Saturday, July 23, 2011

3 Missteps in the Captain America movie

Halfway through the new Captain America movie, I leaned over and whispered to Emma, "This is the best movie ever."

I was eight when Captain America was brought into the Marvel Age in Avengers #4. I imprinted immediately. Captain America was and is my favorite superhero. There are a lot of reasons I love him, but as an adult, my best explanation is this: Captain America is the perfect socialist superhero. He wanted to do good, and the government helped him achieve his dreams.

Loving the character makes me either the movie’s easiest or hardest critic. Either way, I caught three missteps that weakened the second half. If you don’t know the Captain’s history, be warned: there are spoilers in what follows. If you know it, relax. For this fanboy, the movie’s greatest strength is that it follows the outline that Lee and Kirby provided and improves on nearly every detail.

  • Bucky dies too soon.
I can’t help but wonder if the director was seduced by having Tommy Lee Jones and therefore put him in a scene that should’ve been Bucky’s.

How it should’ve gone: In the capture of Zola, Bucky should almost fall to his death, and Cap saves him. Then, at the end, the three people in the car pursuing the Red Skull’s airship are Peggy, Bucky, and Cap. Cap makes the leap. Bucky jumps, is shot in midair by the Red Skull, and falls to his death.

  • Peggy does not appear at the end.
How it should’ve gone: In her home or nursing home, the 90-something-year-old Peggy should see Cap, then, after a long beat, say, “You’re late.” He says something self-deprecating and gently takes her into his arms. As the closing music plays, they dance.

Done right, there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house. Yes, that's an unusual ending for an adventure movie, but on the long list of things people forget is that great adventure movies have emotionally complex resolutions. Casablanca, anyone?

  • When the credits roll, the propaganda posters are a mistake.
What Cap lost by being frozen for 70 years wasn’t propaganda. He states early on that he doesn’t want to kill Nazis, he wants to stop bullies. The images should’ve been the things he loved about life in the 1940s, the milk man on his route, the dance clubs, the children playing in the streets, etc.

Captain America is a smarter movie than it needs to be. I knew that when I heard this tossed-off line: “The first country the Nazis invaded was their own.” It could’ve been even better, but this fanboy is content.

My advice: If you're tempted, go. If superheroes just seem silly to you, don't.