by Jeff Jensen
For fans of superhero movies, the most patriotic holiday on next year’s calendar won’t fall on July 4th, but exactly 18 days later. That’s when Paramount Pictures will release Captain America: The First Avenger, a big budget adaptation of the Marvel Comics shield-baring super-soldier. The new issue of Entertainment Weekly offers your first look at star Chris Evans in the hero’s red, white and blue threads — but you can get a peek at the man in uniform right here, right now.
Our story also brings you to the set of the London-based production, directed by Joe Johnston (The Wolfman, October Sky). During a break in shooting, Evans — on his second tour of Marvel duty, having played the Human Torch in Fox’s Fantastic Four films — explained he was reluctant to accept the call of Captain America, in part because he had already portrayed a Marvel-ous mystery man. Of course, he also worried about the potential cost of failure, but he also worried the potential cost of fame should the movie be a hit.
“At the time, I remember telling a buddy of mine, ‘If the movie bombs, I’m f—-ed. If the movie hits, I’m f—-ed!’” After declining the part three times, Evans took a meeting with Marvel execs and Johnston and was dazzled by their plans for the movie. He still felt wary about suiting up for Captain America — but then he had an epiphany. “I was just scared,” he says. “I realized my whole decision making process was fear based, and you never want to make a decision out of fear.’” Evans signed a six-picture deal with Marvel to play the character, and he has no regrets: “I can’t believe was almost too chicken to play Captain America.”
The movie — which also serves to set up Marvel’s 2012 superhero team-up, The Avengers -- hews closely to Captain America’s WWII-era origins. The year is 1942, and Steve Rogers is a scrawny lad who desperately wants to fight Nazis for his country but can’t because he’s been deemed physically unfit. His fate — and his physique — is radically transformed when he signs up for Project: Rebirth, a secret military operation that turns wimps into studs using drugs and assorted sci-fi hoo-ha. There’s a love interest (Major Peggy Carter, played Haley Atwell), there’s a sidekick (Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stans), and there’s the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), Hitler’s treacherous head of advanced weaponry, whose own plan for world domination involves a magical object known as The Tesseract (comic fans know it better as The Cosmic Cube).
“The interesting thing about this character is that he’s an everyman who in the course of a few minutes become a perfect human specimen. That has to create some interesting personal issues,” says Johnston. “I saw it as an opportunity to make a superhero movie that felt real, that didn’t have to rely on an overabundance of fantasy elements.”