…is very, very good. I am not sure if it is the best of the “Avengers Generation” of Marvel movies, but I am quite sure that it is my favourite, because Joe Johnston did exactly what I wanted him to do in making a Captain America movie, which was basically take the tone of the old Republic serials, pump up the action and drama, and update it into a modern, adult film which kids can still enjoy. The fact that it ends on a melancholy note (and if you know Captain America at all, you know that his origin story has to end that way) gives it a tone that no other superhero movie really has had over the last decade.
Of note: Chris Evans is a magnificent Captain America, and I think that is high praise because we generally recognize that of all the Marvel characters, Cap is probably the hardest to play: it’s very easy to turn his idealism into self-righteousness or priggishness and make him unlikeable (I’m looking at you, Mark Millar), but Evans simply emphasizes Cap’s basic decency, which is the core of the character, and the overriding theme of Cap in the movie is “a weak but noble man becomes strong,” which is what Cap’s theme should be. The supporting cast is likewise excellent: Hugo Weaving is a predictably fantastic Red Skull, Tommy Lee Jones’ colonel gets all the good lines, the Howling Commandos don’t get much screen time but are all good (special bonuses: Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan and Kenneth Choi playing Jim Morita, which was unexpected but appreciated), Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark is a clever 40s-influenced riff on RDJ’s Tony Stark, and Stanley Tucci’s Erskine gives the film heart and purpose. The only weak link is Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, who is not bad but not on par with everybody else.
My only other note is to avoid seeing it in 3D – unlike Thor, where the 3D was unnecessary but not really an issue, Captain America is less enjoyable in 3D – not because of the 3D itself, which is again unnecessary but not bad or anything, but because wearing the glasses dims the movie. In Thor, which was loaded with bright colours and lots of light, this wasn’t so much an issue, but in Captain America, where Joe Johnston is again working with the lush, dark colour palette he’s used so often for his period work, it makes the film look drab when it is not that thing. So go 2D for this one.