Fun with Franchises: Our Favorite Images from The Marvel Universe – Captain America: The First Avenger
One of the recurring features that we do in Fun with Franchises (a feature within a feature) is, after we finish watching a film, we go through and pick out our favorite images from that film. These images could be anything from really famous images from the film or franchise, really beautifully composed shots, shots that are funny to us because of the facial expressions being made in them or because of what we said about them in the article in which they appeared, or simply because they have boobs in them.
How we do this is, in the same way we watch the films, Colin and I separately pick out about ten to fifteen shots that we really liked. (This typically ends up being him picking out around 30 and me having around 70.) Then we compare lists, and whichever ones we both chose automatically make our final list. Everything else we talk through. We have it down to a science by now. Within four total emails, we’re left with a final list of ten images we liked the best, along with ten honorable mentions, which were also as good, but just missed out on making the list proper. (And then more we just work in. Just cause.)
It’s not very complicated (like most things we do here at B+ Movie Blog), and is just a way for us to point out shots that we really liked in the films, especially since we tend to pick stuff that’s not always on the beaten path. (We also don’t officially rank the list of shots. We just put them in chronological order. Simply picking them is hard enough. We don’t want to make our lives any harder. Plus, we’re lazy.)
That said — here are our favorite images from Captain America: The First Avenger:
Stanley Tucci’s making the face again.
Every time Stanley Tucci makes the face an angel came.
1. Das Framing
We love good framing. The lights are a nice touch, backlighting him and keeping him hidden. Especially since they’re gonna hold off on the skull thing for a while. Plus, you have the grave in the foreground, which is a nice anchor to the image. And then it’s Hugo Weaving, which is just exciting.
This could be Indiana Jones and you wouldn’t know. Nothing is CGI, it’s backlit and there’s rubble. I mean, come on, folks — these are STAPLES of good film.
2. Hugo Weaving
What a great image. The sepia tone, and the nice coloring on both sides. No idea why they needed this shot, but sometimes the shots nobody even remembers from the film are the best.
Other than it being Hugo Weaving in sepia, I like it when flashbacks are conducted this way. Compare this to the flashbacks in The Incredible Hulk, when it was just normal footage, but shakier and blurrier. This makes it feel more like a story, and the way they cut between images and juxtapose the characters with other objects lends the appearance of a much older, much better film.
3. “A candy colored cloud they call the sandman…”
I love this shot. Just the idea that he’s about to croon in a room full of scientists. That face, and just Stanley Tucci in general. As an actor, and as this guy. He’s the best.
Those microphones are awesome. Can I have one of those microphones? Stanley Tucci wants to know if anyone is listening.
4. Stock footage
This is great for so many reasons. First, black and white. If the first act of this movie was in black and white, before he becomes Captain America, I’d love this movie a lot more. Second, the idea that Captain America was used in propaganda movies is amazing to me. Because that’s exactly what would happen, and is just a great notion in general. Third, Captain America using a gun. I love that. Fourth — rear projection. Fifth, it looks so fake, just like old movies, and I love that.
There were a lot of these shots on my list. One reason I give Captain America better than average Marvel marks is that they took a chunk of the film and dedicated it to a 1940s backstage footage montage. Look at how cheesy that set piece is! It’s this stuff that I really enjoyed.
5. This moment
This moment was terrific. Just the cut from the colorful theater to the drab life of actual combat. It’s a really big moment for Steve. I like the first shot that Colin chose because of the symmetry. I had the second one just because it really is a great moment, where he realizes just exactly what it is he’s asking for, and how ridiculous what he’s doing seems to real soldiers. He started getting a big chest after all those theater shows (Colin actually did pick another shot where he’s strutting across the stage), and he comes down to reality in an instant.
This was the moment that should have lasted a lot longer and played a larger role in the film than it did. How spot-on was this? They thought he was an ass in a dumb costume, and he realized that despite what everyone at home thought, he wasn’t fighting the war like they were. They could have expanded on this by foreshadowing with a wounded vet working on the set of one of his movies or something, and the melancholy he feels after this scene should have lasted a lot longer than it did. He shouldn’t have won them over immediately. You let this fester a bit and have him do something pretty good, but not amazing. Spend less of the movie on trains and talking about space bullshit and instead, give us an expanded character arc that shows Steve Rogers learning how to earn the respect of the soldiers he meets. You know, defining a hero by more than just muscles?
Seriously, though. The character work they could do with these movies and don’t is so disheartening.
6. Subterranean Homesick Bunker
Arches, war room maps, this coloring, bunkers. This is everything we like in a single image.
Oh yes. Oh yes, yes, yes. Arches, maps, model-pusher sticks, bunker. I love everything about this. Put a whole movie in a bunker with maps and shit and never go outside. Depict the war through numbers and pushpins and model tanks being moved around on map tables. WHY MUST WE HAVE ALL THE GOOD IDEAS?
