Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

 Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) annotations

Release date: 22nd July 2011

Director: Joe Johnston
Screenwriters: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

00:00-05:00

Titles!

We get blurriness, then a light.

Opening shot of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Opening shot of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

We can finally make out a person, waving to a truck, through thick snow, holding two other men.

This arctic scene was created in a studio, with green screens. It could be Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios, home of Marvel at the time, and their go-to studio. But it’s more likely the legendary Pinewood and Shepperton Studios in the UK. The production shot in those studios for six months.

The music here is called Frozen Wasteland. Composed by Alan Silvestri, he’s had a huge career of scoring blockbusters. He would work in the MCU again for The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

The two visitors are played by William Hope and Nicholas Pinnock. Oscar Pierce is the person they meet.

They’ve found something, and they ask why it wasn’t spotted earlier. A deleted scene from The Incredible Hulk (2008) would have revealed that the Hulk had caused disruption in the arctic and dislodged…that something.

They find something large – a craft of some sort – in the rubble, and start digging. They enter the craft, which we will see a lot more of later.

What they find is Captain America‘s shield.

Captain America's shield in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America’s shield in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Then we’re at Tonsberg, Norway in March 1942. We saw this town in 965AD in Thor (2011). It is a real city, although this is also a studio set. Parts of Tonsberg were filmed in the Scottish village of Culross, but didn’t make the finished film.

The music here is called Schmidt’s Treasure.

A man runs into a tower. He’s Jan, played by Marek Oravec.

He finds the Tower Keeper, played by David Bradley. The memorable British character actor starred in the Harry Potter series, Broadchurch, Game Of Thrones and much more.

The tower is hit by a battering ram, and Jan is killed.

There was a deleted scene where we see more of the tank, but it gives away the surprise.

A car arrives. It’s a custom, made for the film – and huge. It was 25 feet long and 8 feet wide. It also has a very awesome Hydra logo. We’ll find out more about Hydra very soon.

The driver gets out. Inside, soldiers are trying to open some treasure.

05:00-10:00

We get our first good look at Johann Schmidt, the man who will become The Red Skull. He’s played by Hugo Weaving.

Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain_America_Comics_Vol_1_7 The Red Skull is one of Captain America‘s oldest foes. He was the first comic book Nazi big bad, the supervillain stand-in for Hitler, created during World War II. He would follow Captain America into the modern day comics, and the pair have battled countless times. In the comics, he is a shrewd and evil leader, characteristics that carried over into the film.

He first appeared in Captain America Comics #7, October 1941. He was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 4.43.30 PMHugo Weaving had a long career in Australia, but really broke through internationally with The Matrix, following it up with roles in The Lord Of The Rings films, V For Vendetta and other big action blockbusters. He also stars in many critically acclaimed small indie dramas when he can. Weaving told Comic Book Movie:

I knew nothing about the Captain America stories, and I have a very limited knowledge of super heroes in general. It’s been an education for me to become part of this world. Johann Schmidt is a German officer who has an interest in a power beyond an Earthly power and, as far as villains go, I think that makes him all the more interesting.

In the grave of an old soldier, Schmidt finds a cube that looks like the one we saw at the end of Thor (2011). He mentions that in lore, it was in possession of Odin, the powerful Norse God and the terrible and incompetent father to Thor.

Schmidt spots a wall that has Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life in Norse mythology, again mentioned in Thor (2011). In the wall he finds…

The Tesseract. But we don’t see it, but it’s the same blue glowing light. We will see more of it.

Tales_of_Suspense_Vol_1_79 It is worth noting that at this point, it was assumed that the Tesseract was a Cosmic Cube. It was an object that could vaguely control matter and energy and just do a lot of cosmic stuff. It has been used as a Macguffin in Marvel comics since it first appeared in Tales Of Suspense #79, in July 1966. Later, it would be retconned to be the container for an Infinity Gem.

It was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

Schmidt gives a bit of a face twitch, and leaves.

We cut to New York – Manhattan, and the distinctive Brooklyn Bridge.

And we see young American men lining up to enlist. No location information. With all the special effects, we assume it would be a studio shoot.

Two are reading newspapers, the one on our left is a real paper masthead – the New York Daily News.

One of the headlines mention the Ukrainian town of Zhitomir. The (real) town was decimated by Nazis in World War II.

That recruit is played by Sam Hoare.

The other headline is being read by Steve Rogers, the man who would become Captain America. He is played, at least in the face at this point, by Chris Evans.

