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Captain America goes back in time

The First Avenger,’ scheduled to hit theaters July 22.

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Few summer blockbusters venture into period-piece territory. “Captain America: The First Avenger,” however, will be doing just that.

“Captain America: The First Avenger” picks up the tale of the scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), who wants to join the U.S. Army to fight the Nazis, but is deemed unfit to enlist. Instead, he volunteers for a secret project called “Project: Rebirth,” which transforms him into the super-soldier more affectionately known as Captain America.

After the U.S. decides he’s too expensive to risk losing in combat, Captain America decides to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

The Lantern took part in a conference call with Evans last week about the film.

Evans was originally nervous about taking on such an iconic role, he said.

“A movie like this, you either win big or you lose big, and that’s daunting,” he said. “So it certainly was in my head, and I was extremely apprehensive.”

Making film adaptations of comic books comes with another huge stress: pleasing the hardcore fans.

Diligently following the comic books is one thing, Evans said, but the cast and crew still had to produce a quality script as well.

“You’re making the script that’s given to you, so you want to incorporate as much information as you can from the comic books hand in hand with what the script tells you,” he said. “So it’s a marriage, and you have to find that balance, but luckily everyone at Marvel and the director also incorporates the origins from the comic books, as well.”

In the film, Evans’ character transforms from the measly, short Steve Rogers to the buffed-out Captain America, though Evans himself did not change his weight.

Because he didn’t have time to rapidly shift from strong to skinny, it was done with CGI instead.

“I don’t even think it would have worked had I tried to lose weight,” he said. “They didn’t just take away weight. They took away size. They took away bone structure.”

Still, Evans wasn’t too shocked seeing himself on screen looking incredibly skinny.

“I mean, I was a pretty skinny guy for most of my life, so it’s fun seeing it on film, but it’s nothing new to me,” he said. “I spent a long time looking that way.”

Though Evans has some starpower himself after appearing in the “Fantastic Four” films as the Human Torch, he had to share the screen with some other big names on the set of “Captain America.”

Acclaimed actors Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci also appear in the film as Col. Chester Phillips and scientist Abraham Erskine, respectively.

“There are certainly days where you feel a little intimidated standing opposite them and trying to hold your weight next to them, but they were just so great, everyone,” Evans said.

In the midst of the booming comic book craze, Evans said Steve Rogers and Captain America are set apart from the superhero competition because of the way he became a superhero.

“I think most superheroes, they either were born that way or they were given their powers by a freak accident,” he said. “I think Steve Rogers is the only person who was really chosen … for his values and his morals.”  

The character itself isn’t the only thing that sets “Captain America” apart.

The film takes place in the 1940s during World War II, making it a rare period-piece blockbuster.

“The movie’s a period piece,” Evans said. “Given the fact that it takes place in the 1940s transports us to another time and another world, which is obviously a fun escape for any moviegoer.”  

After tackling two big superhero franchises, Evans said he’s now a fan of comic books.

“You know, I never grew up reading them,” he said. “But I’ve obviously done quite a few comic book- and graphic novel-based films. And as a result, you’ve got to read quite a few. And I’ve certainly grown to appreciate and see the value in that medium.”

“Captain America: The First Avenger,” starring Evans as Captain America and directed by Joe Johnston, is scheduled to hit theaters July 22.

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