Captain America: The MCU’s Most Idealistic Hero
Steve Rogers didn’t start off as everyone’s favorite Avenger, but through his films and Chris Evans’s amazing performance in the role, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t Team Cap. Steve’s arc through the years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been one of the best. As mentioned in my Iron Man article the juxtaposition between Steve and Tony that started in Avengers, as these characters evolve, Steve once held up to the law and what’s good, while Tony was the rebel and against authority. And in a span of almost six years, the roles are reversed as Steve is now an outlaw, but still remains the same person we met in The First Avenger.
I never could’ve imagined the places they’ve been able to take Steve through. Out of all the trilogies in the MCU, Cap’s movies have been consistently good and according to its directors, it dabbles in different subgenres. One could argue that Cap’s trilogy is the best superhero trilogy, with each of his films challenging Steve’s ethos. Even with his human flaws, we understand where that stems from; he’s a ‘Man Out of Time.’
Captain America: The First Avenger – “The Little Guy”
Set in WW2 Steve Rogers is a short skinny kid who weighs 90Ibs, but he had this desire to help and he was going to find a way to join, one way or another. Steve’s moral compass has always been that of an honorable, trustworthy man, who knows the “true value of strength.”There were actually a large number of men who wanted to join back then but their health wouldn’t allow them to and they became incredibly distraught about it. The thing about Steve is that he isn’t so special, he got lucky and was in the right place at the right time, but that doesn’t diminish what he does and what he stands for.
Once he was injected with the serum and became the first American super soldier, he became part of the propaganda machine to have people buy war bonds. Steve knew he wasn’t meant for more and it’s with the help of Peggy Carter that gets him the courage to leave. Steve knew when to disobey orders, especially when it comes to saving lives and his best friend, Bucky, the reason he disobeys the order in the first place.
Bucky is practically Steve’s brother and this is the first time we see him risk his life for him because he means that much to Steve. What’s great about the film is that they’re able to incorporate the Howling Commandos and just like that Steve has his own squad and his mission is to take down Hydra. He operates in a special division of the military that became the building blocks of what will later be known as S.H.I.E.L.D. and that’s when we truly see how great of a soldier he is.
Steve’s relationship with Peggy is a sweet one as she’s the only woman Steve ever loved and she’s such a great character that she had her own tv series. There is a lot more to explore with the character but her relationship with Steve is interesting since Steve never really left her life. She never forgot about him, which makes Cap waking up in modern times heartbreaking, knowing that he’ll never be with the woman he loves.
Bucky’s death towards the end of the film actually holds a tremendous amount of weight as Steve clearly wants to waste away his sorrows by drinking, but he can’t even do that, so he just sits mourning. Steve only changes physically, not emotionally or mentally and that’s what matters most, that if you take out the serum from Steve, he’s still going to be the same skinny guy we saw at the beginning of the film.
In the Avengers Steve is now in modern times and he’s there to stay. Since he was recently thawed out from ice his character is the naive member of the group… like Thor. There is a hint of frustration in Steve, his time and ultimately his life was taken from him so now he’s basically in a different world. So it’s understandable for him to grow angry with Tony, which sets up the seed for what’s to come later.
It’s great watching him fight alongside everyone and seeing him be displaced in a different time makes for some good comedy, but the film doesn’t utilize Cap to his fullest potential until his next solo outing…
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – ‘The Man Out of Time’
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman…” – The Crisis by Thomas Paine
The term ‘Winter Soldier’ is a play on words from a documentary of the same name which was about a hearing from the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War where veterans confess to war crimes and the manipulation of the U.S. The ‘Winter Soldier’ is supposed to mean the toughest soldier, the soldier who fights during the coldest winter, the soldier who will go to the ends of the Earth to complete his mission.
In the director’s commentary on the film, Joe Russo said that the title has a double meaning. Yes, the Winter Soldier is Bucky (the perfect assassin), but the title is also about Steve (the perfect soldier) and his relentlessness; the man never knows when to give up.