Chris Evans (right) as Steve Rogers in Captain America: First Avenger (2011)
Chris Evans (right) as Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain_America_Comics_Vol_1_1 Captain America is one of the very first American superheroes, and one of the most enduring – particularly for Marvel. He started fighting the Nazis in comics in the 40s, in his own title for Timely Comics, the precursor to Marvel. He was brought back in the 60s was transferred to the modern day to continue fighting injustice to this day.

He first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941). He was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 5.38.57 PMOne of Chris Evans‘ first big film roles was actually another Marvel superhero – playing the Human Torch in the 2005 version of Fantastic Four. He had had some interesting roles in between, but this was a big, highly visible role for Evans. He would come to own it, and play Captain America for many more films. Evans told Collider:

At the end of the day, we’re making these movies for the fans, and especially the hardcore fans, and they’re the ones that I’m most concerned about. They’re the ones that I’d love to get some response from and adjust accordingly. If they thought one way or another, I’ve got no problem cutting my cloth according to what people are looking for, because, like I said, we wouldn’t be making them without them.

The role of Captain America was hotly contested. But also, at the time, the deal included several films (initially 9, but reduced to 6 by the time Evans signed on board), making others balk. Some of the many names tied at various points to the film include Sam Worthington, Will Smith, Garrett Hedlund, Channing Tatum, Scott Porter, Mike Vogel, Sebastian Stan, Wilson Bethel, John Krasinski, Michael Cassidy, Chace Crawford, Jensen Ackles, Kellan Lutz, Ryan Phillippe, Alexander Skarsgård, Dane Cook, Jensen Ackles and two Jonas Brothers. There’s probably more.

Of course, when we first see Rogers, he’s small and skinny, and not like Chris Evans, let alone Captain America. How did the film makers achieve this startling effect? There are some shots where Evans face or head was superimposed on a body double (played by Leander Deeny). But the filmmakers also used a vfx skinny-ing technic to capture Evans, and many of the scenes are Evan’s performance.

Rogers meets a doctor, played by Simon Kunz. He appeared in films like Golden Eye and Match Point.

He talks about his parents. His father died of mustard gas, meaning he was a soldier in World War I.

Rogers is given a 4F, meaning he is physically unfit for duty.

We’re in a cinema, watching the newsreel. This film was shot mostly in the UK, and this cinema is the Hackney Empire, 291 Mare St, London E8 1EJ.

The newsreel footage is actually from another film – The Bad and the Beautiful from 1952.

The loud jerk (that’s what he’s credited as) is played by Kieran O’Connor.

Rogers gets beaten up by Loud Jerk.

This back alley fight was Pinewood Studios.


10:00-15:00

Coming to help Rogers out is James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan. He would become The Winter Soldier…later.

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes in Captain America: First The Avenger (2011)
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes in Captain America: First The Avenger (2011)

Bucky‘ Barnes has a fascinating history in the comics. He was Captain America‘s teen sidekick in the 40s, and not a terribly memorable one. Even during the comics boom of the 90s, no one had any real desire to bring back Bucky, one of the least cool elements of Captain America, a character that has cool problems at the best of times. It took Ed Brubaker‘s wonderful run on the Captain America comic in the mid 00s, that finally reframed Bucky, and also brought us The Winter Soldier. All that is ahead of us, but here, he is not Roger’s teen sidekick, but friend and equal.

He first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 as well. Bucky was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 8.01.46 PMSebastian Stan graduated from TV to films like Black Swan and Hot Tub Time Machine in the lead up to this role. He was also in the running to play Captain America at one point. Stan told Screencrave:

I hadn’t looked up one thing about the character at that point. I was still into the whole Steve Rogers thing. So when I heard I didn’t get it, I thought it my job with that was done. I didn’t know what they were going to do, I hadn’t read the script. They just talked to me about it, and my instincts were really fresh. And then I went back and looked it up, and I was interested in what they were doing. As much as he was endearing character in the start of the comic books, it’s hard to have that now. I think people’s perspectives on war have changed. I feel like it’s more relate-able to have people who are conflicted and live a better life than “I’ll go anywhere!”

Bucky has enrolled and is shipping out. Before he goes, he takes Rogers to the World Exposition Of Tomorrow. Note it’s 1943.

The pair walk under the Unisphere, located at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens, New York. Although – the real monument was not constructed til 1964. And this isn’t the real structure at all, but another studio set.

This ties into Iron Man 2 (2010) when Tony Stark holds the latest Stark Expo. That event is inspired by expos thrown by his father Howard Stark – like this one.

They meet up with two dates.

Inside the voiceover welcomes people to the Modern Marvels Pavillion. They aren’t quite doing it here, but in the world of Marvel comics, superheroes are called ‘Marvels’ (or at least they are in some cases, most famously the 1994 Marvels mini-series).

