Captain America Ignores its Roots for Easy Money

And what's with that 3-D?

Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics in 1941, Captain America was among the first American comic books intended as an explicit work of patriotic, political propaganda: The cover of the first edition, available months before Pearl Harbor, famously featured the titular costume hero punching out Adolf Hitler.

A nod to that classic beatdown has been worked into a retro-styled poster for Captain America: The First Avenger, but the film, directed by George Lucas protégé Joe Johnston (whose credits span Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and The Wolfman), seems itself concerned with a more timely fight: It's the latest, and last, Marvel Universe prequel to superhero supergroup flick The Avengers, finally due out next spring after half a decade of build-up encompassing two Iron Man films, two actors cast as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk and the establishment of the de riguer post-credit teaser scene. (Spoiler alert: Captain America doesn't have one).

The film concerns the transformation of one Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), "a 90-pound asthmatic" repeatedly declared unfit to fight in World War II, whose persistence impresses Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, heavily vamping), a German scientist working for the U.S. military alongside billionaire inventor/future Iron Man progenitor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). Steve is soon chosen for a top-secret military experiment, for which he'll be injected with a serum that, as Colonel Tommy Lee Jones intones, will turn him from a weakling into "a new breed of super soldier" assigned to "personally escort Adolf Hitler to the gates of hell." Not that Hitler — or anything else ripped from real history or recognizable life — is really on the radar of this hokey, hacky, two-hour-plus exercise in franchise transition/price gouging, complete with utterly unnecessary post-converted 3-D.

Captain America Chris Evans pauses en route to the set of The Avengers.
Captain America Chris Evans pauses en route to the set of The Avengers.

Shortly after Steve — who is played in both super-size and diminutive form by Evans via still-creepily uncanny head-replacement effects — emerges from the experiment as an enlarged, greased-up Ken doll, a spy kills Erskine. Without his champion, this human engineered living weapon is relegated to what an opportunist politician claims is "the most important battlefield of the war" — the media offensive. Touring the country fronting a live propaganda show designed to sell war bonds, star of his own comics and short subjects, Captain America becomes a folk hero for the folks left at home. But on the frontlines, he's a joke. Then, with no apparent combat training but a roadshow-bred sense of showmanship, he mobilizes a rescue mission to liberate his best friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and incidentally frees 400 Allied soldiers for good measure. Steve gets some vague support (and the film gets a spark of much-needed swagger) from his ostensible love interest, Peggy (Hayley Atwell), a tough-broad British soldier who has some kind of role in the operation that's neither specified nor apparently anything that would muss her lipstick.

The lead villain here is Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), aka The Red Skull, a Nazi whose obsession with the occult is a bit much even for Hitler to take. Having almost cheerfully "left humanity behind," Schmidt has assembled a splinter cult called HYDRA, through which he operates labor camps focused on harvesting energy from the Tesseract — a glowing cube thingy that Schmidt pillaged from Norway — and funneling that energy into weapons. It's never clear what this power force actually is, but somehow it's transferred to laser guns, which shoot streams of something or other to vaporize their victims on contact.

That putting such a corpse-obliterating weapon in the hands of everyday Nazi soldiers would have been something of a Holocaust game changer is one of a number of potentially rich parallel-historical details that the film doesn't care to grapple with. Captain America assembles a ragtag multi-ethnic band of soldiers to help carry out his elite missions, but there's not so much as a single mention of the ideological divides that plagued the times — and, subsequently, spawned the original anti-Fascist Captain America comics. So what is Captain America fighting for? Apparently nothing more or less than screen time in The Avengers.

 
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Filipe Alfaia
Filipe Alfaia

I was planning on commenting this review as well, but Marcel Lamont Walker seems to have most of what I wanted to say covered. I would however like to add that if you read most marvel comics, you would notice that most heroes actually look like ken dolls, so that is actually quite accurate, also more information on the Tesseract is given on the movie "Thor" so you can chalk that up to one of those things you need to see all the avenger movies to understand, and finely the hydra soldiers aren't regular Nazis and Johann Schmidt clearly stated that Hydra had grown as far as it could under Hitler’s shadow, right before they cut ties to the Nazis, in other words, the Nazis never got the plasma guns.As for the ideology, many acceptable ideologies back then would be viewed as politically incorrect now-a-days. Also, and I’m just talking for DC comics (not entirely sure if this also applies to marvel) most righter never wanted their super heroes to get overly involved in the war, as the result would be something like, “Superman flies over the Nazi armies, blows up they tanks, snatches Hitler and hands him to the allies, the end”.

comicfan
comicfan

The movie sucked ass just in who they cast as Captain America, you knew it was going to be bad. They don't make these movies for comic fans, they make them to sell tickets. If you read comics, then the movies will always suck, because hollywood thinks there better then the guys that create comics, and that's just the way it is. They consider comic book writers to be beneath them so why should they stick to what they created, when there hollywood, and they know best.

