Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]

First of all, let me just state that whenever someone criticizes this film for being patriotic to the bone, it shouldn’t be taken as a valid argument. Of course it’s going to be patriotic; it has the word “America” in the title, for God’s sake! And it’s about a nice kid killing Nazis!

This underdog story is inevitably campy, but a film like Captain America couldn’t be cynical with such a wholesome hero at the helm. After the underwhelming Thor, this one really builds momentum for 2012’s The Avengers. What could go wrong when a superhero movie gets the vintage treatment? Not much, actually. Captain America is humorous, accompanied by a rousing score (as it should) and its cast is so much better than it needs to be: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper and a fatherly Stanley Tucci shine in their perfectly cast roles.

The first hour is wonderful, as we watch “Steve Rogers” undergo a transformation into full-fledged superhuman weapon. His physique is a new one, but he remains the shy, innocent, all-American young man. The action is not always engaging or meaningful; it’s kind of a seesaw, but the visuals never let down. Captain America doesn’t ask for much. It’s exciting, old-fashioned summer fun.