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The first "Hulk" movie was a disaster. The second one was pretty good. I didn't really like "Iron Man," and I disliked "Thor." So I didn't go into Captain America with very high hopes. I was afraid that Cap would be even more difficult to pull off in "real life" than any of his Marvel superhero movie predecessors, because Cap is a hero born out of WWII, and doing a WWII movie today is a risky gamble. The pitfalls are endless, and the ways to screw it up are almost infinite. However, to my surprise, I enjoyed the Captain America movie very much.

I can't give the movie a total rave review, because to me, it had several major flaws. First of all, the opening sequence where they stick Chris Evans' head on a scrawny body was terrible. It brought me completely out of the movie, and it went on forever. I hate secret identities in these movies. I'm paying money to see the superhero, not the secret identity. For example, in the Hulk movies, I would've cut Banner's on-screen time to three minutes, or maybe two. Let's face it -- the REAL reason these extended secret identiy scenes are inluded in these films is so the egotistical actors can get extended face time without a bothersome mask or make-up obscuring their very, very large heads.

Anyway, after spending way too much time with Benjamin Button, Steve Rogers finally gets himself into the supersoldier-transformation chamber, or whatever it's called. The surroundings are delightfully retro, rejecting pulsating, Star Trek-like digal readouts in favor of copper tubing and hand-turned valves like something out of a 1940s movie serial. Into the chamber Steve goes...
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Yeow! The transformation is unexpectedly painful. The scientists begin to abort the procedure, but Steve screams "NO! I CAN DO THIS!" A beautiul addition to the Capt America canon. This simple addition of one line of dialogue turns Steve from a lab rat into the man who forced the experiment to continue onward to success. The man has guts! The machine did not make him Cap. He made himself Cap!
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Now comes the movie's first stroke of brilliance: The Army turns Cap into a theatrical performer at fund raisers. This beautifully explains his costume, and his shield. My second-favorite part in the movie is Cap punching Hitler repeatedly on stage as the audience cheers. This great scene is preserved for all time below, through the miracle of ANI-MOTION!
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Not coincidentally, the scene above dramatizes the cover of the first issue of the Captain America comic book, drawn by the one and only Jack Kirby (that name keeps popping up!). The transition from the stage show to the comic's actual cover is a joy to behold, as Cap #1 hits the stands, and kids flock to get it!
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Kids reading comic books. A scene guaranteed to evoke nostalgia and joy in the heart of every comic book fan...
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However, Bucky, who will become Cap's best friend and doomed sidekick, looks a bit disturbed as he reads the comic book...
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Why? It might be because the movie version of the cover is NOT a faithful reproduction of the original! Take a look at the side-by-side comparison below, and you'll see that a blurb featuring "Captain America's young ally, BUCKY," has been removed from the original cover's lower right corner. Why? Because in the movie, Bucky is simply Cap's friend, not a public superhero with a uniform. They HAD to remove that blurb to make the cover consistent with the movie's interpretation of the Bucky character. Forgiven!
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Now seems like a good time to mention...
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Next we come to my favorite part of the movie. Cap, desperate to make a real contribution to the war effort, manages to overcome incredible odds and rescue a captured group of American troops single-handedly. Suddenly, "Captain America" is REAL!
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As the soldiers arrive back at camp, they crowd around Cap and a cheer begins to build. Then Bucky yells out what everyone has been thinking: "Let's hear it for Captain America!" This beautiful scene evokes all the sacrifices made by so many soldiers on behalf of America, the sacrifices that have preseved America against countless dangers for more than two centuries. These men (and women!) are personified in the fictional yet somehow real figure of Captain America, the Star-Spangled Avenger. As a Marvel comics fan, a superhero fan, and an American citizen, this scene brought me to tears. "Let's hear it for Captain America!"
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Now the movie changes tone. Act One was "The Steve Rogers Story," Act Two was "How Steve Became Cap." Act Three plays like a summarized montage-recap of a series of Captain America movies that have never existed. It's as if Cap's whole history had been made into a series of movies, and this is just a summary...
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The film's middle and ending feel very rushed, with many characters and storylines competing for screen time -- TOO many. First of all, we are introduced to the Howling Commandos, or at least some of them, minus Nick Fury.
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Of course, the original Howling Commandos were lead by Sgt.Nick Fury, but they can't be the case in this movie, because in the Marvel movie-verse, Fury is black, and the head of modern-day SHIELD, or the "Avengers Initiative," as the movies have it. Black Nick Fury, a character inspired by Marvel's "ULTIMATE" version of the character, was not frozen like Cap was, so he cannot have taken part in WWII. Below, a Marvel In-House ad below advertises the Commandos first appearance, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (him again!).
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HEY! Where's the BAD guy? He suddenly appears, looking like a human Nazi official. He speaks long enough to give the actor his precious face-time, then he suddenly pulls his face off like Tom Cruise did several times in the first "Mission: Impossible" movie, and, oh my God! It's Cap's arch enemy, the RED SKULL!
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Hugo Weaving is excellent as the Skull, a snarling retro-villain out of a 1940s movie serial.
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The movie treats Bucky's death and Cap's revival in the future in summary fashion. First, Bucky hangs on for dear life from that fateful rocket! Cap tries to save him but...
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Cap can't save Bucky! He falls to his death! "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
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The penultimate scene, as depicted in in Martin Asbury's storyboards for the movie:
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After the explosion, Cap gets frozen and wakes up in the future. He runs through times square and meets Nick Fury, who shows up at the end of all these movies with a proposition. It seems he is assembling a superhero team of some sort. Patience, dear reader, the big day is almost here! Final frame of the Captain America movie...
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KIRBY'S Avengers #4 cover recreated by STEVE RUDE!
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allfornow
Next Issue
The Avengers Assemble -- In The Media!
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AND SOON...
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