Captain America: The First Avenger Movie Review

My guess is that the title of this post just made at least two of my blogger friends, Jamie and Kayla, very, VERY happy. I saw it, girls, I saw it–FINALLY and HALLELUJAH!

Excuse us while we girls give each other enthusiastic high-fives and then proceed to dance like the above chimney-sweeps.

Captain America: The First Avenger is a rare exception to the rule that nothing good can come out of Hollywood. Although this film has a few tie-ins to the other Marvel movies (Thor, Iron Man, etc.) and prepares the audience for the recent blockbuster The Avengers, I thought it did pretty well as a stand-alone movie.

It’s the story of “a kid from Brooklyn” named Steve Rogers. Steve’s father was killed by mustard gas, presumably during World War I, while his mother, a nurse, died after working in a tuberculosis ward. Steve himself is skinny and sickly, and in spite of his best efforts to enlist during World War II, he’s turned down every time on account of his health.

Steve is undeterred, however, and his fierce efforts to get into the army are noticed by Dr. Abraham Erskine, a German refugee (and presumably a Jew) who now works for the USA’s Strategic Scientific Reserve. Dr. Erskine’s goal is to create a “breed of super-soldiers” who can combat Hitler’s own HYDRA team, led by the evil Johann Schmidt. Schmidt, also known as Red Skull, is consumed by his ambition to harness the legendary Tesseract–an enormous energy source–and take over the entire planet.

Steve is chosen as the first American supersoldier, not because he’s strong, but because he has the character necessary to use his new power wisely. His adventures against Nazi Germany and Red Skull make up the bulk of the story; subplots include his fleeting romance with British agent Peggy Carter, his deep loyalty to his country, and the contrast between his worldview and that of Johann Schmidt.

This isn’t a “Christian” movie by any stretch of the imagination (there’s some cursing and Christianity isn’t explicitly mentioned). However, the Christian worldview is alive and well in several key aspects of this movie.

Steve is the quintessential “Christian hero.” He’s kind, compassionate, loyal, courageous, and most importantly, completely self-sacrificing. He doesn’t want to kill simply for the sake of killing; instead, he explains that he doesn’t like bullies, and wants to stop them.

He’s also respectful towards women and refuses to enter a relationship with a woman until he’s absolutely sure she’s “the right partner.” It’s this kind of deep value for marriage and courtship that set our great-grandparents apart and made for so many beautiful love stories, especially during World War II.

*SOB*

Steve is also intensely patriotic. He desperately wants to fight for America, and he’s willing to do anything to help her cause and keep morale high, even if it means making himself look…well…slightly ridiculous. But he also recognizes the importance of America’s liberty and sovereignty. While he and Red Skull are having their final duel, the villain is infuriated with Steve’s refusal to use his superhuman abilities for personal power.

Livid with rage Red Skull shouts, “You could have the power of the gods! Yet you wear a flag on your chest and think you fight a battle of nations! I have seen the future, Captain! There are no flags!” To which Steve responds, passionately, “Not in my future!” No one-world-government-pulpit-thumping here; America’s flag is worth fighting for!

But why is Steve so different from Red Skull? Well, Dr. Abraham Erskine explains it this way:

The serum [that transformed both Red Skull and Steve] amplifies everything that is inside, so good becomes great; bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life, may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion [ . . . ] Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing: that you will stay who you are, not a perfect soldier, but a good man.

The logical question of course is “But what made Steve the good guy and Red Skull the bad guy in the first place?” And the only logical answer is, “Steve is following the Christian worldview and Red Skull is not.” We can give that answer even if Steve Rogers never actually invokes the God of the Bible in the film (though apparently he does so in The Avengers and did so often in the comic books of old). You know a character by his fruit, and Steve Rogers is undoubtedly different from many so-called “heroes” touted in modern-day film and literature.

And interestingly, we have a few hints about where Steve got his “Christian foundation.” Think about it. His dad died in World War I or in its immediate aftermath. Not only that, but his mom worked in a tuberculosis ward in spite of the danger to her own health–and died as a result. The two most important people in Steve’s life, then, gave their lives for the sake of others.

“There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.” John 15:13 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

I reckon Steve was thinking of both his parents in the last few minutes of the movie. I won’t give away SPOILERS, but suffice it to say that the sacrifice of his parents and thousands of his fellow Americans must have given Steve the courage to make the most heartbreaking and costly decision of his life.

*SOB!* Note that I didn’t actually shed tears (I hardly ever do that for a movie) but your heart can still hurt even if you don’t blubber like a baby.

Now, it is rated PG-13 and appropriately so, thanks to violence, a few curse words (nothing super-horrid, though, and mostly from one crusty officer), and all-around Nazi ruthlessness. So don’t let your young’uns see the scary parts. Some will take issue with the female officer (at least she was an intelligence agent, not a “soldier”), but I really can’t think of any other caveats I had with it. LouisianaPatriette’s recommendation would be for ages 13+.

