Captain America: The First Avenger

tn_captainamericaCAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER is the last of the Marvel Comics soda can labels before next year when all the separate labels will be united into one all-star label called THE AVENGERS (the comics one, not the one with Sean Connery in the teddy bear costume). The IRON MANs, THOR and INCREDIBLE HULK were all on Dr. Pepper I believe, though, and this one’s on 7-UP. So it’s a whole new ball game. I think it dips a bit into the cheesy side visually and filmatism-wise, but it’s an enjoyable story that’s a little different from the other super hero guys and stands on its own better than THOR. In fact the way it leads up to this AVENGERS movie allows it to end on an odd emotional note that it wouldn’t have otherwise.

This one takes place in WWII, before the invention of The Hulk or Iron Man. Chris Evans (the sexually harassing Fire-Man from those shitty FANTASTIC FOUR movies, also in SUNSHINE) plays Steve Rogers, the 62 pound weakling from Brooklyn who wants real bad to be in the army and then gets scientifically transformed into a handsome muscleman so he can do USO tours singing a silly song and lifting a motorcycle with girls on top of it, then he sneaks off to rescue a bunch of P.O.W.s and becomes a super-powered war hero who has to fight against Hydra, the Nazis who were such assholes that the Nazis weren’t even evil enough for them so they had to defect and have some kind of plan to destroy the world or whatever and something involving a magic glowing cube.

mp_captainamericaThis movie is designed as the ultimate nerd fantasy, like one of those Charles Atlas guy-kicking-sand-in-your-face ads adapted into a movie. In the first chunk, state of the art special effects are used to turn musclebound actor Chris Evans into a skeletal, 5-foot tall weenie. He also has asthma and other ailments glimpsed listed on a form, I didn’t catch if he was allergic to peanuts or not. He doesn’t know how to talk to girls or dance. But he fuckin believes, man. And he wants to join the military not to kill Nazis but because “I hate bullies.” Every time he tries to sign up they reject him on the grounds that it would be wiser to mail a bunch of potato chips in an envelope than to send this fragile little snowflake of a man into a war zone. So he keeps going back and re-applying under fake names. Fortunately Stanley Tucci as a scientist (and therefore a member or affiliate of the nerd community) sees what a good person he is and chooses him for a secret government program where they inject him with comic book shit that turns him into non-digitally-altered, musclebound Chris Evans, super soldier. Also he can jump high.

Because of his new body he’s able to talk to and get it on with a super hot and cool human female (Hayley Atwell). But don’t worry, Steve Rogers deserves some credit here, we can’t give it all to performance enhancing science. You gotta be a good person for this super soldier treatment to make you Captain America. This guy Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) is the leader of Hydra, he had an early version of the treatment but he was just such a dick that it made him into a monster instead of a super hero. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be exactly, he’s not a skull. He has no nose but he has ears, and when they show him in extreme closeup you can see the black painted on cheekbones like Halloween makeup.

Fortunately the fantasy goes beyond the nerd wish fulfillment, so it ends up feeling pretty universal in its appeal. It’s also an idealized version of war heroism, where he gets to go prove himself fighting against guys who are even worse than Nazis. He gets to rescue his best friend, work with his girlfriend, not only does he win over the hard-bitten colonel (Tommy Lee Jones, a nice addition to the movie), but inspires him to come into battle himself and personally rescue the Captain while driving an awesome car. While Captain America is wearing his American pride on his sleeve (not to mention his pants, his chest, his head and his shield) he also represents diversity and world unity by putting together and leading an elite platoon that includes a Japanese-American, an African-American, a British guy, a French guy, and Neal McDonough.

Captain America’s powers work good for an action movie. No flying, morphing or shooting magic beams, just exaggerated strength, which most guys have in action movies anyway. That combined with Mr. Rogers’s never-give-up, can-do attitude means lots of punching, motorcycle jumping, jet plane commandeering, even a barefoot foot chase through New York City.

I was impressed by the wide variety of forms of transportation that the Captain ejects Hydra soldiers from. Off the top of my head I remember a truck, some motorcycles, a car I think, a train, two different types of aircraft and even a submarine (my favorite). That’s a good way to keep the action interesting when you got land, sea and air. Hopefully THE AVENGERS will allow him to throw people off a subway, a Segway, maybe a space ship.

There’s alot of fun action with Captain America and his team, the Captain Americans. Some of it is kind of rushed through in montages to show that time is passing. I wish they took the care to have a more elaborate sort of WHERE EAGLES DARE type of attack on a Nazi compound or something, but oh well. It’s pretty good stuff, and there’s one thing that’s unique about how he fights.

Because America at its best likes to think of itself as a defender and not an imperialist, Captain America’s primary weapon isn’t a gun, it’s a shield. It’s a really good one made out of “the rarest metal on Earth.” He uses it to deflect but also to bash things open. He throws it like a boomerang or a Frisbee. I’m sure it would work well as a sled, an umbrella, a water bowl for bald eagles to drink out of. In one great moment he tosses it down a hallway to jam some closing metal doors open, but immediately wishes he had it because a motherfucker comes after him with a blowtorch. I got kinda nervous actually when he had to leave his shield behind during one fight. I didn’t want him to lose that thing.

What is it about these Old Timey Throwback Adventure Movies, like this and THE PHANTOM? I guess if they were coming out a couple a year we’d hate them but they’re infrequent enough that they always seem refreshing. Do you remember the old pulp magazines and radio plays? No, we remember people remembering them. Instead of nostalgia for the actual time period we have nostalgia for the nostalgia of the time period. It’s made to remind us of the movies and things we’ve seen before about that time. This one is a little different because on the surface it pretends to be about war and patriotism. But it’s not so much filling an American’s heart with pride about what it means to be an American as reminding us of the kitschy fun of the progaganda they used to have, remember how we read that they used to have that? What a fun time! USA! USA!

Luckily you can get away with that because Nazis are the ultimate bad guys. I mean, who doesn’t hate Nazis? Only Nazis don’t, and fuck those guys. So you can watch a fun WWII movie and not have to feel bad about the bad guy soldiers getting shot or tossed off planes or whatever. It worked for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, obviously, but after SCHINDLER’S LIST Spielberg allegedly decided he wouldn’t do Nazis in a “fun” movie anymore because it’s too serious of a subject. Tarantino and Verhoeven have since made fun WWII movies, but not light like this. Those were hard-R movies that dealt specifically with the horrors of the war. Obviously neither Captain America or director Joe Johnston are ever gonna go that route, so they kind of go in between – it’s still WWII, it’s still Hitler, but swastikas are replaced by this Hydra symbol, and the bad guys actually separate from Hitler. So you can be content that the Red Skull is a fun bad guy that we gotta stop from ruling the world and hopefully not think too much about genocide or concentration camps. (Not that either of those things ever came up in an Indiana Jones movie. Or should’ve.)

In fact, Johnston shows us specifically where to locate Captain America on the Indiana Jones map. There’s a line about Hitler’s people being out in the desert looking for artifacts – but while those chumps are out digging up arks and getting their faces melted Hydra are the guys who have actually had success acquiring occult mcmuffins like The Glowing Cube of Whatever It Does. Johnston was the art director for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as well as the second and third STAR WARSes, and he’s definitely going for some of that “Remember Good Old Fashioned Fun?” type nostalgia, with some success. There’s a motorcycle chase reminiscent of the speedy bike chase, there’s a mid-air battle that reminds me of tie fighters, the Hydra soldiers even wear masks kinda like the tie fighter pilots. (Yeah, I know about Star Wars stuff. I’m an American.)

I think they do fine skirting any potential WWII tackiness issues, but I’m a little iffy on the (ENDING SPOILER) climactic scene where Captain America chooses to sacrifice himself by forcing down a jet that’s headed to New York City on a kamikaze mission. Maybe nobody else was thinking United 93, but I was, and that took me out of it. But I can see how you could defend that. It’s sampling heroism instead of just tragedy, like TRANSFORMERS 3 did with its visual allusions to the Challenger explosion and people jumping out of the WTC towers.

Despite that somewhat ballsy move I think Johnston is about as bland of a director as has ever been created. He’s made few terrible movies and no great ones. People always like to dig out THE ROCKETEER – yeah, I remember that being pretty good too. But it was twenty years ago and it wasn’t exactly MAD MAX. Other than that his best movie is, what, HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS? I’d probly guess HIDALGO was pretty good, except I can’t because I saw it. He had old west Viggo Mortensen in a cross country horse race to unite the countries in the middle east, how the fuck did he make such a snoozer of a movie out of that? Nothing about it is real bad, but nothing about it is real good either. It has everything and nothing that a great movie needs. That’s also how we got JURASSIC PARK III and THE WOLFMAN. It’s the Joe Johnston touch.

He was a good art director, but the ones he actually directs don’t tend to look so hot. I guess WOLFMAN had some nice shots. This one is gloomy and colorless, with settings surprisingly similar to those of the widely hated low budget CAPTAIN AMERICA made by Friend of Outlawvern.com Albert Pyun. For the thumbnail at the top of the review I really tried but couldn’t find a still that I thought made Captain America look cool. It’s a director with an art background adapting drawings into a movie and somehow it’s not all that visual.

And there are little beats that aren’t quite there. Like there’s a funny part where Captain America is chasing a Nazi through New York and the guy throws a kid in the water. The Captain looks over the edge and the kid says “Go get him! I can swim!” Great joke, good timing and everything but why doesn’t the Captain look like he’s about to dive in to save him, don’t you need that to set up the joke? Johnston’s got the words but doesn’t know how to deliver it quite right.

Oh well. It works. It’s not as beautifully directed as BLADE or IRON MAN. It doesn’t look as stylish, it doesn’t feel as new. But it does follow the Marvel pattern of having a strong cast centered around a charismatic lead. Maybe not quite on the level of Thor, but I thought the story and action were better. There are lots of two-dimensional but fun characters, some funny lines and moments, a good pace. Red Skull is only an okay villain, but at least Weaving uses an accent partially based on Werner Herzog’s (that’s what it sounded like to me and then I read that really was his intent).

There are the really visionary, interesting comic book movies like BLADE 1-2, the Nolan BATMANs and HULK, and there are the also rans. This is for sure in the lower category, but as far as those go it’s one of the more entertaining ones. Like a pretty solid western as opposed to a great one.

It’s a nice fairy tale of a naive human stickbug who, through will power, science and jumping, saves lives and inspires his entire country. Like most super heroes you get a scene of kids running around dressed as him, to show that he has inspired them. It’s nice to see the kids of all races playing together like Captain America and his team. Although it sucks that the white kid has to be in front carrying the garbage can lid.


If it wasn’t a setup for THE AVENGERS I’m sure it would’ve ended on that sweet but obvious note. It would’ve stayed in WWII which would be nice because I’d like to see those characters like Peggy, the Colonel and Neal McDonough again. But they wanted to get him to 2012 in his own movie so it wouldn’t seem silly when they do it in THE AVENGERS. So they worked it into the structure, a wraparound story about him becoming The First Avenger.

I like that they don’t overexplain it. We learned earlierr that his metabolism works so fast it’s impossible for him to get drunk. We can assume this is why he crashed in Antarctica and woke up 70 years later, no need for Nick Fury or somebody to give him a speech about it.

The reason the wraparound works for me is it turns Captain Nerd’s Greatest Fantasy into a uniquely tragic figure. Not even like Batman, because there’s nothing to avenge. The movie ends with this poor bastard realizing that in the blink of an eye he skipped 70 years, so he lost the girl he (in his mind) just fell in love with. In fact everybody he knows has disappeared. We never heard about a family, but we saw all the friends and allies he made, all gone. Now some guy in an eyepatch is yelling at him and he’s gonna have to work with the smartass son of the guy who used to build his weapons. Music has gotten terrible, he missed the V-Day celebration, and also free love and all that shit. And the Rambo and Rocky movies. He was just in WW2, now they’ll probly ship him off to Afghanistan with no peace time in between. Damn, he’s probly still getting used to his new body, now this shit. He’s Ripped Van Winkle.