Which ties in with one of the more obvious easter eggs in the MCU, the appearance of the original Human Torch.

The Human Torch in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The Human Torch in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Marvel_Comics_Vol_1_1 The original Human Torch was an android, created by Professor Phineas Horton. We can see Horton’s name on the sign above the Human Torch. He had, as his name suggests, the ability to become fire, and used that power to be a hero. He was one of the key characters for Timely Comics in the 40s (along with Captain America). This whole scene, with what looks like a vacuum tube, is a nod to his origin, when he burst into flames when exposed to oxygen after being released from a similar container. He’s had minor roles in the modern Marvel universe, and his body was used to create the Vision.

He first appeared in Marvel Comics #1. He was created by Carl Burgos.

We get a better look now at their dates – Bonnie and Connie.

Bonnie is played by Sophie Colquhuon. She appeared in films like The In-Betweeners Movie.

Connie is played by Jenna Coleman. She would propel into fame the next year when she takes the role of companion in Doctor Who.

And then the presentation begins, hosted by Howard Stark. Played here by Dominic Cooper.

Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark in Captain America: The First Avenger.

This is the third actor to take the role of Howard Stark in the MCU. Gerard Sanders portrayed Howard Stark in photos in Iron Man (2008). John Slattery played an older Howard Stark (from the 1970s) in Iron Man 2 (2010).

static.playbillDominic Cooper found fame onstage in London, in the production of The History Boys. He would appear in films like Starter For 10 and An Education. He would star in lots of American genre stuff, as well as reprise this role many times.

He’s standing in front of a 1941 Cadillac Series 62. His flies, though.

After his presentation, we hear a bit of Make Way For Tomorrow Today. It is the Stark Expo theme, and first heard in Iron Man 2 (2010).

Rogers tries recruitment again, and argues with Bucky. They are overheard by Dr Abraham Erskine, played by Stanley Tucci.

Stanley Tucci as Dr Abraham Erskine in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Stanley Tucci as Dr Abraham Erskine in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Like the role he plays here, Abraham Erskine in the comics is the scientist who creates Captain America, and invents the Super Soldier Serum. He was also known as Dr Reinstein (possibly a nod to Einstein), but that was retconned as being an alias to keep him safe from his Nazi pursuers.

He also first appeared in Captain America Comics #1. He was created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.

The name of one of Erkine’s aliases, Dr Reinstein, is written on a canister of Super Soldier Serum found by Thunderbolt Ross in The Incredible Hulk (2008).

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.11.33 PMStanley Tucci is one of the great character actors. He’s had many dozens of memorable roles, from The Devil Wears Prada to Deconstructing Harry to Hunger Games and more.

Tucci apparently took the role so he could do the German accent, something he had not done before.

The music as Rogers and Bucky says goodbye is Farewell Bucky.

15:00-20:00

Erskine offers Rogers his chance.

We cut to snowy mountains, and a secret base. The music here is called Hydra Lab.

Schmidt is with Dr Arnim Zola. He’s played by Toby Jones.

Toby Jones as Arnim Zola in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Toby Jones as Arnim Zola in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain_America_Vol_1_208 In the comics, Zola is usually portrayed as a face on an android body. Like here, he was a Nazi scientist, and he managed to transfer himself into his own creations. The first shot of Zola, essentially projected on a screen, is a nod to his comics form (and his later fate).

He first appeared in Captain America #208, April 1977. He was created by Jack Kirby.

Toby JonesToby Jones is another fantastic character actor, with dozens of memorable roles, from the Harry Potter films, the Hunger Games films, and plenty of acclaimed indie dramas as well.

Schmidt looks at various old artwork that seems to be inspired by the Tesseract. It’s also great that he has some ready made, highly advanced Tesseract Tongs.

Zola and Schmidt do their experiment, and has managed to harness some of it’s power.

We are now at Camp Lehigh, training camp for new recruits. It’s really Black Park, Black Park Rd, Slough SL3 6DS. It conveniently backs onto Pinewood Studios.

The recruits are greeted by Agent Peggy Carter. She is played by Hayley Carter.

Hayley Atwell (left) as Agent Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Hayley Atwell (left) as Agent Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain_America_Vol_1_162 In the comics, Margaret ‘Peggy’ Carter was a long time ally of Captain America in the comics, and occasional romantic interest. After Captain America disappears, she would be instrumental in forming SHIELD. These characteristics carry over into the films, and if anything Carter here is more headstrong and authoritative. And she’s also English.

