Thursday, April 19, 2018

Everything I Love About Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel Studios
When you look at the Marvel franchise and its vault of superheros, the casting is incredible. Rarely does an actor miss a beat from the larger-than-life comic book character they're playing, but there a few that stand out above the rest. As humble as Chris Evans is, just like his All-American alter-ago, he has been an incredible asset throughout his own installments and The Avengers films. Captain America has honestly my favorite character in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and with the fate of his arc up in the air for the epic Avengers: Infinity War duology, here is an endless list of reasons why I love Captain America starting with Captain America: The First Avenger (the others will come in part two). Did your favorite moment make the list?

Captain America: The First Avenger

Of all the superhero movies that try to seamlessly bookend the present day with its origins, Captain America: The First Avenger does it perfectly. The movie is essentially a flashback, but the beginning is subtle enough in making you question how Captain America's ship lands out in the middle of nowhere and how he's survived for so long under ice. Not to mention that it's filmed like a 1940s movie; it's over-the-top but charming in showing how a young man became The American Dream™.  A lot of movies, or movies in general, are pretty weak with that. Immediately, we see The Red Skull in the opening, and then this tiny man with a heart of gold who wants to go and fight the war; lying his way to be accepted into the Army. It's the perfect set-up of what Steve faces and who he has to become to win.

"A lot of guys getting killed over there...kind of makes you think twice about enlisting?

NOPE. Steve's trying to be evaluated by a doctor and cleared to enlist. Yes, the transformation by Abraham makes him a big muscly cuddle bear...but look at all the things the serum cures. Just to think that the doctor turned him down just for his asthma.

Help is on the way

This scene is iconic for Steve because we see him stand up to a bully; it's the foundation of everything he believes in. I love Steve's courage, and how the preview's voice over is in sync to Steve taking a stand to the theater jerk who interrupts the previews. "War continues to ravage Europe, but help is on the way. Every able bodied young man is lining up to serve his country. Even little Timmy is doing his part collecting scrap metal - nice work Timmy! Meanwhile overseas, our brave boys have shown the axis powers that the price of freedom is never too high! Together with Allied forces, we'll face any threat no matter the size." And then cue him getting beaten up in the alley and trying to shield himself with the trash can lid.

You get your orders? 

Obviously this scene marks a staple in Cap's movies - getting knocked down by a bully, only to get up again. That's simply in his blood. But I love that Bucky gets his orders to depart with the 107th infantry, and if you miss it from the doctor's evaluation scene before, it's the same one as Steve's father who was killed by mustard gas. Yet there's no jealousy between him and Bucky whatsoever. All Steve says is "I should be going", which is a smart script choice - it's not "It should be me" or anything else. He just wants to go and fight. This moment is changing their lives forever, way before the serum comes into play.


Where are we goin? The future.

Captain America's arc is a well of parallels for his later movies Winter Soldier and Civil War. This scene connect to Cap ending up in the future without (and with) Bucky. He doesn't know it but he's going to be a man out of time as Loki puts it in The Avengers. Also, Bucky jokes "I don't know see what the problem is, you're about to be the last eligible man in America. There's three million women here."To which Steve says, "I'd be happy with just one." Most guys would think of those odds and their testosterone would skyrocket about all the women they could get, but Steve just wants the right one.

This human skittle can't or doesn't figure out that this girl is not interested in him; he thinks she doesn't like the snack.

Not to mention that after this scene he sneaks over to enlist in the Army again, and his face doesn't even fit the mirror booth for men to see themselves as one of the boys. When Bucky counters that Steve shouldn't enlist again, Steve brings up Timmy from the movie preview, "What should I do collect scrap metal in my little red wagon?" Bucky is right: Steve has something to prove; he wants to be one of the boys, not a little boy who the bullies pick on.

