Movie offers a superhero with heart

By Sister Helena Burns, FSP | Contributor
Sunday, July 31, 2011

“Captain America” is yet another superhero movie in what an "Entertainment Weekly" columnist calls a "glut" of superhero movies. What makes "Captain America" different from the others? It's a period piece, it takes a profound look at the very specific nature of Nazi evil, it has visual effects and action scenes to give Michael Bay a run for his money and it has miles and miles of heart.

There are several poignant, small scenes in the beginning of the film that set up Captain America's inner self. Captain America is actually Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a little guy from Brooklyn who never backs down from a fight, and who keeps getting rejected by the military because of his size and health.

An Einstein-like doctor (Stanley Tucci) who transforms him into Captain America gives him advice about not changing from the good man he is. He also tells him: "Strong men don't value strength, they take it for granted, but a weak man values strength … and compassion." Rogers takes this advice, and in a biblical-style showdown with evil he readily admits to his "nothingness," wherein lies his strength.

Eviler-than-thou Johann Schmidt, aka "The Red Skull," is Captain America's nemesis. In a fresh antagonist twist, Schmidt decides he's greater than Hitler and quests after his own world domination. Schmidt is played to the teeth by Hugo Weaving (creepy Agent Smith in "The Matrix," as well as "V" in "V is for Vendetta," and the voice of Megatron in "Transformers").

For all the red, white and blue splattered everywhere, and the moniker "Captain America," the "rah, rah, USA!" factor is played way down. The war effort is clearly an international affair with Brits and Frenchmen, and the Americans include various nationalities, with a special nod to Japanese- Americans.

"Captain America" is a lush, old-fashioned movie-going extravaganza. So even if you don't like comic-book culture or wham-bang action and explosion movies, you'll probably enjoy "Captain America," which leaves plenty of room to breathe between shoot- 'em-up scenes, developing some surprisingly finessed dramatic storytelling along the way.

"Captain America" is a great "David and Goliath" story, really.

Brains and guts win the day. Steve Rogers is not a lover of violence. When asked if he wants to kill Nazis he says: "I don't want to kill anybody. I just don't like bullies."