In a nearly unprecedented feat Marvel Studios had big plans for a series of movies that would lead to next year’s big screen Avengers movie. We have previously seen The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor but the real linchpin to The Avengers is Captain America. This summer they released Captain America: The First Avenger, a fun World War II period piece action adventure that has now arrived on Blu-ray in a very nice package.
Like Batman and Superman, Captain America is a timeless comic book superhero. Even people who don’t know comic books know the basics of Captain America. He was a scrawny kid who couldn’t join the Army during World War II, was recruited for a super-soldier program, became an ultimate soldier and joined the fight. The challenge for director Joe Johnston was to put this on the big screen in an interesting and dynamic way, with the help of the perfectly cast Chris Evans as Captain America he did just that.
Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, an unhealthy tiny man with a huge heart, courage, and determination enough for ten men. He wants to fight for the rights of all people who cannot stand up for themselves because he hates bullies and views Hitler and his Nazis as the ultimate bullies. After being refused from over half a dozen recruitment stations and watching his best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) head off to war, Rogers is recruited by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci). Rogers is to be part of a Super Soldier program because they need people with wits, courage, and determination, the fact that he is physically weak is unimportant.
During his initial training, it was clear he was at the bottom of the pack physically, but he never gave up and despite his challenges still managed to impress the hardnosed Colonel Chester Philips (Tommy Lee Jones) and British liaison Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Chosen first for the Super Soldier program Rogers is strapped into an apparatus and with Howard Starks (Dominic Cooper) help Dr. Erskine transforms Rogers into a man at the peak of physical perfection. Just as the program is deemed a success a Nazi saboteur reveals himself, steals the last vial of the serum and escapes killing Dr. Erskine in the process. Rogers gives chase and finds he is able to perform near superhuman feats as he chases down and stops the spy, rather then face capture the spy commits suicide.
With the program dying with Dr. Erskine, Rogers is basically abandoned by the army despite his prowess and recruited as a USO representative. Traveling around the country and given a colorful costume (funnily it looks almost exactly like the original comic version of his costume) and dubbed “Captain America” he inspires people to donate and join, but he is far from the action. During a trip to the front to inspire troops, Rogers’ Captain America persona fails to impress because many troops were recently captured or killed. Discovering that his best friend Bucky is on the missing list, Rogers enlists Carter and Stark’s help and drops into enemy territory.
Using all of his newfound strength and skill coupled with his tenacity and courage, Rogers rescues all the living soldiers and truly becomes Captain America. Seeing the value in this inspiring and very capable soldier, Colonel Philips lets Rogers form his own team, made up from key survivors from his rescue, and sends him on high priority and dangerous missions. They quickly catch wind of a mysterious Nazi scientist called Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) who is amassing power using nefarious means and forming his offshoot society called Hydra. Schmidt is an early recipient of Erskine’s formula and the side effects scarred his body and left his skull exposed and red earning himself the name The Red Skull. Captain America and his team must locate and stop The Red Skull before his plans can be completed ending with the planet under Hydra domination.