The Road To AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Part V: Joe Johnston’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

The Road To AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Part V: Joe Johnston’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

The First Avenger was the last movie on the road to the ultimate culmination, Whedon's The Avengers, but also a production that proved how important it is to start a new series with the right approach...

Captain America: The First Avenger was the second Marvel Studios’ movie released in 2011. After Thor’s critical and box office success, the Joe Johnston-directed movie had to not only live up to the high expectations, but also create and place the final puzzle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s jigsaw.

Just like Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk, Captain America was a reboot of a troubled, rightfully forgotten franchise which gave the world some of the worst superhero movies of all time. Before we’ll take a closer look at the movie that tried to take Marvel to new heights, let’s focus on the previous Captain America productions that many fans tried to erase from the reality for good reason…

THE STAR SPANGLED MAN WITH THE PLAN 

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The first Captain America serial film was released just three years after his debut in 1941. The series was loosely based on the comics published by Timely, known today as Marvel, Comics. Captain was made by and for Republic Pictures Corporation. In 1944, it held the title of the most expensive serial in the channel’s history. Interestingly enough, Captain was the first theatrical Marvel release.

The serial was filmed and released in the midst of the World War II, but Captain America didn’t feature Nazis or Hitler. Captain America wasn’t even set in Europe, he wasn't Steve Rogers or a soldier. There was no shield, no origin story, no Bucky, Cap’s best friend. Republic’s Captain America was named Grant Gardner who worked as a district attorney fighting the Scarab, your typical TV villain.

Directed by Elmer Clifton and John English series has lasted for fifteen chapters. Captain America wouldn’t return to television for more than thirty years.

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In 1979, Captain America has returned thanks to Universal Television. That year, the movie also received a sequel, Captain America II: Death Too Soon which was aired on CBS in two one-hour slots. Both movies were critically panned and quickly became flicks "you watch when you just need a laugh."

For the fiftieth anniversary of Captain America, 21st Century Film Corporation was planning to release another movie with the "Star Spangled" character. After two years of production troubles, the movie debuted in the direct-to-video form and on cable television only in the US in the summer of 1992. Albert Pyun achieved the impossible, and successfully made the worst Captain America movie.

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It seemed that the franchise and Captain’s career on the big screen were dead. But Marvel has decided to give the character one more chance, hoping that this time the movie wouldn’t sink like Bismarck.

In April 1997, Marvel revealed their plans to hopefully repeat DC's cinematic successes. At the time, Universal hired Jumanji director Joe Johnston and screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh (The Punisher) for The Incredible Hulk. In an ocean of greenlighted movies, Marvel also found time to enter negotiations with Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn (Saving Private Ryan) to produce another Captain America.

In May 2000, Artisan Entertainment and Marvel Enterprises have joined forces to turn at least fifteen Marvel superhero franchises into live-action features, TV series, direct-to-video films and internet projects. Former president and CEO of Marvel Studios Avi Arad told Variety that “There will be a huge upside for Marvel on the deals, and the Marvel brand names gives us a head start because with a project like Captain America, there is a brand awareness of probably 75%.”
 
In September 2003, Joe Simon, who created Captain America with Jack Kirby, settled a dispute with Marvel Comics in order to gain control of the copyrights. Their conflict was disrupting the development process of the film, obviously. “Captain America ranks as one of the most recognizable Super Heroes in the world, who can stand quite firmly alongside Marvel’s biggest name – Spider-Man,” stated Allen Lipson, former Marvel Enterprises CEO. “Now, with the legal issue behind us, we can fully explore the deep value that this property brings to the Marvel Universe.”

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Two years later, Marvel arranged a seven-year "$525 million revolving" credit facility with Merrill Lynch Commercial Finance Corp. The deal was secured against the movie rights to ten comic-book characters, including Captain America. Lynch’s credit allowed Marvel Studios to independently produce up to ten films and Paramount Pictures agreed to distribute potential movies.

