Welcome to a the second part of the Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second Avengers liveblog! Tonight we’ll be taking a look at Joe Johnston’s Captain America before finishing the whole project off with Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk tomorrow evening. Check out the previous instalment of the liveblog here to see why we’ve chosen to do things in this order.
Feel free to join in on twitter and in the comments section below using the hash tag #HopeFlies (thanks to Ali Bianchi for that). This post will be updated throughout the evening.
*Captain America: The First Avenger opens in the modern day in Arctic. An ominous atmosphere fills this scene, and is tonally at odds with the rest of the film. The origins of the character of Captain America are slightly altered for the film:It was actually the other Avengers that found Steve Rogers (in the comic-books), not SHIELD agents. What is really interesting about Captain America through the ages is that the distance between him falling in to the ice and when he awakens becomes greater with each iteration. So, for example, upon his original silver age revival in 1964 the time between his freezing (in 1945) and awakening was a mere 19 years or so, while now, or at the time of this films production, the time of his confinement is a mammoth 60 years. Contextually this adds a completely different spin to events, and ought to make the culture clash element far more dramatic (in scope).
*Skinny Steve’s adventures in New York. The effects are genuinely great. He looked a little “Gollum” in the trailers, but Johnston at co. really nailed it by the time the film was released. The recurrent imagery of the shield makes an appearance thanks to Steve’s use of a dustbin lid as makeshift protection. It comes in later too, with the likes of car doors utilised to great effect.
*Steve and Bucky go to the World Of Tomorrow exposition, which obviously draws comparisons towards Tony Stark and Iron Man 2. Dominic Cooper makes for a fantastic Stark Sr. There are a number of Easter eggs in this sequence too, most notably of which is probably the sight of the original Human Torch of the Invaders fame as an exhibit at the expo. The Invaders were Captain America’s gang back in the Golden Age days.
*Bucky is one of the most interesting characters in the whole of the Marvel comic-book (616) universe, with his complex Steve Rogers-parallelalising (sic?) storyline outstanding in scope and emotional effect. We genuinely consider Ed Brubaker’s post-2005 run on Captain America, which re-examined the story of Bucky, to be one of the finest post-millennial works of literature.
*The sight of Arnim Zola looking through the lens hints at that characters fate. Toby Jones’s appearance as Zola marks the first of a number of well known character actors in supporting roles. Tommy Lee Jones, as Rogers army Colonel, Chester Phillips, and Stanley Tucci as Abraham Erskine, the scientist behind the Super-Soldier experiment. Both actors have a great chemistry, with both each other and Rogers, and add a great comic edge, which in turn provides the film with much of its pulpyness.
*The tale of Red Skull is told in a rather stylistic montage at around this time too. The escalatory nature of the Super-Serum is explained, with Erskine explaining that “good becomes good, bad becomes bad” as a result of the serum’s application, hence the reasons behind Rogers being the perfect candidate. It’s worth noting this when we take a look at The Incredible Hulk later, which features an extreme example of someone bad being given the serum. The parallels between Captain America: The First Avenger and The Incredible Hulk are very strong, and we’ll take a look at them more thoroughly when we reach that film.
*The Star-Spangled Man is quite possibly our favourite original movie song of last year. They absolutely nail the propaganda element. It’s an ingenious manner in which to make the characters slightly hokey concept and appearance work on screen.
*Steve rescues the imprisoned soldiers, the Red Skull is unmasked, and the Howling Commandos introduced. But where is Nick Fury? At the time of the films release some speculated that Howling Commando Gabe Jones was actually Fury, but that doesn’t really make any sense. Interesting side-note, Neal McDonough, who plays Dum Dum Dugan, the most famous member of the Howling Commando’s, was M. Bison in the really poor Street Fighter movie, The Legend Of Chun-Li.
*Bucky snipes. A hint towards the Winter Soldier?
*Okay, we’re now getting in to the final moments of the film, with the big fight between Cap and the Red Skull aboard the latter’s airship, which is full of bombs intended for the major cities of the world. The pair fight over the Cosmic Cube, which eventually falls to the ground below, to be found by Nick Fury et company sometime between the end of this film and the post-credits sequence in Thor. Rogers chooses to sacrifice himself in order to save countless civilians. His blossoming relationship with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is put on ice (sorry, we had to make at least one pun), while we don’t actually witness the moment of impact, instead only seeing the events of Rogers’s demise from the perspective of Peggy, whose conversing with him via radio (A Matter Of Life And Death referenced in a $150 million blockbuster!). Following all of this, the films most touching moments see Rogers’s friends remembering him, with perhaps the most touching moment of all being the brief glimpse of Howard Stark’s search for his friend. The emphasis on the friendship between the two men ought to add an interesting twist to the relationship between Rogers and Stark Jr. in The Avengers, given the latter’s daddy issues in Iron Man 2.
*And with its Twilight Zone-esque, Nick Fury-featuring epilogue thats that. We’re essentially set up for The Avengers now (Hulk aside). Captain America: The First Avenger remains a real favourite of ours, second only to Thor in the overall series. The tone is spot on (with the history-skewing tone ultimately placing Johnston’s film right next to Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as apt bedfellows), with the film ultimately Marvel’s first all-out adventure film. The manner in which each of the five Marvel films to date each have their own specific genre identities is one of the greatest strengths of the series, we look forward to seeing how The Avengers draws all this together.
We get our first glimpse of The Avengers, with a special teaser-trailer.
Join us tomorrow night for our final instalment, The Incredible Hulk.