MCU Rewatchathon April 13th: Captain America The First Avenger (2011)
Day Five: 5/19 down!
The First Avenger
2011 marked the return of two things for marvel that would become an integral part of their brand moving forward: Steve Rogers and the yearly multi-release. Coming just two months after Thor, Captain America TFA marked the final film in the build up to Marvel's first crossover blockbuster and served to kick off the end of what would later be referred to as Phase 1.
With the significance of this films positioning, why is it that this film is so often overlooked in favor of its sequels? How does it measure up in the Captain America Trilogy?
Lets find out!
Javier: The Red Skull revealing his...well...Red Skull.
Antonio: I think for me it's the entire USO tour montage, seeing Steve in that costume is great and it's such a clever way to include it.
Abraham Erskine (Portrayed by Stanley Tucci): "Do you want to kill Nazi's?"
Steve Rogers (Portrayed by Chris Evans): "Is this a test?"
Abraham Erskine: "...Yes."
Steve Rogers: "I don't want to kill anyone, I don't like bullies; I don't care where they're from."
Dum Dum Dugan (Portrayed by Neal Mcdonough): "Wait. You Know what you're doing?"
Steve Rogers: "Yeah I've knocked out Hitler over 200 times"
Captain America The First Avenger is our first introduction to HYDRA, the villainous Nazi-Organization that broke off from Hitler's regime in order to make it's own violent bid on world domination. They are a major threat throughout the MCU, how did we feel about their introduction?
Johann Schmidt, The Red Skull
Antonio: It's a shame Hugo Weaving doesn't want to return to role, and while I get not wanting to play a comic-book-nazi, I gotta say he really nailed it. Also the makeup is the perfect mix of camp/realism.
Javier: The Red Skull is a very campy villain and yet still manages to be intimidating.
Javier: I don't think Zola is at his best in this he's just a supporting Villain, he doesn't accomplished as much as Red Skull did on screen.
Antonio: I think Toby Jones plays him very well, but he loses serious points for lack of Teletubby belly.
Final Ranking: 7/10
This is an absurdly fun movie, packed with Easter eggs and references and just an overall sense of nostalgia. I think while I understand why The Winter Soldier and Civil War are seen as the stronger entries, everyone owes it to themselves to go back and watch this film. It informs so much about Steve's character and makes the choices he's had to make and the ways he's had to adapt so much more intense and heartbreaking.
This movie is packed with little nods to the comics...
1. The Red Skull finds the Tesseract (the Cosmic Cube) within an engraved wall made to represent Yggdrasil, the life tree, a concept introduced in Thor (and present in Norse Mythology). This implies the cube has a history with Asgard, which we later learn, is indeed the case.
2. Johann is wearing a prosthetic skin-face mask to hide his appearance, this is a nod to many comic story lines where Skull has posed as a normal human, only to later be revealed as The Skull.
3. Arnim Zola, the Skull's right hand man and head scientist is a major Captain America antagonist in the comics, though in the comics he has said goodbye to his human body and resides inside of a robotic one, his face projected onto a screen on the robots chest.
4. In the film we get two fun nods to Zola's comic book appearance, one being Zola looking through a green magnifying glass at the audience, and the other is an actual blue print for his robotic prosthesis on his desk!
5. The noise the HYDRA weapons make is very similar to the noise Iron Man's repulsors make.
6. The HYDRA goons are seen outfitted in a black and red variant of their green and yellow uniforms from the comics, they even do the double-fisted Hydra Salute: "Hail Hydra".
7. Johann Schmidt is seen wearing a green uniform at one point, very similar to the green outfit he wore in the comics, though for the rest of the movie he is mainly in black.
8. The Technological Expo that Steve and Bucky attend is the Stark Expo, which we learned more about in Iron Man 2.
9. At this expo we catch a glimpse of a mannequin in a red suit encapsulated in a glass tube. This is a reference to John Hammond, the original Human Torch, the first Marvel Superhero and an ally to Captain America.
10. Also at this expo is our reintroduction to Howard Stark, much younger and played by Dominic Cooper, he acts very similar to his son Tony, and debuts the first version of his Hover-Car technology, something we will later see SHIELD adapt into their own cars.
