Film Junk Podcast Episode #328: Captain America: The First Avenger

0:00 – Intro
3:15 – Headlines: Jurassic Park 4 Coming in 2 to 3 Years, Joe Johnston Wants to Direct a Boba Fett Movie, Kevin Costner in Django Unchained, Netflix Price Increase
21:40 – Review: Captain America: The First Avenger
1:13:35 – Trailer Trash: The Amazing Spider-Man, Haywire, In Time
1:36:40 – Other Stuff We Watched: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Beauty and the Beast, The Adjustment Bureau, Election, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Four Lions, Rango, Fright Night, The 25th Hour, Bloody Birthday
1:48:46 – Junk Mail: Trusting Our Taste in Comedies, Horrid Entries in Great Movie Franchises, Joaquin Phoenix, What We Hate about the United States, Captain Canuck vs. Captain America vs. Union Jack, Organizing DVDs by Director, Favourite Movie Trailers, Roseanne, Kurt Russell as Han Solo
2:24:40 – This Week’s DVD Releases
2:26:20 – Outro

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  • Greg’s missed the reviews for Thor, X-Men: First Class and now Captain America! Lame. He’s the comic book guy!

  • bullet3

    Jay is totally on point on this one, I thought Captain America was a huge missed opportunity.

    Honestly Sean, I can’t believe you’ve lowered your standards to the point that you’ll give X-men first class a 3.5 and give this a 4.

    Its a generic comic book story-line, with barely any character growth or relationships. Worst of all, a huge wasted opportunity in terms of the WW2 setting. You could transplant most of the action scenes from this movie into the modern day GI-Joe movie and it wouldn’t seem out of place. How about some saving private ryan extended battles, but with Captain America running through it kicking ass? At least show that he’s making a difference in the war effort.

    The action we do get is totally forgettable, with almost no sense of threat or danger. And I agree with Jay about the look of the movie, it has this super processed and un-natural look.

    The score from Alan Silvestri was actually the best thing about it, sounding like a pretty old-school and awesome adventure movie, which this unfortunately was not.

    The whole “well its a comic book movie” excuse is bullshit. We should have higher standards than that, there’s no reason to champion mediocrity, especially when there have been genuinely excellent comic book movies in the last 10 years (Blade/Blade 2, Dark Knight).

  • Henrik

    All I can say is if Jay is genuinely interested in seing how all his issues with Captain America joining the Avengers might be resolved in a (in my opinion) borderline acceptable and entertaining manner, check out the Ultimates volume 1 and 2. You can read them in 2 hours, and having read them, it does make it seem quite possible.

    The movie will probably be worse (and I haven’t seen Thor or Winghead so I don’t know exactly how terrible the movies have been), but it’s not as far-fetched as Jay makes it seem, coming from his uninformed point of view. Jay makes it seem as ridiculous as having a comedic montage in the beginning of a Superman movie!

  • kyri

    Why Greg!? WHY?

  • Jonny Ashley

    A new episode without delay! I am pleased as petunias.

  • Bas

    As always I loved the episode, thanks guys. I did miss Greg though, the show is the best with all four junkies. A few things:
    – Jurassic Park 4: not interested! Just give me the first one on blu-ray thank you very much.
    – Who needs a whole movie that spoils what little mystique Boba Fett has left?
    – Frank: you’re wrong bud! Beauty and the Beast is solid, I just hate the part where Maurice blames his horse for taking the path that led to the wolves :)
    – My method for organizing DVD’s works well for ‘smaller’ collections (have around 200 movies): by genre. You can pick a movie based on your mood, the work of one director stays together and with for example Ridley Scott it is the transition from one genre (Fantasy/Historic/Epic with Gladiator) to the next (SciFi with Alien). Has always worked for me!
    – Dunno about Kurt Russell, but I loved Kevin Spacey as Christopher Walken as Han Solo!

