Should I Watch..? 'Captain America: The First Avenger'

Updated on February 13, 2019
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin has been reviewing films for sixteen years and has seen more action movies than he should probably admit to!

Poster for "Captain America: The First Avenger"
Poster for "Captain America: The First Avenger" | Source

What's the big deal?

Captain America: The First Avenger is an action superhero film released in 2011 and is based on the Marvel comic-book character of the same name. It is the fifth film of Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is the final film before Avengers Assemble which would unite all previously portrayed characters into one film. Unlike the other films, this is set primarily during the Second World War before linking up to the MCU at the end. Like its stablemates, it was a critical and commercial success and ultimately established Captain America into a franchise character of his own. A sequel was released during Marvel's second phase - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - while the third film was released in 2016, Captain America: Civil War. It also saw the debut of Agent Peggy Carter who would go on to star in her own spin-off TV show.


4 stars for Captain America: The First Avenger

What's it about?

In March 1942, Nazi officer Johann Schmidt and his troops occupy the Norwegian town of Tønsberg intent on stealing a mysterious object known as the Tesseract which possesses unknown and possibly limitless powers. At the same time in New York, Brooklyn kid Steve Rogers is repeatedly attempting to enlist but is turned away every time due to illness and existing health problems. With his friend Bucky Barnes, he gives it one last shot with Dr Abraham Erskine and Erskine agrees to put Rogers onto a top secret "super solider" project led by himself, Colonel Phillips and SSR Agent Peggy Carter.

The experiment turns Rogers from a weak and gaunt individual to the very peak of human conditioning - stronger, faster, smarter. But shortly after the experiment is conducted, Dr Erskine is killed by a HYDRA assassin and the formula is lost. Initially stuck in a propaganda role, Rogers adopts the name Captain America and reluctantly agrees to it. But upon hearing that Bucky Barnes was missing in action, Rogers uses Peggy and Howard Stark's technology and know-how to get behind enemy lines and begin taking the fight to the Germans. Schmidt, meanwhile, has his hands on the Tesseract and threatens to rule the world single-handedly with it...


Main Cast

Chris Evans
Steve Rogers / Captain America
Hayley Attwell
Peggy Carter
Hugo Weaving
Johann Schmidt / The Red Skull
Sebastian Stan
James "Bucky" Barnes
Tommy Lee Jones
Colonel Chester Phillips
Toby Jones
Dr Arnim Zola
Dominic Cooper
Howard Stark

Technical Info

Joe Johnston
Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely *
Running Time
124 minutes
Release Date (UK)
29th July, 2011
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
* based on characters created by Jack Kirby & Joe Simon
Cap takes the fight to HYDRA in "Captain America: The First Avenger"
Cap takes the fight to HYDRA in "Captain America: The First Avenger" | Source

What's to like?

The decision to use the real-life history of the character - which was used for propaganda purposes during WW2 - to inspire the movie is brilliant, giving the film plausibility and a level of realism that Thor completely lacked. It's also refreshing to see such a film in a historical setting but still link up with the other Marvel films seen so far. It shows a real intelligence behind the screenplay and I thoroughly enjoyed this Boy's Own adventure with futuristic technologies and flame-throwing tanks amid tales of Nazi villainy and old-fashioned patriotism. It also looks the business, thanks to the heavyweight Marvel Studios production and unobtrusive CG.

Evans, previously the most annoying cast member of the swiftly forgotten Fantastic 4 films, matures very well into the role of Rogers, conflicted by his sense of duty and the difference between right and wrong. Attwell does so well that her character was given her own TV show but for me, Weaving deserves top marks for the Red Skull - Weaving has a knack for playing baddies and this is one of his best, beneath impressive makeup and lumbered with a panto-German accent. It's such a shame he's ruled himself out of returning in future because he is a fantastic foil to Evans' goody-two-shoes character. So with a gripping story, stunning action sequences and some fine performances, Captain America: The First Avenger is surely a winner - right?