11. The injections Steve has to receive for the Super Soldier serum are reminiscent of the injections Blonsky had to receive for his off-brand version.
12. Steve's USO costume is almost identical to his original costume designed by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, him punching Hitler out on stage is a reference to the first cover of Captain America, created by the two.
13. Steve's friend James Buchanan Barnes was originally his teenage sidekick in the comics, though has since been retconned to be closer to his age.
14. The soldier's Steve rescues from Zola's facility makeup The Howling Commandos, a group of elite soldiers formed by Nick Fury in the comics.
15. Among them are Gabe Jones, Jim Morita, James Montgomery Falsworth, Dum Dum Dugan and Jaques Dernier.
16. In the comics James Montgomery Falsworth is the first Union Jack, a British equivalent of Captain America, he is also married to Peggy Carter.
17. Jim Morita's picture hangs in the office of his descendant, Principal Morita in Spiderman Homecoming.
18. Steve's makeshift costume when rescuing the Commandos is a reference to Bryan Hitch's Captain America design from Ultimates.
19. HYDRA has heavy armored officers wearing flame-throwers on their arms, while un-named in the film, these are referred to off-screen as HYDRA Dreadnoughts, which in the comics are powerful robots designed by AIM and utilized by HYDRA.
20. Bucky serves as the sniper for Steve's unit, foreshadowing his later stint as an assassin.
21. Bucky "dies." Or does he? Hint: he doesn't.
22. Steve's shield is made out of Vibranium, the strongest metal on earth according to Howard Stark. It is also composed of the ONLY Vibranium that the military has access to. Wonder where they can find more?
23. Steve's final war-ready costume is designed by Howard Stark, it will not be the last costume designed by a Stark for Steve.
24. Bucky is experimented on by Zola while a prisoner of war. While this doesn't directly connect to his return, it could explain why Zola was eager to use him for their future experiments when they find his body.
25. The scene where the lab is falling apart and The Red Skull escapes in a vertical flying rocket is a reference to when Steve ACTUALLY takes a fall in the comics. It is upon this rocket that him and Bucky seemingly sacrifice themselves to stop Skull.
26. When Skull attempts to wield the Tesseract himself, he is shown a vision of space before being burned to dust by a strange rainbow light. The cube burns through the hull of the plane and plummets into the ocean. When this film first released, people hypothesized that the rainbow lights where the Bifrost and he was ending up in Asgard. While possible, we now know this is scene serves to illustrate the immense power of an Infinity Stone and how no one person (even a super soldier) can harness them directly.
27. It also potentially implies that the Tesseract is the space stone but that's still up for debate.
28. It would make slightly more sense if it is the Reality Stone as the Cosmic Cube in the comics allows the user to bend reality around them, but so far its main use has been as a power-source, so who knows!
29. Howard manages to find the Tesseract in the ocean, leading to SHIELD having possession of it, which is why Nick Fury is able to present it to Selvig during the end credits of Thor.
30. Steve wakes up, in modern day, after being unfrozen, and is greeted by Nick Fury. Seems everyone is lined up now.
Javier: Captain America The First Avenger is the first movie out of Phase One (excluding Avengers) that felt on par to Iron Man and just like Iron Man, TFA still holds up today.
I am always surprised by how much I enjoy this movie. I don't re-watch it often, but every time I do I find new things to love in it. The campy pulp-hero aesthetic combined with Marvel's excellent attention to detail and probably their best one-liners ever makes for a superbly fun time.
Final Score: 8.5/10
After the Credits:
Captain America has a bit of a fake out at the end, cutting to black for an extended amount of time before returning with Steve's pivotal "wake-up" scene. While I feel that'd be a strong After the Credits scene on it's own, they then go and one-up themselves with a full teaser trailer for The Avengers.
Javier: Even though it's just a trailer for The Avengers it still manages to get me excited for the next movie.
Antonio: While the teaser trailer is pretty badly dated in terms of the text and music used and some poor editing, it still makes me exactly as giddy as it did when I first saw it in theaters.
Final Score: 9/10
Alright guy's we are almost done with Phase One, only one more film and you know what that means! Tonight we watch The Avengers (2012) so come back tomorrow for a discussion of arguably one of the biggest movies of all time!
See you all tomorrow!
All hail Grodd.