So earnest I had to double check that Jim Varney hadn’t returned from the grave, Chris Evans brings an inner strength to both Steve Rogers and Captain America that makes him the perfect action hero. Despite Cap being a steroid-injected super-freak, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely create a flawed character who struggles to find his place in the world even when he’s got the muscles to put it to rights.
Creating sympathy for the lead is something that comic book adaptations – even Marvel ones – have struggled to do in the past so kudos for not making Cap simply about the red, white and blue but also about the human qualities of loyalty and truth.
At the centre of the battle is Hugo Weaving as the Nazi arch-nemesis Red Skull. Erring just on the right side of Herr Flick of the Gestapo from ‘Allo ‘Allo, he’s suitably creepy but ultimately sleepwalks through his umpteenth villain role. Is it lazy casting? Probably, but his red-faced antics and double act with Toby Jones saves him embarrassment.
But at the centre of the shield-wielding mayhem, and the obligatory Avengers foreshadowing, is the luminous performance of Hayley Atwell. Wearing her 1940s outfits like she’s been traced from the fuselage of a Memphis Belle, her chemistry with Evans is palpable and most importantly believable; something which Hemsworth and Portman, plus Reynolds and Lively in The Green Lantern, were missing in their superhero efforts this summer.
Unfortunately, though, after a brilliantly involving first hour, the action sequences begin to blend into one another and Captain America rushes to its final confrontation like Joss Whedon is pushing Johnston out of the director’s chair as he’s still barking down the megaphone. You’ll begin to pine for the simplicity again.
Luckily a final ten minute sequence that loosely emulates the classic A Matter of Life and Death manages to bring back the goofy, honest love story that was so beautifully played out to begin with and is, really - despite the muscles and 3D slinging - what this Captain America is all about.