And the weirdest part – maybe the ingenious part – is that he responds with one line that plays like a cute little joke, and then it slams into the credits. It pretends it’s saying “HOORAY!” but really it’s horribly sad. I say maybe it’s ingenious because I love the weird contradictory feeling it gives me, but I suspect that wasn’t what Johnston was going for. I’m not really sure. And it doesn’t really matter.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 2:38 pm and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

144 Responses to “Captain America: The First Avenger”

  1. I’ve written elsewhere that it is sadly comic how everyone (even my good friend Vern) is making A+ efforts to say that this movie was average but it was so *spectacularily* average that it somehow redeems itself.

    I feel like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. Or Lowell Bergman hearing about “tortious interference.”

    I am also amused by the meta-thinking required to apparently enjoy any of the Marvel movies: “You gotta see it ’cause it all leads to AVENGERS in two years!”

    Huh, no.

  2. Same here, SirVincealot, just came out of this feeling it was one of the most boring movies I’ve seen in a long time. The fact that Evans and the production designg were so good makes it even more frustrating to me. I see all points Vern makes, but it didn’t work for me.

  3. I actually thought this was better than average, at least in terms of the company it keeps.

    For me a comic book movies should be 1) fun, 2) have iconic characters, 3) move along at a quick pace, 4) have a bad guy who is really bad, and 5) be fun.

    I think Captain America does 1, 2,3, and 5 really well but lacks a little on 4. I don’t buy Red Skull as a viable threat to Captain America. I wanted to buy him as a threat to the world but even that was a little much. Maybe if they tried to make it so he was a threat to these soldiers he was becoming friends with or something, I don’t know. He just wasn’t a credible threat in the fight against Captain America and his overall planned kind of confused.

    Still, I think the movie was fun. I laughed at times. I liked the different characters. I appreciated how some characters grew. I thought Tommy Lee Jones was great.

    I don’t know, it’s a solid movie. It’s up there with Spiderman (or is it two words, I forget?) 2 for me in terms as being one of my favorite comic book movies.

    Mr Vincealot, I think I understand what you’re saying. I kind of disagree. I liked the new Hulk and Thor and really liked Captain America. I don’t need to make excuses for liking them or anything. They’re solid films that accomplish what they set out to accomplish. They aren’t especially remarkable but neither do they market themselves as something different than what they are. They’re good but not great and that’s okay. I like the movie theatre experience and I’m happy to see a good movie at the theatre.

    I also don’t care about The Avengers. That looks like it’s going to be a mess. I might be wrong, though, as I thought Iron Man 2 would be good and that was a pretty awful movie.

    Also, SciFi was running some of the old Captain America movies that looked like they were made for TV. They mostly seemed to exist as a way to get Captain America on a dirt bike. Man, Americans loved dirt bikes in the 70s.

    I liked Captain America, though. I would rather see Captain America 2 than the Avengers. I think the most interesting thing about Captain America is that he is the ideal America represents and the contrast between that living ideal and the reality of what America is makes for an interesting story. I want to see that story but instead we’ll get a two hour movie with 8 lead characters and it’ll end up being loud and boring.

  4. I was all set to see this but then the JP3 discussion reminded me, “Hey, wait a minute. I don’t ACTUALLY like any Joe Johnston movies. I only WANT to like Joe Johnston movies.”

    And just like that, $13.50 plus Internet service charge was reallocated to the food and drink budget.

    By the way, I know Ryan Reynolds catches all the heat for playing multiple comic book characters, but has anyone noticed that Chris Evans is on his fifth? Including Cap and Johnny Storm, he was also T-Shirt Man in THE LOSERS, one of the evil exes in SCOTT PILGRIM, and he did the voice of Casey in the TMNT cartoon movie. The world of animated children’s storybook movies is starting to look like that scene in BEING JOHN MALKOVICH where he enters his own brain.

  5. I saw it with a 5 year old, he loved it. That’s all I ask for. My grown up reaction was: solid unironic retro. You will be entertained. You won’t have a religious experience.

    And I liked Neal McDonough’s Irish bowler hat.

  6. “I’d like to see those characters like Peggy, the Colonel and Neal McDonough again.”
    You might, Vern. They intentionally spaced the story out over a few years to give themselves the option of coming back to that era for sequels. Presumably flashbacks, but they could probably also do a full blown Men On A Mission movie completely set then as well.

    Not seen it yet, as it’s not out till friday. Looking forward to it though, and I’m glad to hear they treat the material with complete earnest and not have them wink-winking at us throughout. We can save the snark for when Tony Stark meets Cap and has a dozen jokes to make at his expense in THE AVENGERS(though of what, we’re not quite sure).

  7. I don’t feel like I’m apologizing for its averageness. I’m saying I enjoyed it but trying to make it real clear that it’s not Blade or Batman good. Or even X-Men.

    If it’s not either spectacular or terrible should I just not write about it?

  8. Mr Stu, I think that’s one of the reasons I really liked it. It’s an earnest movie about an earnest character.

    I’m really tired of snark and cynicism.

  9. Another excellent review…nice work, sir.

    Does anybody remember the final line? What was the joke/tragic bit that Vern references? Thanks.

  10. “I had a date…”

  11. I think you give Johnston too much credit on the ending line,
    and I personally don’t like it, its such a weird place to end on, and I don’t feel it properly touches on the inherent sadness of the ending, the movie seems to think its not such a big deal. I was really hoping they’d at least end on him visiting Peggy’s grave or something, to give the realization that everything he knows is dead a little weight, but Johnston seems scared to inject ANY weight at all, and as it is the end just feels perfunctory, like….Yep, now its set for the Avengers, move along.

  12. Aw. That is kind of sad.

    Despite what I said earlier, I think this movie is really gonna hit the spot on some rainy Sunday afternoon three or four months from now. It’s for the movie’s own good that I don’t hold it up to the raised expectations of the theatrical experience.

  13. I’m slightly disappointed in the reactions here. I thought more people would be digging on it. I’m also suprised at the digs on filmatism and action sequencing, which I thought was clear and well shot. I dunno, maybe it’s just that the comic book nerds haven’t shown up again, but I thought this was one of the better if not the best Marvel comic book movie yet, and I’m 100% jazzed for the Avengers. I don’t know shit about the comic, but I love all those heroes and their mythologies and even their movies, and I love Joss Whedon. So count me as somebody who loved Captain America, can’t wait for the Avengers, and had a slight freakout at the after credits sequence. Didn’t expect so much.

  14. one guy from andromeda

    July 26th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I just can’t summon up any excitement over super hero movies. Why does ‘the public’ ™ keep pretending that these pieces of shit are not just overly violent children’s cartoons with pacing problems but stuff someone over the age of 15 should see? Now the first Blade, okay, i see that more as a Vampire movie, Dark Knight had some stuff going for it, but the rest? I will stay away.

  15. While I thought Captain America was fine, my biggest problem is that this is the fifth origin movie Marvel has subjected us to, all in the efforts of setting up “The Avengers.” Essentially we’ve seen the same movie five times, only this time, it’s a period piece. Maybe if Cap had been first, I’d be more impressed, but I’m kind of ready for another kind of story now.

  16. Teddy Jack Eddy

    July 26th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I want my comic book movies to be fun. I really do not give a shit about this so-called “realism” that guys like Nolan try to shoe-horn into the film. I really do like Nolan’s movies, but they are very very flawed in a funny way by all of the alleged “logical” elements that they try to impose on a guy wearing a horribly restrictive outfit who wants to fight crime. And when you end up with a guy like Two Face, whose entire face is so badly damaged that this fucker just would be lying in a corner in a fetal positions with puss leaking out of his wounds—certainly not having deep discussions with other characters! I mean, if you play something so servious and THEN try to inject larger-than-life comic book elements, well it’s just silly.

    I still remember the big laughs while watching The Dark Knight when his engineer (Morgan Freeman) says “Oh…I get it. You want to be able to turn your head” when he sees the “new” Bat-outfit designs!!! If that fucker wasn’t able to turn his head in Batman Begins, he would have die during that movie from lack of clear vision and crashed into a building!!

    Yeah, so, well, fuck there serious. I want these guys to act like they KNOW the source material is silly.

  17. One guy from Andromeda- I can kinda see your point. Granted, I’ve only watched the 1st “Iron Man” and the “Hulk” movie. Well, atleast the one that Marvel wasn’t embarrassed of. The one with Ed Norton.

    It all seems to be just a bunch of soulless fluff. Don’t get me wrong, there are a bunch of dvds in my library that fall under that umbrella, but the Marvel movies just don’t grab me like a Nolan Batman movie, that’s for sure.

  18. Good review, vern. You’re not the only one who thought of United 93 – my friend thought Cap should’ve said “let’s roll” at the end.

  19. Man, if Avengers doesn’t work, it’s gonna really fuck things up for Marvel. They’ve kept goodwill through a bunch of mostly subpar movies because, for whatever reason, people are excited to see 5 set ups to one punch line, but if it doesn’t hit all the right marks how will they rebuild good will?

    I’ve seen all of the Marvel movies in theaters and I don’t know why.

    Iron Man: Morally reprehensible, boring action, only fun when it’s about Tony Stark and not Iron Man,

    Iron Man 2: Stupefyingly awesome whenever it’s about ScarJo’s T&A, just stupefying when it’s about anything else.

    Incredible Hulk: Fairly entertaining, but fairly dumb too. I know I saw it, but other than the soda bottle gag, I don’t remember anything about it.

    Thor: I actually thoroughly enjoyed this one. Thought it had better character work and a more interesting arc than the others, even if it does feel very small in scope in the end.

    Captain America: haven’t seen it yet, but for some reason I’m excited.

  20. I think you make an interesting point, Mr Eddy.

    A lot of movies have been trying to do the whole “hero in a real world conceit” but they always seem to flake out from that premise. I think The Dark Knight and Kick Ass are two huge offenders of this.

    The only movie that really follows through with this premise that I’ve seen is Defendor. It’s not a great movie, or even very good, but I think it has merit.

  21. For me, nothing says “coulda been great” as much as actually having Neal McDonough in this movie, but he’s not playing Captain America. He probably wouldn’t have been able to pull off the “young weakling” beginning part of the movie, but ever since Band of Brothers, I thought he was a dead ringer for how Cap should be portrayed in a movie.

  22. billydeethrilliams

    July 26th, 2011 at 7:05 pm


    Skinny Steve Rogers’ head looked like it would fall off at any given moment. I thought it would be cool if it did and from the neck hole fireworks shot out.

    Red Skull’s head looked like a Nerf ball.

    Haley Atwell has nice tits.

    Stan Lee’s line reminded me of Escape From L.A.

    Surprised it showed a guy getting ripped to shreds from propeller blades, even though it looked cute.

    movie was alright.

  23. I enjoyed it. It was a fun adventure film. I especially liked seeing the Howling Commandoes walking and talking and shooting and fighting and drinking.

    On the other hand, Vern’s reference to WHERE EAGLES DARE made me realize just how much better CAPTAIN AMERICA could have been. The battle to enter the final Hydra stronghold could have been epic and involved and the stakes could have been way, way higher. It was still fun but yeah, WED.

  24. oh yes Haley Atwell’s dirigibles were the best thing about this movie, too bad she probably wont ever show them like most modern Hollywood actresses, life can be so unfair

    anyway I loved the first half of the movie (the best scene is by far the propaganda tour), the second half of the movie drags a bit though, I got kind of bored (I did appreciate how the action was classically filmed though)

    I think the movie was a bit too long basically, or maybe the various scenes didn’t flow well enough

  25. Yeah, Griff, there’s definitely something off in that second half, right? A stutter in the flow of the story and the action. One moment it feels a little slow and the next moment there inside the stonghold, captured, escape, final battle, done. What? That happened too fast. Why so rushed? Back it up, cut a whole whack of that extraneous filler, now take some time building up to that final showdown. Allow the stakes to climb higher and the suspense even higher, then release it with furious action.

    Also, can anyone tell me what the fuck was Red Skull’s master plan? I’m still unclear about that.

  26. Casey wrote:
    “The only movie that really follows through with this premise that I’ve seen is Defendor. It’s not a great movie, or even very good, but I think it has merit.”

    You might also want to check out the movie “Special”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo18EMnTY6o

  27. Wow, Vern, you got all that from a 7-Up can? Nicely done!

  28. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 27th, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing this. I watched Ironman again on tv last week and loved it. I don’t know much about The Avengers, but I am liking the sound of a super supergroup. Who are the bad guys though?

