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Review: Captain America

The first move in a series of movies for any particular superhero has a difficult task. It must both establish the origins of the hero and also serve up a convincing and entertaining story to boot. Though it would seem that sometimes both of these goals can be the same, they are in fact different: an entertaining story has to have what amounts to a conclusion by the end of the movie, while an origin story needs to explain all of the initial motivations for a character. Oftentimes, movies will place more emphasis on one or the other, usually skimping on the entertaining story to better help the origin story. Captain America suffers from some of these problems.

The major issue with the Captain America movie has to be how the entire movie is ultimately an origin story. In fact, the ending of the movie provides little to no satisfaction as to how the entertaining story part of the movie was actually resolved. It is in its entire a cliffhanger, with no real satisfying conclusion to this particular story. In fact the entire movie essentially plays as one big setup for the Avengers movie, and does little in the way of leaving you entertained by itself.

That is not to say that the movie was not enjoyable to watch, but rather simply that it did not end well. It had no real conclusion as such. The central conflict of the film really isn't resolved in the best way. The plot development, in short, failed.

The only reason to watch this movie is if you want some background information before watching the Avengers. It really can't stand on its own at all, and this is bad even by the standards of other films establishing characters for the Avengers. Even the Hulk movie (the second one in the last decade) was better able to stand by itself, and they ultimately had to change actors for the Hulk in the Avengers. But Captain America is different. You can watch any of the other pre-Avengers establishing movies and be satisfied that those can stand on their own. This movie does not, which is really disappointing because the production and acting are pretty good. Those things, however, can't save this film, whose sole existence is in essence a too long prequel to a much better movie.