  • bullet: Believe me I hate the excuse “it’s just a comic book movie” as much as you, but I think Captain America is the exception to the rule. I didn’t necessarily want depth and character development since it’s such a throwback to a simpler time full of pulp heroes and innocence. I actually thought the origin story was one of the most interesting ones yet and overall the movie was still very coherent, which is more than I can say for most comic book movies.

    As far as your examples go, The Dark Knight it isn’t, but I’ll take Captain America over Blade 1 and 2 any day.

    You do bring up a good point though… why wasn’t the G.I. Joe movie more like this???

  • It felt too comic booky?

    Really Jay? You always bash comic book movies that try too hard to be realistic. Make up your mine.

  • Sorry Jay, it sucks that the movie didn’t tickle your fancy and no one can argue with that. The movie was not perfect, and I think, like Sean I enjoyed it more than it probably deserved. Obviously you are free to disagree with the explanations given in the movie, but most of your plot gripes about Captain America were explained.

    They didn’t really see the value of a single super soldier, so it was to the lab for experimentation or to the USO as a propaganda element.

    I also thought that there was a pretty solid pay off of Captain America’s persistent determination which was rooted in him having started off as a skinny half man.

    It felt like I had discovered a movie straight out of the 80’s that I hadn’t seen yet. Having enjoyed The Rocketeer, I thought this was much better. Maybe recently watching the 1979 Captain America movie gave me some context of how wrong this could have gone.

    I do agree that the movie suffered a bit from having to taper into The Avengers. I really don’t see how a sequel would work because it would most likely be set in a much less interesting modern day.

  • Captain America was a disappointment, and I agree that the technology and laser-robot Nazis…uh…invalidated, I guess, the WWII setting. Also felt that there were a lot of missed opportunities–had the exact thought when he was surrounded by the flame-throwing robot-Nazis and wondered That’s pretty interesting, how will he get out of this? and then he just gave up.

    I didn’t understand if the Red Skull actually had another mask underneath his Red Skull face or if that was it’s other face, and if it were, he should have been called Red Ass.

    Also, thanks for the critiques on my DVD organization method. My collection isn’t as vast as yours, so the method may break down the larger it becomes. Still no problems as yet, and while I understand Jay’s point regarding sections for one director, I don’t understand how that’s a criticism.

    Finally, where is all this love of The Rocketeer coming from? It’s really not that good of a movie. There’s some good parts, granted, and both the poster and design of the Rocketeer are fantastic, but like all of Johnston’s films, it lags a lot.

  • alechs

    It would have been cool to see Captain America handled as a reflective character piece about a person born out of the Great Depression who finds himself in a post-9/11 and recently economically depressed America. Sounds pretentious as hell but it would have been interesting as a premise.

    That being said the Captain America we got was half Rocketeer/half Marvel bullshit done half-assed. I really enjoyed Joe Johnston’s earlier work like Rocketeer and Jumanji but he’s just doesn’t seem that competent as a director. Bare simplicity seems to be his strength and if he had pushed Cap’ for any more nuance or complexity, the film would be a blatant train wreck.

  • alechs

    @ Nat Almirall

    I think the Rocketeer partially works because it’s simple (almost to a fault) with huge points because of childhood nostalgia and the awesome visual design of the Rocketeer. Apart from that the film feels like a TV movie at times.

  • Anthony

    For the ratings given for CA, the talking points and reviews seemed to lean more towards the negative side than positive side. I are confused…

  • It felt too comic book?

    Really Jay? You always bash comic book movies that try too hard to be realistic. Make up your mine.

    @Brit: No I don’t. I bash comic book movies that try too hard to be DARK. (And to clarify, that doesn’t mean I hate all comic book movies that are dark. My critical opinion is not stubbornly rooted in solitary defining factors. This is simply ONE of many criticisms that might be railed at a particular film if it isn’t done well or with sincerity.) That aside, are you saying that because I might complain about comic book movies that try too hard to be dark, I will automatically like all comic book films that do the opposite? I think things are a little more complex than that.