I had a PC game that was a Civil War game. Back when CD Roms were needed to play games. And the whole thing was nothing but that. Telling armies where to go and just watching them fight. Nothing else. Pure map fighting. And you had to make sure you didn’t go into certain states too early because that would make them decide to fight for the South (or North, depending on which side you were). It, of course, was something you could knock out in 15 minutes and wasn’t that difficult, but, I mean, 1997, there wasn’t exactly a whole lot in the way of computer games.
7. This shot
Captain America shooting guns.
I like to imagine this is a liquor raid on one of Kappone’s warehouses.
That’s one way to enter a building. I like the light on Dum Dum’s hat.
8. This shot
Fog, war, guns, stealthiness. This reminds me of Bastogne.
This is going to kill me to say, but I saw this and because of the Fun with Franchises context, thought of the Volturi appearing out of the mist in Breaking Dawn: Part II. I then immediately shook that off and thought instead about the Bastogne episode of Band of Brothers. But you guys get it. Snow, trees, mist, dark figures.
9. THIS SHOT
Single favorite shot in the movie. The reasons being mainly, simplicity. His face, solid background. Love it. Plus, they just cut to this out of nowhere. Which is jarring, and amazing. I do wish they’d have not had a full scene after this and had it just be him screaming and that’s it. That would have been perfect.
This really would have been so much better if they’d stopped and hadn’t returned to him for several minutes. But take a second to appreciate why the closeup works so much better with a solid background. We figured that out in 1903.
The entire wall is a map. I want my entire room to be a giant map.
Tommy Lee Jones stares at things. When those things are maps, I’m very happy.
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Let’s get some honorable mentions.
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It’s rare that Marvel can handle a theme well in a single image. This is one of those times.
A good image is worth a thousand words, but you don’t have to say them.
This shot does work as a representation of his dilemma, and thinking about it again, I’d rather they started with this instead of the other visual cue we got with him behind the newspaper. This is so much more effective — they could have shot him from the shoulders up until you see this, and it would have been such a great way to make him appear as big as he feels until you reveal this shot.
Silhouette, framing, symmetry, and a giant mountain lair.
Silhouettes, ladies and gentlemen. In this case, they spared us the CGI by dimming the lights. This shot makes the anticipation and dread swell way more, instead of being like, “OOGA BOOGA RED FACE GUY!” I’m a minimalist. Don’t show me everything.
- Rear Projection
I love rear projection. I love when rear projection is made part of the story.
I also wish we spent ten whole minutes on this stuff.
These shots. Again, backstage montages are welcome in any Marvel film. This is just the only one that actually gives it to us.
- Wide shots
Broadway, I guess? This sequence is really getting milked in our shots list, huh?
Wide shots, colors. Honestly, my thing about this is all the planes in the background. I love that imagery. And because this also gives me flashbacks to a Busby Berkeley musical, which is never a bad thing.
- This shot
I’m the reason this is here. I love this shot. Old timey building. Taking up most of the frame. And the water as a midground, and then the low angle. I’ve shown a tendency to like grid type shots, and the building definitely fits that mold. Honestly, if I looked out my window and saw this, I’d be happy with where I lived.
This was all Mike. Didn’t notice it until he pointed it out, and it’s great. That building makes it, but shooting from ground level is key because we’re expecting something to fill the space in front of us. That’s what like…half of good visual filmmaking is. Giving the audience a space that they want to fill with something, and then obliging. The trick is giving them a a few moments to WANT that space to be filled. You don’t just shove shit in the frame before people know what the set is.
I love this. This is some Sam Fuller shit. Them standing at the edge of a snowy mountain, waiting for war, in what’s clearly a soundstage. Love this. And the coloring, when them standing out from everything. Seriously, I needed more of this.
That’s such a corny set. Fake rocks, fake snow, fake tree. There should have been more of this for us to get to know the characters who we never really meet.
- This shot
I fawned over this. I love the idea of this shot. Think about it. Germany occupies this random small town. America comes in. There’s a fight. Shit gets destroyed. We drive them out and take over the town. Or liberate, or whatever we call it. And now, in the rubble, people just go into a cafe, which would normally be the location for this type of scene, and have a talk. And I love the idea that all this backstory is in the location and never mentioned. It’s a beautiful image.
It’s dark, but it’s a wide shot of desolation. We love wide shots of desolation.
- This shot
Honestly, this could be out of almost any music video, circa 1992. This is fucking incredible.
So, please recall the FIRST shot on this list. There’s no rubble and there’s a bunch of CGI (which is why this is an honorable mention), but it IS backlit and it does have silhouettes. Good image.
Remember what I said about rear projection? This whole set is incredible.
DYNO-MITE! DYNO-MITE! They’ve extended the backstage aspect into the future, which is why I kind of like this gimmick as a sort of continuation.
- Samuel L. Jackson
I love this shot. I love the colors of time square normally, but now the whole thing’s got a whole lot more badass.
I also love the turtleneck/trenchcoat combo.
Sam Jackson has an awful lot of Audis, and they’re all in Times Square. Ever wake up from a coma to find a one-eyed black man talking to you?
So that’s what we got for shots.
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Tomorrow we give our final thoughts on the film.