I don't want to kill anyone 

When Abraham comes into the room (and Steve thinks he's in trouble for having lied on his forms), Abe makes a point to say, "You want to go overseas? Kill some Nazis?" Obviously, Nazis are going to get killed but Steve doesn't have a bloodthirsty attitude about it; he's not signing up to "get some action". Even when Abraham talks about being from Germany, Steve is not turned off, unlike a lot of racism German immigrants faced at that time because they were immediately associated with Nazis.

You Are Not Enough

(Tommy Lee Jones was so underrated in this, btw.) "They are won by men. We are going to win this war because we have the best men." [looks at Steve] "And because they are going to get better." Steve knows Phillips is insinuating about him, but he doesn't flinch.

Let's Go Ladies

From Steve's eyes lighting up when Peggy "breaks in the new candidates" to outsmarting the rest of the soldiers by retrieving the flag from its pole (the first person in seventeen years), there's so much heart to the training montage. Colonel Phillips thinks to make men is to be overtly masculine, but that's not what it takes to be Captain America. The body - and yes it's a fine body - is only one part of the whole.

Is This a Test? 

The studios wanted Pre-Serum Steve to be created with a body double, but Chris sought to act out all of skinny Steve's scenes (at Post-Serum Steve's weight) and carry the character from beginning. The special effects had to shrink Chris down. It ends up being one of the most underrated performances of the MCU, giving so many layers to the character. Here, Steve ( and Peggy) go to cover the dummy grenade and use his body as a shield as Colonel Phillips says you win wars with guts.

Why was I chosen?

Up to this point, we've been shown why Steve is chosen - he has an inner strength and compassion that those in power can never understand or possess. But here Abraham explains exactly why he's chosen. It's time for the little guys who have been ostracized and abused to take that power because they understand its value and won't misuse it; Bad becomes worse, good becomes great.

and in that parking lot...and behind that diner.

If 'asking a woman to dance always seems so terrifying', sitting in a car with a woman for five minutes must be awkward torture, especially when he's aware of the affect he has on them: they don't want to dance with a guy they think they will step on. When he slightly questions why a 'beautiful dame - woman, I mean agent - you are beautiful' would want to join the military, it's not a criticism or cruel judgement. Despite not having any game whatsoever, Steve automatically opens up to Peggy about getting beat up all around Brooklyn. His vulnerability allows her to open up about her struggles too. Let's be honest, Peggy would be all over Pre-Serum Steve just as much as she is afterwards.

Taller

Steve was all heart and his body had zero brawn to it. Not only is Chris's trepidation as Steve absolutely perfect leading up to the serum (and the fact that he looks at Peggy for what might be the last time before the experiment begins), but they probably didn't think he would come out exactly as the stud muscle muffin he does. Sure, Steve wanted to stand up to bullies more but did he spend time being jealous of guys and their massive builds? Probably not. So I love Steve's answer is 'Taller'. He's physically no longer than the little guy anymore but it doesn't register.

A Good Man

For most of Chris's performance, he has a cowl over his face. Despite how much he's trying to express through Cap's mask, it's almost impossible. While losing his first real mentor Abraham, Steve's reminded to be the good man he always has been, not just a perfect soldier everyone expects him to be.

So this is what tall is

I always feel like action scenes in general are severely underrated considering how many takes are needed, different camera set-ups, the choreography that has to be learned, etc. I love Chris's run as Steve, not just because the directors described it as delicate like a ballet, but also the way he yells 'Sorry!' to Peggy when he knocks her over and eventually topples into the bridal store. He does it in such a panicked expression, as if he can't yet control what his body does.

Hail Hydra

I love the twist of Hydra agent throwing the kid into the river, and instead of 'being forced to save him' the little boy can swim and tells Steve to go get the bad guy'. It's like a mini-Steve. After the spy bites on a cyanide pill before Steve can get answers, he only starts to understand how his body has changed.

Do you want to serve your country in the most important battlefield in the war?

