Timely Publications started in 1939 and was one of the earliest publishers of comic books, by 1961 it had evolved into its modern incarnation: Marvel Comics. It was at this time that they created various superhero characters with the help of the legendary trio Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Most of their fictional characters operated in a single reality known as the Marvel Universe, set in real-life American cities. Correspondingly Marvel Studios developed the Marvel Cinematic Universe based on characters in the comics but sharing plot elements, settings, cast and characters. To date there have been four movies set in this collective, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, Iron Man 2 (2010) the Kenneth Branagh vehicle Thor (2011) and the latest addition Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).
Our story starts during World War Two with the Americans entering the war. Young Steve Rogers is deemed unfit for military service and is persistently turned down when he tries to volunteer. One day at the recruitment office he meets scientist Dr Abraham Erskine who nominates the undersized Rogers to be part of his “super soldier” programme, an experiment that is said to enhance human potential. He is injected with a serum and subjected to an electric treatment by Iron Mans father Howard Stark. He emerges from the experimentation twice his original size and with superior reflexes, ready to do battle with Adolf Hitler’s head of advanced weaponry Johann Schmidt, who as the Red Scull and commander of the terrorist organisation HYDRA has his own plan for world domination.
Directed by Joe Johnston, whose last two films were the disappointing Wolfman (2010) and the rather better Hidalgo (2004) a film based on the legend of the American distance rider Frank Hopkins and his horse Hidalgo. He also won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for his work on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Chris Evans, who previously worked with Marvel as the Human Touch in the Fantastic Four films, plays Captain America with just the right amount of irony. English actress Hayley Atwell plays an officer with the Strategic Scientific Reserve and the love interest of our hero. A scary Hugo Weaving portrays Red Skull very convincingly, with man of the moment Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark. Two other roles are worth a mention Stanley Tucci as the German refugee Dr Erskine and Tommy Lee Jones as Col Chester Philips, Steve Jones commanding officer.
|Peggy Carter with Captain America.|
As usual with the super hero genre the film is slightly corny and certainly camp especially in the scenes which involve Steve Rogers as a US propaganda tool appearing at war-bond rallies dressed in his Captain America garb and resplendent with shield. Like the afore mentioned Raiders of the Lost Ark it’s a good old-fashioned blockbuster. Its story, and in particular its ending set things up nicely for the forthcoming modern day sequel. At times it did feel like we had entered the realms of Inglourious Basterds (2009) but that’s no bad thing. Great fun and very entertaining, for comic book lovers of all ages. Use this and Iron Man as a template for further Marvel Universe films and I for one won’t complain.
|Marvel Cinematic Universe|