  29. Man, they should have just cut out the middle man and actually had Werner Herzog as the villain. That movie must be made.

  30. Or Uwe Boll! That would have been killer.

    Sadly, I think *SPOILER* the way Red Skull ends that he’ll likely be in the Avengers movie. From the movie it looks like he’s sucked up into space and likely to somewhere that Loki can reach him. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Avengers also featured the enemies of the team as a team fighting against the heroes. That seems kind of lame to me so I’m hoping I’m wrong.

  31. Skrulls. Then they can bring back whatever old cast members are available as doppelgangers.

  32. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 27th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Griff- My understanding is that Atwell actually DOES get topless in THE DUCHESS (though I cannot attest to the legitimacy or quality there as I am on a work computer and do not want to do a suspicious google search, heh…

    I actually loved this movie. Best Marvel movie since Iron Man. And a character I like much more adapted very faithfully.
    I can get into more later, but the one thing I think this was missing (someone may have mentioned this, and if they did they were 100% correct) were spinning newspapers during the montage of the invasion/dismantling of all the Hydra bases with headlines to punch up exactly what was happening/ what progress Cap’s team was making.
    Spinning Newspapers!!!

    I have to disagree with Vern about Johnston as a whole though.
    *I think he actually has three great movies in him- 1. Captain America 2. The Rocketeer 3. Honey I Shrunk The Kids (pretty much a perfect summer/ family movie)
    *He also has several good movies that I enjoy a lot on his resume- 1. Hidalgo 2. Jumanji (another great family adventure movie- though quite on par with HISTK) 3. October Sky 4. Jurassic Park III (no need to pull out this debate again)
    * The only thing of his that I have seen that I would call “bad” is The Wolfman and though it is 2 hours of missed oppurtunities, I do not hold him responsible for most of them and I would never go so far as to say the movie is “terrible”. There is plenty to dislike in the movie, but there is enough to still dig that I could never tag it as “terrible”- In fact, I would be okay with watching it again… just not in a hurry to do so, nor would I go out of my way.
    The only thing of his that I have not seen is that Pagemaster movie, though unless someone tells me differently, I am just going to assume that I never need to see it.

  33. Why do I keep coming back to this site?

    Oh, I remember: “I mean, who doesn’t hate Nazis? Only Nazis don’t, and fuck those guys.”

    That’s why. :-)

  34. Allow me to echo the statements of Griff and Darryl. The first half was virtually flawless, but the second Cap got his new suit, things turned downright clunky and more than a little choppy. I mean how is Cap rewarded for his bravery for rescuing his brothers in arms? By a lame montage of random heroics. Then it’s wham-bam storm the castle time. Then the Cap/Red Skull final battle gets abruptly terminated. It was sorta sad to see how the fine-tuned and emotional first part of the movie got turned into a sloppy ADD clusterfuck by the end. The emotional coda was a positive way to end things though. I still liked this better than Thor but it wasn’t in the same league as X-Men First Class.

  35. I actually think that is an issue a lot of superhero movies have, Mr Burton. I think Iron Man, Spiderman, and Batman Begins (to name a few) are better before the costume gets put on. I think Captain America is in the same boat but besides Red Skull not being a credible threat to Captain America in a fight I think Captain America pulled off the post-costume sequences of the film better than the above mentioned movies.

  36. Still mad at how anti-climatic it felt at times but this movie was a technical marvel (no pun intended). Didn’t like that the Howling Commandos didn’t even have their names mentioned. LOL “Neil McDonough” I don’t think it would’ve cost them anything to just say the words Dum Dum Dugan. They also should’ve had Sgt. Fury there. That would’ve been bold since he would be black in this universe.

    Despite my slight nitpicks of it I’m glad it’s succeeding actually. I didn’t think modern cynical audiences would care about a character like Cap. I give Marvel credit for insisting in the Cap people my age would recognize and not the ultimate comics version. They took trait of ultimate comics with Stark and Thor in their movies so it’s even more impressive to see THE Captain America on screen. Ball is in DC’s court. Supes is basically the same guy. Marvel sold their quintessential golden age character to the general public. Can they?

  37. oh shit, The Pagemaster, I forgot Joe Johnston was involved with that, but he only directed the live action segments and most of the movie is animated

    that was a childhood favorite of mine, if you like animated movies you should check that out

  38. btw I’m surprised our friend Albert has not chimed in yet

  39. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 28th, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I actually contend that the Pyun Captain America for all its faults and budget constraints would have made a great pilot movie for a Captain America television series ala The Flash. The script was actually above average, the costume (despite the ears) was pretty perfect for the time and Matt Salinger really did give his all (such as his all is) and despite the change to Red Skull being Italian and spending even MORE time in whiteface, the guy that played him really gave it a go and dripped “creepy bad guy” really well.

    Considering the time frame and the fact that it had been almost a decade since ANY comic book movie really got a shake (it was in production before Batman came out), I’m surprised it wasn’t total crap.

    Granted it is still not a GOOD movie by theatrical standards, but it is endearing in just how damn hard it tried to be.
    Definitely better than most stuff that got dumped straight to video at the time.

  40. I was amazed that for a PG-13 comic book movie the body count in this film is ridiculously high.

  41. Stern,
    Yeah, but they get away with it with the deathrays so there is no actual carnage- just people *poof*ing.
    The propeller guy and Tucci and some of the cyanide capsule dudes didn’t *poof*.

    Kinda like when they made the Foot clan all robots in the old TMNT cartoon so the turtles could slice and dice them without it seeming as violent.

  42. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 28th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    High body count? I can’t wait to see this!

  43. Man I just read up how they made Chris Evans look all DJ Qualls-like. Pretty damn impressive; I thought it was just BENJAMIN BUTTON shit when I had seen the movie. It’s actually closer to LOTR “hobbitizing” & “dwarformations”.

  44. Its weird that I haven’t seen this and I already know (or assume I know) how its going to end. I’m not sure if that removes some of the drama.


    Just got back from seeing it and I really enjoyed it. Evans is great, Atwell a nice female foil. Really enjoyed Weaving’s performance, but actually thought he was more interesting and intimidating BEFORE he took his mask off than after, as he was visibly holding himself in check then (see the look on his face when the Nazi officers call him The Red Skull), whereas as unmasked he was a bit more arch and shouty. Thought Tommy Lee Jones had a lot of the best one liners and that it was funny how he was a bit of a dick to Steve throughout the first half of the movie and never said sorry for it later. Commandos were fun, especially McDonough, and I liked that they actually gave the french guy something cool and heroic to do at one point, when they could have took the easy route and not made him french at all or made “Surrender? You think this letter on my head stands for FRANCE?!” jokes. I also agree it’s weird they never got named, except in the credits and it would have made all kinds of sense for the black guy to be a young Fury. I think it would have been a nice touch in the coda if older Fury had that connection to Cap. I liked the friendship with Bucky and Howard Stark was a fun little side character, although Cooper’s accent isn’t perfect for much of it. I agree the pacing hits a snag with the third act, but I personally got enough of an action fix from it. Weird how they handled the bit on the train though. The way they shot that should have felt bigger, but it was a bit flat. I think because they might have further plans for that, but still, the audience doesn’t know that.
    I didn’t really think of UNITED 93 with the climax, though I did think it was stupid how they showed the bombs with “Chicago” and “Boston” on them, but the music only went into “THIS SHIT GOT REAL” mode when it panned to “New York”, as if nobody would have given a fuck if the other places got destroyed. I DID think the score was really good though, and suited the pulpy war genre as well as the first IRON MAN’S score suited the techno sci fi action genre it was doing, and the “Star Spangled Man” theme was a lot of fun.

    “I was really hoping they’d at least end on him visiting Peggy’s grave or something, to give the realization that everything he knows is dead a little weight, but Johnston seems scared to inject ANY weight at all, and as it is the end just feels perfunctory, like….Yep, now its set for the Avengers, move along.”
    I think because Johnson is working to a bigger overall plan from Marvel Studios he possibly might not be able to make a decision like that, especially since the AVENGERS movie seems to be taking it’s cue from the ULTIMATES storyline, which actually did focus a bit on Cap adjusting to the modern world(or rather, not) and particularly with his old girlfriend being still alive and having moved on and gotten married to someone else. They might do something like that in AVENGERS with Peggy(if not, then someone’s girlfriend has to die, seeing as Whedon often does tearjerking tragic romances in his work) and Johnson just can’t step on their toes with what he’s doing. But that’s just speculation on my part.

  46. A lot of fun w/ some really good performances all around. Great casting. Good throwback feel. Nazis getting beat up.

    Skinny Steve Rogers was pretty awesome, except that very first seen where he’s trying unsuccessfully to enlist. The head-to-neck integration looks a bit off. Otherwise, that was pretty amazing how they actually got that right. Gives me some hope that they might actually finally get Hulk right.

    I thought the action around Captain America had an odd choppiness. Like, there were a lot of times where Cap would leap or do something, and it would cut away abruptly and then cut back to him landing or something. It lacked the seamlessness you expect in a film w/ this kind of budget. Was there any one truly awesome action sequence?

    Curious about Avengers and beyond. Captain works great as a period piece but it’ll be an entirely different feat to put him into 2010’s. So far, so good, though.

  47. The film worked best when it focused on the goofy earnestness of the Captain America character. Rogers jumping on the grenade, the USO tour song and dance number, the Captain aspiring just to contribute and inspire others, and so on. And it looked quite nice too.

    But when it went all comic book, then I thought it started falling apart. Instead of Nazis – which might have brought some gravity and threat to the enemy – we got silly stormtroopers shooting laser guns and throwing exceptionally silly Hydra salutes. A foe that relies on bland lens flare powered superweapons (with a plan to destroy ze world!!!) and excessive CGI planes and tanks isn’t very formidable. Unlike Rogers’ drive and patriotism which felt genuinely heartfelt, the whole separate not-Nazis enemy just rang hollow and artificial.

    And to top it all, a terrible make up work on Hugo Weaving. He chewed the scenery enough all right, but I never bought his appearance as the Red Skull. It wasn’t a guy with a red skull, it was like Skeletor in that Masters of the Universe movie – just a bad make up on the face. You could see the eyelids, lips, the brow and all the other fleshy parts. It was just horrible, and not at all threatening.

    THE AVENGERS tie-in was as distracting as usual, but thankfully not as much in the forefront as in THOR. But that team up better be the movie event of the damn century to live up to the whole hyping up and butting into other movies it has done.

    I didn’t hate CAPTAIN AMERICA, but didn’t love it either. It had moments of fun, and its heart was in the right places at times. It was hamstrung by formulaic superhero movie plot, origin story, a villain, and the tie-in, but I don’t think those things completely botched the movie. It could have been better, certainly, but all things considered, it all evened out to an enjoyable enough romp. Not a classic, and I probably won’t bother with the BluRay, but I don’t regret shelling out for the movie ticket and seeing it once.

  48. Yeah the grenade thing; the flagpole thing, trying to save the kid before continuing to chase hydra guy. These are all great subtle representations of who Cap is in the comics. I thought that was great. A lot better than the Basil Exposition approach in Neo Batman. IMO Johnston took Nolan to task in that dept at least.

  49. Lack of Nazi’s sure did grind my gears though I agree with that to the fullest. It was one of those things I initially looked forward to instead they copped out. Turned the most ruthless and hateful character in the marvel universe into some mad hitler scientist who wants “power” *yawn*. The hydra henchmen reminded me of Bison’s henchman from the Van Damme is Guile movie.

  50. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 1st, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Just got back from seeing this. I pretty much loved it all. Some good action and shit. Poor Cap, he never got to have a go on the girls hooters.

  51. yeah I wished that Cap kicked actual Nazi ass too, the Hydra soldiers just looked dumb for one thing (they screamed off being intentionally designed to look as un-Nazi like as possible) and they overall gave me an almost Venture Brothers vibe in some scenes

    anyway here’s something random I found weird, at the start of the movie when Steve Rogers was trying to enlist and all the guys were in their underwear, why were there female nurses present? somehow I don’t think if the tables were turned there would be any men present

  52. I live in Sweden.Please tell me why I should watch CAPTAIN AMERICA.?

  53. Would the fact that I would watch the crap out of a CAPTAIN SWEDEN help?

  54. Shoot – what, are you gonna wait until they pull a reverse LET ME IN/GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and remake it in Sweden?