She was first named in Captain America #162, June 1973, and created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

2ea311e6ab61e669609e2271b4fb5ce3Hayley Atwell got her big break with Cassandra’s Dream. She had a lot of TV credits before playing this role, which seems to have took up most of her time since! Atwell told ScreenCrave:

I think that’s great because there’s a kindred spirit between her and Steve, there’s an equality about them and I love that. I think of women in the forties like Bette Davis or Katherine Hepburn, or my grandmother and I think “wow, they knew their power as women, so beautifully.” And Peggy in the script had that too, and I love that about her.

Gemma Arterton, Emily Blunt, Alexa DavalosAlice Eve, Keira Knightley, Rosamind Pike were all considered for the role at various points.

The mouthy soldier, Gilmore Hodge, is played by Lex Shrapnel.

Hodge appeared in the comics, or one comic. He’s with Captain America in his very first appearance in Captain America Comics #1.

20:00-25:00

Then comes Colonel Chester Phillips, played by Tommy Lee Jones.

Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips in captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips in captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Tales_of_Suspense_Vol_1_63 Phillips, in the comics and here, is a high ranking military official associated with Captain America. He was created in the 60s, but his story in the comics dates back to him playing a part in Cap’s origins and early lore.

He first appeared in Tales Of Suspense #63, from March 1965. He was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

11458_content_tommy-lee-jones-la-confidential-3Tommy Lee Jones has had an acclaimed and varied film career dating back to the 70s. He gave famously grizzled performances in The Fugitive, Men In Black and much more.

Phillips quotes General George S Patton, the leader of the US army into World War II.

We then go to a montage. The music is Training The Supersoldier.

The Strategic Scientific Reserve is a fictional department, made up for the film.

Rogers manages to grab a flag in a scene showing his intelligence. This scene was a reshoot, done in the US, filmed at Santa Clarita, north of LA.

Rogers tries to prove himself as Phillips and Erskine discuss his appropriateness. They mention Senator Brandt, who we will meet later.

Rogers proves his courage with a dummy grenade.

25:00-30:00

Erskine tells Rogers about his life and meeting Hitler, and Johann Schmidt. We discover that Schmidt has already started experimenting on himself.

The music here is called Schmidt’s Story.

It is worth noting that Nazi Germany did look into Eugenics, the idea and science behind making a more physically capable human through genetic intervention. It sparked the minds of many science fiction writers, and one of the inspirations for Captain America, and here. So Erskine’s story has strands of truth.

In the comics however, The Red Skull just started off as a dude with a mask. His origin was not tied to the Super Soldier Serum.

The look of this flashback/story is interesting – very comic book-y.

Back at the Hydra base. Music blaring, and it’s Götterdämmerung by German composer Richard Wagner. Hitler was a big fan of Wagner’s.

Zola walks in, and finds Schmidt, looking slightly different.

Someone is painting his portrait. He is played by David McKail.

And they’ve found Erskine.

Then we’re in Brooklyn. But we’re not – we’re in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, on Dale Street, looking towards Newton Street (which has been replaced by a CGI Brooklyn Bridge). The alley where Rogers says he was beaten up is actually walkway between two buildings, and not for cars.

 Carter and Rogers are driving down the street is a 1939 Buick Special.

Playing in the car is the song I’ll Remember April, by Woody Herman and His Orchestra, a hit in 1942.


30:00-35:00

The background through the car windows as they drive is the same three or four blocks over and over.

 There was additional shooting at the the New York Street set at Universal Studios in Hollywood, likely where they park the car and get out into Brooklyn Antiques.

 The store’s owner is played by Amanda Walker.

And we find ourselves at a secret base.

 Senator Brandt played by Michael Brandon.

He’s with Fred Clemson, from the State Department. But no, he’s actually someone else – Heinz Kruger. He’s played by Richard Armitage.

Richard Armitage as Heinz Kruger in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Richard Armitage as Heinz Kruger in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

 Kruger appeared in the very first Captain America story in Captain America Comics #1. He was also a double agent, disguised as an army official, and killer of Dr Erskine.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 4.11.09 PMRichard Armitage was best known for various British TV roles before this film. He would go on to star in The Hobbit trilogy.

 Howard Stark arrives. This is a new addition to the character’s lore. In the comics, he had nothing to do with Captain America‘s origin.

He is first injected with penicillin, a painkiller.

35:00-40:00

The procedure begins.

The music here is called VitaRays.

The procedure is complete, and Rogers is reborn.

The music here after is called We Did It.

Agent Carter’s little reach out was an improv by Hayley Atwell.

Kruger blows up the lab.

And he kills Dr Erskine.

Kruger runs. The music is called Kruger chase.

