Doom and Doomer: Captain America: The First Avenger

captain america international posterJIM DOOM: Hey, let’s finish reviewing Captain America.

DOOM DELUISE: I need to find [our first attempt at our review] so I can get caught up. I forget what I was having a hard time explaining.

JIM DOOM: Or we could just move on to talking about specific things and you can build a segue between the old part and the new part later. This will also make it seem like you got the last word in on whatever the topic was!

DOOM DELUISE: I found it. Re-reading the review so far is really frustrating.

JIM DOOM: haha, I bet.

DOOM DELUISE: I don’t want to be rude, but it was like you were ignoring half of what I was saying and then faulting my logic and trying to catch me in contradictions.

JIM DOOM: Is this the start of the review?

DOOM DELUISE: …while fully ignoring almost everything I was saying.

JIM DOOM: Well, I wasn’t trying to catch you in contradictions. I thought you were contradicting yourself, and I couldn’t latch onto what your actual problem with the movie was. So there was no trying to catch contradictions. They were landing in my lap.

Perfect segue — I wasn’t understanding you, so why don’t you say “Okay, let’s talk about some specifics.”

DOOM DELUISE: No, no. they weren’t actual contradictions. You were suggesting they were, but that’s because you weren’t paying attention to what I was saying.

JIM DOOM: …Then we can talk about specifics. Because as I remember it, we were just floating in generalities, and there’s no way to really discuss, “This movie was a total failure!”

DOOM DELUISE: OK, let’s take a ten minute break and then start completely over. Trust me, what we have so far is a total wash.

JIM DOOM: Jesus so we get to start all over with you saying the movie is a total failure and I say it’s not? Hooray.

DOOM DELUISE: I was hoping we could be more succinct with our arguments so that we’re not just bickering back and forth in the most annoying way possible. It’s not fun to read what we have so far.

JIM DOOM: Well I’m sure it isn’t for you, considering you were contradicting yourself all over the place.


Do me a favor, before we start up again. Find the old transcript, read it over, pay attention to what you wrote, and try to pretend that you’re not being an obstinate dick.

JIM DOOM: I don’t really know what you’re talking about now. I just read it, and if this really bothers you, I think we should just forget it. This doesn’t read any different than any of our other conversations when you lead with sweeping, damning generalizations and I try to draw details out of you. And if you came out with the same points this morning, I’d probably reply exactly the same.

DOOM DELUISE: OK, let’s start over, and I’ll try to steer clear of generalizations.

So, we both saw Captain America: The First Avenger, and the one point we can probably agree upon is that it’s a movie!

JIM DOOM: Bullshit!

DOOM DELUISE: I hated it. Here’s why:

I thought the character of Steve Rogers was nearly impossible to relate to, since his chief motivation was patriotism. It was made even worse by the fact that he was a hollow, computer-generated abstraction at the beginning of the movie. You could argue that he was also motivated by his loyalty and friendship with Fat Bucky, but I don’t think they did a very good job of developing that friendship, since Bucky seemed more interested in chasing tail than anything else, and the few chances they gave to build that relationship were hurt by the piss-poor dialogue that the two characters were forced to exchange.

Once they got around to trying to convince us that Captain America should be considered heroic, most of those scenes were reduced to montages (how many montages were there, by the way?), and once the villains of the movie shifted from Nazis to SUPER NAZIS, the movie became completely outlandish, and there was no weight to it and even less reason to connect to the events happening on-screen.

Specific enough?

JIM DOOM: I think it’s interesting that you say Steve was motivated mainly by patriotism. One of the things I really liked about the movie was that I thought it was remarkably non-patriotic! I don’t know if non-patriotic is a word, but I want to distinguish between being devoid of a patriotic message and being anti-patriotic.

I was afraid that it was going to be a lot of just “USA! Yeah!” but I really liked that Steve specifically said no, he didn’t want to just kill Nazis — he was motivated by being a good man and sticking up for the little guy, whomever that may be. That was very refreshing to me.

I thought the potential for overt patriotism was also undermined by the somewhat satirical nature of the political rallies that Captain America was a part of. I felt like that showed what a superficial production the war was to people like the Senator, who were part of the powers that sent young men to die. And also the fact that some of the guys who were considered to be more “ideal” American soldiers, for lack of a better term, were themselves bullies.

So I felt like that showed that Steve – and by extension, Captain America – represented less of The United States of America and more of a fearless, loving generosity that’s border-blind.

Obviously, that message was cloaked in a World War II superhero action movie, so there are political themes. But I felt like the balance between the personal motivation and the American military mission was handled very well, considering the sophistication that the movie didn’t necessarily call for.

And I guess switching from Nazis to Super Nazis didn’t bother me at all, considering the star of the movie is a Super American.

DOOM DELUISE: Fair enough, but if it wasn’t patriotism, what was he so determined to fight for? Sticking up for the little guy? Standing up to bullies? I hate to just write that off as incredibly lame, but I’m going to do it anyway.

JIM DOOM: If that’s lame to you, I can’t argue with that, but yeah. He was motivated by seeing injustice in the world, people being mistreated, and he wanted to do whatever he could to help. He was motivated by a somewhat ironic sense of collective duty to society.