  55. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 2nd, 2011 at 12:28 am

    I’m a Brit and I watched Captain America. Loved it too. I’ll watch Thor soon, isn’t he Swedish? Vikings and Septics assemble!

  56. As a life-long comic-book fan (sorry, non-geeks) I dug CA quite a bit indeed, although it never quite blazed into life they way I hoped it would.

    Still, plenty to enjoy – the Raiders ref, Hugo Weaving channeling Max Von Sydow, the awful 40’s costume that was clearly a dig at the Pyun 90s flick, the Howling Commandoes (maybe they’ll have names in the DC?)

    “Decent” is a good way to describe the movie, I think – good, solid entertainment.

    And decent is one way to describe Johnson’s handle on it. He’s dependable, clear, easy to follow but not barnstorming – in essence, he’s MOR. He’s The Bellamy Brothers of summer blockbusters.

  57. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 2nd, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Well said Karlos. The soundtrack is a cracker too.

  58. Reflecting on the movie a bit further, I came to the conclusion that CAPTAIN AMERICA would have been a terrific movie had it ended right after Cap rescues the POWs.

    Everything after that is a mess of aimless and disconnected action montages, half-baked supervillain plots, and an overload of not-at-all-convincing CGI. Well, everything except the relationship scenes between Rogers and Carter. Those were pretty great.

  59. In the present he falls for Sharon Carter who is Peggy Carter’s niece in the comics. I wonder if the movies do follow the same route if they’ll take the lazy way out and re-use the same actress in the new role.

  60. Lazy or not, I think it would be cool if they brought her back. That was the same kind of thing they did to a large extent w/ Back to the Future III, and I actually dug that.

  61. Just saw it. Bland, but okay I will accept it as a necessary evil that leads to the noble experiment that is THE AVENGERS (not convinced it will work, however). But the problem is that ALL of these “Marvel” movies have the same tone, just like the comics back in the 1970s when they promoted the Marvel way of “drawing.” Even though they have different directors, they all really have the same feel. Not sure any of this stuff will matter in 50 years. But for now it’s worth a few bucks to watch them…(kinda like seeing EVERY James Bond movie no matter who happens to be playing the lead).

  62. Been waiting to see this until I could watch it with my Marvel-loving mate. We finally managed to get together yesterday only to find virtually every cinema in London shut down by crowds of looting hoodies. As our stand for the forces of civilization we set our jaws in the determined position and drove half way across London looking for somewhere that was still open.

    Kudos to Kingston Odeon for standing tall.

    I thought it was pretty good, old fashioned fun like Vern says. For me these most recent Marvel films give me almost precisely the same buzz that reading an issue of a Marvel comic did when I was a kid, a good exciting hour or so that you enjoy then discard. Although I didn’t have to pay twelve quid for an issue of Thor, so maybe I should be expecting more.

    Anyway, the reason I’m chipping in at such a late date is to ask if the ending reminded anyone else of the start of ‘A Matter of Life and Death’? Seemed like a deliberate echo to me, plucky doomed pilot flirting with sexy brunette over the radio. But with that added United 93 vibe what you already mentioned.

    Maybe the next stand alone Cap film could have him on trial in Heaven, taking crap for all the things that his country have done while he’s been innocently frozen in ice. With Doctor Strange as his astral plane defence lawyer. I’d watch that.

  63. The ending reminded me of Birdy; that movie with Nic Cage and Matthew Modine who was transformed into a bird by his tour in Vietnam. (Killer Peter Gabriel soundtrack.) The film cuts to black abruptly like this one but it’s such a better surprise, and one earned by the entire film, that it does knock you out. It’s funny, too.

    Anyway, you liked it more than I did. I thought Rocketeer suffered from the same, profound lame sense of pacing and direction. All his movies are like soggy French Fries. I eat ’em anyway because I love French Fries but they ain’t no good.

  64. Well, looks like I’m on my own again with this one, guys. Harry Knowles thought this was the movie that “Rocketeer” should’ve been. The guys here who like this one also like “Rocketeer”, and the guys who don’t didn’t like “Rocketeer” either. Well, “Rocketeer” was one of my favorite childhood movies, and I thought this was a very, very poor imitation of it.

    Erm… there’s good stuff, so let’s get that out of the way quickly. I liked the scenes between Chris Evans and his best friend. They were good. I liked Tommy Lee Jones, I thought he did his best with a bad script. And I thought the “wraparound” worked, although it would’ve been nice for Sam L. to tell him “You won! Hydra fell!” so at least the main guy would’ve had SOME satisfaction within the confusion. I didn’t think this movie was particularly bad. I just don’t see any reason for it to exist.

    Ok, my minor problems with it (well, pretty major ones actually, but I’ll leave the big one until last:

    – The main guy. I get what they were going for – a little guy who never gives up – but actually the quote that stuck with me was his friend telling him “Sometimes I think you like to get punched”. Yeah, that was my impression. He’s not noble, he’s a wannabe and a masochist.

    – The main girl. Hayley Atwell is a VERY poor imitation of Jennifer Connelly. Bear in mind that Connelly’s character in “The Rocketeer” was my secret crush until I was about ten years old. This new version? No character, no charm, no fucking clue.

    – The villain. Look, I like Hugo Weaving. I really liked “V for Vendetta” and “The Matrix”. But people forget that it wasn’t Smith that made “The Matrix” work, it was Cypher. Without someone to represent humanity’s dark side, “The Matrix” would’ve lacked any kind of a soul. Evidently “Captain America”‘s producers didn’t realise that, since Red Skull is a cartoon villain and his sidekick (poor Toby Jones, being typecast like this!) is an accent and a few nervous tics. Everything about these two, including Red Skull’s death, is lame.

    – The action sequences. Look, we’ve all seen the analyses done on these as they were linked to on this very site not so long ago, we all know that the action in this movie is lacking. What you may not know is that the entire film is maybe 30% pure action, during all of which you’ll be sitting there wondering what the fuck is going on.

    – Talking of which, let’s list a few of the other bits that rip off other, better films. To wit:
    – Atwell’s character is a female army officer. Does she have a scene where a subordinate is disrespectful to her because she’s a girl, and she ends up flattening him with one punch? You betcha! Does she ever face any kind of repercussions for this blatant abuse of authority? No way! Because it’s ok to physically abuse your subordinates if you’re a woman.
    – The best friend dies with a “Take My Hand” moment. Wasn’t that already tired when “Backdraft” did it?
    – Red Skull’s source of power is a supernatural transparent glowing crystal. Really? REALLY? We’re ripping off “Doom” and “Red Sonja” now?

    – And don’t even get me started on the villains. Apparently the Nazis weren’t bad enough, so they had to have Red Skull’s army chant: “Heil Hydra! Heil Hydra!” I… have… no… words. This movie is nowhere near as bad, on any level, as Michael Bay’s “Transformers”. Except on this level. Yeah, I didn’t think anybody would equal the sheer offensive stupidity of playing the deaths of American troops in the Middle East for laughs. But this movie manages it somehow.

    All of that makes the movie mediocre, but not bad. I would’ve found it enjoyable at least as a spectacle, if it hadn’t been for the one major, major downpoint. Let’s talk about the score. Because this is where things go from “pointless” to “fucking terrible”.

    Or let’s go back to “E. T”, one of Spielberg’s greatest movies, utterly and completely ruined for me by the overwrought, bombastic, noisy, sentimental, saccharine, inexplicably popular score of John Williams. Yeah, I know a LOT of people disagree with me about that.

    But put it this way: I rank Bernard Herrmann right up there with Orson Welles in terms of contributing to the art of cinema. What Welles did for direction, Herrmann did for scoring. His minimalist, atmospheric, unintrusive soundtracks showed everybody that there was an alternative to the operatic over-dramatic tosh that ruined films like the original “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers” or “Farewell, my Lovely” – two films that are otherwise regarded by many people as genre classics. So you can see why, since I regard Herrmann as something of a personal idol, I’d have a problem with the score for “E. T”, which just does everything wrong by Herrmann’s standards.

    And I’d have an equally big problem with the scores of films like “Captain America”, which apes “E. T”‘s soundtrack in the worst way possible. NOTHING happens in this film without an orchestral flourish. And I mean nothing. Chris Evans drinks a glass of Scotch? BLAST OF TRUMPETS. Chris dodges a laser? SOARING VIOLINS. Thank God they didn’t show him taking a dump or something, it’d probably sound like the soundtrack for “Jurassic Park”. And this is constant, obnoxious, irritating NOISE. After ten minutes of this shit I was about ready to tear my ears off. I was literally ready to yell at the screen; “For the love of all that’s holy, SHUT UP!”

    So that’s Captain America – a film without a single original point to make, one that apes about a million other films (most of which are better than it), and one that has one of the worst, most intrusive scores I’ve heard this year. Yeah, it has good points, but I have to recommend that you don’t see this movie if you haven’t already.

  65. Another thanksgiving* miracle — I agree with Paul.  
    (*That’s an American holiday to celebrate white people’s immune systems’ glorious victory over nonwhite people’s immune systems 400 years ago.  UK of course uses the 4th Thursday of November to  celebrate Mary Poppins Day instead.)  

    I didn’t want to say bad things about this movie, because I didn’t want to undermine Vern & most people’s enjoyment of it, and because I do love me some cartoonish American heroes who jump out of aircraft in flight to dominate evildoers overseas and project RedWhite&Blue power, keeping the lowly Brits & Germans in their place, which is well above the ground but obviously well below the bald eagle zenith figurehead on the totem pole of world standings.  

    There’s nothing horrible about CAPTAIN AMERICA, except it’s boring, silly, and uninvolved until the last 30 seconds, which is more a commercial teaser for AVENGERS than a scene in its own movie.  

    I’d complain about plot & script holes, but when I do that I end up comparing things to the 2011 queen bitch of plot & script holes.  And then I get sad because American hero Buzz Aldrin deserves better.  

    Anyway, Paul is right.  Not a terrible movie, but probably the least essential movie of the year.  

  66. Mouth – yeah, I think for once we’re on the same page. I didn’t think anything in the movie was particularly terrible, apart from the occasional bit of mean-spiritedness (although I have to say I couldn’t get over the “Heil Hydra” thing, that image will stick with me for a long time) and the horrible scoring. Other than that, it just doesn’t seem to have any real ambition to it. I haven’t seen “Thor” but it’s far, far worse than “Iron Man” or the recent “Batman” movies.

  67. A writer on the AV Club recently called Joe Johnston “a sort of stillborn Joe Dante bastard-baby.” That might seem a little harsh, but imagine every single one of Johnston’s movies directed by Dante. I think it can be scientifically proven that each one of them would be at least 65%he more effective in achieving their stated goals. I don’t know if it would fix Paul’s problem, though, since the GREMLINS score is pretty catchy so, obviously, guy’s a hack.

  68. Majestyk – my problem is that, having studied film scores pretty extensively, I notice them, and their faults, a lot more than other people. The result is that, while a lot of people didn’t think “The Village” worked but didn’t really seem to be able to say why (it’s got some pretty terrible dialogue but that doesn’t explain a lot of the problems that people have with this movie) the first thing that occurred to me was that it scored the parts that were obviously meant to be humorous in very staid, serious violin music.

    But I have no problems whatsoever with either Gremlins soundtrack, which seems to pop up all over the place. “Curse of the Duck Hunt dog”, anybody?

  69. Paul, I actually just watched the movie for the first time tonight, and I can see where you’re coming from. It’s a very pompous, in-your-face kind of score, hitting you with the big horns and sad trumpets at full volume without ever delivering a melody that stays in your head. While I’d have liked a strong theme, something you could sing the words “Captain America” to, I think this type of score is the only way to do this particular kind of movie. It’s a humongously patriotic American superhero/WWII movie, how else are they gonna do it? Some distorted plonks on a gourd over a bed of shrieking cellos? I don’t think the Italian approach is gonna work here. I think the score’s strategy was sound, but its execution was merely competent, nothing more.

    Which basically sums up the movie. In terms of characters, story, action, and effects, it was satisfactory without being exceptional. I probably would have had beef if I’d seen it in the theater, but on DVD on a quiet post-Thanksgiving night with my family, it went down just fine. I liked it better than THOR and FIRST CLASS, in any case. Sometimes the middle of the road is just the fastest way to get you there.