Steve has to face that Abraham was killed, and the fact that his operation will no longer go on because it could only be done with him; Colonel Phillips needed an army and all they got is one man which is not enough. Of course, Senator Brandt capitalizes on Steve still wanting to be apart of the effort. Steve thinks he's going to be a vital asset to the war, but he's relegated to - honestly - being a circus performer. This the look of someone who has no idea what's coming to him.

Each bond you buy is a bullet in the barrel of your best friend's gun

From that glance of hope to the panic of performing this Busby Berkeley charade (with this song and its absolutely perfect lyrics to match Steve's arc so far in the movie), Chris brings a wonderful innocence and nervousness to this montage. I love the slight croaking in Chris's voice while reading the lines off of his shield. In the middle of this (one part re-enacting how he will walk into the battle later with Bucky and the Howling Commandos), he's taken so many pictures holding babies he mistakes shaking Senator Brandt's hand as if he's going to have to hold another baby.As much as this show gave hope and probably entertained the masses, Steve becomes the sideshow version of Timmy collecting scrap metal. By the end, the unsure confidence of his role (hey this isn't so bad) grows... before it all comes crashing down.


This is the first time Steve's been in a theater since he challenged that bully to a fight and was beat up in the alleyway. This isn't exactly what he wants to be doing, but he'll take it. Look at the hope its giving people of actually defeating Hitler. We have to remember that we know about the Red Skull but the general public has no idea about him or his plans of world domination, much like Hydra growing over the decades and infiltrating history while Cap is frozen.

How do you think I got here?

Poor Steve getting heckled again. He's so used to doing this in front of towns across the U.S., and here are guys who are fighting the good fight; the one Senator Brandt made him think he was going to do. I love the way Chris lands the line: "I think they only know the one song" when the boys demand him to bring out the girls - as the audience we know they've probably only performed that one tune over and over again, but Chris delivers it just as a passing comment.

And I'm wearing tights.

This isn't what Abraham or anyone who cared for Steve wanted for him. It's so sad how he removes himself from performing to draw himself as a lab rat and a dancing monkey. These aren't his only two options, but he looks even more defeated than Steve did on his worse day of being bullied. You have to love the American Eagle shadowed in the background.

Peggy's word

Peggy and Steve bonded over their vulnerability before anything else. She reminds him throughout their relationship that he can make his own choices and she'll respect them (as he should do for others like Bucky). When he wants to go and rescue Bucky who's been captured along with his other comrades, her reassurance, even approval, means the world to him.

Do you.....

Steve is so inexperienced with women he thinks Howard's playboy attitude and wanting to get fondue with Peggy means something sexual. Oh Cap, it's best not to judge a woman by the relationships she has with men, platonic or otherwise. (Steve has a lot of dialogue that could be very over-the-top (from "Do You Fondue" to "I Can Do This All Day"), and Chris manages to deliver them so straight.) I love that Peggy refuses to meet him even halfway with this remark.

Who are you?

I love how Steve and Captain America start to morph here. Steve is the one going to this camp to rescue Bucky and the other soldiers, but he's dressed as his alter-ego (the costume design reminds me of a kid playing soldier). But when the soldiers ask him who he is, he's not going to say he's Some Guy Steve. Nope, he's kind of Captain America. But when he saves Bucky and trying not to get killed, they're back to the same old banter they had in Brooklyn, that friendship outlasts everything else.

Face-off Against the Red Skull

It's a good hour before Steve actually meets what he's facing: The Red Skull. Of course, it's while the entire military base is being blown up. Look at those faces. They won't do anything without the other. And, also, I love the edit of not knowing whether or not Cap can survive the explosion he falls into. Not only is it a perfect way to show Bucky falling off the train later and makes us assume he dies, but so often movies give away that small catch-you-off-guard moment of believing the hero might not survive (even though he probably will - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 fails at this but that's for another post lol). We know the serum worked on Steve by his physicality, but we have to see what those changes truly mean in battle.

