Thursday, September 01, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

This movie has been out for a while and I just saw it a couple of days ago.

I enjoyed it... it coulda been better.

The movie takes place in the 1940s, but it was made to set up the Avengers movie, which takes place in the present day. So that gave pretty short shrift to Cap's adventures throughout WWII (as told in the contemporary to WWII Captain America comic book), and to Nick Fury (who does not appear at all) and the Howling Commandoes. [Yes, I said Nick Fury doesn't appear at all. There is a character with that name in the movie, at the very end, but that isn't the real Nick Fury, I don't care what anybody says!]

I've been reading the IMDB message boards about the movie, and there are a couple of threads about the multi-racial/ethnic Howling Commandos. The ignorant (aka unknowledgeable, not stupid) posters have been set straight - that wasn't an invention of the movie makers - in the 1960s comic series entitled Nick Fury and the Howling Commandoes, that's who was there - the Free Frenchman, the Englishman, the African-American. Truth to tell I don't remember a Nisei being with the team, but it's possible.

(Japanese immigrants and even first generation citizens were interred during the War, but the US Army actually had the gall to draft the boys of fighting age and send them off to battle - albeit in the Western theater, not the Eastern. And these Nisei troops proved their courage and their patriotism over and over again - I think they were the most wounded, and the most decorated outfit in the Western theater over the course of the war.)

Anyway, the ending was an anti-climactic disappointment.

Spoilers below.

As anyone familiar with the story of Captain America knows, the comic book ran during World War II, and after the war, ceased pubication. The comic featured Steve Rogers and his sidekick, Bucky - who was only 16 or so and the camp mascot - not a grown up soldier.

In the 1960s, the character was resurrected. The Avengers, cruising around the North Atlantic, find an iceblock calved off an iceberg, and inside it is Captain America, who has been frozen since the end of the war. He thaws and wakes up screaming, "Jump, Bucky, jump!"

Turns out, the Red Skull has been defeated and is escaping in a plane. Cap and Bucky jump onto the plane, intending to bring it down. Then Cap realizes its been booby-trapped and the Red Skull isn't aboard. (There's no threat to the US). Cap slips off the plane, Bucky doesn't, and so dies. Cap falls into the North Sea, gets frozen, and wakes up 25 years later.

In the movie, the Red Skull is flying the plane toward the US, where its set to crash into the capitol and will kill thousands of people. So Cap heroically steers the plane straight down into the Arctic icecap.

The problem? Why does he do it? It wasn't clear to me that, once he'd set the plane heading straight downward, he couldn't have just jumped out of the plane with a parachute. (He still could have hit the ground, been knocked unconscious, and been frozen, but I guess the movie makers wanted him found inside the plane.)

Second problem. The anticlimactic part.

While Cap is piloting the plane into the Arctic ice, he and love interest Peggy Carter have a dialog, where they're talking like he's going to meet her at a restaurant at 8 pm in the next week.

Then his voice goes silent, and she starts to cry.

What should have happened was that the movie switches back to present day, where Cap's frozen body has just been found, and while he's still unconscious, somebody says, "that's Captain America. We need him now more than ever."

Instead, what happens is, he wakes up in what looks like 1940s US, with a baseball game going.

We think to ourselves... oh, no, he's just been dreaming all this? We've been tricked?

No. Because the baseball game Cap is listening to is not one that took place after he disappeared, but rather one that took place before he even became Captain America. How stupid is that? THat's his clue that he's being tricked, so he breaks out of the room, out of the building, and runs into high-tech Times Square, where some guy named Nick Fury (portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson) approaches him and explains they'd wanted to acclimate him slowly to the truth, that he's been asleep for 70 years.

"I had a date," says Steve.

If they had to do this, why couldn't they just have had Steve go to the restaurant, and find the very aged Peggy Carter sitting there. She sees him, she's happy, she dies. That would have been poignant.

So, flawed, but enjoyable. And a helluva lot better and more worthy to be viewed than My Idiot Brother or Don't Be Afraid of the Dark!

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