By the end of it, you're impressed that Captain America doesn't so much become bigger and better than his fellow soldiers, but just as good. When he reunites with his captured best friend he explains that his change in size is because "he joined the army," suggesting that if you're a scrawny pushover all you have to do to become a hero is join the army. And even though they try to make it seem like the girl liked the pre-transformation Steve Rogers just as much as the post-, they also suggest that if you want to "get the girl," join the army.
The final nail in the coffin of the viewer's free will is (SPOILER) the Captain's final self-sacrificing act. Sure, in any other film this would've seemed noble and necessary. Unfortunately, the entire set up was nonsensical. He decides to steer the plane filled with city-labeled bombs—heavy-handed much?—downwards onto an icy surface and crash-land. But if he can steer, then why doesn't he just turn the plane around and fly in circles until another plane can come, disarm the bombs, and rescue him? Or even as my friend suggested, why didn't he just land on the icy plane, which went on for miles? The kamikaze mentality felt almost as orchestrated as the "Up yours!" scene in Independence Day—the difference being that that self-sacrificing act was completely necessary and the key to their victory.
Don't get me wrong. I am a proud American and I have no problem with the government searching for unorthodox means to encourage recruitment, especially if it leads to the guarantee of our safety and the rescuing of our captured soldiers. Earlier this year I commended Battle: Los Angeles for doing just that—for illustrating the determination of our courageous forces in the face of resource-sucking outsiders. But I don't like when they hide their propaganda in the threads of a superhero costume. It seems underhanded and manipulative.
Both films share more than just that plot point—the most interesting being the notion that the best soldier is one that automatically regenerates like a machine, always ready for the next fight. In BLA, the moment feels caked in honor, but in CA, it just feels unsettling, like he's a toy soldier getting his strings tugged. It'll be interesting to see how this glorified marionette functions having been reborn in our era, and whether his patriotic beliefs hold up within these politically tumultuous times.
While the film failed to impress, Chris Evans didn't disappoint. He balanced "brave" and "modest" very well and succeeded in honing the proper physique to fill out the costume. But aside from all the selflessness and eagerness to fight, you don't really get to know anything about Steve Rogers, so I think his character was lacking in that, making the film fail to be a true origin story. Even the less profitable Green Lantern had a fleshed out personality.
I'd recommend this film to comic book adaptation lovers who treat each superhero's origin story like a collector's item, and are dying for a new shiny toy for the shelf. But for lovers of plot and intrigue, I suggest you read the Cliff's Notes version of the Captain's life story and just wait for The Avengers.