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Face Off: Captain America: The First Avenger vs. Man of Steel

04.03.2014by: Dave Davis
When last week's Face-Off column put Dutch's military team from PREDATOR up against the Colonial Marines from James Cameron's ALIENS, most of you thought that Arnie's band of heavily armed macho men should've taken first prize.

This weekend, Marvel's star-spangled champion returns to theaters in the sequel CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. It's time to see how the flag-wearing super-soldier stands up against another famous superhero with a fondness for red-and-blue as we put CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER against Superman's latest big-screen incarnation MAN OF STEEL. The decades-old argument of Marvel vs. DC? Let the cross-comic conflict begin.
SUPER POWERS
Increased strength, metabolism, agility, tactical knowledge, and uncanny shield-throwing skill
Heat vision, super-hearing, flight, X-ray vision, and a ridiculous degree of super-strength
ORIGIN
During WWII, skinny and frail Steve Rogers wants nothing more than to serve his country. Offered an opportunity to become the subject of an experimental procedure, Rogers is injected with "super soldier" serum and transforms into costumed superhero Captain America, who becomes a symbol of hope for the masses
Delivered to Earth as an infant from a distant dying world called Krypton, Kal-El is adopted by a kindly Kansas couple and raised as their own as Clark Kent. His human father tries to teach him morality while convincing him to hide his true abilities from the world until absolutely necessary, leading Clark to wander the country secretly using his superpowers for good deeds
HOMETOWN
Brooklyn, New York
Smallville, Kansas -- although he's originally from planet Krypton, populated by an advanced spacefaring genetically engineered species that has ray guns and flying warships and pet dragon-beasts
VILLAIN
Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), aka the Red Skull, a former Nazi officer turned Hydra leader obsessed with the Tesseract, a source of unlimited and unstoppable power. Schmidt is also the failed result of a previous experiment with the "super soldier" serum, which granted him remarkable strength but also corroded away his skin
General Zod (Michael Shannon), who attempts a coup of his world but is captured and banished to the Phantom Zone. Zod and his accomplices escape imprisonment and, seeking their world's genetic Codex, follow Kryptonian survivor Kal-El to Earth, which they try to take over and terraform into a new Krypton
COSTUME LETTER
The letter A, for America! The first and greatest letter of the alphabet! USA! USA! USA!
The letter S, for Superman -- wait, it's actually his family's Kryptonian emblem for "hope"? Never mind...
FATHER FIGURE
Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a defected German scientist who created the "super solder" serum
Jonathan "Pa" Kent (Kevin Costner), who tells Clark that the world isn't ready for him, and insists on perishing in a tornado

Also his biological father Kal-El (Russell Crowe), who appears in hologram form to reveal Clark's true nature and provide a snazzy history lesson of Krypton
LOVE INTEREST
Curvy and gorgeous British agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who can handle herself -- although the best demonstration of her abilities isn't until the Marvel One-Shot movie "Agent Carter" (and, let's hope, the proposed "Agent Carter" TV series)

(Cap also gets a quick smooch from "Game of Thrones" actress Natalie Dormer)
Spunky Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who can handle herself -- as long as she gets assistance from Superman or a hologram of his biological dad
Other Accomplices
Best friend James "Bucky" Barnes (Sebastian Stan), cantankerous Army Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), brilliant inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), and the "Howling Commandos"
A military scientist (Richard Schiff) and a couple of high-ranking Army officers (Chris Meloni, Harry Lennix)
ACTS OF HEROISM
Throws himself on a grenade to save fellow Army recruits, ventures alone behind enemy lines to liberate hundreds of POWs, crashes the Red Skull's plane into a glacier to prevent the weapons of mass destruction on board from obliterating the East Coast
Rescues a school bus full of students, saves a bunch of workers from a burning oil rig, catches a falling pilot, protects a family of four from General Zod's heat-vision

Loses points for paying little attention to his surroundings while battling evil Kryptonians, resulting in loads of excessive collateral damage in downtown Smallville and several blocks of Metropolis (plus one Wayne Enterprises satellite)
ACTOR
Chris Evans is no stranger to bringing comic book material to life after SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD, THE LOSERS and two FANTASTIC FOUR movies, not to mention voicing Casey Jones in the animated TMNT. (Plus he also visited deep space in SUNSHINE)
Before slipping on the billowing cape and physique-hugging supersuit, Henry Cavill was probably best known for his role on Showtime's saucy "The Tudors" and for battling Mickey Rourke in Tarsem Singh's stylized action-fantasy IMMORTALS
DIRECTOR
Joe Johnston had previous experience with a fun WWII-era comic adapation in THE ROCKETEER. He also directed JURASSIC PARK III, THE WOLFMAN, JUMANJI and the under-appreciated HIDALGO and OCTOBER SKY, while his early work included art and visual effects on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and the original STAR WARS trilogy
Zack Snyder moved from commercials and music videos to feature films with a successful remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD, then got valuable practice adapting comic material with the blockbuster bloodbath 300 and the fairly faithful WATCHMEN. He also directed the animated LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE and his faux-feminism fantasy SUCKER PUNCH
BOX OFFICE
$370 million worldwide
$668 million worldwide
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Sorry, Superman (and Superfans), but overall this lifelong Marvel fanboy just thought Cap's pulpy first adventure was ultimately more entertaining (perhaps the best of Marvel's "Phase One"). I've honestly always found the character of Superman to be a bit stiff and dull, and Snyder's brooding, super-serious spin didn't do much to change my opinion there.

Sure, MAN OF STEEL made far more at the box office, but as the most recognizable superhero in the world, there's no reason he shouldn't. But the cheerless tone and rampant devastation didn't connect with me the way Cap's rousing wartime origin story and over-the-top megalomaniacal villain did. And while DC struggles to capitalize on collecting its popular characters on screen, CAPTAIN AMERICA served as a perfectly smooth segue for the hero into THE AVENGERS. (Also, Peggy Carter: YOWZA.)

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

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