May 12, 2019

The MCU Project: Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]

Last weekend, while I was off galavanting, Karen and Bernard went to the cinema to see Avengers Endgame. We have seen a few of the films in the series over the years, but we decided to make a little project out of watching the whole lot. Rather than watching them in release date order, we’re watching them in another sequence which I believe more closely follows the in-universe chronology. Bernard’s in charge of this side of things, he’ll weigh in at some point. I should also add that the plan is only to watch the films, not the tie-in TV series. Karen and I have tried a couple of these before and found them to be quite, quite dull.

We also decided that we’d take turns to write little reviews for them. I’ve volunteered for the first one, so let’s get stuck in!

Captain America: The First Avenger was released in 2011 and is set during World War II. While watching this, I got some very heavy moments of deja vu, so I’m pretty sure that I have watched it before. It tells the story of a physically feeble man in Brooklyn who really wants to go and fight but has a laundry list of ailments and would clearly be a liability on the battlefield. However, when a doctor asks him some probing questions, he replies that he doesn’t want to kill, but he just loves his country, and so the doctor thinks hmmmm this boy has spiritual depth and hence selects him for a program whereby he’ll be injected with some magic serum that makes him buff and attractive to the ladies. He’s given very little information about the treatment he would be subjected to, which raises concerns regarding informed consent.

On the subject of ladies, this film basically has two female characters in it. There’s a minor appearance by Natalie Dormer in which she basically plays a vixen who serves no purpose other than to induce jealousy in Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell. Peggy Carter is actually a fairly competent female character, who does do some punching and shooting of her own, and doesn’t exist solely to be captured and rescued by our hero (indeed, she actually saves his life more than once). However, she still does all the typical emotional female love interest bullshit and looks like a pin-up, so falls squarely into the “strong female character as written by a man” stereotype. I suppose the male-centricity of this film is somewhat explained away by the fact that it’s probably a reasonably accurate representation of the state of the US Army in 1942.

After being transformed into a buff superhero, the military decide that the best use of this specimen is to put him in a tight costume and work in PR. This is going fine for a while, until the real soldiers laugh at him, at which point he realises he’s a total fraud and so goes off on a mission of his own. Fortunately it’s a success, so rather than being court-martialed for violating a direct order from a superior officer, he gets a medal. This, as we all know, is how they really do things in the military.

The main theme of this film is “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” with a soupcon of “bad guys use guns to kill, but good guys punch foreigners across the room and into a wall”. It’s got a great cast with excellent performances all round, and given that the film was released in 2011 when 3D was still being pushed hard, a few obnoxious things-flying-towards-the-camera shots.

Next up will be Iron Man, which was the first of the films by release date. Karen and I have definitely seen this one before.

Pete

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