Paramount also wasn’t putting up any production money, instead he distributor has received a fee for marketing and distributing the movies. To ensure the potential success, none of the movies would be rated R. Captain America and Nick Fury were among the first superheroes headed for the silver screen as both movies were heading for a summer 2008 release date.
 
Right before the debut of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, MTV had a chance to chat with Arad about his marvelous plans for Fantastic Four and other characters, including Steve Rogers: "Captain America is the most famous character out there, by name. The biggest opportunity with him is as a man 'out of time,' coming back today — looking at our world through the eyes of someone who thought the perfect world was small-town America. Sixty years go by, and who are we today? Are we better? Within, obviously, a kick-a** plot and all the stuff that you've come to expect from a superhero movieI have a writer," Arad said. "And I have someone in mind to be the star, and I definitely have someone in mind to be the director. This script is going to take a little bit of time, because it has to be a masterpiece. It's 'Back to the Future' kind of stuff."
 
THOR
 
Interviewed by SuperHeroHype, Iron Man director Jon Favreau revealed that he asked Arad about helming Captain America long before Marvel Studios was formed. “That was the one I was interested in, because I thought there were a lot of comedic possibilities with a guy who got frozen and then turned around and now is fighting for America. "Iron Man" has always been the flipside of "Captain America," representing maybe more pragmatic, darker aspects of America,” the director concluded.
 
As part of a wider announcement from Marvel, Arad revealed that scribe David Self (Thirteen Days, Road to Perdition) has been tapped to pen the long-awaited feature version of Captain America. Self was no stranger to Marvel, as he worked on adaptations of Namor, the Sub-Mariner for Universal, and Deathlok for Paramount. According to the screenwriter, "Captain America was my favorite superhero as a little kid because my dad told me I could one day be Captain America."
 
After Favreau's Iron Man and Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk, Marvel's next priority was Captain America. Arad hoped to release the movie in 2009.
 
On the set of Favreau’s Iron Man, the president of production at Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige said: "We'll have to play with Captain America as being a patriotic propaganda machine on one hand but also being a very human Steve Rogers, ... [an] interesting, fascinating hero in his own right.” Marvel's future projects also included Sub-Mariner, Punisher 2, Thor and Wolverine, followed by Magneto.
 
According to Devin Faraci, Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, Yellow) who was supposed to direct Iron Man in early 2000, was thinking about directing the Captain America movie. Marvel was also getting along with Favreau pretty well and he one of their favorites to bring Rogers on the big screen.

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A year later, Zak Penn, who was one of the architects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, told ComicMix that he has been attached to write the stories for Captain America and X-Men: First Class for Fox. 
 
With Captain America being set to debut on May 6, 2011, many outlets have been wondering who would play Steve Rogers in the upcoming movie. According to Cinema Blend’s source, Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, True Detective) was a contender for the role, but Feige quickly debunked the rumor. The actor joked with MTV about the whole situation and said that he didn’t know about the casting: “I was?” he asked, adding that he “wasn’t a big comic book reader, but that’s a super cool name — Captain America.”
 
ComicBookMovie's own source revealed that Marvel would use The Incredible Hulk to set up the Captain America storyline. As we know, Leterrier’s movie introduced the Super Soldier Serum, which botched variation Emil Blonsky got injected with and ultimately changed into the Abomination. A quick scene featuring frozen Captain in the Arctic was also filmed, but Leterrier decided to cut it from the theatrical version of the movie. 
 
The Latino Review crew broke the news that Marvel has wanted Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Revenant) and he was their first name choice to play Steve Rogers. Yes, it’s the same team responsible for the "Brad Pitt is definitely playing Thor" rumor. 
 
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During the press tour for Nolan's The Dark Knight, Two-Face actor, Aaron Eckhart revealed that he would love to play Captain America or Green Lantern.
 
