Captain America is an interesting superhero. He is just a scrawny kid who by the use of science is transformed into a man that has superhuman strength, reflexes, and super goodness. Or at least that’s what I picked up watching the movie. It hearkens back to an old style of superhero, where there is no inner turmoil, no fighting within oneself to decide whether they are worthy of the gifts they have been given, and no doubt about what to do.

It’s refreshing to watch a superhero movie that embraces the campy nature of the very concept. As a movie, it works for the most part- the effects are very well done, the steampunk inspired 40s tech is fun to watch, and the simplistic good vs. evil is a nice variation from the convoluted plots these movies seem to have.

Tommy Lee Jones is very good as a military commander, adding the right amount of humor to his role. Hugo Weaving stands out as the Red Skull, a pseudo Nazi that has stopped worshiping Hitler in favor of worshiping himself. His scientist lackey is played by Toby Jones, who is a fantastic actor (most notably as Swifty Lazar in Frost/Nixon).

I really liked the beginning of the film- seeing Captain America as a scrawny young man getting beaten up, all while he wanted to do something to help win the war was a good plot line. Once he was transformed into a hero, the military used him for propaganda until he disobeyed orders and went on a rogue rescue mission to save his childhood friend. He then assembled a squad of stereotypes, to battle the Nazis that weren’t really Nazis, now being followers of the Red Skull and his Hydra division, who had undergone a similar transformation to Captain America.
At this point, it became far less interesting, and was as predictable as a movie could be. Perhaps that’s the problem with superhero movies- there’s never any real drama, since you know who has to win in the end. His friend dies right on cue, and there’s a laughable romantic subplot that assumes about 30 seconds of total screen time. This movie must be aimed at 8 year old boys who still might recoil and say, “Ewwwww!” when the two kiss.
The Red Skull takes off in a stealth bomber type plane and is ready to drop bombs powered by a cube that was once property of the Norse gods on every major city in the US. Each has a conveniently labeled warhead, because much like your underwear at summer camp, you never want to mix up your bombs. While the movie had the classic shot of Captain America punching the red skull in the face, he had on a Hugo Weaving mask at the time, so it wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been.
Marvel has done a nice job of fleshing out an entire universe for their characters, and this movie is no different. Howard Stark is behind the allied technology in the film, and he must be Tony Stark’s (Iron Man’s) grandfather. So apparently great engineering and business skills are genetic, as is arrogance.
I’ve never seen Nazis in a movie played with less menace. While they were once the go to bad guys for Hollywood, I guess we’re bored with them, and in this movie I don’t recall seeing any swastikas or Nazi imagery. So if it was in there, it certainly wasn’t memorable. The Red Skull early on defects from Hitler, which leads to the funniest part of the movie- he raises not just one, but both arms, and shouts, “Heil Hydra!” So from there on out the bad guys are Hydra followers, which would probably piss Hitler off, though that is never addressed.
Overall, it’s the best made superhero movie I’ve seen all year, and was the most fun to watch. So if you’re into comic books, I recommend it, and even if you’re not but just want a fun action movie to which you can bring your kids/siblings/nieces/nephews/orphans/random street urchins/the cast of Newsies/the Bears (sponsored by Chico’s Bail Bonds, not the ones from Chicago) it’s a good choice.
I’ll rank this film on the size of skulls found in animals, from the tiny Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat (just a few millimeters long) to the enormous Blue Whale (as big as 20 feet in length). Captain America is a respectable Wild Boar, about 2 feet in length, which is appropriate, since at times the movie can be a bit of a bore.