    I loved The Dark Knight and that was “realistic”. I can get behind any decision made when telling a comic book story as long as it’s made with conviction, adds an interesting or unique perspective for the characters to exist within, and serves the overall story. I don’t think Captain America failed 100% with this (the WWII setting was a start), but I do think they failed to take full advantage of the characters and the setting.

    Even so, I said in my review that I would’ve liked to have seen Captain America either go more real or MORE “comic booky”. The film seems unsure of what it wants to be.

  • @Hero Supreme:

    “They didn’t really see the value of a single super soldier, so it was to the lab for experimentation or to the USO as a propaganda element.”

    Just because a character might have said it doesn’t mean it makes sense.

    “It felt like I had discovered a movie straight out of the 80’s that I hadn’t seen yet.”

    Would you be saying the same thing if it was set in 2011 rather than 1941? Did you feel that way about Thor? If anything, THAT movie feels like an 80’s film (mainly due to the fact that it follows the storyline of Masters of the Universe almost directly).

    Again, I didn’t HATE Captain America, but I really don’t see a 4/4 film here. I’m definitely open to giving it a re-watch with some adjusted expectations.

    most of your plot gripes about Captain America were explained.
    My main issue with the film isn’t the plot gripes. In fact, they would probably be non-existent if I was more on board with the story, characters, and action.

  • @Henrik: Movies and comic books are very different mediums. Just because the plotting works on paper across a series of books (including the character’s own individual series of issues) doesn’t mean it will work on film. That’s not to say it WON’T work on film though. I was just left thinking it was going to be a tough sell.

  • I should note that I didn’t stay for the Avengers teaser at the end of the credits. I’m not sure if there was any evidence in there that Captain America’s transition into that film will be a smooth one. We didn’t really discuss the teaser on the show.

  • I love the idea of a 9 podcast series for Roseanne. Please get this done! Also, Roseanne had the best holiday themes episodes. Their Halloween episodes were some of the best shows ever.

  • bullet3

    I should clarify that I don’t hate this either, I’m just frustrated by how mediocre it is, considering the setting and all of Johnston’s talk about a Raiders of the Lost Ark type adventure movie. Think how amazing this movie would be if Speilberg had directed it, at least we would’ve had some awesome set-pieces. Do you guys really think you’ll even remember this movie in a year’s time?

    I remain firm that there is no way in hell this is a 4/4 movie, I think even a 3/4 is being generous, Jay’s high 2.5 is about where I’d put it personally.

  • I was really hoping Frank would have defended this movie more while Jay when on his rant, but alas no..

    First, I think Jay is a little confused on the main characters arc since it is so front loaded. If you will remember, the smallish Steve Rodgers is introduced being obsessed with getting “in the war” even to the point of breaking the law. Multiple physical exams under false names, taking on bullies to the extreme, leaving his date to venture to a recruiting display, I think the movie did a nice job of both showing his character AND conveying the general feel among young men of THAT ERA.

    Also, everyone fail to mention the nice relationship that developed between the professor and Steve and how the professor’s death is a key plot point for Steve losing his CHAMPION in the military / industrial complex.

    I agree with Sean that using this sabotage scene as a way to spin the film in to the propaganda section was brilliant AS IT HONORED THE REASON CAPTAIN AMERICA WAS DEVELOPED I THE FIRST PLACE. And I disagree with Jay in this is nice and refreshing, plus it again showed a side of Steve doing what he is told until he realizes he is joke with his most important audience – the soldiers he originally wanted to be. Also everyone fail to note how the propaganda section was a masterful way to justify the evolution of a completely ridiculous costume for a soldier. Again this film did a masterful (if long and patient) job.

    Another item on character, everyone seems to gloss over the plot point that finally made Steve FINALLY disobey orders (that in itself is character defining) when he hears his buddies platoon is being left for dead.

