Captain America is back on the big screen, and as a lifelong fan I couldn't be happier.
Well actually I could, but we’ll come to that in a minute.
Cap has always been one of the most troubled superheroes to adapt for live action movies, and one key reason is that semi-stupid costume.
Pirate boots, the stars and stripes threads and that winged mask work in comics, but when adapted for TV and film, the result is usually disappointing.
I should know. I sat through both of Reb Brown’s 1979 TV movies, and the horrible 1990 travesty in which Matt Salinger rarely donned the iconic suit.
Fans had a long wait until director Joe Johnston’s hit-and-miss Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011. It had a lot going for it, including terrific turns from Hugo Weaving as arch enemy Red Skull; the ever-reliable Stanley Tucci (as the obligatory doomed ally scientist), and Hayley Atwell as Steve Rogers’ feisty love interest Peggy Carter (now rumoured to be starring in her own spin-off TV series).
One key problem, aside from that awful headgear, was the fact the weaker Rogers (a masterpiece of CG magic) was more interesting than the generic beefed-up super soldier he became.
Great heroes are defined by how they deal with their weaknesses, whether it’s Iron Man’s heart shrapnel or Superman’s Kryptonite. Captain America doesn’t seem to have an Achilles heel, apart from the fact he’s a de-thawed popsicle coming to terms with 21st-century life.
Hardly life-or-death stuff is it?
Had The Winter Soldier been made 40 years ago, I reckon co-star Robert Redford would have been the perfect choice to play Steve Rogers. And now I’ve mentioned it, doesn't Evans seem a little lacklustre by comparison?"
Cap’s real movie test was of course Avengers Assemble, Joss Whedon’s superb 2012 blockbuster which beautifully juggled several iconic Marvel heroes and assorted villains.
Alas, as much as I like Chris Evans’ patriotic hero, it was stretching things to believe his beefy alter ego could command uber Alpha males Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye, let alone verdant muscle mountain the Hulk.
Yes, I will believe a scientist can turn into a green giant in the Marvel universe, but not that they would follow a generic blond himbo into battle.
Had The Winter Soldier been made 40 years ago, I reckon co-star Robert Redford would have been the perfect choice to play Steve Rogers. And now I’ve mentioned it, doesn't Evans seem a little lacklustre by comparison?
Sorry Chris, you were the best thing about the dire Fantastic Four films, but you just haven't got the chops to carry movies of this size.
Which may be why Marvel bosses have filled The Winter Soldier with classier distractions, like Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Redford’s SHIELD VIP Alexander Pierce, and Cap’s long-time comics sidekick, The Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
Like the 1992-1997 Batman movies, there's always the danger with comic book-inspired sequels of the hero being a supporting character in his own film, so a few alarm bells are already ringing (though perhaps not as loudly as the box office tills will be in the coming days).
Griping aside, in a year laden with superhero flicks, I am thrilled at the prospect of 2014’s first blockbuster. I also hope directors Joe and Anthony Russo have given comics fans the Captain America film we finally deserve and not just a thinly veiled preamble to next year’s crowd-pleaser Avengers: Age of Ultron.
And yes, I have started counting the days to that sequel.
Roger Crow is a film and TV journalist. His greatest birthday present of the 1970s was a Captain America action figure. It may also be the reason he now spends far too much money on Marvel merchandise.
This article is the opinion of Roger Crow and not necessarily that of BT.