Darth JennoCyde
Darth JennoCyde

There was an Avengers trailer after the credits....Also it's only a movie. Just have fun watching and dont take it too seriously ;)

Joseph Roberts
Joseph Roberts

If I remember the comics correctly, you won't find Captain America using guns or killing people. The roots have been ignored.

Marcel Lamont Walker
Marcel Lamont Walker

It's obvious that the reviewer didn't like CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, but the sweeping claim that the movie "ignores its roots" is ridiculous on its face. Does the movie directly mention the Holocaust, or even the separation of American troops by race? No. But neither did the original comic-books the movie is based on. If anything, this movie is painstakingly accurate to its source material. Moreover, in its defense, I would say that was not the intent of this film, nor did it have to be.

CAPTAIN AMERICA made its point about selflessness, bravery and compassion being the most defining attributes of a hero very overtly. That's a pretty hefty task for any summer movie, and something that all-too-often gets lost in most super-hero movies. If that was also lost on the reviewer, I'd say go back and re-read the Simon and Kirby books (if in fact the reviewer ever read them), or even the later day Lee and Kirby books. This treatment of the character and his world was pretty spot-on.

This movie would not have benefited from a more stark approach to the realities of World War Two. This was a movie set in the MARVEL Universe, and treated as such. To even try to address more mature themes with this property would have been pandering and demeaning. CA:TFA was not meant to be SCHINDLER'S LIST, nor did it need to be.

And if the reviewer finds the producers' desire to make a profitable movie distasteful, she should be reminded that the medium of comic-books sprang not out out of a need to impart moral wisdom, or even for the sake of art -- they were created specifically to turn a profit for newpaper publishers and distributors, aka easy money. So once again your review is wrong -- CA:TFA is absolutely true to its roots.

I pose your own question back at you, reworked slightly: what are you reviewing movies for? Apparently nothing more or less than an opportunity to make snarky comments.

Mad Al 1
Mad Al 1

Why do people piss and moan about the holocaust as they do?No doubt because jews run Hollywood.Compared to the amount of his own people that Stalin had killed 6 million was but a drop in the ocean,but as the Russians were our allies at the time history has glossed this over.If you have no money your voice gets lost in history.Sad fact but there it is

Allym999
Allym999

Well thank-you for one of the dumbest and most pointless movie reviews ever.

As JE Smith pointed out there is a post credit sequence.

What roots exactly did they ignore? The fact that there was holocaust going on? If you took a random selection of 25 WW2 movies, almost all of them wouldn't make mention of it either, are they ignoring their roots?

Fair enough you don't like the film, but when you level these idiotic accusations at it all your doing is diminishing any credit you might have as a reviewer.

JE Smith
JE Smith

Uhhh, yeah, there was a post-credits "teaser" scene... it's between Cap and Nick Fury, and leads into a trailer for THE AVENGERS. Either you saw some early cut, left before the credits were over, or you can't get basic facts straight.

Rubick Cube
Rubick Cube

@Sotired, et al....

Allow me to respond. I think what Ms Longworth is trying to say is this: 6 Million Jews died a horrific death at the hands of Fascist madman... in addition to the hundreds of thousands US soldiers that fought because they loved their country, and what it stood for, enough to sacrifice themselves.If Stan Lee wants to sell comic books or movies, that's fine. But please don't trivialize such a solem event, one that helped definie America's role in the world for decades to come, just to use as a shallow backdrop to promote some comic book hero for the sake of a lousy buck. And if you do, have the decency to get teh facts straight, politically correct or not.

Have some respect, Stan Lee...

... or something to that effect.

Allym999
Allym999

Captain America the character was created during World War 2, perhaps to cash in somewhat on the anti-German feeling but also as a contemporary superhero. His entire character is based on his being from World War 2. So how exactly is it disrespectful to that time or using the time as a 'shallow backdrop' when it's the entire point of the character?

Should they have made him a Vietnam veteran? Maybe not, not gonna get much patriotism going for that war. Or how about Desert Storm? Again, not the most popular of wars. Better not make him a veteran of the recent Iraq War, not least for the comparatively minimal culture shock when he wakes up after being asleep for 3 years.

And finally, are you actually suggesting that Stan Lee should have some respect for an event that shaped America's role for decades to come with something that he did before those decades occurred? Maybe you still don't realise Captain America was created at that time, so that would make it tricky to show respect for something that hadn't even happened yet. Maybe your the one who needs to get their facts straight before getting on the keyboard and proving your inadequacies.

Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith

...and yet nobody criticizes RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for not being "true" to the facts of the Holocaust, even though Nazis (and Hitler) are the bad guys. Just keep telling yourself, "It's only a movie, it's only a movie..."

Brettboy05
Brettboy05

Breathe there, slick...it's a fictional movie. They're not trying to cure cancer...

Cocks
Cocks

I don't think you know what you're talking about. You just wanted to shit on it.

warden62
warden62

What roots were ignored again?

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Since Spiderman 3, every time I see a Marvel movie I find myself itching to see Watchmen again. You want to see what 100% in a superhero movie looks like, Watchmen was it.

 

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