As I mentioned last week, despite my ups and downs with Captain America, I bought the Chris Evans movie after hearing Alan Silvestri's soaring theme. Of all the Avengers setup movies, it strikes me as the most down-to-earth. Even after Steve Rogers is injected with the Super Soldier serum, he isn't accepted by Col. Phillips or his fellow soldiers. He's a USO attraction until he takes the initiative for a rescue mission deemed too dangerous to try. After that mission, he still needs a team to stop the Red Skull's worldwide attack. He doesn't become the super-hero who turns the tide by showing up.
The movie had all the ingredients to take me back in time and make me care about Steve Rogers, but I wanted to care more. I might have bought in if Rogers had been shown working his way into Captain shape within weeks of taking the serum. Even then I don't see how he could strategize or lead a team as soon as he did, with no previous combat experience.
(Here's a Captain America I would believe: Lt. Steve Rogers is the same wimpy kid, but he naturally grows into fighting shape. He returns from a mission badly injured; he may never walk again, and is in danger of being sent home. That's when Erskine comes in and offers him the serum, a chance to get back in the fight. He takes it and not only recovers, but becomes physically better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster...)
The supporting performances were probably the best of any Marvel movie, particularly Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper, and Hugo Weaving. My only other complaint was with the need to bring Cap into the present day. He goes down with the HYDRA airship, saving the free world, no less. And then he wakes up seventy years later, and roll credits.
I'd call it a bad ending, but I don't think it even was one. It certainly wasn't the right note to lead into a reprise of Silvestri's theme. I would have preferred to end with a ceremony honoring Cap's sacrifice, with Phillips looking stoic and Carter tearing up. Roll credits, and then show Steve waking up.
I know all roads lead to THE AVENGERS, but I didn't feel this one was complete.