I’m torn on this one, I was never completely sold on the original ‘Captain America : The First Avenger’ back in 2011, and I would say this one is better, but it kind of smacks of contractual agreements for some of the cast and a very determined view towards Marvel’s spin-off TV series ‘Marvel : Agents of Shield’, featuring story elements aligned with both these agendas and which very much flit around the borderline between interesting and idiotic. First and foremost it is enjoyable though. We begin with Captain A (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (the enigmatic Scarlett Johansson) sent to deal with pirates that have taken the crew of a large military vessel hostage, and the info they retrieve there will lead them and Shield onto a much larger and far reaching plot.
The action sequences throughout the film have clearly had a lot of thought and effort put into them, but some are marred by a jerky aspect to the motion of the camera which is a shame, though a number of them are definitely heading in the right direction in terms of creating real tension, just as some of the aerial shots are obviously still playing it a little safe but do create a bit of vertigo in the audience. The superhero genre still has the fundamental problem of avoiding the trope of good guy and bad guy duel it out in the end and good guy wins because either he has the moral high ground or he is smarter than the bad guy, with the occasional flourish of bad buy squishes someone the good guy cares about in the process, and here there are still too many moments of the hero achieving something at the last possible second etc.etc. and of all the Marvel superheroes Captain America probably has the least appeal outside of the States, partly because of the inherent jingoism, which to be fair they have done a good job of keeping to a minimum, but also in a general sense as his powers are in many ways comparatively less interesting, so his personality really has to shine through and the story really has to bite.
It is in this sense that the film doesn’t work so well, even for a souped-up soldier some of what he achieves is too over the top and the most off-putting aspect is when Fury (Samuel L Jackson) shows him early on the new airborne defences that Shield have been constructing and we hear C.A. moan about how unethical it all is, much like he’s done in the past, but it just doesn’t work. Earth has just been invaded by aliens who were narrowly prevented from annihilating everything (see ‘Avengers Assemble’ 2012), it would be ludicrous for every government in the world not to be working on new defence measures, but he could quite easily have approached the same moral perspective from a more believable angle, perhaps worrying about safeguards and things like that. As a supposed strategic genius he himself should really have been coming up with plans for national and international security, rather than just still being on the frontline for the military.
The camaraderie between Black Widow and C.A. is a bit stilted, and despite the wonderful character and the actress playing her, I wonder if she isn’t a bit too cutesy for a deadly assassin, but then Marvel are owned by Disney. As a curious aside, the take down she performs in ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010) where she wraps her legs around her opponent’s neck and then uses her body weight to bring him to the ground has been aped by films countless times since then, but I believe that was where the trend began.
Ultimately worth going to see but with a few provisos regarding believability, and as usual there are two end credit sequences to wait for, and if my suspicions are correct it looks like one of these scenes introduces two characters (Stephen Strange is also mentioned during the film, incidentally) who are the offspring of another Marvel character currently owned by a different studio …
Interestingly, here is the symbol of the bad guys in the first film, Hydra, compared to a coin originating in Eretria (the ancient Greek city, not modern day Eritrea in Africa) circa 500 BC