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Captain America: Cracking Red Skulls and Inspiring Patriots Since 1941

Marvel's great symbol of American Exceptionalism inspires in one of the summer's must-see movies.

by
Mike McDaniel

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August 1, 2011 - 11:03 pm
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As the credits rolled the entire audience sat transfixed, speechless, hoping there was more. They didn’t want it to end.

Courage, unashamed and unspoken patriotism, honor, duty, the willingness to do what needs to be done, decency, true love, self-sacrifice — these are the essential elements of this movie — not a “film” and certainly not “cinema,” but a movie in the grand tradition of unabashedly American entertainment.

Captain America: The First Avenger is not a movie for those who see America as just one of many nations. It is not for people who disdain self-reliance and put their faith in the benevolence of the nanny state. There is no self-loathing, no appeasement, no abandonment of allies, no doubt about the nature of good or evil. There is refreshing clarity of the kind most recently seen in Battle: Los Angeles where American troops were depicted as good and noble men and women who prevail because they are willing to do what is necessary, even to make the ultimate sacrifice that others might live.

For those who grew up on Marvel Comics the story of Captain America is familiar. A secret serum will maximize human abilities, but there is a catch: the drug makes the good very good and the bad very bad. The first man chosen for the experiment must be very good, and Steve Rogers, who has been turned down five times for service in World War II, is very good indeed. The results: Rogers morphs into a super soldier with superhuman strength and reflexes. The special effects that allow the viewer to see Chris Evans as the stereotypical 90-pound weakling transformed into a superhero are particularly effective, as are the effects used throughout the movie, which assist in telling the story rather than becoming it.

Notably absent from this movie is the kind of whining, maximum-volume ballads that play over various brooding characters as they go about their gloomy, oh-so-sensitive, and conflicted lives. The score by Alan Silvestri does what good movie scores should do: accent and enhance the action and mood without overpowering or annoying.

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