Captain America has always been Marvel’s answer to Superman, as much a piece of righteous propaganda as a fun-to-watch ass-kicker. But in a world that swoons over Christopher Nolan’s dark, gritty, moral conundrum of a “Batman” franchise, where audiences watch “Iron Man” as much for Tony Stark’s playboy antics as the titular character’s struggles against evil, is there really a place for a hero as red-white-and-blue as Captain America?
Captain America: The First Avenger
Judging by the trailer for the latest “Captain America” film, that’s not really a question that director Joe Johnston (“October Sky”) cares to answer. We open on a recruiting station during World War II, a time when movie characters could believably behave like war movie cliches. Sure enough, we’re quickly introduced to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, “Fantastic Four”), a twig of a patriot who desperately wants to fight for his country. We see him transform from short, skinny character actor to womanizing leading man in a scene that comic book nerds will fantasize about for years. And then it’s off to the races as he dons the Captain’s famous costume and proceeds to lay the smackdown on some Nazis.
The action sequences are competently edited. The period setting is tantalizingly unique for a superhero film. But the biggest draw is definitely the perfectly cast array of supporting characters. Throughout the trailer, we catch glimpses of Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones”) as the Einstein-inspired Dr. Abraham Erskine and hear Tommy Lee Jones (“No Country for Old Men”) deliver one of his trademark tough-guy, no-bullshit performances as Col. Chester Phillips. Most exciting of all is the two seconds we see of Hugo Weaving as Red Skull, the kind of villain Weaving hasn’t shown us “The Matrix.” All this makes “Captain America” a frontrunner to be the summer blockbuster of 2011.