    And I liked the last line. He saved the world but lost the girl. A nice note of melancholy to segue the character into his Crocodile Dundee phase in THE AVENGERS: THIS MOVIE IS EXPENSIVE.

  70. I meant “sad violins.” A trumpet is a kind of horn, in my opinion.

  71. Yeah I was hugely disappointed by this too. It just simmered the whole time and never really caught fire, so to speak. There’s some good stuff, especially the Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones characters, and the pre-Captain America stuff, but overall it was really disappointing. The framing device (especially the end) sticks out like a sore thumb, the action sequences should have been alot better, and I totally agree about the one-note villain and demise(?) Speaking of which, I didn’t quite understand what exactly the macguffin was or how exactly it contributed to his death (I’m not entirely sure you’re supposed to understand it, since it is a macguffin after all. But if you say it’s because I didn’t read the comics then the movie failed). I’m also not entirely sure what his plan was – someone joked that Red Skull planned to air-drop exactly one henchman to every major city in America, but that’s actually sorta what it looked like since those didn’t really seem like bombs!

  72. Oh man, FIRST CLASS. Was it Mr. Subtlety who said that he simply couldn’t figure out one reason for that film to exist? I totally agree. I actually started resenting the film about a half hour into it for how unnecessary it was. And I didn’t even really pay attention to the finer points of the other X-FILMS, so much so that I don’t really distinguish between the second and third films. At least the reigning champ of unnecessary films, HANNIBAL RISING, made Young Dr. Lector a ninja or something. E for effort, Young Hannibal.

    I don’t understand the big deal that was made about the actors in FIRST CLASS. They all seemed pretty maudlin and literal to me. I don’t know where all the goodwill for that film comes from. Was the Wolverine movie so bad that FIRST CLASS was a step up?

    I actually preferred GREEN LANTERN to FIRST CLASS. And I thought GREEN LANTERN was a textbook case of pure awful.

    I’m not going to watch THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA or the SUPER FRIENDS MOVIE until someone apologizes to me for FIRST CLASS.

  73. Is it just me though, or has it become these days that movies that are just mediocre, average, or otherwise don’t fully live up to expectations are treated the same way as movies that are genuinely terrible? My personal opinion here, but as an example I thought the likes of X-MEN 3, GREEN LANTERN, PRINCE OF PERSIA and WOLVERINE are all either okay, or good for what they are, and even if they’re critically rated as such, the consensus soon after becomes that they’re utter shit. Is mild disappointment worse than genuine awfulnes?

  74. Stu – I would say that yes, mediocrity can be just as frustrating as outright terribleness, maybe because for me at least you’re more likely to actually go see a mediocre movie in theaters than one that looks outright terrible

    movies like Captain America or Prince of Persia are perfect examples of that, they just kinda left me high and dry, a distinct feeling of meh at the end of them and that can really piss you off when you just feel like you could have stayed at home

    Captain America had a few things I liked, which is why the problems with it were even more frustrating to me, Prince of Persia I especially hated, to me that felt like the kind of movie you would watch on the sci fi channel in the afternoon if you were really bored, not a movie worth seeing in theaters (which I did) at all

  75. I just saw Green Lantern and liked it better than Captain America too, even though I couldn’t really give you a good reason why. It’s much sloppier and slapdash, with weird pacing and story issues. I certainly didn’t like any of the characters more or care about the story more. But I guess GL has the benefit of slightly better, more inventive action sequences, a more entertaining, Cronenberg-ian villain, and a less “been there, done that” origin story than CA. It certainly wasn’t very good but I guess i’d watch an interesting failure over a mediocre success?

  76. Jareth – I actually liked “First Class”. A lot more than I liked “Captain America”, at any rate. I think it kinda loses it when the characters get suited up and we get to the big climatic battle (as in the first X-Men movie actually.) But everything before that I thought worked well.

    Stu – I would absolutely agree with Griff on this one, although regarding one of your examples at least: I think X-Men 3 is genuinely, iredeemably awful. I’ve already said why I think so in this forum, so I won’t waste time going into it here.

    Nonetheless, I absolutely despise “Superman Returns” and “Mission: Impossible 3”, and neither is as bad as the likes of “Batman and Robin” or “Transformers”, for example. I think the problem with these movies, for me, is the wasted opportunity that they represent. They could’ve been great, they could’ve extended their respective franchises in a multitude of different directions; but instead, we get – nothing. I can’t find a single reason for either of these two films to exist (apart from maybe the opening scene of “Mission Impossible: 3” with P S Hoffman interrogating Tom Cruise, which I will reluctantly admit is great, even if it was plainly put in at the start of the movie because it’s literally the only scene in the whole thing that does anything interesting.)

  77. Paul- X-MEN 3 is one of the “for what it was” ones, because I give it slack due to being aware of the circumstances of how it got made, with Matthew Vaughn pulling out partway through pre-production and Ratner not being given any extra preparation time and having to do the best with what was left. I may consider Brett Rattner a douchebag, but like Vern, I can’t get on board with the opinion that he’s a terrible director, just that he’s not a particularly great one. I don’t get what’s supposed to be so bad about RED DRAGON, for instance. Yet all the blame for X3 gets laid at his feet, when really its the fault of higher ups in Fox for the movie not living up to what it could be.

  78. Oy, talk about inessential. Apart from 1 or 2 short scenes, RED DRAGON looks, sounds, feels, and smells like a 1990s ABC made-for-tv movie.

    One scene tastes like William Blake. I enjoyed that.

    MANHUNTER is far superior in every filmatistic way, and the Thomas Harris source novel is even more outstanding.

  79. I really liked X-Men First Class. I loved the fact that it takes place in the 60’s and it was interesting to see the original team get assembled. It had Professor X drinking from a beer bong! I also really liked the cast. Kevin Bacon was a surprisingly great villian and McAvoy/Fassbender show that they can elevate the material they’re given (Fassbender especially). No one seems to like January Jones around here but she is pretty much perfect looking in my book. She has a vapid, expressionless face and is basically a living breathing mannequin whenever she’s on screen, but thats all the movie needs from her and she does it very well (especially in Mad Men, where she plays the trophy wife perfectly). For me it works. Expressionless is harder than it looks.

    As for Green Lantern, i really have no desire to see that one. Ryan Reynolds is so over saturated now that I’m kinda sick of looking at him. Has he ever been in a honest to goodness “good” movie? His performance in the original Harold & Kumar is still his best performance in my book.

  80. Here’s a depressing but engaging article to answer your question on the Ryan Reynolds phenomenon, Thomas:


    Can’t remember if this has been linked here before.

  81. I liked it too. I mean, was there plot holes/inconsistencies with regards to the earlier movies? Yeah. Were some of the characters underwritten to a large degree? Yeah. But there was a bunch of stuff I found fun and interesting. Biggest waste I think was in having the Xavier/Magneto split, the foundation of the Brotherhood, AND Xavier’s paralysis all happening in the same movie. If they’re going to make a trilogy out of these, might as well space that stuff out, and particularly have the breakdown between the two leaders happen more gradually over the entire course of the movies, maybe even have each film taking place in a different decade.

  82. There are many logical, mathematical, factual and rhetorical issues with that article. But it’s not entirely off base.

  83. Mouth, fascinating article. I think it’s true that Hollywood wants certain people to be stars even though they’re not. I’d throw Nicole Kidman in there. She’s never been responsible for a it (The Others was a concept and Moulin Rouge was Luhrmann.) She hasn’t really been that good in things (everyone cites TO DIE FOR in which she was pretty) tho she did enough Oscary downers for them to give her an award for The Hours. But they keep trying BEWITCHED, STEPFORD, AUSTRALIA, until she shows up in Adam Sandler movies. I’m sure she’s a lovely person but there’s no evidence to back up her viability critically or popularly.

    I wish he weren’t quite so biased against Smith though. Kinda weakens his point when he hates SEVEN POUNDS, I AM LEGEND and HANCOCK. But he’s right. Smith is a genuine star because he does what everyone wants him to do.

  84. Good point about Kevin Bacon in FIRST CLASS. His performance genuinely surprised me; I had long ago stopped expecting nuance from him. Way to go, Detective John Footloose.

    And I just realized that Young Magnet Man, who made no impression on me in FIRST CLASS, was played by the same actor who just put in a really compelling performance in A DANGEROUS METHOD. The kid holds his own with Viggo, which is high praise. Actually, Keira Knightley was really good in that one too.

    I watched the very mediocre OUTLAND for the first time recently, and even though it has all sorts of problems, it was pretty compelling in its way, far more compelling than FIRST CLASS. I swear FIRST CLASS exits solely to keep the franchise rights in some corporations hands.

    I think the art of the mediocre film has slipped into some new low of mediocrity.

  85. ThomasCrowne: Some people like the lead performance that movie BURIED. Or maybe they just like the idea of Ryan Reynolds being buried in a box.

  86. Green Lantern was dead after the first Friday of Buried’s release. LGF bought the film, thinking that Reynolds was the next big thing. They dumped 10-20 million into marketing and then started a platform release for it with plans for a wide expansion and an Oscar (or at least Golden Globes) push for Reynolds.

    But then no one went to see it.

    And that’s barely hyperbole. The film opened at one of the most important tastemaker theaters in America, playing in the biggest auditorium. Opening night, it made, if memory serves, about 170 dollars. That’s not a typo. Between the 7:30 and 9 pm showings, it did under 200 dollars. In a 500 person theater. Tickets for evening showings cost about 15 bucks there, which means that out of 1000 possible admissions it sold approximately 11. And keep in mind, that was after a large scale, nationwide marketing campaign and talk show appearances from the lead. In essence, LGF spent about 2 million dollars, PER TICKET sold at the venue.

    Reynolds must have one hell of an agent to be able to book anything above scale after that performance.

    You know how disastrous that performance is? Lemme contextualize a bit; It literally cost about as much to make and distribute the 11 film prints than the film made during the first weekend of release.

    Shame too, it was a pretty good movie and Reynolds gave his career best performance in it.

  87. Can’t imagine why I didn’t rush out to spend 95 minutes with a dude buried in the Iraqi desert.

  88. Ugh, thanks for reminding me “Buried” exists, guys. You know all the people who DIDN’T rush to their local (an hour’s drive away, but who’s counting?) arts cinema to catch that film? You know, pretty much everyone IN THE WORLD but me? They were the smart ones. Of all the films I saw last year, “Buried” was the one I absolutely and completely loathed. Nothing, literally nothing, is right about that movie. Reynolds is ok, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that you spend 95 minutes with an unlikeable arsehole in a coffin. It’s aggressively, obnoxiously stupid, yet it’s constantly trying to make some kind of moral point about the inhumanity of modern life, how it affects us all, etc. Don’t be fooled into thinking it has any insight into the subject.

    Look, I bitched about that movie for about five full pages in the “Potpourri 3” thread, I’m not going to start again here. But it was easily the worst film, from a perspective of simple enjoyment, that I saw last year. Nothing else came close to it. And I saw some pretty damn bad films that year.

    I haven’t seen “The Green Lantern”. I know pretty much everyone on AICN and apparently everywhere else on the Internet hated it. Best anybody’s said on this site is that it’s an “interesting failure” so I won’t be rushing to rent it. Can Reynolds carry a film? Well, he was the best thing about “Blade 3” and I thought he was charismatic enough to carry “Van Wilder”.

  89. Actually, you know what movie experience “Buried” reminded me of? “The Cell”. Which is a pretty harrowing film to watch all the way through without a break. Tarsem certainly knows how to use some striking imagery when he wants to portray – say – animal torture, or child abuse. Problem is, “The Cell” does absolutely nothing to earn this level of unpleasantness. It’s a stupid, shallow, incoherent, nasty little movie, not saved by the decent performances of its leads.

    “Buried” is much the same. Not in terms of imagery – hell, we spend ninety-five minutes in a goddamn coffin, there isn’t any imagery – but in the sense that it clearly wants to make the audience suffer, yet there’s absolutely no satisfaction or payoff to it. Comparing it to “The Cell” may be pretty harsh (I think that if I were to make a list, “The Cell” would rank as my #2 all-time least favorite movie, right after “Bad Boys 2”) but I don’t think “Buried” deserves any mercy whatsoever.

