Now we come to the penultimate film of Marvel's Phase One. This film, is not perfect, but it has a charm to it.
The movie opens in the modern day with a group of SHIELD agents exploring the Arctic and discovering Captain America. We then flashback to about halfway through America’s involvement in World War 2 (c. Late-1942, early-1943)
The scrawny Steve Rogers is trying to join the war effort, going to recruitment centers all over the greater New York/Newark area —and is rejected by every single one of them. He is small, about 5 feet, has asthma, and an slew of health problems. He also gets into fights with bullies, never backing down but only failing to get the snot beat out of him because of the intervention of his best friend, Bucky.
Eventually, at the Stark Expo, put on by Stark’s father, Bucky picks up Clara Oswald (Really!) and Steve tries to enlist again, but is found out by Abraham Erskine, who somehow figures out about his failed enlistments at other recruitment centers —and promptly enlists him in a top secret government program and thus he is shipped off to an Army boot camp under the purview of Colonel Chester Philips (Tommy Lee Jones), who heads the program, and the beautiful stiff-upper-lip British Army attaché, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).
In Rudy-like manner he quickly proves himself a good soldier and a good man who is brave and willing to think outside the box to find solutions. Oh, and a bit of a romance blossoms between him and Carter. (But you saw that one coming, didn’t you?)
Soon, at the insistence of Erskine, he is picked for the program and taken to a secret lab in Brooklyn where he is given a super-soldier serum and, after taking on a HYDRA saboteur, becomes Captain America —for War Bonds shows.
And is stuck there until he goes on a mission, without higher approval, with Howard Stark and Peggy Carter and single-handedly rescues a group of POWs who become the Howling Commandoes.
About the Movie
This movie is just charming. No matter what its flaws every time I finish it I just get a smile on my face, despite the sadder-than-usual ending. This movie should be utterly bland and yet, it is quite fun.
For one thing, all of the characters feel like a stock character from a 1940s war movie. Steve Rogers is the all-American boy, Peggy Carter is your stiff-upper-lip British officer crossed with 1940s tough gal, and Chester Phillips is your gruff, old American soldier. The same goes for the rest of the Howling Commandoes. Even the villains act like the cheesy villains from a 1940s movie serial or pulp magazine.
Now, this could easily go wrong and result in giving us the cheesiest, blandest, annoying set of characters but it doesn’t. Perhaps because they are so familiar we feel like we know them the moment we see them. This makes the characters, especially the Howling Commandoes, seem incredibly fleshed out. Even though they have only a handful of lines each and probably can’t remember their names without consulting a wiki. Their mannerisms, clothing, and overall demeanor tells us everything we need to know about each of them.
The cinematography, too, adds to the 1940s feel. The scenes depicting Steve Rogers are full of Norman Rockwell-esque colors and lighting.
Like all Marvel movies, this one is a live-action Saturday Morning Cartoon, and it delivers the goods in that department.
But there is one area in which this movie is a tad unique, and that is in the two leads, Steve and Peggy. Throughout the movie, as far as romantic leads go, they are ok. As a couple they are far more interesting than Thor and Jane but not as fun as Tony and Pepper.
But the end of the movie does something that takes them probably the most interesting couple in the Marvel movie universe.
Now, here I’m going to put a SPOILER warning so if you have not seen this movie or Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers 2, or Ant-Man then read no further!
If you’ve seen the movie, or, heck, the ones I just listed, then you might know how it ends. Steve gets stuck in the ice and Peggy grows old without him.
In my opinion, it is after their separation that they became really fascinating. For both of them the other represents the one chance they had for something resembling a normal life, and without each other Two people who were meant to be but never can be.
That added a dynamic to them that was unique to them and unlike any of the other Marvel movie couples. At least for now.
So, in the end, a fun, enjoyable movie.