Marvel Studios aired the first teaser for Captain America: The First Avenger during the Super Bowl on the weekend, capping off the previous week’s deluge of new, official images from the film, including the poster. The poster was the first time I felt like The First Avenger might not totally suck and the TV spot half-way reinforced my cautious optimism. The First Avenger TV spot didn’t suck. In fact, it looked pretty cool. The World War II stuff, especially, looked good and I liked the “skinny Steve Rogers” effect. (For those of you who aren’t comic book nerds, Captain America starts out as Steve Rogers, a weak little guy who can’t quite make the cut in the Army. He volunteers for a top secret project, of course, and is turned into “Cap” via super-soldier serum.) What I did not like was Chris Evans’ ludicrously beefcake body—he put on a wee bit too much weight for the role and now looks like an anatomy poster.
I did, however, like Cap’s response upon emerging from the transformation:
Scientist: How do you feel?
This, I think, is why they hired Chris Evans. I make no secret of my love for Evans, but neither have I been over the moon about Captain America. Basically, Chris Evans is hot and entertaining and Captain America is boring. When Marvel announced they hired Evans to be Cap last year, I thought perhaps they chose him because of his propensity for sexily smirking while being sarcastic and funny. Then set photos leaked from England and the first few images of Cap were released and that sexy, smirky Evans was no where to be seen. He looked serious to the point of constipation in each new image that came out. But in that teaser there were flashes of Evans’ considerable charm. That line about being taller and the look on Cap’s face when Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell, Pillars of the Earth) fires on him were little flashes of the lighter side of Cap. Now I can kind of see Cap being a pretty good straight man for Robert Downey, Jr.’s wild-card Tony Stark in next year’s The Avengers.
But first we have to get through The First Avenger, so let’s break this teaser down.
We start with Skinny Steve Rogers. I like how this looks—there is a real and noticeable difference between Skinny Steve Rogers and the muscle-bound Steve that appears later. People are making Benjamin Button comparisons, naturally, and Evans does look a bit like a head on a popsicle stick. But I think that’s the point. Steve Rogers might have all the heart in the world, but he is in no way cut out to be a solider. Which is basically what Stanley Tucci pops up to tell him.
Tommy Lee Jones shows up for a second then the transformation is complete and we get a look at Cap’s Anatomy 101 body. Really, it’s silly. Maybe if they hadn’t waxed his chest? This has bugged me since images started rolling out last year. It’s World War II. Everything is rationed. Where is Steve finding chest wax? Again, I like the exchange between Cap and Peggy at this point. I also like how we have Cap stalking around in formation with his soldier boys. That looks kind of badass. So far, no look at Bucky Barnes, Cap’s BFF and side kick (played by Gossip Girl twat Sebastian Stan). Bucky does not appear in this teaser, which is too bad, because based on the official image provided, Bucky is less “purveyor of latent homoerotic moments” and more “sniper who will kill you till you’re dead”.
We see Cap in full uniform, including helmet for the first time. Ever since they started teasing this out last year, I have HATED Cap’s uniform. I understand that Captain America’s red, white and blue unitard is inherently lame and cheesy, but the filmmakers made an attempt at totally changing Cap’s look for the movie. The suit is significantly different from the comics, which I’m fine with. It’s even an improvement. Yet they stick with this terrible helmet idea. The helmet is left off the poster which is a good call and also tells me the folks at Marvel are aware how stupid this helmet is. Why not just stick with the blue WWII era helmet?
At the twenty-three second mark we get our first look at Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings) as Cap’s archnemesis Red Skull. It’s appropriately gross without being cartoony. I’m not crazy about the makeup design but I can live with it. It isn’t completely awful, and more importantly, they invested in a good actor to play the character, which I hope translates into a badass and scary villain. We end with a look at Cap’s shield as Peggy Carter tests it against gunfire. Seriously, the look on Cap’s face is kind of priceless (“She actually shot at me!”). I like Atwell—she’s really beautiful and reasonably talented—and I like that our major impression of Cap’s love interest is that of a soldier/woman who doesn’t hesitate to pull out her gun. Cap is boring, he needs a spicy partner.
Overall, the period details, especially the wartime scenes, look solid and Evans gives a mostly positive impression as Cap. The story is not yet clear, nor are the relationships—hopefully the full trailer will fill in those blanks a bit. But after months of slowly releasing increasingly disappointing images from the film, the first teaser gives me hope that The First Avenger isn’t going to totally suck.