  90. FIRST CLASS has a bit of a Bond movie quality to it, although oddly despite the 60s setting it’s more redolent of the Roger Moore era than the Connery films; I’m thinking of the bit where Bacon’s henchwoman steps on to the the top of his submarine (? Boat? I can’t remember) to scrape an ice cube off a glacier in particular, also the revolving booth in the Vegas club. Much of the set design was reminiscent of Ken Adams and Sid Cain at their best too, especially the mirrored room where Bacon and Fassbender have their final show-down. But while I found it generally enjoyable, I wish FIRST CLASS had had the guts to be a full-on, even slightly camp “romp” rather than an uneven hybrid romp and self-important origin story. Like so many origin stories it think it’s terribly interesting and involving to find out how a fictional character ended up in his present physical condition (in this case paralysed from the waist down). Well, if you ask me it isn’t. And they also think making references to things we know are in the character’s future is very witty, but it’s just the laziest kind of comic writing. In fact it’s particularly bad in FIRST CLASS; “you wont be the Y-Men, you’ll be more like… The X-Men, lol!” I’m not saying these kind of films shouldn’t strive to be more than that sometimes, but FIRST CLASS struck me as a clear example of a movie that would have been better if they’d been less concerned with getting the first round of reviews (from comic-con attendees etc.) to call it “an honest-to-God masterpiece” or whatever.

    Also, the flying characters looked fucking stupid, especially the boy who was beaming sonar blasts out of his mouth. Was Vaughn doing a dry-run for a BATFINK movie or something?

  91. So, to keep this on-topic, you might be able to guess from that post that I enjoyed CAPTAIN AMERICA more.

  92. I just watched it and again I enjoyed it more than you did, Vern. I do admit that it falls apart in its 2nd half (They should have turned Cap’s rescue mission into the climax), but it was seriously entertaining. Yeah, I liked THOR better, but this might be my 2nd favourite AVENGERS prequel so far.
    But I have to say that I was seriously amused by how neutral they tried to keep the movie. Sure, it’s still CAPTAIN AMERICA, a movie about a star spangled Übermensch, who fights for the US Army, but they really tried to keep the hooray-for-the-USA patriotism as low as possible. Understandable, if you consider that most movies need the foreign market to make a profit. It’s interesting how German Amazon reviewers still hate the movie for “being an unreflected propaganda movie”. Oh well.

  93. Maybe it’s because I’m in the middle of re-reading Slaughterhouse Five, but I found this movie truly noxious.

    Seriously, it’s like an inbred cousin of Inglorious Bastard mixed with Starship Troopers, as retold by someone who didn’t understand any of the satirical elements. “We’re showing the Germans that the price of freedom is never too high!”

  94. Yeah, but after all it’s still a movie where a Nazi cult tries to win the war with weapons, that were built out of some magic doodet from the nordic gods.

  95. CJ – I was amused when Deadline reported that CA opened in China and Russia as “The First Avenger.” Because a guy in colorful unambigious American regalia can be neutered of any offending nationality. RIGHT.

    If anything guys, if CA has a serious fault, its that I truely believe Marvel undersold themselves. With that material and sorta self-contained mythology, you could’ve done a series of movies on just Captain’s exploits in that war. (Did anybody else feel like CA was two movies jammed into one? Think about it.)

    I’ll be honest: before release, I was not exactly warm to the whole splintered-Nazi faction adversarial factor because in many movies with such madmen with global domination dreams and endless army of henchmen, I many times don’t buy it because why would someone join such an organization and its goals, much less be willing to kill and die for them? I mean unless the benefits are bitching, why would you join SPECTRE only for James Bond to murder you? (Even VENTURE BROS. made light of that point about such super villain clubs.)

    Yet I’ll give CAPTAIN AMERICA credit: Using the whole cult mythology fetish many of the Nazis had, the movie used the idea that for such mindless ideologues who truely believed in the Super Man, they would follow Red Skull because…he’s a real legit Super Man. He’s living proof and validity of that whole pseudo-religion. I bought it.

    RE: German Amazon – Considering over 40 years ago when Clint Eastwood in WHERE EAGLES DARE was mowing more down Nazis without regret (or any “Good German” character tripes around)than were probably lost real-life in Stalingrad, I think we’re making progress.

  96. Can anyone tell me what Captain America’s low point was? Did he even have an internal conflict of any type? I honestly cannot tell you the answer to either of these questions. I think the filmmakers just – skipped – those parts.

  97. So what? I liked that after he finally became a chance to prove himself and got turned into a super soldier, he got screwed again and have to take part in silly variety shows, instead of fighting. That counts as drama.

  98. Yes. That was a really interesting angle…which ends at minute 55. Then Captain America just punches people for the remainder of the film’s runtime.

  99. Hey, I totally agree with you. Like I said, the movie falls apart in its second half and the rescue mission should have been the climax.

  100. “CJ – I was amused when Deadline reported that CA opened in China and Russia as “The First Avenger.” Because a guy in colorful unambigious American regalia can be neutered of any offending nationality. RIGHT. ”
    Technically his costume could double for “Captain Puerto Rico” too.

  101. Stu – CAPTAIN PUERTO RICO’s next adventure: State or commonwealth?

  102. Yeah, considering how he disappeared by the end of the movie (apparently getting beamed to Asgard), I expected him to either show up in THE AVENGERS or THOR 2.

  103. “Reflecting on the movie a bit further, I came to the conclusion that CAPTAIN AMERICA would have been a terrific movie had it ended right after Cap rescues the POWs.

    Everything after that is a mess of aimless and disconnected action montages, half-baked supervillain plots, and an overload of not-at-all-convincing CGI.”

    I believe this is the definitive word on this film. In fact, the two halves are so disparate, I could scarcely believe that they were part of the same film.

    I really adored the first half of Cap’n America. Vern cited the moment where the kid says “Go get him! I can swim!” as a failed joke, but for me it was something quite miraculous. It gave me the feeling of dudes sitting around, conceiving of the scene:
    Dude #1: And then the kid falls into the water!
    Dude #2: And then Cap’n has to forestall the chase to save him!
    Dude #3: But WAIT! This is AMERICA! The kid is resourceful and can take care of himself! He instinctually recognizes that Cap’n is the hero of this scene and encourages him to continue with his heroics!

    It reminded me in ways of the sort of nationalistic fervor you see in the newsreels in Starship Troopers, but done with love instead of with sarcasm. Silly? Sure. But I can get behind it, especially in the context of a film who’s definition of patriotism is not wanting to go kill bad guys but wanting to stop bullies. I actually gasped with joy when that child said that shit. It takes a moment that might beget some tedious shit (having to save the kid) and turns it into sheer enthusiasm.

    The second half, I dunno guys. Does his super strength really even come into play that much? Mostly he’s pushing buttons on his motorcycle. When he actually confronts a badass foe (flame dude), somebody else has to step in and bail him out. The motivation behind the action scenes is quite incoherent. It doesn’t seem to make much difference whether or not they take out the weapons factories: Agent Smith still launches his payload against the major US cities (was his original goal to do it against all the major cities worldwide or something? can’t remember). It resembles a typical quest chain in a video game, like when you have to get recommendations from all the Mage’s Guilds in Oblivion.

    Also I was fairly troubled by how they handled the death of his bud. A REAL Cap’n would have jumped off the train after him, I’d wager, and pull some death-defying shit. He just sits there and watches him go. Meanwhile, he has been 100% okay with a pretty large number of bystander deaths up until this point. I figured it was because he respected other people’s rights to die for their country too, but it turns out he just only gives a shit about his friends.

    I thought it was quite bizarre to suddenly realize, in the final confrontation, that Agent Smith is an anarchist and the whole issue was one of pro-government versus post-government.

    Lastly, I saw absolutely no reason for Captain America to go down with the plane at the end. There’s a good amount of time for an alternate solution to be reached, but I guess he wants to be a fucking martyr.

  104. “The second half, I dunno guys. Does his super strength really even come into play that much? ”
    Do you think he’d have been able to throw that shield so hard without it? He was also tossing guys out of tanks with one arm and on the train he’s nudging crates a high speed at Hydrazis.
    “It doesn’t seem to make much difference whether or not they take out the weapons factories: Agent Smith still launches his payload against the major US cities (was his original goal to do it against all the major cities worldwide or something? can’t remember)”
    It presumably would have happened sooner and without their knowledge(since they didn’t know his ultimate goal until they captured his second in command) if they hadn’t taken the factories out, since the payload would have been developed faster, and presumably MORE of it would have been made, allowing for him to target all those cities and not just the supposed priority target, AMERICAN, because you saved our asses in Dubya Dubya two, USA! USA! USA! etc.

  105. Okay, that was interesting. I just re-watched it for the first time since December 23rd 2011 (judging by the timestamp of my previous comment) and this time I FUCKING LOVED IT!!!!
    Everything clicked with me! The fun, the adventure, the characters, seriously everything! Sure, the 2nd half still feels a little bit rushed, but it didn’t bother me this time. I was even okay with bringing Cap into our time, just for no other reason than “We need him to be in THE AVENGERS”. I would even go so far and say that this is Marvel’s best phase 1 movie. Even better than IRON MAN.

  106. When Deadline reported Marvel wanting to that Agent Carter TV show, I like the idea. A period adventure show, a woman having to fight the institutionalized sexism of the times while also kicking butt in the Cold War environment. Let’s just hope if that show makes it onto the air or Netflix or whatever, that it’s a little better than AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (which I like, but I can’t exactly disagree strongly with folks who say its too bland for them.)

    “Lastly, I saw absolutely no reason for Captain America to go down with the plane at the end. There’s a good amount of time for an alternate solution to be reached, but I guess he wants to be a fucking martyr.”

    renfield – Like what? He had none of those escape plans left and if he jumped out the plane without a parachute, he might as well jump onto concrete. Even with a parachute, he would be trapped in icy waters and assumingly die. (I mean that’s what he’s thinking. He didn’t know he could become Capsicle.)

  107. I read that in Germany the upcoming sequel will be released as “The Return of the First Avenger.”

    Is that true CJ Holden?

  108. Yes. Don’t know why.

  109. I would understand if his name wasn’t used for the first movie, but after that and AVENGERS made money….yeah just fucking weird.

  110. I saw CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER last night, and I’m here to tell you, it’s pretty damn good. It’s one of the more…taut? in tone Marvel movies, having less of the goofy sense of humour (though it’s still there in some place) and being this kickass ultra-hi-tech action thriller with some serious scope to it in terms of how it frames the previous Marvel movies and how it must majorly impact the future MCU projects. It’s like they put Captain America into the plot of a Metal Gear Solid game.
    Action fans will be satisfied with the way it’s filmed and the amount of action throughout(what you see in the first 10 minutes posted up online is indicative of the rest of the movie’s ACR quality) and it uses not only Evans but Johansson, Jackson, Stan and Mackie really well in that regard. Evans has the likable nobility of the past, but is going through some heavier shit and is less amusingly out of touch with modern life, just with modern morality, but he’s still depicted as an incredibly inspiring figure. Johansson is practically a co-lead and gets to flesh the Widow out a bit more, while still maintaining her edge and mystique. Only really referring to what you may have seen in trailers, Fury plays the grizzled sorta mentor to the hero who doesn’t necessarily trust him part well, getting to act a bit more, but also getting the most action he’s had in the movies so far just with the car chase he’s involved in alone. There’s also a funny PULP FICTION reference in there too at one point. Stan plays the Winter Soldier mostly like a friggin’ Terminator and is deadly, but there is happily a little bit of flashback stuff in there as well. Mackie’s really good as Wilson, who’s basically a new friend to Cap who puts himself into the thick of it not just because he’s his friend and there’s armed forces brotherhood, but because it’s the right thing to do and it’s Captain America asking him. Robert Redford’s good, and I think you can tell why he wanted to be part of this. Frank Grillo’s a pretty great heavy (even if he looks like an ersatz Manu Bennett) and there’s a few other roles and surprises to enjoy. One that’s disappointing is Sharon Carter, who’s a somewhat prominent character in Captain America lore, but she’s only in a handful of scenes, and only really one/two(depending on how you view it) with Steve Rogers, so they were largely introducing her here for I assume a bigger role in part 3.
    Overall, one of the best Marvel movies so far, and I think the most vital for the overall franchise in general. Even more so than THE AVENGERS.

