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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Captain America: World Police

As the Marvel superhero with the richest history, and linch-pin of The Avengers, Captain America was perhaps the most eagerly-awaited of the comic book behemoth's properties to come to the big screen. The First Avenger resoundingly delivered on Cap's pathos, even pulling off the re-branding Chris Evans from hothead Johnny Storm to the steel-nerved Steve Rogers, chief among an across-the-board casting masterclass, from the spunky Hayley Atwell, thru square-jawed Sebastian Stan; gravel-toned Tommy Lee Jones; specky Toby Jones; via fatherly Stanley Tucci; and dashing Dominic Cooper to Hugo Weaving's devilishly evil Red Skull. Joe Johnston's film nicely evoked a never-say-die attitude and drab wartime aesthetic to the benefit of it's jarring final scenes. So how to follow TFA's success? The challenge
was to now deal with a contemporary Cap, and directors The Russos (from the screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely - who also penned The First Avenger) manage that with aplomb, not laying on the 'this is weird' shtick too thickly, while still reminding us where Cap has come from. But easily the smartest thing that they did was side-stepping the heroic trappings and big CGI (at least until the second half) to adopt the trappings of the political thriller, to great success. Why make a superhero movie at all? Why indeed, and to this end the presence of Robert Redford is a masterstroke. Scarlett Johansson is also on great form and sparks nicely with Chris Evan's Cap, while Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury gets more to do in any Marvel appearance so far as the web of lies plays out. We can only hope that Avengers 2 and Cap 3 can bring such a fresh approach.

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