Kruger kills a soldier as he makes his escape, followed by the shop owner. He will later kill two undercover agents.

Sergio Covino plays Kruger’s colleague. The two undercover agents are Marcello Walton and Vincent Montuel. Kruger’s driver is Fabrizio Santino.

Kruger jumps into a taxi, a Chevrolet Master.

Once again, a lot of these streets are the same, from different angles, Dale St in Manchester.

40:00-45:00

As they get to the water, the location changes to Stanley Dock in Liverpool.

It’s probably no coincidence that Cap blocks some bullets with a cab door that has a star on it.

The music now is Hostage On the Pier.

After a scuffle with a little boy, Kruger calls forth an awesome submarine jet thing.

Kruger bites into a pill and takes his own life.

Before he does, he says the phrase “cut off one head, two more will take its place” and “Hail Hydra”. These are common catchphrases for the evil organisation from the comics.

And then we find ourselves in a Hydra base – a set.

Someone, possibly the Hydra intern, had to go get Hydra banners printed up in a printing shop, and put them around the base.

Hydra in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Hydra in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Strange_Tales_Vol_1_135 Lets talk Hydra. In the comics, they are a secret evil organisation, with roots in World War II, but various elements dating from ancient times (there is a bit of a weird faith element to them). They are large, well funded, with many branches, and basically as big and as evil as any other fictional shadow organisation. They have long been foes of SHIELD and the Avengers. For the film, they’ve lost their silly green outfits, and their origin is tied to the Red Skull.

They first appeared in Strange Tales #135, August 1965. They were created by Dick Ayers, Steve Ditko, Frank Giacoia, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

Schmidt is being questioned by Roeder, played by Anatole Taubman. The person who wants to stop indulging Schmidt (and calls him the Red Skull) is Schneider. He is played by Erich Redman. The third man is Hutter, played by Jan Pohl.

45:00-50:00

Anyway, Schmidt kills them.

Rogers gives blood. That secret in his genetic code will come into play in the wider MCU, in particular the Agent Carter series.

Stark, Phillips and everyone investigate the Hydra submarine.

Phillips wants to send Rogers to Alamogordo, New Mexico. It was the site of the nuclear tests that led to the nuclear bomb.

Brandt promotes Rogers, but it’s not what he thinks.

Rogers is backstage with Brandt’s unnamed assistant, played by Martin Sherman.

Rogers runs on the stage as Captain America for the first time. He’s part of a show to sell War Bonds.

Captain America's debut in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America’s debut in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The songs is called Star Spangled Man, written by Alan Menken, lyrics by David Zippel.

The shield design and shape is a nod to the comics. This was the original design of the shield, but it was too close to the design of superhero called The Shield. The round shield debuted in the second ever Captain America comic, Captain America Comics #2, and has been a part of the Cap mythology ever since (apart from the time he had like an electronic one, and the time he used his old one again for a bit).

The pantomime Hitler is played by James Payton.

This stage is once again Hackney Empire, where Rogers watched the newsreel.

50:00-55:00

Captain America’s fame leads to a comic. Of course, the cover is exactly the one on Captain America Comics #1.

We already know that the comic existed in the MCU, as Howard Stark would leave one behind in a box for his son Tony Stark, who would find it in Iron Man 2 (2010).

Rogers is approached by an autograph hunter, played by Laura Haddock.

Laura Haddock as an autograph seeker in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Laura Haddock as an autograph seeker in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The actress would return, in a different role, for Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014). She would play Peter Quill‘s mother in a scene set in 1988, 45 years after this scene, making it extremely unlikely they are the same characters. Maybe she is Peter Quill’s grandmother. Otherwise, she is one of the very few people who have had two roles in the MCU.

We see Captain America fronting I Want You posters – a nod to the famous poster of Uncle Sam.

There’s a deleted scene here where we see more of the war from Bucky’s perspective before Captain America arrives.

We are at a military base in Italy, with a much less impressed audience. It’s actually Bourne Wood, in Surrey, UK.

He is reunited with Agent Carter, who tries to convince Rogers to do more.

Phillips tells Rogers that Barnes is dead, but Rogers can save the rest of the 107th. Carter and Stark helps Rogers get to Austria.

The music here is Unauthorised Night Flight.

 Stark is flying a 1937 Beechcraft Model 18. A replica, we presume.

At the Hydra base, Schmidt wants to increase the output. The factory is worked on by prisoners.

We meet the 107th. The moustached prisoner is Timothy ‘Dum Dum’ Dugan. He is played by Neal McDonough.

Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Sgt_Fury_and_his_Howling_Commandos_Vol_1_1 Dum Dum Dugan is a member of the Howling Commandos. They were an elite (and lovable) military squad under Sgt Nick Fury in the comics, who also fought in World War II. Here, the film is using that part of Fury’s comics history for Cap. His moustache and bowler hat look is taken from the comics, where he would also become a high ranking and important member of SHIELD.

He first appeared in Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #1, May 1963. He was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

Neal McDonough McDonough is probably best known for many TV roles, and appeared in films such as Minority Report and Star Trek: First Contact.

He calls his capture Fritz, probably just a slightly racist nickname.

We see Cap approach the Hydra base. It’s an old military factory in Caerwent, South Wales.

He fights his way through several soldiers.

The music here is Troop Liberation.

60:00-65:00

Rogers steals a thing, and then manages to find and free the soldiers.

One of the first soldiers he frees is Gabe Jones, played by Derek Luke.

Derek Luke as Gabe Jones in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).
Derek Luke as Gabe Jones in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

Jones is another member of Nick Fury‘s original Howling Commandos from the comics. He would follow his career in the field with a stint in SHIELD. Along with Dugan, he first appeared in Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #1.

derek-luke-hawthorne-340Luke is probably best known for his TV work in Empire and The Americans. He can also appeared in films such as Seeking A Friend For the End Of the World and Lions For Lambs.

Also in the same cell (are those cells?) is James Montgomery Falsworth, played by JJ Feild.

JJ Fields as James Montgomery Falsworth in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
JJ Feild as James Montgomery Falsworth in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Invaders_Vol_1_7 In the comics, Falsworth is not a member of he Howling Commandos, but a masked hero in his own right. He’s Union Jack, and he was a British agent during World War II. He was created in the 70s as part of the Invaders, a team of heroes from the 40s that included Captain America and Bucky.

He first appeared in The Invaders #7, July 1976. He was created by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins.

John-Joseph-Feild-jj-feild-37000199-300-303Oddly, for the most British character in the film, one filled with British actors and made in the UK, John Joseph Feild was actually born in America. He moved to Britain and appeared in films such as Telstar: The Joe Meek Story and Austenland.

We meet another Howling Commando. Jim Morita, from Fresno. Played by Kenneth Choi.

Kenneth Choi as Jim Morita in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Kenneth Choi as Jim Morita in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Morita was another original member of the Howling Commandos. Like here, he was of Japanese descent, but served in the American army. He only made very few appearances in the comics. Like Dugan and Jones, he first appeared in Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #1.

choiChoi has appeared in TV such as Sons Of Anarchy and films such as Wolf Of Wall Street.

Choi is also due to appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). He is another actor who has been cast in two MCU roles. It remains to be seen if there is any connection between the two characters.

The US soldiers fight their way out.

Soldiers on both sides are killed.

French actor Bruno Ricci plays Jacques Dernier. He finds the Tesseract powered weapon.

Bruno Ricci as Jacques Dernier in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Bruno Ricci as Jacques Dernier in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Sgt_Fury_Vol_1_21 Dernier was not a member of the Howling Commandos either, but encountered the team several times. He was a member of the French Resistance in the comics, and remains so here.

He first appeared in Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #21 (August, 1965). He was created by Dick Ayers and Stan Lee.

390338_3Ricci, a French actor, has appeared in several films and TV shows in France. This is his most prominent English speaking role (not that he speaks much English here!).

Dugan and Jones take a tank. Jones says he went to Howard University in Washington DC.

In the German dub of the film, the joke was changed to Engineering girls being ugly.

Schmidt spots Captain America, and sees there’s a super soldier. He sets a self destruct and he and Zola leave.

He finds Bucky.


65:00-70:00

Schmidt and Zola encounters Captain America and Bucky.

The music here is Factory Inferno.

Captain America and Bucky faces The Red Skull and Zola in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America and Bucky faces The Red Skull and Zola in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

We realise Schmidt has supersoldier strength. The two fight.

And Schmidt reveals his true, er, colours.

The Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The Red Skull escapes in a rocket. It’s a Triebflügeljäger, a design by the Nazis that was never made.

Zola escapes by car. Bucky and Cap finally make it out too.

70:00-75:00

Captain America leads the soldiers back to base.

The music here is Triumphant Return.

At an award ceremony held by Brandt, we get the Stan Lee cameo.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 9.16.54 PM
Stan Lee in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

It’s worth noting that Lee had nothing to do with the creation of Captain America.

We see a brief street scene of London. It’s King Charles Street in Westminster.

Beneath that street is the Cabinet War Room, where Winston Churchill planned the allied campaign. But here it’s Longcross Studios, Chobham Lane, Chertsey, in Surrey.