  111. Stu – So is it basically Marvel’s Jason Bourne movie to a degree? I’ve suspected that was the case since this was announced because what perfect tonal counterweight to the first movie’s rah rah flag waving? I mean certainly it seems like it plays into the Captain America comics where he had to fight the U.S. government, from getting fired as Captain America to almost running for U.S. President to crazy-ass anti-communist replacement Captain America that Rogers had to fight for the mantle. My favorite bit of insanity is him confronting a Nixon-esque U.S. President in the Oval Office who blew his brains out in front of Cap. (No really.)

    Whatever one thinks of Marvel Studios, its impressive how they plan these damn movies years ahead of time and more or less outline them as responses to each other tonally and seem to be a step ahead of their audience’s complaints. 2011 we got THOR (the superhero CROCODILE DUNDEE) and CAPTAIN AMERICA (Marvel’s remake of THE ROCKETEER.) Then after AVENGERS, they hired Shane Black to make a Shane Black buddy movie which of course means his sense of humor. Then the last THOR movie was basically Space Opera-ish, I think it was our Paul who called it the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE movie he’s sorta been waiting his whole life for.

    And people have complained that IRON MAN 3 and THE DARK WORLD were too goofy, “too jokey” (and THE AVENGERS wasn’t?) and so Marvel made a more hardhitting, apparently more “serious” movie. (I wonder if people online will call it “too serious?”) Also its apparently better than IM3 and TDW…and I liked those two, with IM3 I really enjoyed as I’ve expanded upon previously elsewhere. Apparently GOTG is back to that light-hearted Marvel formula, albeit a James Gunn DIRTY DOZEN in outer space movie…which I still have trouble visualizing honestly.

    I did catch the mid-credits and post-credits TWS scenes which leaked online today. You know how some people (*looks at Vern*) really hated that mid-credits GOTG-tie in scene for the last Thor movie for how cheap and badly it looked? Well….I don’t see how they can complain about these TWS bonus scenes. Maybe Marvel learned from that bad feedback?

  112. Yes, the Bourne movies are an apt comparison. If they ever make a BLACK WIDOW movie (and they fucking should after this) then I’d imagine that would be even more so like that.

  113. “If they ever make a BLACK WIDOW movie (and they fucking should after this)”

    Stu – They might. Feige told Faraci recently that Marvel is considering releasing up to 3 or 4 movies. If they want to go to outer space and the more far out frontiers of comics, that ScarJo vehicle would be a good grounded entry to balance a year’s slate out. God knows that with her rising profile, surely Feige wants to capitalize on that.

    Faraci also reported recently (as Latino Review had previously) that Ms. Marvel would show up by 2016, and he thinks (not reporting, just speculating) that she’ll get her movie in Phase 3.

    Either way, I get the impression Marvel wants to beat WB to the punch with the first good female superhero movie, before they get around to doing Wonder Woman.

  114. >And people have complained that IRON MAN 3 and THE DARK WORLD were too goofy, “too jokey” (and THE AVENGERS wasn’t?) and so Marvel made a more hardhitting, apparently more “serious” movie.

    Ugh, I hope not. The thing I was really enjoying about these Marvel films is that they seemed to have found a perfect tone. Silly enough to allow them to unapologetically include the more ludicrous aspects of their ridiculous comic universe, but serious enough for us to take the characters and their ridiculous problems with trolls and wizards seriously. Unlike DC, which appears to think superhero films are about on part with SCHINDLER’s list, Marvel seems able to enjoy the heady fun of a bunch of larger-than-life characters playing in a gigantic sandbox without needing to apologize for it by making it grim and self-consciously grown up.

    Nolan’s Batman movies felt that they had to reinvent everything so you’d take it seriously. Marvel is confident enough to say, “Thor is magic, deal with it. Now, enjoy watching him fight this big monster.” If they cave to nerds who want everything gritty and R-rated, it will be a real shame, and, I think, ultimately a betrayal of the source material.

  115. “Thor is magic, deal with it.”

    Mr. S – But remember that they excused it away in the movies as that “magic” being advanced technology. The funny thing is reports claim Marvel is having trouble with their planned Doctor Strange movie because they don’t know how to incorporate “real” magic into the MCU because of how they excused away Thor’s magic.

    First off, I think they’re overthinking this shit.
    Second, why can’t “real” magic also be advanced technology or human cognitive powers? I mean imagine if telekinesis was real. Wouldn’t that be called “magic” too?

    Our buddy CJ Holden was fucking magical when he basically described those Marvel movies as being basically 1980s action movies but made with CGI and superhero-flavored. I mean holy shit that actually explains alot, don’t it?

  116. I’m not sure if I called them “80s action movies”, since that pretty much implies Sly & Arnie cinema, but if I did, I think I meant more the INDIANA JONES/GOLDEN CHILD/BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA kind of 80s action. Y’know, the one with lots of humor and fantasy elements.

    I read a rumor that Doctor Strange’s magic will be explained as some kind of quantum science or shit like that. Talking about Dr Strange: Let’s hope that Marvel will surprise us with another outside-the-box casting and gives this part to Timothy Omundson (aka PSYCH’s Lassiter), who has the right age, can do drama and comedy (which is of course the most important thing for an actor in the MCU) and when he grows a beard, totally looks like his comic book counterpart!

  117. I think the THOR movies are saying the Asgardians are Aliens, and they have advanced technology, but that there’s something else that they call magic that’s part of the overall universe, since Loki’s illusions aren’t technological (if they were, they wouldn’t have let him keep it when they stuck him in jail) and the recent AGENTS OF SHIELD episode with Sif in it had a female villain who could use “magic” to brainwash people.
    I honestly have no idea why they have a problem with just straight up saying the Asgardians are Gods. I mean, do the PERCY JACKSON movies get picketed by Christian groups? Both Marvel and DC take the approach that ALL pantheons exist, and their strength and influence is directly proportional to how much belief and worship there is in them. So the Norse Gods can still be around as super powerful immortal entities, but can still be beatable because they live in age where there’s so much spiritual competition and skepticism about them that they’re not completely powerful. Just make Magic…MAGIC, but explain that it’s merely a SYSTEM that has rules like science, but is different in its process and effects.

  118. RRA – there’s some very slight lip service paid to the Asgaardian society being advanced technologically, but come on, who are we fooling with that one, the guy fights Elves and fights with a glowing hammer, we all know what they’re really saying. In fact, I’d wager the one or two lines about that are only there to placate Christian groups who don’t cop to the idea that the Norse Gods are real and take a more active role in human life than Jesus seems to (plus he doesn’t fight with a magic hammer, he is victimized by real hammers. Honestly, who needs the guy, Jesus Christ, what a pansy).

    If they try the same bullshit with Dr. Strange, I won’t be too mad, though. It’s like last season’s Futurama episode where they perform a resurrection courtesy of unspecified “science” that involves robes, candles in a pentagram shape, and sacrificing a goat. “Hail Science!” Magic by any other name still looks and acts exactly like magic, and that’s something Marvel is bold enough to do while DC (at least in its Nolan B—– films) chickened out of.

  119. CJ, Omundson is one of those actors that blows my mind with his ability to play either a total doofus or a badass. He was great in an episode of SUPERNATURAL this season as Cain. I think his beard has magical powers.

  120. Del Toro’s still working on that “Justice League Dark” movie that’d feature the likes of Swamp Thing, Constantine (though I dunno about that now with the TV series he’s getting) and other supernatural characters.

    I know it’d never happen, but about Timothy DALTON as Dr. Strange? I know the character isn’t that old, but he projects a maturity and gravitas that a younger actor might struggle with.

  121. Stu – I think they’ll go after a pretty young guy to play Dr. Strange, but honestly I almost prefer to have a middle-age/much older actor to play the part. Look at his origin story, the guy becomes Sorcerer Supreme after years of training and research and all that shit. (Also as a mellowing contrast to his arrogant youth as a surgeon where he was a shithead until a car accident fucked his hands up, he can’t operate anymore.) Plus as a kid I remembered him having gray sideburns, so he’s not exactly a spring chicken.

    I’ll confess something: I had a dream last year where I was at a theater lobby and looking at posters/cardboard stands for new movies and I remember being excited at the DR. STRANGE marketing where Kurt Russell was playing him. Oh and John Carpenter was directing the movie as his great comeback vehicle.

    Neither will ever happen, but that was a fun thought.

    As for JL: DARK, I doubt GDT’s magical DC heroes all-star team movie will ever happen. If PACIFIC RIM had done gangbusters, maybe but it didn’t and well Bleeding Cool awhile back reported that Warner Bros. allegedly won’t produce any DC Comics adaptation unless David Goyer joins as producer. (For example that SANDMAN movie that Levitt might direct.) Goyer hasn’t joined GDT’s movie, and I have trouble believing the studio will want to have their planned DC Cinematic Universe be made by two different parties. But who knows, right?

  122. CJ – The impression I got from what you said at the time was how those 80s actioneers were serious action stories which also were choked full of one-liners and could tonal shift from comedy to serious and back again. (DIE HARD comes to mind.) But if I misunderstood you, then sorry.

    “I honestly have no idea why they have a problem with just straight up saying the Asgardians are Gods.”

    Stu – So are all the Asgardians gods? I mean remember its been shown that Asgard is an actual city/country where you have thousands (millions?) of people who aren’t in the royal court or in the military, most doing trade crafts and minimum wage jobs like milling or street sweeping or whatever. The bartender is a god? What is this place, QUANTUM LEAP?

    I think that’s probably the geist of why Marvel did that. Think about it. If Thor is a God, why doesn’t he kill Hulk in their fight instead of simply ending as a draw? Why does Captain America actually get some licks in on Loki, hell Iron Man blasts him more than once? What’s the exact difference between a mortal and a god? If God material is being super strong and nearly invulnerable, would that make Superman a god? But nobody considers him one. It just opens a can of worms.

    Plus the argument can be made that making them more an advanced alien civilization (albeit doing outer space LOTR cosplay) makes them more relatable than actual Gods. If they’re super strong (much stronger than humans) with much longer lifespans and much more durable*, they would be considered relatively divine compared to Earthlings. Plus it also unties Marvel’s hands in having to be totally faithful to Norse mythology. Which is kind a shame, I was looking forward to seeing Loki give birth to a horse.

    Anyway back to the magic question, Scarlet Witch will be in the next AVENGERS film. Is what she does magic or what? (Let me confess something. As a kid, I never quite totally understand how her powers worked. Its a similar problem I had too with Storm of the X-Men.)

    *=Sif in that A.O.S. episode takinga shotgun blast at close range and walking it off.

  123. So I read some of the spoilers for TWS. Still not seen the movie, so maybe I’m taking this shit out of context.

    I won’t spoil them here but let me just say one of them is one of the charms I find with the MCU, that they could take a character from not just another movie but another friggin franchise and have [GENDER REDACTED] do something that makes you re-evaluate what that character (one that I thought was a one-and-done deal) did in that previous movie. Was this always planned? I don’t know, maybe somebody came up with that idea while drafting this movie and went “hey what if….” Whatever, its still fucking awesome.

    Its like that fan theory (which I think Stu, like me, also buys) that the unseen Clairvoyant on A.O.S. is actually the Leader.

  124. RRA, in all fairness, I can’t really remember what I meant back then, but yesterday morning, it felt more appropriate to say what I said. Maybe you were right. I should read the whole conversation from back then for context reasons.

  125. “Stu – So are all the Asgardians gods? I mean remember its been shown that Asgard is an actual city/country where you have thousands (millions?) of people who aren’t in the royal court or in the military, most doing trade crafts and minimum wage jobs like milling or street sweeping or whatever. The bartender is a god? What is this place, QUANTUM LEAP?

    I think that’s probably the geist of why Marvel did that. Think about it. If Thor is a God, why doesn’t he kill Hulk in their fight instead of simply ending as a draw? Why does Captain America actually get some licks in on Loki, hell Iron Man blasts him more than once? What’s the exact difference between a mortal and a god? If God material is being super strong and nearly invulnerable, would that make Superman a god? But nobody considers him one. It just opens a can of worms.”