Fun Facts

  • This was the last Marvel film to be released by Paramount. Disney bought the rights for each subsequent release, starting with Avengers Assemble.
  • Hugo Weaving has stated that he is indifferent to the finished product and he sadly has no desire to reprise the role in future due to the difficulty of the makeup process involved.
  • Toby Jones, David Bradley (as the Tower Keeper) and Jenna Coleman (as Connie) have all appeared opposite Matt Smith in Doctor Who.

What's not to like?

Well, not quite. The film feels like it leaves out some details that would have been nice - take Rogers' Howling Commandos unit that he fight with during the war. We literally get one scene in a pub where they're all drinking and chatting and that's it. There's no explanation as to who these people are or how they first met Rogers which I would have liked. The film also takes a while to get going and the friendship between Rogers and Bucky also didn't feel as natural as it should. I felt that Stan was maybe getting short-shrift from the screenplay but as any Marvel fan-boy will tell you, he gets more to do in the future.

If you're already familiar with the character then you might feel short-changed by the film which is almost entirely an origin tale. It plants many seeds for future Marvel projects but I never got the feeling that it tells an original story with the character. Maybe a bit more time spent during the war and less on the build-up to Evans' remarkable physical transformation. And while I'm thinking about it, how quickly did Carter fall for Rogers as soon as he stepped out of the pod? Nit-picking maybe, but that's my job, I'm afraid!

Hugo Weaving (left) & Toby Jones leads the baddies in "Captain America: The First Avenger"
Hugo Weaving (left) & Toby Jones leads the baddies in "Captain America: The First Avenger" | Source

Should I watch it?

Oh yes, especially if you've seen the other Phase One films in the MCU. This is wonderfully written, well performed escapism at its very best and reminds you that with a bit more effort and thought, Marvel could escape from making tired retreads of films they've already made. I was slightly underwhelmed by the likes of Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk but this is funnier, smarter, more interesting and more exciting than both of those. This is probably Marvel's best non-Avengers films released in Phase One and that's mighty praise indeed.

Great For: Marvel fan-boys, lovers of the original comics, action fans.

Not So Great For: WW2 reenactment societies, Hugo Weaving's agent.

What else should I watch?

Marvel have quickly developed a habit of releasing films once or twice a year now with little sign of the market getting bored. Fortunately, this means that nerds like myself have a multitude of movies to enjoy from the bare-knuckle brawling of The Incredible Hulk to the trippy Shakespearean excesses of Thor. Personally, I'd stick with Cap and his two sequels which make up a terrific trilogy, the brilliant space-opera that is Guardians Of The Galaxy and Iron Man 3.

For a more authentic WW2 experience then I suppose you couldn't do much worse than the likes of Saving Private Ryan which is both engaging and emotive in a way that might surprise you. Of course, there are hundreds of WW2 films you could watch but many more you could stay away from - for some reason, Pearl Harbour and Escape To Victory sprang instantly to mind...

© 2015 Benjamin Cox

Soap Box

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Benjamin Cox profile imageAUTHOR

      Benjamin Cox 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      I've always preferred Cap to both Iron Man & Thor - his trilogy of movies are all brilliant but slightly different from each other whereas the rest simply seem to repeat the formula.

    • Laura335 profile image

      Laura Smith 

      2 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      This film was the first one to get me on board with the MCU. I feel like Cap is the glue of the franchise, and the after credits scene was so clever in the way that it got Cap to where he needed to be to join the Avengers in the next film. I just rewatched this one recently, and I liked it even more than I did before.

    • Benjamin Cox profile imageAUTHOR

      Benjamin Cox 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      I must admit, I wasn't too impressed with Thor either. Steve's relationship with Bucky comes under greater scrutiny in "Civil War", although it does feel like a mini-Avengers film with so many characters in it.

    • thedinasoaur profile image

      Dina AH 

      2 years ago from United States

      Ah, this film changed things for me because I was quite intimidated by the MCU. Having watched Thor (and disliked it), I had dismissed these films and thought there was no space for someone who doesn't read comics. But, I did like the origin story of Steve Rogers, his friendship with Bucky Barnes, and his role in the war. I agree with you on the Howling Commandos not being fleshed out enough. I wish there was more of Bucky Barnes as well because that bond between him and Rogers comes up again in Winter Soldier and I wasn't entirely sold on it.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)