Fresh off the success of the first two Iron Man films, Captain America: The First Avenger takes us back in time to 1940’s America, with the world on the brink of war and the arrival of our future super-soldier imminent. With a well-paced story revolving around Steve Rodgers’ journey to the icon of America he is now, First Avenger is a simple origin story, one told with enough flair to make for an enjoyable watch, even if it’s unlikely to be as memorable as some of the earlier films in the franchise.
Set in the heart of World War II, Captain America takes things back to basics with a young Steve Rodgers. Rejected from the army, Steve takes desperate measures and instead is offered a position in an experimental program, thanks in part to his courage and bravery, that turns him into the super-soldier Captain America. Alongside special agent Peggy Carter and best friend Bucky, Captain America dons the iconic shield and turns his attention to the mysterious, menacing HYDRA, fronted by Nazi-loving Red Skull.
With a world-ending plot line and plenty of action set pieces along the way, First Avenger is a typical superhero film, one that revels in all the conventional tropes that make this genre so appealing with little in the way of surprises or twists. This is a good old fashioned action flick first and foremost but at times the film feels like it has one eye on the upcoming Avengers project rather than this origin tale. There’s some good cinematography used here and the tone is surprisingly light, especially given the setting and menacing presence of the Nazis.
Despite the best efforts from Hugo Weaving, Red Skull is a predictably cliched villain, with all the usual tropes you’d expect from a Marvel antagonist. It is a little disappointing, especially given how memorable Red Skull is in the comics, but overwhelmingly the focus here is on Steve Rodgers becoming Captain America. Chris Evans plays a competent hero in all this too and really helps breathe life into the iconic American hero.
While it may not be the best Marvel film in the franchise, Captain America: The First Avenger does a pretty good job showcasing the iconic hero, with enough charisma and courage to make for a believable Steve Rodgers along the way. Armed with a nicely worked emotional segment in the third act, and a suitably explosive finale, this should be enough to see you through to the end, even if First Avenger is overshadowed by a lot of the other Marvel films here.