Lens & Reel
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Lens & Reel

Captain America: The Heart Of Marvel

After 10 years, the ‘Star-Spangled Man’ is still my favorite

Credit: Paramount Pictures, Marvel Entertainment and Marvel Studios

When the “Star-Spangled Man” was first making his way to the big screen, I was super excited — a Marvel historical piece? Yes, please!

But my prior experiences with Chris Evans were limited to The Perfect Score (2004) and The Fantastic Four (2005).

Now, as much as I enjoy his turn as Johnny Storm, it hardly screams “Captain America!”

But luckily enough for the world, Evans’ acting abilities are far ranging — as anyone who has seen him in Knives Out (2019) can attest — and he managed to fully embody Steve Rogers for nearly a decade.

With the 10th anniversary of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) arriving this month, I decided it was the perfect time for a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) rewatch — in-universe timeline order, of course.

For those uninitiated into the world of the MCU, when The First Avenger begins, it’s 1941 and America is at war. Steve Rogers is a very small asthmatic who has been disqualified after five different attempts to enlist.

He ends up in a secret government program to create a new breed of super soldiers.

After his lifelong best friend, Bucky, is captured behind enemy lines, Rogers must become Captain America in more than just name.

This movie is all about heart — more to the point, having a good heart, which is ultimately what makes Steve Rogers so great. He doesn’t believe that he is special — he’s just a regular guy from Brooklyn. All he wants is to be able to do his part for his country, no matter the cost to him.

Rogers thus stands in stark contrast to Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), whose decisions are always reactive and self fueled. Even Rogers’ relationships with those around him are different, mainly the relationship he shares with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan).

Then there is Peggy Carter, a whip smart, badass agent in the British Special Air Service. While other men see her as just a “dame,” Steve sees her for who she is, probably because he has been discounted so many times himself.

Marvel got it right when they picked Joe Johnson to direct The First Avenger. He has dedicated his life to making films about the “everyman,” from October Sky (1999) to The Rocketeer (1991) to Jumanji (1995).

His movies all capture regular guys in extraordinary situations. The fact that many of his films also capture particular historical eras made this a perfect pairing.

Cinematographer Shelly Johnson worked with Joe previously on Jurassic Park III (2001) and Hidalgo (2004), and seems to understand his vision well.

The color palette perfectly embodies the era, too, helping to create a rich world for viewers.

Add to all this Alan Silvestri’s (Forrest Gump, 1994) amazing compositions and you have an utterly captivating movie experience that, yes, is also a superhero blockbuster.

So often the Marvel movies are discounted as just that, or they are thought of as nothing more than popcorn action films. But they are so much more.

They are about character, heart and saving the world even when it would be easier to just walk away. And there isn’t a superhero in any comic book pantheon who embodies those principles more than Steve Rogers’ Captain America.

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Kayleigh Lawson

Kayleigh Lawson

Midwest writer. Lifelong Cinephile. Lapsed journalist.