If you’re going to paint the stars and stripes on your shield and run around calling yourself “Captain America,” you had better have some idea of what America means. Even Superman, the very essence of American identity, doesn’t traipse around with an “A” for America on his uniform. Happily, the movie “Captain America: The First Avenger” excitingly tells the story of the wartime hero and ably articulates an ethos of America as a good-hearted strongman who stands up to bullies. It fails, however, to take the extra step to greatness.

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