If you had told me in 2008 when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was first starting that Captain America would become my favorite character within the franchise, I would have said that you were crazy. As a kid, I thought the character was corny. My only experience with him was from the Marvel vs. Capcom where he had the cheesiest lines and also from his guest appearances on Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Plus I never really could get over his costume, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. This is all started to change around 2004.
Ed Brubaker took over the Captain America book. This was the relaunch after the “Avengers Disassembled” storyline. In it, Cap’s life is thrown for a loop when The Red Skull is assassinated and the culprit is his long thought to be dead partner, Bucky Barnes who now goes by the name of The Winter Soldier. This storyline changed my perspective on the Star Spangled Avenger. That being said, comics is where the character is from. This did help me warm up to the character but when it comes to the big screen, that was another story.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe began in 2008 with the release of “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk”. Iron Man was the critical and fan darling that year as it took an unknown character and made him a worldwide name. The Hulk is one of my favorite comic book characters of all time. So later that year when Marvel Studios announced their future films and Captain America was on the lineup, I couldn’t help but be skeptical. I could only think of the criticism that faces Superman as the two character shares similar ideologies and many people are turned off by the whole “boy scout” thing.
In 2010, actor Chris Evans was announced as playing Steve Rogers/Captain America and you couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. Evans had previously played Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in the Fox/Marvel Fantastic Four movies. He certainly developed the physique for the post super soldier serum Cap and his supporting cast was top notch, so it started to ease doubts as to how the movie would turn out.
Finally in 2011, “Captain America: The First Avenger” was released and though at first I didn’t know how I thought about it, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was one of my favorite superhero films and the main reason was how much I enjoyed Steve Rogers/Captain America. There was something refreshing about the literal and figurative little guy who just wanted to do the right thing but could not and would risk his own life just for the chance to help out.
The character next appeared in “The Avengers” the following year. This time he was not alone as he was joined by the other heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since in-story, Captain America had only been in modern times for about a few weeks, he was still stuck in the 1940’s way of thinking. For some, like Bruce Banner/Hulk, it was refreshing. For others, Tony Stark/Iron Man, he couldn’t stand it. He was very much a take orders kind of person as it was all he knew but we start to see the cracks in that as ultimately he is someone who does what he believes is right. The movie also shows that even someone who does not particularly like him, Iron Man and a x-factor such as the Hulk, will follow his orders in battle.
The steadfast belief to do what is right, no matter what is carried over into his next film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Struggling but seemingly accepting of modern society, Captain America is S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top field agent (enforcer) as his top physical and mental prowess combined with the modern day combat has made him a force to be reckoned with. Now he is faced with ghosts from his past which threaten to destroy everything he believes in. Once again his earnest nature proves to be an asset as it helps people join his cause and also helps convince others to do the right thing even in life or death situations.
Finally his latest appearance was in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” which picks up from the events of “The Winter Soldier”. The Avengers have become a unit again and Captain America is undoubtedly the leader of the team. However, a rogue experiment by Stark and Banner, Ultron threatens Earth’s existence, the team needs their steadfast leader. This is poignant in one particular scene where most of the team is affected by their deepest fears and we see what exactly is Cap’s biggest fear: without conflict, where does he go in the world? This was touched upon in The Winter Soldier but made more explicit. It is hinted on earlier when Sam Wilson/The Falcon visits Steve and asks about his living arrangements and it’s clear that he is avoiding the subject and using The Avengers as an excuse.
Ultron seems to be aware of this and even calls out Cap’s fears in front of him. When all of the Avengers are hit with their nightmares, they are all pretty shaken up except for Cap. Stark even wonders why that is. They soon begin an argument about the cost of battle as Stark does not want to keep fighting as that was his reason for creating Ultron while Cap believes that stopping a war before there even is a war will ultimately lead to what they were trying to stop in the first place. So while Cap does seem to struggle with the reality that he can’t fight, he is someone who does not want conflict but will be the first in line to fight if need be. By the end of the movie, he fully cements his self as the leader of The Avengers as most of the old team has left and he is now in charge of a new team. This is especially poignant as he is on a raised platform and all the new members are looking up to him.
A slow burn but that was simmering. Ever since “Captain America: The First Avenger” I’ve enjoyed the character of Steve Rogers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By the end of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, he has become my favorite character within the franchise. There is something refreshing in a character who does not believe in cynicism but also a “good is not nice” when need be. He is somewhat that will hold steady no matter what sort of adversity he is facing. I cannot wait to see the continued adventures of my favorite character.