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This past Tuesday I happily bought “Captain America: The First Avenger” on BluRay. Not only excited to see the film due to the great reviews it’s gotten, but also because it’s the last film building up to next summer’s ultimate Marvel Hero Orgy “The Avengers“. I was excited to see how all of the films in the series stock up, and for the most part, they have all been great.  Managing to be great stand-alone films, with great storylines and character development, but also great in keeping things consistent and offering clues to what is yet to come with “The Avengers”.

First things first though, let’s dive into “Captain America: The First Avenger” which totally lived up to it’s hype and was also the perfect closer before next years extravaganza of a Comic Book film. Probably the most impressive thing about the film, which had a huge hurdle by being one of the most-loved Comic Book Heroes of all-time, was the ease with which they put everything together. There’s an awful lot of information this movie had to get through — from our hero being a wimp with a heart of gold — to his transformation into beefcake War hero — to his stint as a commercial celebrity (a great, cheesy scene that worked so well) — to his ultimate defeat of the bad guy and his assumed death. With all of that, you’d expect the film to be over-long and boring with too much exposition needed.

What you ended up getting was a really well-done, fast paced, action packed film with actors so good that the hokey and very implausible story felt almost real and genuine. A combination of things worked together on this film to make it as good as it really is. Mainly Chris Evans, who we are used to seeing as a cocky jock in other films, really went out of his comfort zone to play the lead character Steve Rogers a charming yet humbled man with a genuine passion for being a hero and defending his country. Evans plays the role to perfection, as does his two nemesis’ in the film Hugo Weaver and Tommy Lee Jones. Weaver plays Red Skull, the “badder than Hitler” villain whose performance was so sinister it almost felt like there wasn’t enough of him. And Tommy Lee Jones plays the army captain that continually doubts our hero Rogers, until he witnesses a display of his bravery. Jones and Evans’ love/hate relationship was a great component of the movie.

Aside from the acting, and the writing, the visual aspects were great as well. The techniques to shrink the hunk that is Chris Evans into a 100 pound weakling could have failed, but it worked so well. And just the attention to detail with the scenery gave a true 40’s feeling to the whole movie. Overall, this movie blew me away. I had high expectations and it still surpassed them.

Captain America: The First Avenger, 5 of 5

So how does it stack up with all the rest of “The Avengers” films thus far!?

Well easily the worst has been “The Incredible Hulk“, a re-boot from a far superior version starring Eric Bana. Being that the versions were just 4 years apart, the Edward Norton fronted re-boot felt like an after thought really. It sort of picked up where Bana’s “Hulk” left off, just with a brand new cast and a new look. The visual effects were slightly improved (mainly because this version chose mostly night shots which are probably easier to animate), but there was nothing interesting about this version at all. So much so that I remember watching it, but don’t really remember anything that happened other than the final fight scene and Tony Stark’s cameo. Funny enough, on “The Avengers”, we’ll be seeing athird actor portray Hulk in a span of just 7 years as Mark Ruffalo takes on the beast.

The Incredible Hulk, 2 of 5

If you read my recent review of “Thor“, you’ll know I think highly of it. Like “Captain America”, this movie has a lot of information that needed a clever way of getting it out there. And the writers managed to deliver, as well as the cast and the director who kept this movie both action packed and intense, but also really light and funny. And Chris Hemsworth made a fantastic leading man, it’ll be interesting to see how his character interacts with everybody else in this “Avenger” initiative.

Thor, 5 of 5

The series that began this “Avengers” initiative with a huge bang was the Robert Downey Jr. vehicle “Iron Man“. Both the original and the sequel have a great balance of living in somewhat of a real world, sci-fi tech goodness, great action scenes, and a real heart and humor. The success of the films can be placed almost squarely on Downey Jr., who does an amazing job of making a character whose obnoxious, arrogant and selfish into an actual likable guy. If he didn’t have such a great finesse with this character, the movie clearly would have fallen apart. Luckily he’s a master actor, and really because of him we’re getting “The Avengers”.

“Iron Man”, though it provided less action than it’s sequel, was a great film in that in tackled some current issues of war and weaponry intelligently and the overall feel of the film was way more mature than your standard Comic Book Flick. Still it provided the youthful fun that people expect when going to a movie like this. “Iron Man 2” may have been just a tad less mature, but provided some great fun that maybe the first one lacked.

Iron Man, 4.5 of 5
Iron Man 2, 4 of 5

The next big question will be, how will “The Avengers” film do. The first official trailer was released a few weeks ago and it does look pretty sick. I think the film has potential to be incredible, since it won’t get bogged down in having to introduce each member (except we’ll need to know who this Hawkeye guy is, he was only briefly shown in “Thor”) it should flow nicely. I’m really most intrigued to see the chemistry between everybody — who’ll get along with each other and who won’t. The only issue I foresee is maybe too much, which is often a problem in Comic Book movies where there’s maybe one too many villains. But just based on the films we’ve seen leading up to this flick, “The Avengers” should be fun, funny and relate able. We’ll see this coming May.

Stay Tuned for my ultimate Best and Worst Comic Book Movies of All Time