Captain, we salute you
THEY have been exceptionally busy in the film division of Marvel Entertainment over the past few years, and on an increasingly regular basis dust is being blown off the original stories of the company’s most prized comic-book hero assets.
All roads of this strategic initiative point to Marvel’s release next year of The Avengers, an all-star, all-superhero affair that will round up the likes of Thor, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk.
A key player in this invincible team will be the first-ever star to shine in the Marvel universe – good old Captain America.
Bearing in mind the Cap has never ridden high on a decent screen vehicle – and in the interest of raising his profile in the run-up to The Avengers – here we have Captain America: The First Avenger.
As Captain America was very much a product of US wartime sensibilities in the early 1940s, it must be stated upfront this is a peculiarly old-fashioned action film.
Chris Evans stars as Steve Evans, an under-nourished, over-patriotic wannabe soldier deemed too puny for active duty by Uncle Sam. With all his friends heading off to World War II, Steve is so desperate to join them that he allows himself to become the guinea pig for a top-secret military experiment. Injected with a radioactive superserum by a kindly scientist ( Stanley Tucci), Steve grows from geek to gargantuan in an instant.
Now blessed with speed, reflexes and endurance capabilities superior to every soldier on the face of the planet, the powers that be transform Steve into a PRfriendly figure they dub Captain America.
Initially trotted out to lift morale and sell war bonds, the Captain is then deployed to Europe to bring down a rogue Nazi madman who calls himself Red Skull ( a superb, scenery-chewing Hugo Weaving).
Watching on the sidelines are the Captain’s girlfriend, butt-kicking British babe Peggy Carter ( Hayley Atwell), and his gruff commanding officer Colonel Chester Phillips ( Tommy Lee Jones).
Also lending important technical back-up is Howard Stark ( Dominic Cooper), a daredevil industrialist ( and future father of Iron Man’s Tony Stark) who designs the Captain’s greatest weapon: an indestructible shield emblazoned with stars and stripes.
Though unfailingly earnest and cheesy from open to close, Captain America: The First Avenger still delivers everything it promises with plenty of endearing good humour and occasional pulses of exciting panache.