good; there is always a risk with these other characters.

Which is why I wanted more from Captain America.  The movie was beautiful.  At one point I actually leaned over to my friend and told her it made me want to live in Brooklyn in the 1940s.  There was humor, there was quality acting, there were things blowing up.  All of this I have come to expect from comic book movies, and they were there.  I enjoyed the movie, but as I drove away from the theater, I couldn’t help but think that it could have been so much more.

Isn't she gorgeous? The hair, the makeup...I want to be her. Source: Beyond Hollywood

Steve Rogers is selected to become Captain America because of his integrity.  When he asks why he was chosen, Dr. Erskine tells him “Why someone weak? Because a weak man knows the value of strength, the value of power.”  Dr. Erskine’s first attempt at a super-soldier was already a strong man, and the power turned him into a maniac.  Rogers, on the other hand, is the perfect candidate because he is honorable and selfless; he is more concerned with fighting bullies than protecting himself.

And then the action started, and all that backstory felt left behind.  I wanted Captain America to be put in a position where his honor mattered, but it never really happened.  There were a couple of things that seemed to hint at that, but mostly it was his awesome new fighting skills that gave him the victory.  I felt like if there had been a situation where he was tempted to grab power for himself, or where his integrity was what clinched the battle, the movie would have been much more powerful.

It was a fun movie and I enjoyed watching it.  There is a time and place for beautiful 40s costumes and makeup and things exploding.  I got exactly what I expected, but I was disappointed because it so easily could have exceeded my expectations.

On the bright side, Joss Whedon is writing and directing The Avengers, so maybe I’ll get to see some of those things next May.  Based on the teaser trailer after the credits of Captain America, it’s gonna be pretty stinkin’ awesome.

EDIT: After writing this, I came across this tidbit on IMDB:

The film was originally meant to be a standalone film, but after Joss Whedon was hired to direct The Avengers he was given a copy of the film’s script and made a few rewrites to tie it in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: “I just got to make some character connections. The structure of the thing was really tight and I loved it, but there were a couple of opportunities to find his voice a little bit – and some of the other characters – and make the connections so that you understood exactly why he wanted to be who he wanted to be. And progressing through the script to flesh it out a little bit.”

Oh, how I love Joss Whedon and his emphasis on characterization.

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2 Comments

  1. Dad

     /  July 23, 2011

    You should talk to the Commercial Appeal about becoming a part time movie critic. You do it so beautifully!

    Reply
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