Captain America: The First Avenger Review
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With its Avengers series, Marvel has given fanboys and adrenaline junkies a wide variety of superheroes—from cool, cocky weapons manufacturer Tony Stark in Iron Man to the otherworldly warrior in Thor. Now, in Captain America: The First Avenger, we meet an unlikely but likeable new hero: a below-average guy who becomes an above-average soldier.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants nothing more than to help Uncle Sam defeat the Nazis—but, no matter how many times he tries to enlist, his small stature and chronic health issues result in rejection after rejection. Then, on his fifth attempt, he meets Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a German scientist who offers him a chance to be something great.

Steve eagerly volunteers for the Strategic Scientific Reserve—a secret military group that’s planning to create a kind of chemically-altered super soldier. Dr. Erskine sees Steve as the perfect candidate—because he has the heart and bravery of a man twice his size—so he’s injected with a special serum that gives him super-human powers.

But Steve isn’t the first of his kind. The serum was first tested in Germany, on Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), a power-hungry villain who plans to use a magical, mystical stone to take over the world. Steve is determined to stop him—but the military is convinced that Captain America can best serve his country as a bond-shilling spokesman.

Captain America is the kind of classic comic book superhero adventure that movie lovers have been enjoying for decades—ever since kids raced to their neighborhood cinemas on Saturday afternoon with a hard-earned quarter in hand to see their favorite heroes in crisp black and white. Director Joe Johnston seamlessly combines the story’s 1940s style with a few modern day touches and blockbuster-budget action to create a thrilling adventure with a strikingly classic feel.

As with any good comic book adaptation, everything about Captain America is stylized and slightly exaggerated—from the one-liner-heavy dialogue to the old-school superhero action. But while some adaptations go overboard, resulting in films that feel way too cheesy, this one gets the tone just right—with the perfect touches of humor, romance, and heart-swelling, patriotic action.

Steve Rogers, meanwhile, makes for a completely different kind of hero. He doesn’t have Tony Stark’s swagger or Thor’s godly parentage. In fact, when we first meet him, he’s a total loser—a puny underdog who doesn’t seem to understand his own weakness. But even when he becomes Captain America—tall, handsome, and muscle-bound—he’s still just a regular guy who wants to do his part for his country. He isn’t self-assured and in-your-face, but his dedication and determination make him a likable wartime hero.

At the same time, though, the story fits well within the Avengers series. Though it takes place during WWII, it’s filled with tie-ins to the other films in the series—from the ancient cube that’s fabled to be a part of Odin’s treasure to the constant presence of slick weapons manufacturer Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper). And, of course, there’s the obligatory appearance by Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who helps to bring the 1940s story into the 21st century.

It may not be as bold or brash as many summer blockbusters, but this old-school story of patriotism and honor makes a great addition to the Avengers anthology—and its classic styling makes it my favorite superhero adventure of the summer.

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