I don't think I'm ready for this yet. Superheroes have been such an integral part of my life for so long that I don't even know who I'd be without my love for Captain America, The Punisher, X-Men, both Green's (Arrow and Lantern, screw Hornet), Batman, Spidey and The Avengers. I know these people better than I know my friends and family. Now that I've seen Captain America right on the heels of Thor and Green Lantern, I'm afraid I might be growing out of superhero movies or, more accurately, I'm growing out of the formula that they all have in common, which I call the Batman Begins syndrome.
Batman Begins has an amazing first act. Bruce Wayne training in the ways of the ninja and then becoming the Dark Knight is some of the most exhilarating filmmaking I've ever seen. But once he's Batman and stopping a train bomb from destroying the city, it becomes every other superhero movie. I knew he would stop the train and save everyone and so did you. The same formula also applies for the Thor movie. All of the stuff with Thor on Asgard is fascinating, but as soon as he's sent to Earth it becomes another generic "save humanity" storyline without any surprises. Act three is so predictable, you can essentially write it yourself.
Captain America is no different. When the film is just skinny Steve Rogers and his plucky, can-do spirit trying to join the Army so he can fight for his country, it's one of the best superhero origin stories I've ever seen. But as soon as he becomes Chris Evans, with his rippling pectoral region stuffed into the costume to allow him to fight evil Nazi scientists, I start losing interest. I love Nazi pummeling and I heart it even more when it's a person in some kind of themed costume doing said pummeling. No matter how good Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving are in the film (and they are all stellar), I am so in tune with the formula and structure of these movies, that it just seems so tedious.
I'm hoping that these new, grown-uppy feelings are a direct result of Summer Blockbuster-itus, which is a sickness caused by viewing too many films in a row containing three-fourths eye candy and the remaining quarter reserved for story development. It's a heartbreaking disease to have, give that the first hour of Captain America actually manages to make you feel like an eight year old watching Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time. I mean, there was definitely some fist pumping and possibly some giggling going down. But the last hour is all true to formula, something I used to be able to ignore in movies like this but that now sticks out.
I'm not ready to stop enjoying superhero movies yet. As pedestrian as the final half of Captain America is, it still got me excited to see The Avengers and, hopefully, my Blockbuster-itus will have worn off by then so I can give it a fair shake without being overly critical. I know that sounds ridiculous for someone who makes a living throwing his opinion around all willy-nilly, but I try to give every film I watch the benefit of the doubt before I watch it. I mean, of course The Zookeeper is going to suck, but wouldn't it be marvelous if it didn't? That approach is what keeps me in love with film even as more and more bad ones keep getting pumped into our theaters. As much as I didn't like the climax of Captain America, it will be that first hour I remember the most. After all, who doesn't want to feel like a kid again? I'm not giving up and neither should you.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Starring Chris Evans, Hugo "Basket" Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Toby Jones and Stanley Tucci
Directed by Joe Johnston.