Rogers mentions the Maginot Line, a line of concrete fortifications used to protect France in the lead up to World War II.

There was an extended version of this scene.

With Phllips is Private Lorraine, played by Natalie Dormer. She would go on to star memorably in Game Of Thrones and the Hunger Games series.

He recruits the Howling Commandos. They are drinking at Crocker’s Folly, 24 Aberdeen Place, Maida Vale, London NW8.

Behind them the piano player is playing the traditional song There Is A Tavern In The Town.

And in walks Agent Carter. Apparently the dress was designed for the film Inglorious Basterds but was not used.

75:00-80:00

Stark plays around with some of the Tesseract. It blows up in his face.

Rogers talks to Private Lorraine. She is reading The Stars And Stripes, the US military’s newspaper.

They then share a kiss.

Howard Stark shows Rogers some shields. He finds the Vibranium one that would become his signature.

In the comics, Howard Stark played no part in making the shield. The metal vibranium comes from Wakanda, home of Black Panther, and the making of the shield is part of that character’s mythology. The shield in the comics is also part adamantium, the indestructible metal used by Wolverine’s claws. It could be that Fox owns that term because of Wolverine, but either way the MCU has chosen to avoid mentioning it.

And we see Captain America, in costume, with his shield.

Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America and the Howling Commandos take out several Hydra bases.

 Music here is called the Howling Commandos Montage.

80:00-85:00

Captain America and the Howling Commandos have tracked Zola to a train.

 Music here is called the Hydra Train.

Cap and Bucky defeat several Hydra soldiers.

Bucky kills a couple of them.

85:00-90:00

Bucky is attacked, and falls out of the train to his death. OR DOES HE?

Meanwhile, Gabe Jones apprehends Zola.

Back at Allied HQ (still King Charles Street).

Phillips talks to an imprisoned Zola. He mentions he does eat meat. Hitler was also a vegetarian.

And we see the amazing aircraft that The Red Skull has built.

The music here is Rain Fire Upon Them.

Agent Carter finds a distraught Rogers.

90:00-95:00

Rogers reveals he can’t get drunk.

Rogers, on a motorbike, is being chased by several Hydra soldiers, who shoot at him.

The music here is Motorcycle Mayhem.

Cap breaks in, but is captured.

The Howling Commandos attack. Why they didn’t just abseil into the main headquarters earlier is beyond me. Perhaps Cap caused a distraction, but it’s not much of one.


95:00-100:00

The assault team battles Hydra. Lots of people die. Like, lots.

Captain America, Phillips and Carter chases Red Skull onto his ship, headed for New York.

Agent Carter and Captain America kiss.

Captain America and Agent Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America and Agent Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

And Captain America is on the plane, to face The Red Skull alone.

100:00-105:00

It seems a little odd that someone had to write the city names of where the planes are headed to on the actual plane. Poor Hydra intern.

Cap fights more Hydra soldiers, and throws some of them out the plane, assuming he kills them.

Super soldier serum includes aircraft piloting lessons. That said, he doesn’t do a great job and mainly crashes it.

Captain America and The Red Skull fight.

The Red Skull and Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The Red Skull and Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The music here is Fight on the Flight Deck.

105:00-110:00

The Tesseract is damaged, and it burns the Red Skull, sending his in a blue light into the sky. We assume he dies.

But in true ‘no body’ fashion, various people, including the screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have said the Red Skull could return. Weaving, for his part, hated the make-up and has expressed no interest in returning.

Cap flies the plane alone. And he has to make a sacrifice. The music here is This is My Choice.

Carter mentions the Stork Club, a popular and exclusive Manhattan nightclub at the time.

Off screen, the plane crashes and Captain America is killed. OR IS HE?

We cut to London’s Trafalgar Square, where people are celebrating the victory of World War II. His Howling Commandos salute him.

Stark, looking for Rogers, finds the Tesseract.

Carter is given Rogers’ files, and is entrusted with his legacy.

110:00-115:00

Some kids play with a Captain America toy shield. We’re not sure of the street, we assume it’s Manchester, or a set.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

And we fade to black.

Hold on! We’re back, with Rogers waking up. He’s in what looks like a hospital bed, location unknown.

The radio talks about a baseball game with the Dodgers – who prior to 1957 were based in Brooklyn, but now based in LA – and the Philadelphia Phillies. Ebbets Field was the Dodgers home ground.

The radio mentions players – Phillies pitcher Ike Pearson, Dodgers batsmen Pete Reiser and Phillies outfielder Johnny Rizzo. They also mention Dodgers manager Leo Durocher.