I’ve been wanting to see this for several months, and I have to say I was quite impressed. It wasn’t one of those super-deep movies that you’d discuss for weeks and weeks. Those have their place. Captain America: The First Avenger was instead a simple and heartwarming story with good lessons, plenty of action sequences, and a clean romance.

Definitely a good Fourth-of-July-Weekend sort of movie 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Captain America: The First Avenger Movie Review

  1. Love your review! We watched this a few weeks ago and were impressed with how patriotic it was, as well as the glimpses of a Christian worldview. I’m glad you enjoyed it…and I DID blubber like a big baby at the end! LOL

    We miss y’all!

    SDG!

    Mrs. Crystal <

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    1. LOL!! I hardly ever EVER cry for a movie–I just usually get up from it depressed 😛 I’ll be interested to see how the sequel turns out! We miss y’all too–hope we get to see the Sewells next Sunday 🙂

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  2. I have yet to see this film, I have been wanting to ever since it came out. Now, I want to see it even more! I love those kinds of films and Chris Evans is a bit handsome. LOL I’m putting Captain America: The First Avenger on my list of “need to buy” films.

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    1. ROFL!!!! Well, yes, Chris Evans is quite attractive…but Steve Rogers’ personality would still be wonderful even if he stayed a shrimp 😉 Funny thing is, this the first time I’ve seen this kind of movie since I saw one of the old “Superman” movies as a kid. And six months ago I would’ve said, “Oh, I don’t think I’d enjoy a superhero movie very much.” HAH!

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  3. *squeal* You FINALLY saw it!!!! =D The title made another of your blogger friends very, very happy, too;) I loved reading your excellent and accurate review! Well done! 🙂

    My mom and I just finished watching this film again. We love it so much. And the “shrimp” Steve Rogers is completely wonderful! Something my mom and I totally agree on – he’s awesome as the little guy…but good-looking and tall never hurts either. *grin*
    Oh, and I’m afraid I cry like a baby at the end. The tragic, sad, courageous endings always reduce me to tears. lol.

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    1. YAY, NATASHA!!! *dances with Natasha a la the chimney-sweeps* Jamie and Kayla were the ones who first introduced me to Captain America…I can’t wait to hear their reactions 😀 😀 😀

      I loved when little Steve explained why he wanted to enlist. “I don’t want to kill anyone…I just don’t like bullies, no matter where they are.” That might have been my favorite part, especially since I’ve read people who think we were completely wrong to go into WWII, that we were the bullies, yadayadayada. No no NO, bullies MUST be stopped! Especially murderous bullies who are about to come after YOU after they finish off the defenseless ones…but I’m getting on a little soap box there–getting off now, haha! I liked Peggy, too–she had a great, spunky personality.

      It was a beautiful movie, and I mean “beautiful” in the way it looked. It had a vintage feel about it. My dad commented on the fine 1940’s costumes. There was definitely an air of authenticity about it. It was also neat how they tied in Hitler’s historically-accurate interest in “occult power.” Tying in the Tesseract with those Aryan/Teutonic fantasies was a neat twist.

      Hmm, you make the second person I know who cried for this movie…last time I cried for a movie was The Return of the King. I think. It was a few years ago, LOL! My brother was deeply affected by the end of Captain America, though…I think we all were.

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  4. Good review of this movie. Now I won’t have to watch it since you filled me in on all the good points. Enjoying all your blogs. I’m excited for you and T.J. on the news you’ll be going to England next year.
    Keep up the good writing.

    Love,
    Mimi

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    1. Hahahahaha!! Actually I think it’s one of those movies Pawpaw might enjoy…the action sequences were pretty fast-paced 😉

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  5. That was fabulous, Maribeth! I’m SO glad you finally got to see the movie. It’s one of my all-time favorites! I agree with everything you said, and I loved the pictures. 🙂 Oh, and the quote from Erskine is SO good! Thanks for sharing this review – it was great!!!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Victoria! I was nearly jumping up and down with delight when Mom and Dad finally found it at Barnes & Noble after looking for it for weeks 😀

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  6. *high fives* YAY!!!!! NOW do you understand the Captain America hype on my blog??? ROFL! I’m glad you saw, it, it’s such a good movie!!!!! 😀 😀 Steve’s manly and brave, but he’s still gentlmenly and courteous. 🙂 I love how it’s got awesome action and characters, as well as a pretty Chrisitan worldview.

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    1. ROFLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!! Yes, yes, I understand! It was really good, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Steve’s personality. I seem to be drawn to that kind of a character anyway! I was telling my sister just last night that the protagonist in my novel (who I’m completely head-over-heels-in-love-with, LOL) is a delightful mix of Steve Rogers and Luke Skywalker with a dash of several other kind, courageous characters thrown in 😀

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