Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One Rewatch: Captain America: The First Avenger

Back on the old site, I wrote a few articles following a rewatch of the Marvel Cinamatic Universe. Here are those articles again.

Title: Captain America: The First Avenger

Director: Joe Johnston

Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Characters created by: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

US Release Date: July 22, 2011

Budget: $140,000,000

Worldwide Box office: $370,600,000

Returning characters: Howard Stark, Nick Fury

Summary: In the present day, scientists in the Arctic uncover a frozen circular object with a red, white, and blue motif in the cockpit of a derelict aircraft. In March 1942, Nazi Johann Schmidt and his men enter the town of Tønsberg, to steal a mysterious relic called the Tesseract, which possesses untold powers.


Meanwhile, in New York, Steve Rogers is rejected for World War II military recruitment because of various health and physical problems. While attending an exhibition of future technologies with his friend Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes, Rogers again attempts to enlist. Overhearing Rogers’ conversation with Barnes, Dr. Abraham Erskine allows Rogers to enlist.


He is recruited into the Strategic Scientific Reserve as part of a “super-soldier” experiment under Erskine, Col. Chester Phillips, and British agent Peggy Carter. Phillips is unconvinced by Erskine’s claims that Rogers is the right person for the procedure but relents after seeing Rogers commit an act of self-sacrificing bravery. The night before the treatment, Erskine reveals to Rogers that Schmidt underwent an imperfect version of the procedure and suffered permanent side-effects. Back in Europe, Schmidt and Dr. Arnim Zola harness the energies of the Tesseract, intending to use the power to fuel Zola’s inventions, mounting an offensive that will change the world. Schmidt discovers Erskine’s location and dispatches an assassin to kill him.


In the U.S., Erskine subjects Rogers to the super-soldier treatment, injecting him with a special serum and dosing him with “vita-rays”. After Rogers emerges from the experiment taller and more muscular, one of the attendees kills Erskine, revealing himself to be Schmidt’s assassin, Heinz Kruger. Rogers pursues and captures Kruger, but the assassin avoids interrogation by committing suicide by cyanide capsule.


With Erskine dead and his super-soldier formula lost, U.S. Senator Brandt has Rogers tour the nation in a colorful costume as “Captain America” to promote war bonds, rather than allow scientists to study him and attempt to rediscover the formula. In 1943, while on tour in Italy performing for active servicemen, Rogers learns that Barnes’s unit was MIA in a battle against Schmidt’s forces. Refusing to believe that Barnes is dead, Rogers has Carter and engineer Howard Stark fly him behind enemy lines to mount a solo rescue attempt. Rogers infiltrates the fortress of Schmidt’s Hydra organization, freeing Barnes and the other prisoners. Rogers confronts Schmidt, who removes his mask, revealing a red, skull-like face. Schmidt escapes and Rogers returns to base with the freed soldiers.


Rogers recruits Barnes, Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Jim Morita, James Montgomery Falsworth, and Jacques Dernier to attack other known Hydra bases. Stark outfits Rogers with advanced equipment, most notably a circular shield made of Vibranium, a rare, nearly indestructible metal. Rogers and his team sabotage various Hydra operations. The team later assaults a train carrying Zola. Rogers and Jones succeed in capturing Zola, but Barnes falls from the train to his assumed death.


Using information extracted from Zola, the final Hydra stronghold is located, and Rogers leads an attack to stop Schmidt from using weapons of mass destruction on American cities and soon other major cities across the globe. Rogers climbs aboard Schmidt’s aircraft as it takes off. During the fight, the Tesseract’s container is damaged. Schmidt physically handles the Tesseract, causing him to dissolve in a bright light. The Tesseract falls to the floor, burning through the plane and falling to Earth. Seeing no way to land the plane without the risk of detonating its weapons, Rogers crashes it in the Arctic. Stark later recovers the Tesseract from the ocean floor but is unable to locate Rogers or the aircraft, presuming him dead.


Rogers awakens in a 1940s-style hospital room. Deducing from familiar baseball game that something is wrong, he flees outside and finds himself in present-day Times Square, where S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury informs him he has been “asleep” for nearly 70 years.

MCU Continuity Nods: At the Expo, Howard Stark demonstrates his semi-functional “Reversion” technology. It’s an obvious precursor to Tony Stark’s “Repulsors”, perfected for his Iron Man armor. They both even have an orange glow when functioning. The wall art hiding the Tesseract at the beginning of the film shows the World Tree, the same concept design that Thor shares with Jane Foster in Thor. The village is the same village that the Frost giants attacked. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Kenneth Choi plays the son of the character he plays in this film.

Easter Eggs: In the exhibition, there is a mannequin in a red jumpsuit under a glass dome. That is a reference to the android, the original Human Torch, the first superhero created by Timely Comics (October 1939), which eventually became Marvel Comics. The Captain America comic book shown in the movies bears the cover of the actual Captain America #1 released in 1941.

Stan Lee Cameo: A general in the Army. Although Lee didn’t create Cap, he wrote a lot of his stories in both the Golden and Silver Age


Infinity Stone: The Tesseract

Post/mid Credits Scene: Fury approaches Rogers, proposing a mission with worldwide ramifications.

My Take: The whole tone of this film is wonderful. First of all, I love the musical number, which was incredibly entertaining. I loved seeing Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos, and the choice to change Bucky from a teen sidekick to a contemporary makes much more sense.

Captain-America-image-5This is one of the best casts of the films: Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Dominic West, Neal McDonough… and can we talk about Hayley Atwell? Not only is she an ass kicker, but stunning as well. No wonder they gave her her own series.


Of course the heart of the film is Chris Evans. Taking the time to show him in his scrawny state (a wonderful special effect) gives us a chance to see the good man underneath the muscle. The scene where Steve jumps on the grenade comes to mind. It also shows the contrast to his body post procedure. This really is one of my favorites.

Next: The Avengers