    I will agree that the first half could have been tighten up, but I’m willing to give it a pass as it is so refreshing from other super hero films. (I mean come on, how could you not cheer a chase scene thru 1940s NYC) I agreed with Jay that downplaying Hitler was a mistake and I actually went in thinking Inglorious Basterds gave them free reign to go over the top!? I agree the action was not great and showed that Johnson is no Spielberg (he lacks Spielberg’s tension touch too). I like the unhappy/happy ending.

    Refreshing and solid – not deserving of Jays scorn. I will say to anyone that hates origin stories, this is the longest in the history of superhero films!

  • Goon

    I saw Cap as being put on the propaganda trail as partially implicitly because since the program was put aside or at least temporarily damaged, they weren’t going to risk it’s only success/test subject by sending him off to war where they might lose him. He wouldnt be able to be studied, examined, kept tabs on, and if they lost him to Germany they could cut him up and use him for their own eugenics. if theres just one of them it’s kind of risky to gamble that one guy on.

    But I dont even need this defense or other realistic stuff to enjoy this one. The tone, dialogue, humor, setting, and earnest good vs. evil storyline hit me in all the right places, and I had a lot of reservations going into this thing.

    I left feeling this has been my favorite of the summer, without question. Not that this summer has been fantastic but it’s the first and only film I felt an immediate urge to see again.

  • Goon

    2.5/4 on the Filmjunk podcast means “We sorta liked it but will mostly tear the shit out of it for the next 40 minutes” :P

  • I would say in this case it means exactly that. I didn’t hate the film and I enjoyed the spirit of it, but I definitely had issues with it. When you’re forced to sit down and discuss those issues, you realize by the end that giving a film like this a 3/4 after so many complaints just seems wrong. As I said on the show, it’s probably more of a 2.75/4 for me.

  • I think a rewatch is a good call. I had the same feeling Jay did when I realized the origin story was going to consume the film. I can see how that would put a person off at the beginning. I remember telling myself to get past that and I started to enjoy it more. Its a weird film in that way: I liked the approach but I think Ive been brainwashed from to many other films were anything but a efficient pace stands out. Spiderman has the best origin story ever, this the most clever, detailed and patient.

  • and I say that because the origin does not stop at the experiment, it goes to the point the costume is done.

  • Henrik

    Jay; I definitely don’t think that the comic books mean that the movies will be succesful, I just wanted to point out, that if you are honestly interested in how this could ever work (you seemed pretty worked up about it on the show), take a look at the comics. They might make it seem a little less impossible, is all I’m saying.

    I think movies have overcome way, WAY bigger tasks than combining characters from different movies into one movie. I must admit I don’t really understand how this keeps coming up as something borderline impossible to pull off without being ridiculous.

  • kyri

    for the record.. horrible bosses was indeed a pile of nasty shit. :(

  • What kind of a world would it be if Kurt Russel played Han Solo?
    There’s an awesome short story which tackles exactly that issue – it’s about a man who discovers a video store in a parallel universe…

    Check it out:

  • /\/\/\/\thats a good short story, thanks for sharing!

  • Joe

    @Lior – That really was quite a nice little read! Great find!

  • Greg

    Apologies Film Junk Universe.

    With Sean’s new job, it’s way too hard from him to record during the week and sadly, there are just some Sunday’s that I can’t do. Odd that it seems to be on the weeks of comic book movie review podcasts.

    I made a commitment to the rest of the guys that during the Sept-Jan period I would make the shows unlike last year when I missed about 12. It’s the busy time at my job and it may prevent me from seeing the movies, but I will be on the shows during that time.

    The Captain America podcast fell during the same weekend of Heavy T.O. and it was just something I couldn’t pass up. To be able to see Motorhead, Anthrax, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Diamond Head, Anvil and Megadeth all in the same weekend was too good to be true.

  • Rev

    Great show as always!

    Don’t worry Greg I would have done the same thing! Lokking forward to the tales from Heavy T.O.

