Time-wise, Captain America – The First Avenger is the first of the current ongoing screen adaptations of the Marvel superheroes – although it was not the first film to be made (that mantle belongs to Iron Man).
A puny, enfeebled Steve Rogers (unnerving digitalisation of Chris Evans – Knives Out, The Red Sea Diving Resort) finally manages to join the US military and enter World War II after many failed attempts. His way in is provided by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones, The Devil Wears Prada) and his ‘super soldier serum’. But selling war bonds to the American public is not the fate the now souped-up Captain America anticipated. Until, that is, he finds himself in Italy confronting the mad Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving – The Matrix, V For Vendetta) and his plans for world dominance, using the recently rediscovered Tesseract with its unlimited source of energy.
Defeating Schmidt comes at a cost – 70 years later, the craft carrying Captain America is exposed by the melting polar ice. The hero is still alive. And S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the case.
An entertaining action origin tale firmly rooted on Earth and recognisable (if somewhat exagerated) wartime exploits helps director Joe Johnston (Hidalgo, Jurassic Park III) create a generic narrative that, considering the extraterrestial bombast that is to follow, is a welcoming calmness to the opening of the series.