SFX AWARDS For Your Consideration: Captain America

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

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.

Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.