With no casting decisions announced, Marvel was put in a tough position. Actor Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher, Catch a Fire) told MTV: “I heard they offered Will Smith ‘Captain America,’” said Luke, adding that the intriguing casting rumor “just shows you how times have changed.” Stan Lee also had a few words to say about the rumors: “I would love us to do something with Will Smith. It would be a real leap to make Captain America black…then again, I don’t know,” Lee told Moviefone. “It might be a really smart thing. If Barack Obama becomes president, who knows… suddenly a lot of our characters will be black.”
 
On November 10th, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Marvel Studios has found a director for their Captain America movie, Joe Johnston. His career began in Industrial Light & Magic where he had a chance to work at the VFX of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi. His portfolio as a director includes Jumanji, The Rocketeer, October Sky, Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo and Universal's remake of The Wolfman. You may recall that he was supposed to direct the first Hulk movie, but the deal didn’t work out for him and the movie was ultimately helmed by Ang Lee.
 
Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter, Feige said "This is a guy who designed the vehicles for 'Star Wars,' who storyboarded the convoy action sequence for 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' " Feige added. "From 'Rocketeer' to 'October Sky' to 'The Wolfman,' you can look at pieces of his movies and see how they lead to this one." Doubtlessly, The Rocketeer was the biggest influence for Cap.

CAPTAIN AMERICA
 
Before the end of December 2008, Marvel announced that Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely would replace David Self as screenwriters of Captain America. The duo has previously penned together scripts for The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, You Kill Me, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
 
Captain America: Reborn Writer Ed Brubaker (Batman: Gotham Knights, X-Men: Deadly Genesis) kicked off 2009 with a revelation that he would be consulting on Cap’s journey on the big screen. “I've seen the preliminary stuff for the movie, a year or so ago before (Marvel) hired the new screenwriter and director,” Brubaker stated. “I know Kevin Feige was talking about bringing me in when they put together the ‘Captain America’ brain trust for the movie, like they did for ‘Iron Man’ with Matt Fraction and (Brian) Bendis.”
 
During the Comic Con 2009, Feige explained how the story of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers would differ:
 
Captain America is really the story of Steve Rogers, like Peter Parker, like Bruce Banner, like Tony Stark. By the way, Tony Stark is about as jingoistic a guy there is. He’s always talking about America, what’s right for America, making weapons to go to war with the rest of the world with and [Iron Man] did extremely well overseas because his story was engaging. This movie is Steve Rogers’ origin story, and I think it is our burden to make him as appealing as any of our other characters. He’s not just the perfect boy scout who follows order every time. He has ideals he wants to live up to.”
 
The LA Times visited the Clash of the Titans set and used this opportunity to ask director Louis Leterrier about his partnership with Marvel: “I talked to Marvel about “Thor” at one point but I didn’t want to do Thor. It wasn’t something I read growing up, really, it wasn’t one of the books I loved. Now the new stuff, the [J. Michael] Straczynski stuff, that is great. But before you get to that you have to go back to the old stuff, the genesis and that’s not what I wanted to do. Captain America I love and that would be great but, c’mon, a Frenchman doing Captain America? They would burn my passport.”
 
CAPTAIN AMERICA

In an interview with Moviefone, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (The Fate of the Furious, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) expressed his interest in playing the lead roles of both DC's Shazam! and Marvel's The First Avenger: Captain America. Warner Bros. ultimately cast him as Black Adam.
 
In the meantime, Marvel has chosen shooting names for their upcoming films, Thor's filming title was Manhattan, while Captain America's title was Frostbite. Iron Man 2's shooting title was Rasputin.
 
The Twilight series star Kellan Lutz also said that he would “love to be Captain America someday." Sadly, the majority of bloggers picked Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans) as their first choice to play Steve Rogers. The actor asked if the rumors had anything to do with his wanting the role, said: "I know, the bloggers are going bananas, I'm a fan, man. I'm a big fan. And I've always said, if you're going to wear a shirt on a blog or the TV, wear something you're interested in. I'm not a billboard, so I'm going to wear something that I'm intrigued by. I'm a big Captain America fan."
 