You're late

Steve calling himself Captain America to the soldiers works here too. Perfectly, Peggy, Bucky, Steve, and The Howling Commandos are in the inner circle around Steve. Bucky and Peggy obviously knows who he is, but are the soldiers going to respond to Some Guy From Brooklyn? No, "Let's hear it for Captain America!", that Star Spangled Man with a plan who saved hundreds of soldiers. Also, the chemistry between Steggy is LIT.

That little guy from Brooklyn

As a showman, the news reels, and having his own comic, Steve is already a solid symbol of America, but he's always going to be that boy from Brooklyn growing up to Bucky; that's who he is following and that's who he'll lay down his life for. (The lyrics to the soldiers singing is perfectly heartbreaking). Also Chris Evans in this military uniform. CONGRATULATIONS SPECIMEN.

The Right Partner

OMG, get yourself somebody who looks at you the way Steve looks at Peggy, Peggy looks at Steve, Bucky looks at Steve and Peggy. #RelationshipGoals. We all know what this scene means - Peggy and Steve setting up a future plan to dance when the moment is right.

Fondue is just cheese and bread, my friend

After Peggy catches Steve making out with Private Lorraine, he tries to throw her relationship with Howard into the mix as the reason why it should be okay for him to make-out with someone else Chris is the embodiment of the dog from Up! in this scene. He's self-righteous about thinking (nearly accusing) Peggy and Howard of fonduing, excited when he finds the vibranium shield, hopeful to get Peggy's validation about choosing the right weapon, scared when Peggy tries to shoot him, and completely in love as she walks away. (Not to mention that Dominic Cooper was the perfect Howard Stark.) I know what you're thinking one person can't feel all that - but that's probably because Cap doesn't have the emotional range of a teaspoon.

Oh The Parallels

The unimaginable happens when Steve and Bucky with the Howling Commandos are trying to hunt down the Red Skull. Not only does Bucky's fall mirror the scene between them when Steve falls into the explosion and lives (Bucky ends up surviving this), but also the battle between Steve and the Winter Soldier in his next installment. Cap's face is heartbreaking.

Can't even get drunk

We find out through battles, especially in Winter Soldier, that Cap's body is impervious to what might damage or cripple normal people. The serum makes his cells regenerate at a vastly superior rate, which means he can't get drunk. Not only is this scene perfect of a Les Miserables's cover Empty Chairs and Empty Tables, Chris is wonderfully solemn in this scene after Steve loses Bucky. And it's the first time we hear Steve vow vengeance, to not stop until all of Hydra is dead or captured.

You're Late (again)

In the middle of gunfire and killing Hydra soldiers, they have a moment to do all of this. I love how all focused Steve is, even moving into Peggy's personal space with complete authority before realizing "HEY there's a war on, I've got a super Nazi to kill".

What makes you so special?

The Red Skull can't figure out why Abraham's experiment didn't work for him. He thinks there's something special about him, and there is - it's his background and beliefs, wanting to be a good person because everyone can be if they want to.

Peggy....

Let your heart shatter 'cause here goes Steve letting Peggy know he has to crash the Red Skull's ship or else it will explode over NYC. Not only does she allowed him the dignity of his choice, but she helps give him something to hold onto - a date for the future where she can teach him how to dance. The way Chris and Hayley interact with each other is one of the most delicate scenes in the MCU.

I know because I was there

This close up is so magnificent. Congratulations on your face Chris Evans, but also just how much Steve realizes what is wrong in a few seconds from hearing the baseball game and knowing that was in the past, and that this room is clearly not any kind of homely place; it's a sterile facade. No matter what kind of damage control SHIELD was trying to implement, this is kind of f-ed up: recreating the 1940s with a girl who semi looks like Peggy. So where the hell am I and what's going on?

I had a date...

Even though Fury is like "Cap you're just old, not dead, is that cool?", Steve is rightfully confused. He made it to the future and doesn't know where the hell he's at. The first thing he realizes is that he had a date. He's so lost.

Okay, so part two and three are coming soon with coverage of his scenes in The Avengers, Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron,  and Civil War. Hope you stay tuned!

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