From the beginning of the film, when we see Cap on the ship, they let us knew right away that this is a different Cap. He’s assimilated better into the world and that includes his fighting. But Steve is still vulnerable and has no definitive identity as we see him walk through a museum exhibit in his name. He’s struggling, the world is so different to him and he’s untrustworthy of those he works for. He thinks everyone from his past is dead except for Peggy, who is 90 years old and suffers from some memory loss due to the rage, but Steve still deeply loves and Chris Evans gives an amazing performance.
Steve’s past comes to haunt him as the Winter Soldier/Bucky, his best friend, is actually alive and seemingly has no memory of him. He’s become the ultimate assassin for Hydra, an organization that hid within S.H.I.E.L.D. like a parasite and Steve realizes he never truly finished his mission. The division he worked with in WW2 became the very thing he fought against.
In trying to take down Hydra’s plan, Steve has another goal and that’s to save Bucky, the only other person left of his past. He knows Bucky remembers him and he can’t allow his friend to be tormented any longer. Steve puts faith in Bucky not to kill him because he knows there’s still some semblance of the Bucky he knew, and he was right to do so.
And thus the hunt for Bucky starts and Cap goes back to the Avengers…
In Age of Ultron Steve is the leader of the Avengers, Tony just supplies the team with everything. The film still plays with Steve being an old man and ‘boy scout’ as he tells Tony to watch his language, a funny joke at the beginning that drags on for the entire duration of the film. However, it’s nice to see them still trying to get rid of Hydra, a mission Steve would very much want to complete.
But the two most important things about Steve in the film is his understanding of Pietro and Wanda. He understands when your country is in turmoil and you want to do something helpful, you’ll do what you can, and that includes being experimented on by a German scientist. Also, there seems to be an even bigger rift between him and Tony; Steve is seeing that Tony is trying to police and control things that are out of his control, Steve after going through the events of Winter Soldier is not having Tony prepare for a war that hasn’t even arrived yet. There’s a love in their relationship, but there is an ideological difference between the characters that carry on to the next film we see them in…
Captain America: Civil War – The Divorce of the Avengers
I sometimes like to call this film ‘Avengers 2.5’ because it kinda is one, however, the crux of the entire story revolves around Steve and his relationship with Bucky, as well as Tony. In the director’s commentary, the Russo Brothers said that this is the divorce of the Avengers, but at its core, the film is more about finding Bucky and the ramifications of it.
As much as I would like to talk about every individual character’s journey, the focus is on Steve. The film is not like the Civil War comic storyline at all, the biggest thing it has in common is the fact the Avengers split up into two teams and the iconic shot at the end of Iron Man and Cap fighting.
The Avengers are at the breaking point in this film. After the events of Laos, the world can no longer have them operate on their own. In comes the Sokovia Accords which has them work under governments. You either sign and continue your days as an Avenger or retire. After the events of Winter Soldier, the last thing Steve would want to do is sign over control to the government. Like he said, they have agendas and their interest will not align with what’s right. But when Tony and Vision practically place Wanda on house arrest and then Bucky quickly becomes the catalyst for the separation of the Avengers.
I consider myself Team Cap in the film and I agree with Steve that signing the Sokovia Accords isn’t the best idea, but I appreciate that they show Steve’s biggest flaw is his known blind spot for Bucky. It’s a glaring flaw in his; there may be some family member who you love with all your heart, and you may find yourself defending them, depending on their actions. In Steve’s case, he knows Bucky didn’t mean to kill his targets, he was mind controlled by Hydra, but that doesn’t wipe off the blood on Bucky’s hand and clearly doesn’t excuse the heartache of those affected by his actions.
Steve can’t help but try to save Bucky who’s like a brother and not to mention the only person of his past who is still alive. Peggy Carter passes away early on in the film and it takes Steve to a point where he needs to plant himself and stay true to what he believes in More than anything Steve believes Bucky needs help and he’s gonna do it, even at the cost of the Avengers. At his core, Steve is still that short, 90Ib guy with a heart yearning to do what he believes is right.
We know Steve takes Bucky to Wakanda to help him with his mind and we also know he helps breakout all the Avengers that were imprisoned. After these events, one can assume that Steve is technically a war criminal. Where has he gone? What has he done? We’ll just have to watch Infinity War to find out!