When Captain America Throws His Mighty S.H.I.E.L.D. *Spoiler-free review*

Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor... Marvel Studios has yet to make a mis-step since it took the reins of its own productions. However, with each success, fans await with baited breath that first slip that will inevitably come, crushing their dreams of a decent adaptation of one of their favourite characters.

Is Captain America: The First Avenger also the first dud in the Marvel stable? Hit the jump to find out:

Yaargh! There be no spoilers here, Jimlad!

We all know the story by now: sick of seeing their properties bought up and turned into ham-fisted action flicks that suck the life and the potential out of anything they touch by soulless, uncreative Hollywood executives, Marvel took a healthy dose of Disney cash and started producing their own movies. First came the monumental success of Iron Man, followed up with an almost-as-proficient sequel. Then we had a non-Ang Lee Hulk that wobbled, but still stood up. Finally, Thor took the same formula that made Iron Man work and lightening struck twice. All this leading up to the Avengers film where all our hopes lie. One final obstacle stood in our way, Captain America. If this movie was Marvel's first stinker, then everything could be undone. Thankfully, Marvel's track record remains unbroken.

Captain America keeps to what made Iron Man such a belt out of the park: all the elements that made the comic great, none of the idiosyncrasies that prevent comics from becoming mainstream, a cue from modern comic reboots, loads of nods to the fans and a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humour for the civilians, big-name stars, top-notch special effects and a plot with some brains. Not hard, is it? Cap, however, adds in a healthy dose of retro charm, both in some sexy 40s dames and steampunk tech, and also in a genuine earnestness that is completely disarming. Chris Evans' Cap is just a down-to-goodness nice guy who wants to defend his country from the Nazi "bullies" and will do whatever it takes to get that chance.

Still, he's not alone. Tommy Lee Jones' world-weary Colonel brings plenty of laugh-out loud lines and Stanley Tucci makes for a genuinely-touching mentor for Cap, while relative newcomer Hayley Atwell brings both a naive charm and a generous slathering of sex appeal to the proceedings. Hugo Weaving, on the other hand, remains the man to go to if you want a top-quality moustache twirler and he manages to do the goose-stepping, Nazi, megalomaniacal sadist The Red Skull justice, something that so many other actors could have royally fouled up. We even get a guest appearance from The Howling Commandos, which few fans will want to miss.

True, many will cry: "this isn't as dark and serious as The Dark Knight!". Well, sorry, but Marvel isn't and that's the reason we'd always pick Marvel comics over DC, dark is no substitute for good. Great as Nolan's Batman is, this is fun, which is just as worthy as brooding and gritty. In fact, the film has a definite Indiana Jones quality to it, which only makes us love it more.

Still, it isn't perfect. The film is criminally rushed. Not the origin story, which has a fair amount of room to breathe, but Cap's entire military career is told in a fabulous montage that may well be the best part of the film and you can't help but feel that every single shot of that could have been an amazing film in itself. Unfortunately, Cap had to be rapidly brought up to date so that he would be around for The Avengers, so, whilst we do wish that he could have had a few more World War II adventures first, if The Avengers lives up to our hopes, we can accept the missed opportunity; especially when there's a chance these adventures could be revisited later.

Don't forget to stick around to see a trailer for The Avengers after the credits. Squee!

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