Captain America: The First Avenger

  • Review Date: July 22, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 124 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Comic book adventure mixes patriotism, explosive action.
  • Review Date: July 22, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 124 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie celebrates the idea of the hero as someone who believes in something greater than him/herself and stands up for those who can't stand up for themselves. Self-sacrifice, friendship, and loyalty are also key themes. There's a very pro-America message, which is reinforced by the strong patriotism of the 1940s setting. Although Captain America at one point professes a reluctance to kill people, he and his soldiers don't have any qualms offing tons of bad guys or using violence as their main means to solve problems.

Positive role models

Steve Rogers/Captain America is about as wholesome as superheroes come. As both a skinny weakling and a strapping soldier, he's brave, compassionate, resourceful, loyal, and kind. He doesn't have the personal demons/conflict that mark darker heroes like Batman; he is unquestionably a good guy. And though he doesn't seem to mind dispatching Nazis and other bad guys, he also says at one point that he doesn't really want to kill anybody -- he just hates bullies. Agent Carter is a positive female role model; she's respected and good at what she does. Captain America's team is a diverse group (especially for the '40s). The bad guys are clearly evil.

Violence

Frequent strong explosive action violence and weapons. Buildings, vehicles, and more are engulfed in fireballs; lots of gun use. A villain known as Red Skull has a monstrous/skeletal face that could be very scary to younger kids. The bad guys are developing super weapons powered by a mysterious energy source; they're extremely powerful, and some can completely vaporize people. Characters are killed, many impersonally/mostly bloodlessly in gun fights and big explosions, but a few (including some we care about) in more upsetting ways -- a couple are shot point-blank, and one goes through a propeller (blood is spattered). Car and motorcycle chases, fist fights, and war imagery. A child is held hostage. A character commits suicide rather than be captured.

Sex

Some flirting and a couple of kisses; romantic tension between two main characters. Soldiers ogle a woman when she wears a pretty dress. One implied mooning by a soldier; several scenes with Steve/Captain America shirtless.

Language

Several uses of "hell," plus very infrequent use of "ass," "damn," "son of a bitch," "oh my God," and British slang like "bloody." Some insults, like calling soldiers "ladies" to demean them.

Consumerism

Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Dr. Erskine drinks some schnapps; he later implies that he had too much, but he's not shown drunk. Soldiers drink beer (and harder liquor) in a pub/bar; one is a little tipsy. Captain America tries to get drunk but is unable to.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while this 1940s-set comic book-based superhero adventure is full of explosive action violence -- expect tons of gun battles, fireballs, and fistfights (all of which are even more in-your-face in the 3-D version of the movie), as well as a scary-looking villain -- in most other respects, it's pretty tame as these kinds of movies go. Captain America is wholesome, compassionate, and brave; he doesn't have the dark side that many other superheroes do, and he's not a ladies' man or a party animal. There are a couple of tame kisses and a little bit of drinking, as well as a few uses of words like "hell" and "ass," but what lingers after the last bomb has exploded and the last fight is over are the movie's messages about standing up against bullies and doing the right thing. (That and a very strong sense of "U.S.A! U.S.A!" patriotism.)

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

It's 1942, and World War II is raging. Despite the fact that he's frail and asthmatic, all that Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants is to join the Army so he can have a chance to fight Nazi bullies. That chance comes in the form of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a scientist who's developed a special serum that turns scrawny Steve into brawny Captain America. After being sidelined by Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and turned into a one-man recruiting ad/war bond salesman, Rogers gets back into the thick of things when a rescue mission uncovers intelligence about the nefarious plans of HYDRA, a Nazi experimental science division led by evil Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). With the help of a motley crew of soldiers and lovely-and-capable Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Rogers focuses on stopping Schmidt before the villain can unleash his mysterious, extremely powerful super weapons on the world.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

If you crossed Raiders of the Lost Ark with Hellboy and added a dash of Pearl Harbor and director Joe Johnston's own The Rocketeer, you'd be well on your way to creating CAPTAIN AMERICA -- a well-paced, patriotic World War II adventure with an undercurrent of sci-fi/fantasy mysticism and a hero who's very easy to root for. Rogers/Captain America is such a good guy, in fact, that he's sometimes a little bland -- he's definitely a great role model, but you might find yourself wishing he had a bit of Wolverine or Tony Stark's snark. (The movie's a little short on humor overall, actually; Captain America's ragtag team of soldiers provides most of the laughs, but they don't get all that much screen time.)

Speaking of Tony Stark, those who are well-versed in their Marvel history will enjoy seeing Dominic Cooper as Tony's equally suave/tech-savvy father, Howard, in a supporting role. And there are plenty of other moments that fans of the comics will enjoy, too -- when pre-makeover Steve uses a garbage can lid as an impromptu defense, for instance, foreshadowing his iconic shield, or the way the movie ends (it would be a spoiler to say more). All in all, Captain America is an entertaining adventure -- rah-rah patriotism and all (it works well within the 1940s setting) -- but it lacks that certain something that could have made it a cultural touchstone.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what sets Captain America apart from other superheroes. How does he compare to Batman? Iron Man? Is he more or less of a "good guy" than those characters?

  • At one point Steve Rogers says he doesn't want to kill anybody, but during the movie he dispatches plenty of bad guys. Was that his only option?

  • How does the fact that much of the movie's violence is larger than life affect its impact? How is it different watching masked human soldiers (like the HYDRA minions) get hurt than individual characters?

  • What did you think of the scenes where Captain America performed on stage to inspire people to buy war bonds and join the Army? What does that say about the role of celebrities in our society?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 22, 2011
DVD release date:October 25, 2011
Cast:Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones
Director:Joe Johnston
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Superheroes
Run time:124 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action

This review of Captain America: The First Avenger was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byBestPicture1996 July 22, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Standard but still a well-done film

"Captain America" is good if for just one thing: A model of what superheroes at least SHOULD be. Not what they should strive to be (Because really who can make movies as good as "Batman Begins" and "Iron Man?") but what they should be. Decent blockbuster summer films that deliver on the action, have a few fine performances, hot chicks, and a solid plot to keep the story moving while the hero (a great Chris Evans) beats up the bad guy (a well made-up Hugo Weaving.) Bravo, Capt. America!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written bySosie98 July 26, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Captain Amazing<3

I loooovvvveeeeddd this movie, but it was extremely violent!!! I especially loved Chris Evans who was pretty much the hottest soldier ever in his uniform. Peggy Carter was an amazing role model as well as Steve himself. They were both fearless and showed that you could do anything. Amazing movie and extremely impressive affects. It really showed how far we've come:) Go and see it!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byjohnny1399 July 25, 2011
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

great movie

this movie is very good. it has a good message and the captain is a good role model. i think the movie is good for ages 7 and up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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