Derek Theler (Baby Daddy, Shark Killer) revealed on his tweeter that he also auditioned for the role of Steve Rogers: “Ok friends, time to send me good vibes. If you know anything about me, then you know what I want to do with my life, and tomorrow is my shot.
 
You would think that after three terrible movies, nobody would like to play Captain, but in 2010 almost every young actor working in Hollywood wanted to play Rogers. Rob Buckley (Flirting with Forty, iZombie) was one of those actors. "Well, hands down I would be Captain America," he said. "Yeah, it's kind of a no contest right there,” he said to MTV. 
 
CAPTAIN AMERICA
 
Ryan McPartlin (Chuck, J. Edgar) also jumped on the bandwagon and spoke briefly about auditioning for the much-desired role: "The one thing I can't stand are these actors that are twittering about auditioning for Captain America. It's really tacky. With that said, it is in the casting process and like many other actors, I read for it, so we'll wait and see what happens. Regardless, I'm pretty psyched to be Captain Awesome for the time being.”
 
At The Wolfman press conference, Johnston was asked about the state of his Captain America. The director confirmed that Marvel was casting an American to play the title role (sorry, Sam) and the casting decisions needed to be done by March 1st. He also said that he was going to shoot the movie in a different way than any of the other Marvel pictures. Regarding casting a movie star to play Captain America, Johnston said that he wanted to discover an unknown and surround him with more prominent names. He also revealed that Red Skull would be the main villain. 
 
According to BigShinyRobot, their reliable source in the Paramount/Marvel confirmed that the studio was indeed only considering unknowns/television actors to portray Captain America on the big screen. The top three contenders were Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill), Ryan McPartlin (Chuck) and Jensen Ackles (Supernatural).
 
A few days later, CinemaSpy reported that Chris Pine (Star Trek, Hell or High Water) was apparently in the running for the role of Captain America. 

CAPTAIN AMERICA

After months (if not years) of speculation, Deadline’s sources revealed the names of actors who were in the official run for playing Captain America: "Marvel Studios and director Joe Johnston are ready to test candidates for Captain America, and I’ve got their wish list. I’m told that the contenders include Chace Crawford, John Krasinski, Scott Porter, Mike Vogel and Michael Cassidy. They also wanted Garrett Hedlund, but he so far hasn’t made a test deal."
 
February ended for the Marvel team with an announcement that the director decided to leave the project after an information that Captain America’s budget was too high and Johnston would have to take a cut in pay. According to Deadline, the two sides came to some kind of agreement and he has returned to the film.
 
With no announcements regarding Steve Rogers, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Marvel has found their Red Skull, Hugo Weaving (Matrix, the Lord of the Rings series).

CAPTAIN AMERICA
 
Johnston has been slowly assembling his team for Captain America and managed to persuade Marvel to hire cinematographer Rick Heinrichs (who won an Oscar for Sleepy Hollow) as his production designer with Shelly Johnson (Jurassic Park III, The Wolfman) filming the movie. 

Unhappy with the contenders, Marvel called Canning Tatum (22 Jump Street, Logan Lucky) to read for Captain America. He wasn’t the only new addition to the undergoing casting, as Cloverfield's Mike Vogel and Tron Legacy's Garrett Hedlund, Generation Kill's Wilson Bethel and most importantly, Fantastic Four's Chris Evans joined the contest. 
 
In the meantime, THR reported that Keira Knightly (Pride & Prejudice, The Imitation Game) was approached by Marvel to star in the movie. It was believed that she might portray Rogers' love interest, Margaret „Peggy” Carter. Deadline also posted names of two other actresses that auditioned for the role, Alice Eve (She's Out of My League) and ex-Black Widow Emily Blunt (The Wolfman).
 