He is greeted by someone who looks military, played by Amanda Righetti.

Rogers reveals he knows the game isn’t right. It’s from 1941 – he went to the ice after ’43, likely ’44.

The game is accurate, and from 25th May 1941. Pretty cool that they made it accurate.

He fights through two guards and busts out of his Truman Show like cell.

What was the plan here? They just had a 2D painting out the window? No doctors around monitoring?

He runs out of 1585 Broadway, New York, but the entrance on W 47th Street. He goes left and…

… he runs onto Times Square.

Here comes Nick Fury. Possibly angry that Cap stole his backstory and most of his mates in the Howling Commandos. He is played by Samuel L Jackson.

Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Samuel L Jackson

This is Samuel L Jackson’s 4th appearance in the MCU. We last saw him in Thor (2011).

He tells Cap that he’s been asleep for almost 70 years.

And he has missed his date.

Final shot in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Final shot in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

We see the Uncle Sam poster, that becomes the titles. Other great vintage war artwork comes to life.

The music here is Captain America March.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) title card
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) title card

The credits also end with ‘Captain America will return in The Avengers‘.

Post credits scene

We assume this scene was written and directed by Joss Whedon, writer and director of The Avengers (2012).

Fury gives Rogers a mission.

Then a sting for The Avengers (2012). As we will see all these scenes again, we’ll talk about it next time.


What did we think?

It’s another pretty wonderful film from Marvel, one that impressed fans, wider audiences and critics. After Thor (2011), this was part of a four film run that helped set Marvel to be one of the biggest and most successful studios in the world. But right now, this still felt like a cheaper blockbuster, one that is quietly unassuming and happy to be it’s own thing. It is also unabashedly fun.

Joe Johnston was an interesting choice for director, with almost every man and his dog evoking The Rocketeer, his wonderful film from 1991. And there’s certainly a lot of that here. World War II, the square jawed hero and the wonderful steam punk elements. What’s new is the weight of expectations on a 70 year old classic character. And Johnston and the filmmakers pull it off with great style.

Chris Evans is great in the role, and you can’t imagine anyone else doing it. Everyone in the world auditioned, and the memory of the Human Torch was still in recent memory, so there was no guarantee that Evans would pull it off – or that audiences would buy into it. It’s not an easy performance either – there’s not a lot of light and shade to work with – he is always a just a good man. How to make that interesting without changing the character is what DC have struggled to do with Superman.

It’s easy to say Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving were great. Because those ever reliable character actors are always great. Hayley Atwell was a wonderful find, and no wonder they kept bringing her back in various roles, being a vital player in the MCU. Sebastian Stan is fine as Bucky, but he’s nothing compared to what he would do with the role. The Howling Commandos are wasted.

The film’s worst crimes probably have all to do with the budget. Some of it looks pretty bad – in particular the fight scenes, and the clear CGI. The action is unconvincing, in particular weightless shield throwing, explosions that give off no heat, and copy and paste Hydra soldiers. There are lots of cut corners – the same backgrounds being used over and over again out car windows – if we noticed it, that’s not great. The sets work, but don’t really knock us out. We never see the grand weapons. And the ending, where Captain America is kept when he reaches the present day, is just stupid. By Phase 3, they would not cut such corners, but here it was noticeable.

But they put their effort into what really counted – characters and script. Word is Joss Whedon helped shape the shooting draft with more character moments. And you buy into it very quickly. Erskine and Rogers build a lifetime of loyalty in one chat. Soldiers are won over my a bad actor in one swoop. Phillips interrogating Zola, Bucky and Cap, anything with Carter or Stark. We would love to hang out with any of these people. Part of you wishes they could have waited another film before sending Cap into the future. Of course, that’s not the plan.

It feels a little like Marvel fluked another one, but they were getting better. That the Captain America films would wind up being the best trilogy in the Marvel films was unexpected, and gives extra dimension to this film.

Best bits:

  • Chris Evans. Pulls off a wonderful job. Everyone went from “really…?” to “born to play this role…” in a few films time, and you can see it all here.
  • Character actor overload. The Joneses, Weaving and Tucci. Just masters.
  • The golly gosh sock ’em fun of it all. It’s so…comic book-y.
  • Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter.
  • Some pretty good jokes. Nothing as painful as Edward Norton holding up those purple pants.

Not best bits:

  • Some of the worst CGI in the MCU
  • Howling who?
  • Bucky’s kind of wasted too.
  • Hydra has to have the worse defended bases in the world.
  • It will get worse, but random blue energy being shot in the sky, undefined energy guns…ugh.

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Dramatis Personae


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