7.22-24.2011: What To Watch – The Captain's Theater Edition

More than half of the 2011 summer movie season is over but it has seen three superhero movie releases in a summer full of comedies, kid-friendly flicks and the most-anticipated movie of the year (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2…duh) with DC Comics’ Green Lantern (June), and Marvel’s Thor (May) and X-Men (June).  The third Marvel superhero movie of the year (but the second in line for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers for summer 2012), Captain America: The First Avenger, rounds out the still profitable genre but will it be more of the Captain America productions of the past or rise to the success of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 1 & 2?

Captain America: The First Avenger  Starring Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Stanley Tucci and Samuel L. Jackson.  Produced by Kevin Feige (Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor and The Avengers).  Screenplay by Christopher Markus (The Chronicles of Narnia 1, 2 & 3) and Stephen McFeely (The Chronicles of Narnia 1, 2 & 3).  Directed by Joe Johnston (The Wolfman).

A Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures production, Captain America: The First Avenger started off at distributor Artisan Entertainment (now Lionsgate) in 1997 but there were two big hiccups the project encountered.  One delay was in the form of a lawsuit between Marvel and Joe Simon, co-creator of the superhero (Jack Kirby was the other), that was settled in 2003 and the second was the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007-2008.  With the strike over, Joe Johnston signed on though Jon Favreau and The Incredible Hulk‘s Louis Leterrier were also in the directors mix.  Producer Kevin Feige believed Johnston to be the one as his previous work on The Rocketeer (director) and Star Wars IV, V & VI (visual effects) fit the bill.  The 1940’s WWII script by the team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely was set for production minus the touch of Joss Whedon, who was signed on to write and direct The Avengers.  Whedon, as part of his contract, ” got to make some character connections.  The structure of the thing was really tight and I loved it, but there were a couple of opportunities to find his voice a little bit — and some of the other characters — and make the connections so that you understood exactly why he wanted to be who he wanted to be.  And progressing through the script to flesh it out a little bit” (see reference).  No stranger to playing a superhero, Chris Evans was cast as the title’s character but initially, turned down the role three times out of fear; he eventually signed a six-picture deal with Marvel Studios.  The actor stuck to a brutal dietary and exercise regimen that left him wanting to vomit.  It certainly paid off (see trailer) but the pre-Project: Rebirth Steve Rogers was achieved through digital “plastic surgery” by LOLA and visual effects grafting.  The 3D-converted movie is receiving a sequel treatment from Markus and McFeely as we speak.

Looking to the future, The Avengers is slated to be released on May 4, 2012 and features Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America (Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth).  Meanwhile the script for Dr. Hank Pym’s Ant-Man is currently undergoing rewrites for a 2014 release.

Synopsis:  In 1942, Steve Rogers (Evans), physically unfit to enlist in the U.S. army, volunteers to participate in an experimental program, Project: Rebirth, that turns him into the super soldier known as Captain America.  As a very buff Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Stan) and Peggy Carter (Atwell) to wage war on the evil Hydra organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Weaving).

PG-13 / 125 min / 2D, RealD 3D & Digital 3D

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