The recently-released trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger is generating much buzz among comic book fanboys and less geeky civilians alike for showcasing one of the movie’s most impressive effects — and it isn’t the frightening spectacle of Hugo Weaving’s blood red skull or the stirring sight of the All-American hero hurling his vibranium shield at phalanx of Hydra baddies. (But for the record: Pretty cool, too.)
No, it’s the striking image of star Chris Evans looking distressingly gaunt as Captain America’s alter-ego, Steve Rogers. Credit special effects magic similar to what director David Fincher used to make the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network – and to Evans’ own lobbying. When he was cast as the shield baring WWII-era super-soldier of Marvel Comics legend, Evans sweated the prospect of toning and bulking up his body to fill out the hero’s physique flattering star-spangled threads. But he was even more concerned about how the filmmakers intended to deal with Rogers, the scrawny lad with a big heart who volunteers for a top secret experiment that turns 4H runts into Nazi-fighting studs.
“When I signed up, I thought they were going to use special effects to shrink me down,” Evans tells EW, perhaps best know for playing another Marvel hero, the Human Torch, in two Fantastic Four films. But when he heard the producers were considering using a skinny kid to double as Skinny Steve, Evans protested: “Not to be an annoying actor about this, but the skinny part of the performance is going to be when the audience decides if they care about Captain America, because Captain America is that little guy at heart. It had to be me. I had to make that guy.” In the end, Team (Captain) America employed a variety of techniques — body doubles, oversized clothing, head-replacement f/x and trick photography — to make Steve the valiant wimp that he is, and to keep as much of Evans’ performance in the picture as possible. “It’s a great story about a relatable guy,” says Evans. “He’s an underdog who despite shortcomings chooses the good instead of bitterness. I think anyone is capable of that.”