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Comic-Con 2011: 'Captain America's' Chris Evans Joined by Military for Early Screening

The actor makes an appearance to introduce the Marvel Studios film to fans a day ahead of its official opening.

Captain America: The First Avenger
Susie Allnutt/Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures

By mid-morning Thursday, the Horton Plaza UA theaters in downtown San Diego were covered in red, white and blue. Plus a good contingent of camouflage.

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Paramount made sure that the military was well represented at the very first public screenings of Captain America: The First Avenger, which took off at Comic-Con around 10 am just as the regular event program was getting started. Those fans who didn’t have special access were up early—the first two women in line had arrived at 3:40 am, they said. Only five behind them was a man in full Captain America garb, with shield, who was given props by being bumped to the front of a different line.

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Stretching down the entire third-floor promenade before showtime, fans were gifted with posters and shield-adorned red and white T-shirts as a phalanx of ten stars-and-stripes-clad ladies in the “USO” uniforms seen in the film flitted around (a nice tweak on the Iron Maidens of Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 2). Several more demurely dressed women in period uniforms also swam through the crowd.

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The dozens of sailors, Marines, grunts and airmen (and women) were forced to sit an extra half an hour in the theater before the movie played, but they were treated to a round of applause from the crowd looking to thank them for their service. This prompted one Army guy to then invite the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to his daughter, Mika, who had flown in from Pittsburgh for the occasion.

(At one point, a Lieutenant Colonel reminded several of his charges that despite the late start of the movie, they were still expected to show up on time for another appointment, even if it meant missing the ending. This was met with several crisp “Yes, sirs.”)

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Eventually, Captain America himself, Chris Evans, showed up on the heels of marching Captain Americ-ettes to give the movie a strong, if hasty, plug—“I’m telling you, it’s good”—before rushing off to the other theaters at the multiplex to greet the additional crowds. The audience didn’t need much encouragement. They were ready for some American heroism and Nazi/Hydra demolition.

The movie went over well enough, but the real noise kicked in at the end of the credits when next summer’s The Avengers got its tease. With Captain America front and center this year, Disney and Marvel shrewdly knew that Avengers, which is still shooting, didn’t need its own flashy dog-and-pony show.

Outside after the screening, long lines had already extended for subsequent paid showings of Captain America, which had commandeered two screens for the rest of the day ahead of its official opening tomorrow.