Last Monday I explored the character of Tony Stark/Iron Man and how far he’s come since Iron Man premiered 10 years ago. This week I’ll talk about another of the MCU heroes, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America.
The world of Steve Rogers and Captain America is a big one. It’s huge in fact, and it has been well explored over the last 7 years in Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. Throughout the 3 films, and also in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, we have seen the character of Steve Rogers go from strength to strength, quite literally.
In the Marvel films, the actor who was cast to play “Cap” was Chris Evans. (Little fact: Evans almost turned down the role, but was convinced to take it on by Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr.) Like Downey was born to play Tony Stark, Evans was indeed born to play Steve Rogers. He brings the perfect balance of charm, wit and good old American wholesomeness to the role.
Created by cartoonists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the idea for Captain America came from writer Simon in 1940. The name “Super American” came up after he did a sketch, but he felt there were already too many names with the word “Super” in them, and there weren’t many Captains. So Captain America it was. Cap’s best friend was simply named Bucky, after a real-life friend, Bucky Pierson, a star on the high school basketball team. The characters were brought to life in Captain America Comics #1, cover dated March 1941.
While there is a lot of wonderful and fascinating history behind the character of Captain America in the comics, we won’t be delving into that so much here, at least not this time. I’ll be taking a look into the film events, which differ slightly.
Little Steve Rogers grew up in Brooklyn, New York. And I say little, because he was just that. At the time of World War II, Rogers is unable to enlist in the war alongside his best friend Bucky Barnes, due to his numerous health problems and a weak, frail body. After catching the eye of British Agent Peggy Carter, Rogers is recruited to be a test subject for a new serum, as part of a “super-soldier” experiment by Dr. Abraham Erskine. The serum is a complete success giving Rogers superhero abilities like strength, speed, agility and intelligence.
After Erskine is killed, his methods of creating super-soliders dies with him. The American government has Rogers dress up in American colours, and tour the country to promote war bonds, becoming a symbol for patriotic duty. On tour, Rogers learns of Barnes going MIA while in battle with the Germans. Refusing to believe Barnes is dead, Rogers along with the help of Carter and engineer Howard Stark, embarks on a solo mission and infiltrates the fortress of the Nazi division known as Hydra. After rescuing Barnes and upon returning home, Rogers and his men plan attacks on other Hydra bases. Stark assists Rogers giving him advanced equipment, including a circular shield made of vibranium, a rare indestructible metal. Rogers and his team of commandoes successfully bring down various Hydra operations. But while on a mission, Rogers and his men are attacked, and Barnes is thrown from a train to his assumed death. Later, when the final Hydra base is located, Rogers leads an attack, but after crashing a plane full of weapons into the ocean, Rogers is also assumed dead. We soon see Rogers wake up in a room. He appears to be in the 1940’s still. But he finds out from S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury that he has been “asleep” for 70 years. Fury wants him for a mission like no other.
The character has come a long, long way. Not just being transformed from a scrawny kid who couldn’t defend himself to a courageous superhero loved and admired by all, but also pretty much being thrown into the future. He’s had to adjust and adapt to how much things have changed in the world since he was last in it. And it hasn’t been easy. Losing his best friend and everyone he knew and loved, while being recruited for The Avengers. We get to see this honest, by the book, patriotic hero face off against not just the bad guys but eventually clashing with Tony Stark’s brash methods. Even though there is respect for each other, after the events in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the two finally come to blows in Captain America: Civil War, when truths about Stark’s parents are revealed and Rogers will do whatever it takes to protect his now returned friend Barnes.
While Cap may struggle here and there with his decisions and , he handles things the only way he knows how. With much aplomb and integrity. There’s also plenty of support for him along the way. Sebastian Stan plays Bucky Barnes. And not just as Rogers’ best friend, but the transformation of going from Barnes to The Winter Soldier. (The character of The Winter Soldier will be explored in an upcoming post.) While Evans and Stan may not be in a whole lot of scenes together, the camaraderie between the two is clearly evident. Hayley Atwell as the tough, yet feminine Peggy Carter is the perfect match for Evans’ Rogers, the love and respect they have for one another shining through. Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, is often there by Steve’s side. Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, a new friend and ally who we are introduced to in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There’s also been a few memorable villains played by Hugo Weaving, Robert Redford, Daniel Brühl and Frank Grillo.
The story of Captain America is far from over even though Evans has recently announced he has no plans to continue playing the American superhero after Avengers 4 next year. Only time will tell who may take up the role with fellow Marvel actors Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie both being mentioned for the part. It will be interesting to see where this character will go in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, and it will be indeed another sad day if it is time to say goodbye to yet another much loved Marvel character. What makes Steve Rogers/Captain America so well liked is that he’s compassionate, brave and loyal. He never backs down from a fight, but he also never loses sight of what’s right. He’s protective of those closest to him and he’s willing to defend those who can’t defend themselves. It’s no wonder he is considered to be the world’s first and greatest superhero.
Images courtesy of IMDB.