I'm back, and just in time to finally get some good old, Isaacson style (i.e. crazy) feedback on the last piece of the ultimate puzzle that is The Avengers. In other words, business as usual, here, now, thank you ... how are you?
So anyway, Captain America. What did I think? Probably not the strongest of the Marvel movies so far (that honour still sits with Iron Man, with Thor sitting just off the top). Don't look upon that as a 'it's crap' response though, far from it. Cap is a traditional action movie, right down to the good vs evil routine that has served so well in the past, but seemingly lost amongst the murk of teenage angst, slow motion bullet effects and *eek* vampire sparkles! This is old school, fitting since it's set during World War II, but old school none the less.
I will be honest though, I had more fun watching Evans play the tough guy role while in the weakling skin than Cap himself. The effects aren't perfect, but believable in giving him the persona of a barely there kid with dreams of making a difference, and it's these early scenes that set Cap apart from the rest of the franchise. Unlike Stark or Thor, Rogers is 'just a kid from Brooklyn', everything he does is improvised with guts and determination, not just powers and abilities. He's a real person who understands the power of emotion, hopefully that's something they continue to play up, especially with future entanglements with Tony Stark.
Speaking of, I was surprised how much they used Tony's father in this one, possibly to set up that angle of 'you knew my father?', but probably more to preserve where Robert Jnr.'s character got his unusual roots from. I do like that rounded character arc, come to think of it, instead of the older one who seemed to be more interested in building the future then suddenly becoming a loving father in a video clip.
The other roles don't seem to serve any more a purpose than to push Rogers along, which is a shame since almost every scene Tommy Lee Jones was in he stole it. I wonder if we may see more of him in other ways though, perhaps to help Cap get over his angst of leaving his own time behind.
There's a few things I didn't like, sadly, mostly to do with Bucky. The ever present sidekick he was in the comics gets little more than a passing 'like a brother' role here, effective at first but it should have been much more. What's worse, they've now killed the character off! Unless he somehow survives the events of this film, that means there won't be much in the way of the Ultimates story arc that had Rogers visiting his old buddy, who's almost 90 and married with many grandchildren, which helps to ground him before he joins the Avengers. It could have been a very moving moment to the next blockbuster, alas not to be.
I also have to agree, kinda, with some others that have said Hugo Weaving was better with the mask on. The snarls and stares seemed more effective in his real skin than the prosthetic. Perhaps they'll clean it up with some CGI next time, as in Voldermort style, to allow for some more emotion.
Finally, the end sequence may have fit better as an after credits sequence, cut a little shorter to fit the Avengers trailer. It felt forced compared to where the movie could have ended, the little boy running away with a makeshift shield. I don't know, I guess I'm a little torn on it all, probably because the editing just didn't feel right (that, and I was kinda hoping Tony Stark led the excavation, allowing for a cameo or two more than what we got. Again, much like Ultimates.)
Overall, I did enjoy it. Maybe a little over the top at times, but as a fan of what Marvel has come up with so far, it worked rather well. And as I said, this is rather typical action movie with clear goals for each character. Ironically, that's a breath of fresh air considering the over the top or drawn out dramatics of the more recent Hollywood fair (Potter, X-Men and Apes not included) that try to throw more into the mix than it can handle. Captain America is clear cut, one for the fans, and a lot of fun.
Now for a little guessing game. Since the veritable feast that is the team up movie is less than a year away, time to ponder what's really going on. Marvel have mentioned they'll be adding a few short movies to the DVD releases of Thor and Captain America, featuring everyone's favourite Agent Coulson, aiming to link up even further the events of the past few movies. It's been suggested that the events of The Incredible Hulk (underrated) are after the last few flicks, leading it directly into Avengers. Remember Stark's cameo, and wondered why it hasn't been mentioned since? That's why.
So the opening sequences could possibly be bringing Hulk in, using Iron Man for aid. That's probably the best way to go, Hulk hasn't been in the audience's radar anywhere near as much as the other characters, and with a new actor playing the role, that setup needs to happen rather early.
Thor, too, has a story of sorts to take care of early on, i.e. how does he get back to Earth?! Possible spoiler, the fate of Red Skull could hold the key to that (speaking of, he's obviously not dead so, you know, obvious Cap 2 revenge story). Plus, how long will it take for him to be aware of Loki?
Cap will probably have some 'adjustment' sequences, beyond punching a bag to death, though I really do hope there's some meat to that piece. All that leaves is Iron Man himself. Since Iron Man 3 will be the next movie out of this world in 2013, there could be a suggestion of Stark's alcohol problem either during the movie or as a teaser at the end. That, or maybe a suggestion of who the next villain may be.
The obvious choices, brining it full circle, would be Ezekiel Stane along with The Mandarin, or one of the two. As much as Mandarin is a powerful villain in the comics, it's probably best his role serves a purpose in much the same way Ra's Al Ghul did in Batman Begins, otherwise it may become a little silly (at least within the world they've created for this version of the character, never mind what the other Avenger movies have brought up). Hence why Stane would be a good move, grounded in tech but out for blood, possibly to take over Stark Industries itself in his father's name. A good mix of the recent comic series would play out well on the big screen, in which Stane tries to out-do Stark and becomes a terrorist of sorts, allowing anyone the chance to use Stark Tech, but for a price.
I guess that's in the hands of the Gods, or Marvel, whoever comes first. I'm positive Joss and co. will get the job done next year. The teaser looks good, all the parts have been set up well, and as much as there's every chance they may botch it because of the mass number of characters, I'm rather confidant that won't happen. It's my most anticipated event of 2012, for sure, but I won't go in overhyped like I was with Spider-Man 3. Let's hope THAT doesn't happen again...