With days left to vote in SFX Awards, the team members highlight their own personal choices. Best film? Nick Setchfield flies the flag for The First Avenger
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Captain America hit me like an indestructible shield slung in the teeth of a Hydra goon. Instant, shattering attraction.
Well, maybe not all that instant. Perhaps it was simply the culmination of a lifelong love of Simon and Kirby’s flag-flaunting, Fuhrer-slugging creation. I’ve always counted Cap among my very favourite comic book characters – not just for his patriotic colour-burst of a costume (comics were all about the colours for me when I was a kid), or the eternally resonant “Man Out Of Time” angle (dear lord, what must he make of the charts?) but for the era in which he was born: World War II. There’s something about a superhero battling the Axis in the golden age of pulp adventure that’s always felt deeply evocative. It’s a rich, brilliant brew.
So yes, I was primed to love Marvel’s big screen take on Captain America. But I was primed to hate it, too, especially if it proved as cynical an exercise in Hollywood franchise-extension as Iron Man 2 . Cynicism would be absolute poison in the bloodstream of this noble supersoldier.
So a medal to Joe Johnston for acing it, and beating out Super 8 and X-Men First Class to deliver my movie of the year. It’s a film that gets so much so right, from its sincere, clear-eyed wartime tone – light on its feet but never smirking at its source material – to its clever reimagining of Cap’s outfit as practical, booted-and-buckled combat gear (with a big nod to Bryan Hitch’s work on The Ultimates ).
The casting, too, is spot on: Chris Evans sloughs off the swagger of Johnny Storm to give us a perfect Steve Rogers, morphing from weed to warrior but preserving the soul of an ordinary Brooklyn Joe who hates bullies; Hayley Atwell’s pretty, spunky Peggy Carter delivers a right-hook to the heart; Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull brings a monstrous Teutonic shiver – and drives the coolest set of wheels since the Burton Batmobile.
It’s a film that raids movie history to create a truly intoxicating cinematic punchbowl, splicing the supernatural plunderings of Indiana Jones (spot the cheeky reference to a dig in the desert!) with the men-on-a-mission vibe of Where Eagles Dare . It adds a blatant but no less heart-tearing steal from A Matter Of Life And Death and then throws in an all-singin’, all-dancin’ showstopper of a musical number, just for a laugh, because it can. Frankly, I would have bought war bonds if my local Odeon had been flogging them alongside the nachos.
So cast your vote for victory, for Captain America . This was our finest two hours.