Captain America is good. Thor is better.
Captain America: The First Avenger is a great movie. But it fails in comparison to Thor, the Marvel movie it is most closely tied to until next year’s Avengers.
Captain America’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Like all Marvel Studios movies, it’s a prequel for Avengers that mostly stands on its own, and leaves the viewer wanting more without being satisfied.
Having said that, like Titanic where you know the ship’s going to sink going in, there are no surprises for new fans or old readers. You go in knowing how WWII is going to end, so there isn’t much dramatic tension as compared to other Avengers-based movies set in contemporary times.
Even the nature of the threat is better understood and appreciated if one has seen Thor.
I enjoyed Cap immensely, but I have to rank it ever so slightly behind Thor in storytelling. There is absolutely no character development in the movie.
Steve Rogers is changed, but doesn’t change, if you know what I mean. He goes into the movie as a good-hearted 90lb virgin, and ends the movie as a good-hearted 220lb virgin. Steve begins the movie wanting to be a hero, becomes the poster boy of heroes, sees real heroes, saves heroes, and becomes the hero he always wanted to be.
Thor, conversely, grows in the course of his movie, starting off as an arrogant jerk and being humbled, he comes to appreciate humanity and become worthy of his hammer. Captain America already starts out worthy. This just makes the character boring.
Likewise, The Red Skull is a completely two- dimensional cookie cutter villain. This is actually accurate to the comics. Loki is a tortured character, wanting his father’s approval and jealous of his brother while loving him at the same time.
The relationship between Steve and Johann is the typical hero/ villain discussion of “We could be gods!” where as the relationship between Thor and Loki, actual gods, comes across as a struggle between brothers.
The real stars of Captain America are the secondary characters: Howard Stark, Dr. Arnim Zola, Col. Phillips played by Tommy Lee Jones (he has some of the best lines). Dr. Erskine played perfectly by Stanley Tucci is the only real emotional connection in the movie until the very end, when the real price of Steve Rogers' desire to prove himself as a hero is realized.
It’s a fun, well acted movie, and completely worth it for any comic book fan, certainly better than much of the rest of the Summer Comic Book Movies. *cough* Green Lantern *cough*.
Don’t worry if you have to get up in the middle to go to the bathroom or get more popcorn. You won’t miss anything important.
Thor 2 has been greenlit along with Iron Man 3, so unless Avengers bombs, I fully expect a Captain America sequel afterwards. For me, that will be the true test of the character on the big screen as he has to come to terms with his new reality in the 21st century.
As with any Marvel Studios movie, stay through the credits. Totally worth it.
My Avengers Movie Rankings from Best to Worst
1. Iron Man
3. Captain America
4. Incredible Hulk
5. Iron Man 2