It surprises me that I haven’t actually done a review on Captain America: the First Avenger yet. This is one of those movies I can watch if I’m feeling like I need to believe in good people and heroes.
“Captain America leads the fight for freedom in the action-packed blockbuster starring Chris Evans as the ultimate weapon against evil! When a terrifying force threatens everyone across the globe, the world’s greatest soldier wages war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull.”
You know, sometimes I wonder if the backs of the movie boxes and the previews would be different if the markets didn’t put so much bank into everyone just automatically knowing about these movies. Anyone who doesn’t know anything about Captain America, either the comic books or the current movies and his role in the Avengers, wouldn’t really have any idea what this movie is about based on the back of the movie box.
So what is this movie about?
This movie is about heroes. And heart. Friendship and sacrifice.
This movie is basically about all the good in the world.
The movie starts with a little guy from Brooklyn. He spends most of his time standing up to, and getting beaten down by, bullies in every form. He attempts to enlist in the Army in order fight in World War II, but is denied due to excessive medical considerations. He attempts to enlist multiple times from multiple different cities, all with the same results. His repeated attempts to enlist and his repeated failures bring him to the attention of a special program which allows him to enlist in the Army, just as he wanted.
He’s sent to training, where he gives everything he has to every task he is assigned, even though he is the slowest runner and the physically weakest. He uses his brains to solve one of the training problems. But the absolute key part of this entire sequence is when a dud grenade is thrown into the training area and the smallest, weakest trainee covers it the best he can with his frail body while the rest of the trainees take cover and hide. It was this moment that defined both Steve Roger’s character and the character of the entire movie.
Even when you have nothing to lose, risk everything to save those you love, and those you love include those who have also volunteered their lives to serve their country. It’s a powerful message, that even the smallest person can make a huge difference.
So it’s no surprise that Steve is chosen as the supersoldier candidate. When the doctor is discussing the procedure with him, he talks about the reason Steve was chosen was because the serum enhances whatever traits a person already possesses. Good becomes great and bad becomes worse. A strong man has nothing to work for – nothing to gain. A weak man-made strong knows the true power of strength and compassion.
Steve goes through a lot throughout the course of this movie. He starts out as an experiment with too high of a cost and he gets benched. He has to participate in shows and he does his best to believe that what he’s doing is making a difference, but when he finally does arrive in Europe and encounters the true volunteer military, he is rejected as a false symbol and this affects him in a deeply personal way. With the help of Agent Carter and Howard Stark, Steve gets dropped behind enemy lines into a secret HYDRA base where he frees hundreds of allied fighters and finds that his best childhood friend, Bucky Barnes, is still alive. Steve rescues him and together, they start overthrowing HYDRA’s grip on the war.
When Steve puts together his special team, he bases that team on friendship. He chose the people who fought for each other, those who had been captured, survived, and continued to fight anyway. Those who earned their freedom and had the will and capacity to continue to fight for other people’s freedom. To put their lives in danger to protect those without the resources or capability to fight themselves.
This movie is filled with true heroes, not just Steve.
Overall, this movie is probably a four on my rating scale. I’m glad I own it and I watch it repeatedly, especially when I need my faith in the world restored.