90 Year Old Virgin: Captain America, The First Avenger (2011)

Posted by Charles Reece, July 24, 2011 11:47pm | Post a Comment

Joe Johnston's Cap is a symbol of America, but more of our foreign policy than domestic issues:

As Steve Rogers, he starts off small and frail ("a 90 pound asthmatic"), but unwilling to back down from bullies. One pummels him in the alley, but he just keeps getting up to be hit again until his virile buddy Bucky Barnes chases the bully off. Adolf Hitler is a bully, and Steve won't back down from him, either, nor should America. Thus, America is never the bully, only the bullied or the defender of the weak from the bullies.

Steve might be weak, but what's really important to his status as a hero is his heart and soul. Not just anyone could've been made into the superhero Captain America through the injection of the super-serum formula. It took someone with a truly good heart, intrinsically anti-bully, to wield all that superpower in the correct, moral direction. The Red Skull was injected with the same formula, but look how ugly he turned out. That is, America is a benevolent superpower (and better looking than our enemies), intrinsically deserving of our power over others, since it's not our nature to use force wantonly.

Steve repeatedly lies, but only for a just cause, to get himself in the military to serve his country and vanquish evil. Despite his 4-F status, he's sure that his country needs him to fight as a man, not as a scientist or with some other skill set that doesn't involve muscle. Dr. Abraham Erskine, the German inventor of the formula, recognizes the determination of Steve in his willingness to lie for a just cause and enters him into the super soldier program. Realpolitik might make lies necessary, but that's not a problem as long as you remain true to yourself and your cause is just. We lie for good reasons, our ends are justified, and we are necessary for those ends to be realized. When the time comes, we'll jump on the grenade to protect you.

Finally, Cap is pure and innocent. He's never had sex. Even when he's on a double-date with Bucky, all he really cares about is being able to fight. The girls will recognize his greatness once he's proven himself on the battlefield. And they do begin to recognize his sex appeal after he's rescued 400 soldiers from Hydra. The scientifically altered pecs probably don't hurt, either. Yet, he gets frozen before trying out his least utilized super-enhancement and wakes up 70 years later still a virgin. The others (women, foreigners) will recognize our rectitude in time, receptive of our truth. The film reassures us that this acceptance isn't purely a matter of power: the British agent Peggy Carter begins to fall for Steve even before he gets transformed, right around the time he falls on the aforementioned grenade.

Captain America is about as incompetent as big budget films get. Working for the Nazis (although there's barely a mention of them and no swastikas in sight), the Red Skull (never named that, just Johann Schmidt) is attempting to do something with the cosmic cube (again, never called that), such as powering a bunch of laser rifles that aren't any more effective than our boys and their rifles. He also plans on sending many airplanes that look like bombs to a bunch of the major cities in the States (which we know because they're labeled). Along the way he captures the Howling Commandos (never named) and tortures Bucky for no reason other than to give Cap something to do (how he knows where they're imprisoned is never explained). The action, when it occurs, is on a par with Chuck NorrisDelta Force. After waiting and waiting for Cap in costume, the majority of the fighting is told in a montage sequence to be filled in at a later date (i.e., flashback sequences in the sequels). You'd think that the one thing the special effects team could get right with CGI is the throwing of the shield, but mostly it flies off screen and re-enters as Cap captures it over his head -- Johnston isn't much for framing anything more than the characters on the screen. Thor throws his hammer, Hulk smashes, Iron Man flies and shoots out beams -- how hard is that to grasp? That's primary, everything else is just icing.

Probably the best thing about the film was the trailer for the new Spider-Man movie, which is a great example of the first person camera eye, which should only be enhanced by 3D.

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Joe Johnston (1), Captain America: The First Avenger (2), Captain America (3)