In a quick Captain America update from Entertainment Weekly, they gave away a name that has never been mentioned before, Romanian-born actor Sebastian Stan (The Covenant). In March 2010, the long list of contenders to play Cap has narrowed to three: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan and Channing Tatum.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

That very day, THR reported that Marvel has offered the role of Captain America to Chris Evans. Interestingly enough, the actor was one of the contenders, but he didn’t screen test. In another update, Deadline added that Chris was indeed offered the role, but the testing process had continued, due to Chris being "conflicted" with playing another superhero role after Fantastic Four.
 
On March 22nd, THR finally announced that Chris Evans has accepted the role of Steve Rogers in Captain America, The Avengers and future Marvel projects. Ed Brubaker commented on the casting decision via twitter: "If Chris Evans actually has the role, I'm good with that. He was easily the best thing in the FF movies and he's been amazing in some others.” Samuel L. Jackson said that "Evans is the right guy. Not a problem. They seem to be making great steps in the right direction to make all these films happen in the right way. So I'm looking forward to going to London and meeting Captain."
 
Next month, Sebastian Stan joined The First Avenger: Captain America as Bucky Barnes. Marvel finally decided to confirm the first casting decisions and released the synopsis: "The First Avenger: Captain America" will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America."

Tommy Lee Jones (JFK, Lincoln) was also confirmed as part of the movie's expanding cast, playing Colonel Chester Phillips.
 
In the meantime, Emily Blunt said no to another role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The rumor says that she dropped because of Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. She had her eye set on playing Selina Kyle, but the role ultimately went to Anne Hathaway.

During a press conference for The Losers at San Francisco's WonderCon, Evans explained why he agreed to play the iconic character: "I think Marvel is doing a lot of good things right now. It's a fun character. Even if it wasn't a comic book. I think the story of Steve Rogers is great. He's a great guy. Even if it was just a script about anybody, I'd probably want to do it. He's a great character to play. He just happens to be a comic-book hero, too, and that's where I'm coming from." Asked about his co-star, Sebastian Stan, Evans responded: "I actually don't know him. I've never met him."

CAPTAIN AMERICA

After Blunt’s departure, the casting for Peggy Carter was narrowed to two actresses, Alice Eve and newcomer Hayley Atwell (The Duchess, The Pillars of the Earth). Shortly after the Deadline report, Marvel announced they have found the actress who will play Captain America's love interest in Joe Johnston's big screen adaptation, Hayley Atwell.
 
According to Pajiba, The Avengers director Joss Whedon was not only rewriting the script for his movie, but also The First Avenger.  "Whedon’s role in the Marvel film universe may expand even further, as he’s also likely to be tasked with doing a polish on the Captain America script,” the report reads.

ScreenStar had a rare opportunity to chat with Evans during the promotional campaign for The Losers and asked his about the responsibility of playing the beloved hero:

"It is a big responsibility. I'm a little scared, to be honest. I'd be lying if I said anything else, and I have no problem being honest about that. It's intimidating. It's a big responsibility and you want to do your best work. I'm not quite sure what else to say. It was a challenging process for me, trying to decide whether or not to do it. I came down on the side of going for it because I really think Marvel is doing some great things these days, the script is great and it's going to be a fun character to play. He's a wonderful character, just as a man, aside from the comic hero background. If it was just a story about the man, Steve Rogers, I'd be really interested. He's an incredibly noble, honest, selfless man, and those are qualities that I think people can aspire to and look up to."

The actor also said that signing for the multi-picture project caused “a couple of sleepless nights [...] I'm going for it and I'm not looking back. I'm trying to just stay positive and focus on the fact that it could be a great thing. It really could be, it should be, and that's the way I'm looking at it.”

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In April, Kevin Feige explained MovieWeb why the studio decided to hire Evans:
 

"Yeah, I mean The Losers and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World I don't think so but frankly yeah, I didn't even consider him for a long time because of the Human Torch. I didn't purposely not consider him but he wasn't on the radar. Frankly I was watching for other reasons Sunshine again, then I was talking to Edgar Wright about him and I started to see how he is growing. By the way I thought he was great in those two Fantastic Four movies, he was a standout in those movies. I started to look at how he's grown since then. We sat down and talked in a meeting and I said, oh my God, (Steve Rogers) is sitting in front of me right now and I hadn't seen it for a long time. When we sat down and specifically started talking about Cap, yeah it was immediate. Cause Cap has a lot of size and is nothing like Johnny Storm. As you start to see more of Chris and where he is growing as an actor it's into a much more Steve Rodgers type place. He's in England now; he got on one of the first flights after the volcano nonsense went away. He's over there now prepping and rehearsing and the pictures that are coming back and the costume tests are pretty stunning."


THR was first again to report that another major role in the movie has been cast. This time, British actor Toby Jones (Frost/Nixon, Wayward Pines) joined the picture as the villainous scientist Arnim Zola. Stanley Tucci (Conspiracy, The Lovely Bones) has joined The First Avenger as Dr. Abraham Erskine responsible for the serum that turns Steve Rogers from a scrawny guy into the sentinel of liberty himself, Captain America.

Special makeup effects artist Shaune Harrison (Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) was hired to bring Weaving’s Red Skull to life via prosthetics to not rely entirely on the CGI and motion-capture. 
 
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While attending the MTV Movie Awards 2010, Neal McDonough (Boomtown, Justified) confirmed that he would be portraying the hard-knuckled Howling Commando turned S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Timothy Aloysius Cadwallader Dugan; known to comic fans simply as Dum Dum Dugan: "I'm so excited — I'm playing Dum Dum Dugan," the actor revealed to MTV News. "It's going to be a blast with Chris [Evans], Sam Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones and everyone else. It's going to be fantastic. We're going to tear it up!"
 
Captain America: The First Avenger begun production on June 28, 2010. 
 
A Disney songwriter, Dick Sherman helped John Debney who composed the Iron Man 2 soundtrack to create a specific theme for Tony Stark's father (John Slattery) during the sequence at the Stark Expo, in Iron Man 2. This theme was also included in the Captain America movie, which featured a version of Howard Stark's (Dominic Cooper) Stark Expo.
 
At the beginning of 2011, Evans revealed to Les Toiles Heroiques that he’s signed on for six movies with Marvel Studios: "To be honest it was quite intimidating and scary to commit to nine films in a row. God thank you, we reduced the number to six [3 Captain America, Avengers 3] ... (...) If all goes as planned, I embody Captain America until I was 40 years.”
 
According to Fred Van Lente, writer of the movie prequel comic Captain America: First Vengeance, The First Avenger would definitely feature Nazi Germany. “There are Nazis in the movie, I’ve read the script. It is not trying to pretend that the Nazis didn’t exist, or that World War II didn’t happen the way we all know it from history,” the writer told Newsarama.

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Alan Silvestri has signed on to compose The First Avenger. According to Film Music Reporter, Michael Giacchino and John Powell have been rumored to take the scoring assignment, but ultimately Silvestri was hired to score the movie. 
 
While comparing The First Avenger and Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark in an interview with the LA Times, Johnston mentioned that even though the movie was set in WWII, CA:TFA has a much more futuristic feel to it: “We used ‘Raiders’ as a template when we were developing the story, but we sort of moved away from it as time went on,” Johnston said. “This is futurism in the 1940s; if you went to 1942 and thought of what the future would be, that’s what the approach was. The villain has a much more futuristic style and his science and his apparatus — he has a whole design motif that is beyond 1942 but it’s what you might have perceived as futuristic from a 1942 vantage point. So we went away from the ‘Raiders’ template in that sense but where we sort of stuck with it was in the structure and the action and the way the main characters are thrown into these situations and then have to get themselves out of them.

With generally favorable reviews and a good atmosphere surrounding the movie, the fourth attempt on adapting Captain America hit theaters on July 22, 2011. In an interesting turn of events, The First Avenger opened in the US with almost exactly the same haul as Kenneth Branagh’s Thor two months before - $65 million. 

BORN TO VICTORY ON THE WINGS OF THE VALKYRIE



Out of all movies from the Phase One which have been leading to The Avengers, Captain America: The First Avenger and Iron Man 2 are the most “foreshadowing” films in their nature, but Joe Johnston’s production has one big advantage over the second chapter of Stark’s adventures – it’s constantly enjoyable and lives up to its basic premise.
 
The movie tells a simple story of a man with a strong moral compass who gets an opportunity to fight Germans. Chris Evans' Steve Rogers is quite a relatable fella with clear motivations and it’s easy to like him right from the beginning, when he’s just a skinny, weak dude who really wants to be a soldier and doesn't like bullies no matter where they came from.
 
Unlike The Incredible Hulk and Thor, the main hero has a great chemistry with a female lead and Peggy Carter played by Hayley Atwell still remains my favorite female character from the first years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She’s an incredibly warm, but also strong and focused on her job, persona and I was so happy when Marvel announced a small-screen Agent Carter series.
 
Tommy Lee Jones is fantastic in a stereotypical “tough colonel” role and has the funniest and most brilliant lines of dialogue in the movie. Overall, Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus’ script is pretty smooth and the duo have a rare talent (maybe only matched by Joss Whedon) to write believable and vivid interactions between superheroes.
 


The big villain, Weaving’s Red Skull was standing on the edge of greatness, but due to the rushed nature of the final act, lots of screaming and illogical decisions, it’s hard to not think that he’s kind of “wasted” in the role. The idea of creating a cult within a cult is fascinating and it’s unfortunate that this important part of Schmidt’s character wasn’t explored deeper.

On the other hand, I adore the short montage which shows the real world origin of Captain America. He’s a child of the army propaganda and I love that Johnston was aware of that and found a moment to feature “The Star Spangled Man” segment in the bigger narration.
 
The First Avenger also introduced the first Infinity Stone, the Tesseract, to the audience, and I don’t like it. I understand that one movie had to set up the McGuffin that would be later used in The Avengers, but the aesthetics of blue, glowing (even J.J. Abrams would be impressed with the amount of lens flares), futuristic (and uninteresting) weaponry doesn’t merge well with the grounded war story the rest of the movie tries to tell. The First Avenger wants to be as adventures and charming as Johnston’s other movie, The Rocketeer but it sadly falls short.
 


Also, the Tesseract is known as the space stone. It’s a pretty powerful artifact (stolen from Odin’s vault, but maybe Heimdall didn’t notice that small snatch) which gives its wielder an opportunity to basically teleport wherever he (or she) wants. But HYDRA and SHIELD used it as the source of power to create new, deadly weapons. I would say that the violet Power Stone, the Orb, should be used as that source of infinite power, but maybe the Infinity Stones are just all-powerful and have the same abilities. Doctor Strange did a much better job with introducing the Time Stone and made instantly clear what it can and what it can’t do.
 
Johnston delivered some wonderful visual effects and I also like the use of colors. TFA proved that even movies shot on digital cameras don’t have to look gray and raunchy. The transition between the bleak past and colorful Times Square really helps the movie to show that Steve Rogers' world is long gone. Alan Silvestri crafted an incredibly fitting, standard score that's "wearing its heart on it’s sleeve."

The costumes, for some fans the most important part of superhero movies, are pretty nice, especially Cap’s combat suit. Anna B. Sheppard and her team did an amazing job and it’s not really surprising that the suit is remembered as one of the best, if not the best, Cap’s uniform. 



It’s a shame that the filmmakers didn’t find time to explore the unique setting a bit more. It would be nice to know what exactly the prisoners of war were doing in Schmidt’s weapon factory. Giving the movie a moment to breathe after Bucky’s (his fall from the train is still hilarious) death would be a good idea as well. The retro-futuristic HYDRA’s designs were pretty standard (everything is just bigger) and the alternate World War II setting should've been used more creatively.

