Saturday, June 25, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger Trailer (2011)

A few months back, I raked a teaser trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger over the coals, so I wanted to take a moment to retract some of my criticisms in the face of the final movie trailer. Cap's probably my favorite super-hero, with only the Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman seriously in the running. To date, none of these characters have exactly shined in live action. At least Wonder Woman had a reasonably faithful if thoroughly silly TV show with a appropriately likeable actress. Every single Cap outing to date has pushed the boundaries of embarrassment and transitional liberties, even by the dismal standards of comic book adaptations. While the budget was clearly a vast improvement, the early footage and promotional materials for this try were kind of clunky, so my expectations have remained low throughout the production. Only recently, and most specifically with this extended trailer, am I finally getting the sense this might be the Cap movie I've waited my entire life for.

It starts to turn around with the line, "I could do this all day." You see, the earlier trailers seemed to make a point of portraying Steve Rogers as a nebbish. Peggy Carter punking Steve by shooting at him to prove the shield's resilience was a prime example, but Chris Evans seemed to fumble his way through every shot, even as Cap. Seeing Steve with his dukes up, standing against an aggressor despite his obvious physical disadvantage, is the Steve Rogers I know. Leave that Clark Kent bullshit for other franchises.

Next, Evans' New York accent is more prominent in later trailers, which I greatly appreciate. A lot of people seem to work under the impression that Cap is some cornfed Midwesterner, instead of a hardscrabble kid from an Irish slum. He's an urban, proactive, political hero who punched Hitler back when the guy still had a fan base stateside. I'm finally starting to see that guy in Evans, and a willingness to dive onto a grenade to save his fellow soldiers doesn't hurt.

Another positive is that there's less preaching from Stanley Tucci's Erskine about how great Steve Rogers could be, and more of Captain America showing that potential. Instead being the butt of jokes, Steve shows wit of his own. Even Tommy Lee Jones managed to elicit a chuckle out of me. Instead of a bunch of isolated scenes and bland stunts, there's a greater sense of the overall story, which seems to be more than by-the-numbers origin stuff. Cap's on trains, Cap's on planes, Cap's riding a hog ahead of a massive explosion, Cap's tethering toward a mountain castle, bursting through a window. Finally, there's a sense of scope, and the Star Spangled Avenger kicking ass on a global stage. Instead of stiff, staged looking action, there's multidimensional action spectacle and some motherfuckin' shield slinging. As much of a believer in period authenticity as I am, it does not hurt that all of this occurs with Tool's "Forty Six & 2" playing.

Most importantly for me, I finally feel like Captain America will be more than a late arriving addition to the Marvel Studios heroic roster. I've been afraid that he'd be played as an underwhelming stuffed shirt, obligatory in setting up the Avengers film. After Blade, Spider-Man, Thor, Daredevil and even Tim Roth on the Super Soldier Formula in The Incredible Hulk, I wasn't confident the filmmakers could show what Cap brings to the table. While still not as acrobatic as I would like, the movie seems to portray a human fighting machine who is constantly throwing his muscle behind highly effective body blows. Even more than Hemsworth's Thor, Evans' Cap hits the hell out of people with a clear aim to disable on initial impact. Basically, Captain America looks like a bad ass, it's about damned time, so fuck yeah I'll pay to see it in the theater!

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