But I thought they were actually pretty careful to make him not motivated by patriotism, nationalism, etc. That exchange with the Doctor — “Do you want to kill Nazis?” — was very important.

So the choice to steer the movie away from “Rah Rah USA” and the execution of that choice is part of what I really respected about it. I certainly don’t doubt that there’s an audience for that stuff, but I think this was a more difficult path to take. Especially considering it was for the Captain America movie.

DOOM DELUISE: In fairness, I nearly stopped paying attention to that part of the movie entirely, since it took soooo long to do some fairly pedestrian story-telling bits. The movie was weighted down at the top of the thing so heavily that it took a very long (and boring) time to get itself going. So, yeah, I drifted in and out of daydreaming during that part.

JIM DOOM: I agree that the relationship with Bucky wasn’t much, but I think if you detach it from their relationship in the comics, it works better. It definitely wasn’t reflective of or as deep as their comic relationship – – that’s for sure. I don’t think there was really time to develop Fat Bucky like that, and I’m glad that Fat Bucky wasn’t a teenage sidekick. So instead, he was just sort of this stand-in representing a typical good soldier. Something Steve aspired to be, with a hometown connection.

DOOM DELUISE: He was like Biggs in Star Wars.

JIM DOOM: I’ve heard some people were disappointed that Bucky’s death was handled as unceremoniously as it was, especially considering he picked up Captain America’s shield – – and if you read the comics, you know that one day Bucky becomes Captain America. So I can see where people are coming from when they say it was a missed opportunity.

But I didn’t think of that at all while it was happening, and I’ve really liked Bucky as Captain America in the comics. What I really liked about that scene was that it did a great job of showing that jealousy of Bucky, where you could kind of tell all along that he thought he could be Captain America.

So picking up the shield was this moment of showing that – – “I can be Captain America too! I have what Steve has.” But he didn’t have what Steve has. In the literal sense, obviously, he didn’t have the super soldier treatment. But the point of the movie throughout was that it was Steve’s personality that made Captain America. And Bucky learned that the hard way.

DOOM DELUISE: I agree with the people who say it was a missed opportunity. I don’t necessarily think it was a missed opportunity in the sense that I wish they would’ve set up a sequel where Bucky would become Captain America or anything like that, but I thought it would have been a nice nod to comics fans if they’d done anything to acknowledge that Fat Bucky picking up the shield was important. And reinforcing the idea that only Steve could be Cap went even further to dashing that point. Not that I think it’s that significant, but it shows the clear distinction between Comic Bucky and Fat Bucky. Comic Bucky is just a young version of Steve, basically, aspiring to be as good of a man as Cap. Fat Bucky’s just a turd, and he deserved to die.

JIM DOOM: But if they do end up carrying that out in the movies, Fat Bucky can grow into a good man too. Just because he’s not there now doesn’t mean he can never get there. But he’s definitely not there now. If he were there now, Steve wouldn’t be as special.

By the way, was he really fat? I don’t remember that at all!

DOOM DELUISE: He wasn’t thin.

JIM DOOM: Want me to tell you my other favorite part of the movie, which I am going to predict you hated?


JIM DOOM: The conversation between Steve & Peggy as the plane was going down. I was streaming tears in the theater, baby. I thought that was handled so well.

captain america posterDOOM DELUISE: I’m glad you brought that up. That’s the one tone the movie hit that sang perfectly, if you ask me.

I loved that scene.

JIM DOOM: What I particularly liked about it is that I think we in the audience were supposed to want to hear them say “I love you.” But instead of choosing to accept the doom of the situation, which was inevitable, they still chose to hope for something beautiful. And saying I love you, even though it’s a beautiful thing, acknowledges the doom. By not saying it — by making the date — it was so much more powerful, so much more touching.

DOOM DELUISE: Absolutely.

JIM DOOM: Man, I loved that scene.

DOOM DELUISE: That scene was perfect.

That scene makes me hate the rest of the movie even more, since it shows they had potential to make a really great movie, and they blew it.

JIM DOOM: I have to say, I thought this movie was so well done. So much better than I expected. I thought it just absolutely nailed the little things that mattered.

DOOM DELUISE: I disagree. I think a “little thing” that matters is a memorable theme song, like with Star Wars or Indiana Jones or Superman or Tim Burton’s Batman. That’s pivotal, and they clearly couldn’t be bothered. Music matters!

JIM DOOM: Eh, it’s not like Iron Man or Thor got their own theme songs. They’re not doing that with this series. Or if they are, “memorable” hasn’t been part of the equation.

DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, this definitely isn’t a criticism reserved solely for Cap.

I think that’s why I liked Kick-Ass so much last year. It’s the first comic book movie in YEARS that seemed to give a shit about music.

JIM DOOM: I think you have to admit, though, that Kick-Ass had a tone that both lent itself to an awesome soundtrack and would’ve been inappropriate for a Captain America movie. [Kick-Ass] was much more embedded in contemporary pop culture.

DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, they’re totally different movies, but at least Kick-Ass knew what music fit with its tone. Captain America just ignored music.