  • @rus @Joe

    Several years ago I approached the author, wanting to option the rights for the story – I loved it so much I had in mind to adapt it into a short film – but it never went anywhere. I realized I couldn’t possibly give his agents a competitive offer with my meager budget.

    Not to mention recreating The Magnificent Ambersons. (although in low-budget filmmaking there are always ways…:-))

  • @Lior-

    that would be a nice short as the love story and end is very solid. it would have to be done for film fests only as you could never get the number of clearances you would need to sell. the ideas are pretty timeless, I have a similar short I’ve been trying to get off the ground (failed to land a production budget for the heavy art direction) you can see it here:

  • Great show. Unfortunately, I think you’re missing the boat on the Netflix issue. First of all, a price increase of about 60% is extreme, particularly in a down economy. Also, Netflix presented these changes like they were a benefit to the customers. The e-mail that they sent to customers was extremely condescending. Also, the streaming service is very glitchy and doesn’t include a large majority of their selection. There also is no chance to watch extra features with that service. Many people I know (especially bloggers and film fanatics) are dropping streaming because it’s not worth it. Netflix is catering to the masses and ignoring the devoted fans who made them a force in the first place.

  • kyri

    but how exactly are they catering to the masses?

  • Justice

    I actually liked Capt America way more than I thought I would, seeing as I actively dislike him as a superhero. But the humor, setting, and characters really clicked and they avoided a drawn out love story. Admittedly I enjoyed the first half more so then when the action ramped up because the action was a little lackluster. Too much of him running and punching people with his shield. I know that’s kind of his thing, but still not the most exciting to watch. However, I have two questions, maybe I missed something. 1: Why did he have to crash the plane into the arctic? All the hydra guys were dead already so no one could drive those little pods to destroy America. 2: Why if their name was hydra, a creature with many heads, was their logo an octopus, a creature with lots of legs?!

    As for Netflix, it sucks they raised their prices but I understand. Look at the things they’ve added to streaming recently. Shit, the fact they added Mad Men is worth the few extra dollars a month right there. As far as the mail service, I use it a ton. Luckily I’m right by a distribution center here in Phoenix so I only have to wait 2 days for my next movie. Though lots of my friends have had the same movie sitting on their table for months at a time. I’m sure Netflix looooves those kinds of customers.

  • Dave

    You guys were saying that the US has nothing to be jealous of Canada about. I live in Ohio and your constant poutine talk has me jealous of Canada. I’ve been to Niagra Falls a couple times, but that’s before I knew what poutine was. I know it’s relatively simple to make at home, but to be able to go to restaurants and try different types of poutine, especially while watching movies, sounds awesome. So, that’s one thing you guys have over us. :)

  • @Rus

    I never had any intention of making the short for sale (how many shorts are profitable, anyway?) It was just a momentary pipe dream. Perhaps if more authors were like Stephen King and his “Dollar babies”… but I guess King can afford it.
    I was told they had interest from Hollywood, but I don’t see it as anything but a short, unless it’s really expended in a successful way. In any case, I would take a feature based on Impossible Dreams over boardgame “adaptations” any day of the week.

    As for your script, I liked it. It’s pretty rich in its visual presentation and originality. I liked the basic premise, for sure. I can’t say I figured it all out a 100 percent, but maybe that’s a good thing. Best of luck with it.

  • thanks bro, good luck

  • I’ve not listened to the podcast yet, but judging from the comments section, I’m completely on board with Jay in that Captain America fails mainly because the WWII/Nazi threat is superceded with the silly Redskull C.O.B.R.A. army plot.

    Think of the wonderfully pulpy scene in The Last Crusade with the book burning rally, and then compare that to anything in Cap.


  • Nate Hk

    Man that outro song is badass.

  • mushroomyakuza

    The outro song is awesome, but can’t for the life of me find it under M83’s recordings. Not on torrents or on iTunes. Anyone help? Would be great to find out which album it’s on?

  • It’s their new single, but I just realized I got the title wrong in the show notes.

    Get it here: