Today In Superhero Movie History: Chris Evans Made His MCU Debut In CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Nine years ago today, Captain America: The First Avenger premiered in theaters, and we're now looking back at the legacy of Chris Evans' first appearance as Steve Rogers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
If you're a long-time member of the ComicBookMovie.com community, you'll no doubt remember the insane amount of speculation that surrounded who should play Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jensen Ackles, John Krasinski, and Jon Hamm were all names thrown around at the time, but no one could have ever predicted that Fantastic Four star Chris Evans would end up being chosen by Marvel Studios to play the Star Spangled Avenger. Almost immediately, fans were on board with the idea, and while set photos received a mixed response (that Captain America costume really didn't look great at first), the first look at the movie was well-received and anticipation quickly began to grow.
Captain America certainly hadn't had an easy journey to the big screen, with production first beginning in 1997 before lawsuits derailed those early plans. In 2005, Marvel Studios received a loan from Merrill Lynch and started planning out a movie they would release through Paramount Pictures (this was obviously before Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment). Eventually, The Empire Strikes Back visual effects artist and Jumanji director Joe Johnston was chosen by Kevin Feige to take the helm of the blockbuster, and his history with both Star Wars and franchises like The Rocketeer and Indiana Jones clearly made him an appealing prospect.
The then mostly unknown Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were tasked with penning the screenplay (that later received some minor changes from Joss Whedon after he signed up to direct The Avengers), and production took place across the globe in locations like London, Liverpool, Caerwent, and Los Angeles. There were rumblings online that Marvel Studios was considering dropped "Captain America" from the title altogether due to how America was perceived by some countries at the time, but they went with Captain America: The First Avenger, a fitting title that just so happened to tease a certain superhero ensemble coming out the following year. The movie would arrive in theaters on July 22nd, 2011, exceeding expectations with over $370 million worldwide, and a solid 80% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
As well as utilising groundbreaking technology to turn Chris Evans into the skinny, sickly Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger definitely did the Red Skull justice, and even gave the hero his classic costume in what's proved to be an unforgettable sequence involving the USO. By this point, Marvel Studios had brought an Armoured Avenger and God of Thunder to the big screen, but not everyone was convinced they could make a movie revolving around a character called "Captain America." It might have helped that it took place in a grounded, yet distinctly Marvel-ised version of World War II, though subbing out the Nazis for HYDRA did water it down a little.
Regardless, the movie worked, and much of the credit should go to Evans for that. His earnest performance as Steve Rogers made him an instant hit with fans. He was incredibly likeable, most definitely the "good man" Abraham Erskine wanted to find for the Super Soldier Serum, and someone it was definitely easy to root for. It's no wonder he became an instant favourite, and someone Marvel Studios would go on to build their entire cinematic universe around. Of course, Captain America: The First Avenger wasn't perfect (the Howling Commandos and Bucky were massively underserved), but it remains one of Marvel Studios' best origin stories, and a perfect introduction to Cap.