JIM DOOM: No it didn’t! It just had period music, which I thought was totally appropriate to the story.

DOOM DELUISE: Oh, sorry, you’re right. There WAS music in Captain America. It did HAVE a soundtrack. Just like it did HAVE a script.

I’m just saying that both were bad.

JIM DOOM: But come on, it would’ve been weird to have a Creed song or something in a movie set in the 1940s. It used music to help tell the story, rather than treating the movie like a music video.

I loved the use of contemporary music in Kick-Ass, but it was much more that music-video style. And it was completely appropriate for the story they were telling.

DOOM DELUISE: I don’t disagree with you at all. It would’ve been jarring to have a Creed song or any recognizable pop song or rock song or whatever. I’m saying that they could’ve created some original music in the score that could’ve been distinctly created for Captain America that would be a theme for Captain America that would carry over into the Avengers.

That they didn’t is a wasted opportunity.

JIM DOOM: Ok. I can’t relate to this fixation at all, but I grant you it would be nice to be able to whistle the Captain America theme song.

What did you think of Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull?

DOOM DELUISE: I realize what I’m saying here, but I thought he was a bit too one-dimensional in his villainy. He was, and again, I KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING HERE, but he was a bit too cartoonish.

JIM DOOM: I liked his connection to the super soldier lineage. Was that in the comics, or was that a creation for the movies? Because the idea of him being a predecessor to the super soldiers fits in very nicely with Nazi mythology.

DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, that was cool. I have no idea what his origins are in the comics. He’s just been around so long that I’ve either forgotten or never cared. But yeah, they did a good job of fitting him into Captain America’s universe.

JIM DOOM: I agree, though. He’s definitely not as intriguing as a personality as someone like Magneto.

DOOM DELUISE: I think I can make this review a lot shorter if I just flat-out tell you what I liked about the movie, since I hated the rest of it.

JIM DOOM: But we don’t have to make it short! [ed. note: Clearly.]

DOOM DELUISE: I loved the aforementioned scene where Cap’s taking the ship down. That was beautiful. And I loved the ending, when he breaks out of the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, runs through the streets of New York, and realizes that he missed his date with Peggy.

That stuff was amazing.

JIM DOOM: That line – – “I had a date” – – so perfect.

DOOM DELUISE: But, then there are scenes, like after he first goes into enemy territory and returns with the POWs, and they all smile at him in slow motion and somebody says something like, “Let’s hear it for… CAPTAIN AMERICA!!” and they all cheer and clap him on the back… scenes like that just tank this movie for me.

Chris Evans is one of the most charming bastards alive, and they nearly took all of that charm away for 90% of the movie. Once they gave us a glimmer of it at the end, I fell in love with the character, so god bless ’em for that. But I really couldn’t get behind him for the vast majority of the movie.

JIM DOOM: Huh. That’s too bad. I obviously can’t argue with that, since it’s your experience, but I had a big dumb smile on my face for most of the movie because I just thought he totally owned that part.

I just want to add a little bit to that, in that I feel this weird sense of pride for Chris Evans, and it’s not like I know the guy or anything, but I think it’s because I became a fan of his way back in Not Another Teen Movie. So I’m just happy for the guy, I guess, that now he’s Captain America.

He’s like a blonde Tom Cruise.

DOOM DELUSIE: That’s part of the reason I disliked the movie. I really, really like Chris Evans. When I saw him in Sunshine, I decided he’s one of my favorite actors, and when I heard that he was cast for Captain America, I was sold, sight unseen. The problem is that, at the beginning of the movie, he’s just a bad computer graphic, and then, for the most part of the rest of the movie, he’s just punching and kicking and shooting and yelling. It isn’t until the last ten minutes of the movie where he’s really allowed to ACT like Captain America. It’s why I have hope for The Avengers, because I think he is absolutely perfect for the role of Cap, and he shows it in the final couple of scenes.

JIM DOOM: Yeah I guess I just disagree with that, because I liked him throughout. I surprisingly wasn’t bothered by the CGI head-attachment, which I feared I would be based on the previews, and I really liked his character in the early days of being Captain America.

DOOM DELUISE: I didn’t care for his early days as Captain America because he was surrounded by hollow, meaningless characters. Once he was given the opportunity to actually become the character, they folded some of their most interesting action sequences into bland montages, and his relationships with other characters were thin and underdeveloped.

If you liked the movie, as you say you did, it’s in spite of their best efforts to make it terrible. Or, at the very least, forgettable.

JIM DOOM: I also don’t really have a problem with montages I guess. I don’t know if I’m for montages or neutral, but I now know that I am not anti-montage.

DOOM DELUISE: Not even when he Motorcycle Jumps out of an explosion?

JIM DOOM: There was a montage of motorcycle jumps? If so, I wish I remembered that, because that sounds awesome.

DOOM DELUISE: It was at the end of one of the montages. He jumps his motorcycle out of an explosion, right toward the camera.

JIM DOOM: Hell yeah!

That sounds sweet. I want to see this movie again.


DOOM DELUISE: I need a better class of friends.