Saw it last week and I’m still not entirely sure what I think.  It was a very enjoyable action movie.  It was also unambiguously pro-American, though as Alyssa Rosenberg pointed out it, had trouble incorporating the WWII-era Army’s racial segregation in a satisfying way.  We didn’t need a sermon, but you could have been forgiven if you walked away from the movie thinking that the WWII-era US Army was fully integrated.  Tommy Lee Jones was awesome and came across much tougher than anybody else in the movie.  It was a reminder that the real Captains America were real captains and privates etc.

The basic moral conflict of the movie was intrinsic human dignity vs. power unmoored from real morality - whether on the level of the street or global politics.  Steve Rogers stands up for the worth of every individual (just a kid from Brooklyn) against the pseudo-scientific Social Darwinism of the Red Skull.  There is some interesting stuff there.  They write the Nazi Red Skull as becoming post-racist and post-nationalist though not less evil for that.  His right to rule comes from his intelligence, ruthlessness, and chemically enhanced strength rather than race or national identity.  I’m not sure the movie’s use of the discourse of bullying gets the most out of the conflict between the Skull and Cap. 

It all depends on your expectations.  It isn’t as thoughtful or dramatically successful as the Dark Knight or Batman Begins (or even the first Toby Maguire Spiderman), but it is worlds better than the Captain America movies from the late 70s.

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