Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger ★★★★★

I think this one is the hidden masterpiece of the First Phase that deserves much more credit for the Avengers movies working because they figured out how to tell a WWII traditional Americana hero tale with all the fun aw shucks elements of a traditional Saturday matinee film, but also created a character who could have a story in the future---just as millions of people also lived into the 21st century after WWII. Like my Mom.

Is it Flag-Wavey, patriotic, and hokey? Of Course! But barely more so than Casablanca, which actually played in this same era. But that was exactly the impulse that caused them to create Cap: and when Dr. Seuss, Frank Capra, and Marvel all join in the war effort, that's just being true to the time.

The real heroes here, though, are Markus and McFeeley for the clever and intricate script that got overlooked by fans who just wanted more mindless battles: this film is loaded with layered references and classic setups, payoffs, and parallel action: we see both the Nazi/Hydra guys and the Americans with Howard Stark working to apply technology to create a Super Soldier to win the war--which is accurate: Dubya Bush's grandfather put money into Nazi technology until the US entered the war, so this is very much what happened.

And the hagiography of creating such a Star Spangled Man without making us hate him is solid work: he's selfless, kind, and brave, but because he was such a runt with no idea how to talk to a girl, we can't help but love him.

That Markus and McFeeley could figure out how to basically use Cap as a companion piece to Tony Stark to tell the arc of both lives--the honest, selfless boy from Brooklyn transformed like Frankenstein but good, and the rich Howard Hughes-type who's selfish, rich and loud makes the Avengers and all connected films work.