The last act has to deal with too many characters and the titular, star spangled hero gets lost. Despite all odds, Evans’ Rogers has a lot of natural charm and unlike Whedon, Johnston knows how to make Captain America a character with strong morals who’s also not boring to watch.
 
Captain America: The First Avenger is my least favorite origin story from Marvel's Phase One, but the old-fashioned movie successfully delivered on its basic premise. But the fascinating setting and fantastic actors should’ve been used in a braver, more intimate film.
 

THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE PATH TO PEACE

CAPTAIN AMERICA

With an approximate budget of $140 million, The First Avenger managed to earn $370,569,774 which adjusts today to a mere $425 million. This score was a big drop from Thor’s $449 million and till this day remains the second lowest-grossing MCU movie after The Incredible Hulk.
 
Months after the movie’s theater release, the screenwriters of Captain America: The First Avenger, Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus revealed that Baron Zemo and Baron Strucker were in early drafts, but were evidently dropped. Thomas Kretschmann’s Stucker ultimately debuted in The Winter Soldier and Daniel Brühl’s Zemo in Civil War
 
While talking with Screen Rant, Johnston said that he’s signed up for at least one Marvel movie and he has spoken to the producers about doing The Winter Soldier: “I told the Marvel guys that there is a character that I’m really interested in called ‘The Winter Soldier’ and that if, ‘you guys decide to make that picture I would definitely be interested.’ It’s the Bucky Barnes story. We talked about ‘The Winter Soldier’ which is the continuation of what his story is. It’s basically that he is captured by the Russians and he’s brainwashed and turned into an assassin. But you know there are a thousand ways to go with that. I just think that it would be interesting to take a character that was in ‘Captain America’ and build a story around him. Plus, I like Sebastian Stan a lot (who played Bucky) I think he would be an interesting actor to build another feature around,” the director said.
 
CAPTAIN AMERICA

Taking over the role of the Red Skull, Hugo Weaving was director Joe Johnston's casting choice from the beginning. Interviewed by Marvel, the actor explained his approach to the iconic character among other things:
 
“I knew nothing about the Captain America stories, and I have a very limited knowledge of super heroes in general. It’s been an education for me to become part of this world. Johann Schmidt is a German officer who has an interest in a power beyond an Earthly power and, as far as villains go, I think that makes him all the more interesting. There are so many different stories and differing images of Red Skull out there, I just wasn’t sure where to go—do I dive into the comics, or work from the script? I felt that the best thing I could do would be to work off the particular version of Red Skull in the script, as Marvel developed this particular story line for him. No matter how long the character has been around or how many appearances he has made in comics or in pop culture, the only thing that is pertinent for me as an actor is to try and understand what the character is and what he’s trying to achieve. And that is all on the pages of the script.” 
 
THOR
 
Two years ago, Weaving reflected on playing the villain once again and said to Yahoo that "...it’s not something I would want to do again. I’m glad I did it. I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to."
 
"It was fun to play,” the actor continued. “I enjoyed the outrageousness of the German accent that I employed and I enjoyed the extraordinary mask and costume, even though it was unbelievably hot inside it. I enjoy mask work; I enjoy trying to animate masks and reveal certain things that the mask itself might not reveal. V for Vendetta was another example of that, but there was less animation within that mask versus the Red Skull."

As for making a return to the role, Weaving still remains hesitant: "With Marvel, it’s pretty basic stuff: accept the deal and enjoy the ride. It’s not a major stretch for an actor, but on the other hand the difficulty with the Marvel universe is maintaining a link to a human dimension within such an extraordinary, technological CGI universe. In terms of me going back and doing another one, I don’t know. I’m not sure what they’re up to with the Red Skull."As for making a return to the role."

THOR
 
Weaving and his Red Skull are still lost somewhere in the bigger Marvel Cinematic Universe and the chances to see their return anytime soon are in my opinion non-existent. Captain America: The First Avenger was our last stop before the ultimate culmination and reason why some of the movies we’ve already discussed weren’t as good as they could and should have been – Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.


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