    Well the thing about that is that things like Greek and Norse myth define “Gods” in different ways than Judeo Christian religions do, and even ones who are called Gods seem to have this sort of over the top process of what they do. Like Hephaestus. He’s the God of Fire and smithing, but I think in the myths he ACTUALLY has to create the stuff he does like any blacksmith would have. And I’m not so familiar with Norse myth, but in what I have read, Thor and others do tend to be depicted more like adventurers who go about the world. They’re not done like they’re all omnipotent and omnipresent. Zeus LITERALLY throws lightning bolts according to legend. And the legend of Baldur that he got killed by being poisoned by mistletoe, because it was the only thing in existence his mother couldn’t get to promise wouldn’t hurt him.

    “Anyway back to the magic question, Scarlet Witch will be in the next AVENGERS film. Is what she does magic or what? (Let me confess something. As a kid, I never quite totally understand how her powers worked. Its a similar problem I had too with Storm of the X-Men.)”
    It’s notoriously confusing, but as a Mutant, I think the idea that makes the most sense is she can fuck with probability and chaos theory to make things happen, as vague as that is. I think in AVENGERS 2 though they’ll simplify it to her having some sort of cosmic energy or something that just lets her do stuff.

    “I won’t spoil them here but let me just say one of them is one of the charms I find with the MCU, that they could take a character from not just another movie but another friggin franchise and have [GENDER REDACTED] do something that makes you re-evaluate what that character (one that I thought was a one-and-done deal) did in that previous movie. Was this always planned? I don’t know, maybe somebody came up with that idea while drafting this movie and went “hey what if….” Whatever, its still fucking awesome.”

  126. Looks like my wish kinda go granted vis a vis a Black Widow movie:


    “Limitless: Reloaded”?

  127. Caught TWS last night. First 2/3rds is Marvel’s Jason Bourne movie, with the last act being the greatest G.I. Joe movie ever made.

    This was very very good. Won’t call it great like some folks are saying, but then again I liked IM3 and Thor 2 more than alot of people did so that should be taken into context.

    GREAT cliffhanger ending, which is a soft reboot of the MCU. Makes me want to see how AGENTS OF SHIELD will deal with the fallout.

  128. Dikembe Mutombo

    April 4th, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I liked it a lot. Not as much as IRON MAN 3, but a lot. Surprisingly a lot of action scenes, and they’re all really good (camera a little shakier than necessary but what are you gonna do). I might actually see it again.

  129. “If anyone wants to get out, now is the time.” – Classic Badass line.

    I went into this with the shaky-cam shivers after hearing all the accusations, but it really wasn’t that bad on the big screen.

    I give it a pass on the Action Comprehensibility Scale.

  130. Just got out of Captain America: The First Avenger 2: Avengers Part 2: Captain America: The Winter Solder (they really need to work on these titles) and it was pretty good. It was more consistent than the first Captain America movie, but that only means that it’s better than the second half of the first movie but not quite as good as the first half of the first movie.

    Now that nobody is confused, let’s move on.

    I think I’m starting to get burned out on these Marvel movies. It’s weird because this one had a lot of things I liked. It had some pretty sweet action scenes, although none were quite as memorable as what I saw in The Raid 2 or Sabotage last week. It had some fun characters with lots of fun dialogue. I especially like Steve “Captain America” Rogers with all his “gee, shucks” country-boy antics. It’s hard not to like somebody so purely good and earnest. I even liked the plot of this movie, which is rare for blockbusters these days. Hell, this movie advanced the “Marvel movie universe” storyline forward in surprisingly substantial ways. There’s no way that the next episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t drastically affected by what happened in this movie. And thank god for that. It feels like that show has been treading water waiting for this film to come out.

    So there are a lot of positive things I can say about this movie. And yet….. I kept finding myself bored watching the damn thing. I think I’m just getting tired of all the hints towards big things coming up in future movies. I think they must have set up at least 4 or 5 plots that will (hopefully) be explored in future movies/TV shows. That’s nice that they are planning ahead and planting seeds now so that all of the movies and shows feel like parts of a larger story. But when you set up half a dozen plotlines that don’t pay off by the end of the movie, it just leaves me with a fairly unsatisfied feeling when I leave the theater. Sure, it hooks me into watching the next one so I can see how the set ups are going to pay off. But at the same time, it’s slowly making me associate the Marvel brand with feeling unsatisfied. And that’s a shame.

    Okay, one other thing I wanted to mention about this movie, but I have to get into some big spoilers. You have been warned.

    The thing that really hurt the movie for me is the big reveal about halfway through that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by Hydra (bad guys from the first movie who were kicked out of the Nazi organization for being too evil). Ever since these Marvel movies started up, there have been signs that there’s a darker side of S.H.I.E.L.D., one bent on world domination. They heavily hinted at this in The Avengers, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been openly talking about this all season, leading up to the shocking (not very shocking) cliffhanger this week which revealed that some of the higher ups at S.H.I.E.L.D. are really bad guys and they’re trying to kill our main characters.

    So here is this great plot they’re setting up where the extreme power held by S.H.I.E.L.D. is rotting them from the inside. The idea that power corrupts is nothing new but in today’s world it’s certainly an idea that could use more attention. The privacy and freedom that we have been surrendering in this century in exchange for an elusive feeling of security is a topic that more movies should be exploring. And it would be especially subversive to slip this message into a huge blockbuster superhero movie like this.

    But all of that is tainted by the reveal of Hydra. Instead of evil existing within all of us, revealing itself when the corrupting influence of power seduces us into exerting that power over others out of fear or anger, it turns out that evil is just Nazis. Yeah, don’t worry about evil creeping into the people and institutions all around you. It’s just those guys over there wearing black that are evil. We just get rid of them and problem solved.

    Now, am I being unreasonable by asking that this movie explore the true nature of evil amidst all of the running and punching and kicking and shooting and explosions and funny quips? I don’t think so. Especially because they did so much of the ground work for setting this plot up over the past 5 years and it would take only the most minor of changes to fix it. They would basically just need to alter a few lines of dialogue. It wouldn’t affect the actual plot in any substantial way, only the themes. And frankly, this is a theme we all need to be exploring. Even in silly superhero movies for children like Captain America.

    I’ll end this with one of my favorite quotes:

    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

  131. —–[******SPOILER WARNING ADDED BY S.H.I.E.L.D. UNDER AUTHORITY OF DIRECTOR FURY, NICHOLAS J.******]—– Nice commentary RJ. The use of Nazi’s as the bad guys didn’t really override my enjoyment of TWS. But it’s clearly the easy way to visually and aurally distinguish the hero’s from the villains. Notice Toby Jones’ Arnim Zola villain cackling with sinister glee as he’s telling our hero about Hydra. That wasn’t any more subtle than a Bond villain from the 70’s or 80’s.

    I wouldn’t expect Marvel to go dark with their movies at this stage, they seem to be on a roll with the whole MCU franchise. Unless they get Paul Verhoeven to direct the next one. Then we might at least get a unisex shower scene with Black Widow and the boys. Natalie Portman is welcome to join them too.

    In regards to the good vs evil duality thing, Bruce Banner is probly the one character where that stands out the most, and he’s one of the heroes.

  132. I think that’s why the two Hulk films have been the least successful out of the Avengers, because Marvel doesn’t do dark very well.
    Personally I prefer NOT LOUIS LETTERIERS THE INCREDIBLE HULK over THOR, simply because director Not Louis Letterier had an original vision for the Green Machine. And because Eric Bana was CHOPPER.

  133. Hey guys, maybe use a SPOILER warning for the twist, huh? And Darren, you dropped yours right in the first sentence, so its visible on the main page under the recent comments bar. Maybe most won’t give a shit, but still…

    I disagree with RJ’s analysis that the evil is “just Nazis”. Given there’s a big of ethnic variance among who see as part of the conspiracy, including a hispanic Agent and a senator played by Jewish comic actor Garry Shandling, I don’t think we can chalk it up to that. Hydra’s goals are above “racial purity” and are more about instilling a sort of order to the world. Also, the film still makes it about the evil inside people as what Hydra did was create a way to profile EVERYONE and single out the people who’d be aligned with Hydra’s worldview and “ends justify the means” perspective, so they could recruit them into the fold. And the main villain personifies this, as his goal isn’t world domination, it’s “bring order to billions of peoples lives by killing a million”. I think that sums up the compromise right there. SHIELD still has the problem overall of the theme of corruption as even the people who aren’t actually IN the conspiracy are still going along with the plan until it’s made really obvious how horrifying the consequences will be. Nick Fury didn’t know there was going to be a mass cull, but he was still in favour of putting 3 hovering deathships in the sky with long range cannons that can read people’s DNA and “neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen”. His worldview has obviously been shaped by the events of the 20th/21st century, much of which the conspiracy was responsible for.


    Darren/RJ – but how Nazi are Hydra really anymore when they clearly have Hispanic and Jewish members? Besides Hydra’s ideology isn’t Nazism as much as take-over-the-world. Their politics is as bland as Cobra or the Daleks (who don’t conquer as much as exterminate) that are the great bland evil that you don’t have problem being blown up by the good guys.

    As for the plot, I bought it. As far back as the American Republic’s birth, there’s always been paranoia about a 5th column taking over the country from within. Usually this is xenophobic against the French radicals or Irish or Eastern Europeans or Mexicans, or whoever is the geopolitical threat of the time like Nazis or Communists or Al Qaeda. So TWS plays into that tradition.

    I’ll be honest: There was a spooky moment for me when that Hydra plan was revealed, and more or less they take credit (w/o saying as much) for 9/11 and as well the Patriot Act. And God, there’s so much sense in that plan.

    Mind you there’s a difference between “realism” and “plausibility.” A Cobra-like generic evil network trying to take over the world? Not exactly realistic but their scheme making democracies surrender their civil liberties one inch at a time until its too late? For a comic book fantasy like this, I found that rather plausible for this day and age.


    Also, the corruption still starts BEFORE Hydra, as they only get a foothold in SHIELD because SHIELD did the Operation Paperclip thing, hiring people they knew were responsible for horrible things to do work for the US(or the world, I dunno, it’s kinda confusing. If SHIELD is international and answers to a World Security Council, why do they have “Homeland” in their name?) instead. That moral compromise makes everything possible.

  136. Stu – reminds me of U.N.I.T. from the DOCTOR WHO television which is supposedly based in the United Nations and made up of members from all around the globe as part of a collective security front against E.T. threats. Yet on the show itself, it was run for decades by a British officer (long live the Brig!) with an army of 10 British guys.

    But I did like that one guy who rationalized SHIELD as basically being the World Bank of security where its an international organization, but Americans by tradition usually get to pick the person who runs it since you know #1 super power out there. Interestingly enough A.O.S. earlier this current season had a mission in China and clearly there are Chinese SHIELD agents so yeah…yet another episode had them going into Siberia…

    Its one of those things best left accepted at face value.

  137. Dammit! I thought my SPOILER tag was enough to cover what I was spoiling above but no, it didn’t.

    I fucking fail.

  138. Dikembe Mutombo

    April 5th, 2014 at 11:31 am

    If I have one beef with this film, it would be the same one I had with HOMEFRONT: Frank Grillo doesn’t get to kick enough ass. I really love that guy. I’m not dying for another Punisher movie, but if they ever inflict another one on us he’s the only guy who can play him.

  139. Stu, my bad. Am currently on chin-up 67 out of 100 with fishing line and 5kg plate attached to member.

    Dikembe – Grillo never stood out to me before until TWS. He’s been in a lot of good stuff I’ve seen like THE GREY and END OF WATCH. Haven’t seen HOMEFRONT yet. He kinda reminds me of a scuzzy Steven Bauer.

    The standout fight scene (SPOILER sort of) for me in TWS was the elevator. Reminded me of the bathroom fight in JACK REACHER. And Captain gets that classic Badass line I quoted above.

  140. Director Fury steps in to cover my ass…and after all those chin-ups. Let the punishment fit the crime.

  141. I’m here to leave a comment on a comment I apparently made back in the day:

    “I live in Sweden.Please tell me why I should watch CAPTAIN AMERICA.?”

    I don’t remember publishing such an asonine comment. But I did. The point is I never got much of a flack for it apparently. Majestyk even said he would gladly watch a Captain Sweden. And actually there is, with Alex Karim (DYING OF THE LIGHT)

  142. [visual-parse url=”https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RfOMEyPp2mE&t=990s”

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