Who’s In It: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, Dominic Cooper, Hugo Weaving, Toby Jones
The Basics: Steve Rogers is a scrawny World War II recruit who’ll do whatever it takes to make the grade and fight those Nazi bullies, even if it means submitting to the U.S. Governments secret Super Soldier program. It’s there he becomes big, bold, brawny Captain America and learns to throw his mighty shield. And because this is a boilerplate origin story, he square-jaws his way into a conflict with a super-baddie and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Guess how it ends! And yeah, stay till the end of the credits like you already know how.
What’s The Deal: So, taking stock of the Avengers this far... Iron Man is sarcastic, Hulk broods, Thor is a glamorous pro wrestler who talks funny, Black Widow slinks around in a catsuit and kicks ass in gleaming hallways. And now comes Captain America. He's an L7 square, a slab of muscle and clean-living who knows himself best when he’s battling evil. And that’s great. All I need from a movie superhero is that level of productive self-awareness and the ability to create excitement and tension while he fights the enemy. Meanwhile, all I need from the people who make superhero movies is that sense of thoughtful momentum, the confidence that they're not flailing around, asking focus groups for tons of advice and making it all up as they go along. So this one is pretty good news. It ain't trailblazing, but it's solidly enjoyable.
70 Years Ago Is Now: First of all, that's how old this character really is, and the necessary World War II-era setting gives it a look and gee-whiz feel that are hard to resist. It helps that pretty much everything in the United States was at its handsomest from the 1940s until right around the time the hippies took over: clothes, furniture, cars, everything--and the movie knows it and shows it, hand in hand with its vintage, vanilla milkshake attitude.
Why Red Skull Is My Favorite Villain Of The Pre-Avengers Movies So Far: Conceptually, he's the easiest to understand, a Nazi monster with clear, evil intentions. And, frankly, design-wise, he's just better than the rest. HE HAS A BIG RED SKULL. It's a look.
Now Maybe We Can Put This Behind Us: Until DC can get itself together and pull off a decent Justice League movie franchise, this is what we've got. And so far the Marvel output has been more decent than not. But it'll be good to get these same-y origin stories out of the way and, fingers crossed, move on to an Avengers series that allows these characters their differences, doesn't shift in tone every two minutes, and delivers on its already huge list of promises. I'm not even a big comic book nerd and I'm ready.