Isaiah Simeon ‘22 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has a near-unmatched track record for sustaining cast members. In 20 total films, only two key characters have been recast.
This retention of characters has been pivotal to the success of the MCU. A generation of moviegoers has grown up knowing these actors as their superhero personas. For the first time since the MCU began over a decade ago, that foundation is in flux.
Chris Evans, who has portrayed Captain America since the character first hit the silver screen in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, has officially hung up his shield. The upcoming Avengers film will be the last movie in which he portrays the Star Spangled Man with a plan.
Evans officially announced his departure from the character in an emotional farewell tweet that quickly made waves among Marvel fans.
Will Captain America die in the still-untitled Avengers 4? That almost seems too obvious at this point. Perhaps the hero will retire and buy some property in Florida after defeating Thanos (Josh Brolin) and saving the universe. Will the metal-armed, former Hydra sleeper-agent Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) take the helm of the Captain? It’s fair to assume that the internet will be flooded with speculation until the film’s release in May.
As Evans’ tenure as Captain America comes to a close, it’s worth taking a look back at his most noteworthy moments in the role.
Here are the top five Captain America moments from the MCU.
- Lil Steve (Captain America: The First Avenger)
From the first moment, when audiences were introduced to the scrawny, malnourished, kid from Brooklyn, they knew they were witnessing something special. Okay, maybe not, but they knew they were seeing Chris Evans’ face pasted on a disproportionately small body, and that is pretty special in itself.
While it certainly looks goofy in retrospect, having the colossal figure that is Captain America begin as an Average Joe that really wants to kill Nazis perfectly establishes the character of Steve Rogers. The film illustrates that what makes Rogers a hero is not the strength of his body, but that of his soul.
Admittedly, the strength of his body definitely helps later on…
It’s important to note that The First Avenger was released the same year as Thor, who is literally a god. Having a much more human character to identify with in Rogers was crucial in the early development of the MCU.
Rogers motivations did not rest in a lust for power or glory. He wanted to fight the good fight, thwart those who wished to inflict harm and defend the defenseless. These traits are established in Rogers well before he is able to punch his way out of conflicts.
With that being said, the Captain can definitely throw some mean haymakers. Not every situation calls for diplomacy, after all.
Few fight sequences in the MCU have been executed as well as the elevator scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The scene is excellent, from the slow-burn setup of additional beefcake goons boarding the cramped elevator at each stop, to the Captain’s intense realization of what’s about to go down, to his perfect delivery of one of the coolest pre-fight one-liners to date…
“Before we get started, does anyone wanna get out?”
- Rogue Cap
For a guy who works under the moniker of a government, Capitan America has an uncanny knack for going AWOL. Here is a quick recap of Caps various unauthorized escapades and their subsequent results.
Captain America: The First Avenger – Cap goes AWOL from U.S. military to save a group of POWs.
The Avengers – Cap and the rest of Earth’s mightiest heroes go AWOL from S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop Loki’s attack on New York.
Result: Big Success!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Cap goes AWOL from S.H.I.E.L.D. yet again to take down Hydra, a Nazi subdivision, which has been secretly infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. for decades.
Result: Pseudo-success! Definitely not as bad as it could have been!
Captain America: Civil War – Cap goes AWOL from the Avengers to save his friend, Bucky Barnes, from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who is seeking revenge on Bucky for killing his parents (which Bucky totally did do, but he was being mind-controlled at the time so it doesn’t really count).
Result: Technically a success! He saves Bucky, but he permanently damages his relationship with Stark, most of the Avengers, and every major government, and is forced to go into hiding. Still counts, though!
In all of these cases, the Captain is going against the powers that be in order to do what he believes to be right. This is a defining characteristic of the Captain – his unparalleled moral fiber.
This trait is what makes Rogers the core figure in the Avengers main-lineup. Amidst an egotistical billionaire, a demigod (Chris Hemsworth), a green rage-fueled monster (Mark Ruffalo), and various other larger-than-life figures, there stands a man who simply wants to do what is right.
Does that come across as one-note and oversimplified at times? Yes, but that is the point. When his black-and-white view of right and wrong is thrown into question, he is able to see through the blur and push for what he perceives as morally right, even when that goes against authority.
There is a lesson there somewhere.
What better demonstration of Steve Rogers’ moral superiority than him nearly being able to lift Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer and source of power, which can only be wielded by the utmost worthy individual?
Sure, he was only able to make it slightly budge, but the list of those worthy in the MCU currently sits at one, that begins Thor, who is, as previously stated, literally a god. Besides, the Captain got closer than any of the other Avengers, who are the best of the best in terms of moral righteousness.
Captain America has super-soldier serum coursing through his veins, but that does not help him in lifting the hammer. This scene demonstrates the true source of the Captain America’s power, a point that has been hammered home by now, his soul.
- “I can do this all day” (Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: Civil War)
Steve Rogers is always willing to take a hit, without or without super-soldier serum, to stand up for what’s right.
The first ever time audiences saw Rogers in a fight was a back-alley brawl, or more accurately titled, a back-alley beatdown, in The First Avenger, which began when the then-scrawny Rogers called out a fellow moviegoer for not respecting the troops.
This was the first time the phrase which embodies the spirit and unbreakable will of Captain America was uttered.
“I can do this all day.”
Flash forward eight movies to Captain America: Civil War. In the film’s climax, Captain America goes toe-to-toe with his former ally, Ironman, to defend his friend Bucky. When it seems as if the Captain is done for, he hits Ironman with his iconic phrase and turns the tide of the battle.
“I can do this all day.”
Captain America never gives up in a fight, but more importantly, he never gives up on what he believes in. If that means getting punched into the next dimension, then so be it. This is the essence of Captain America.
And it’s an essence that will not be easily replaced upon Evans’ departure. Since the conception of the Avengers, Rogers has been the moral compass of the team. How will the dynamics of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes change without Captain America?
Perhaps, none at all.
As the MCU has progressed, it has shown Captain America and the rest of the Avengers face situations where a clear-right answer did not exist. While these instances have pulled the Captain closer to the grey area of morality, his nobility and righteousness in such situations have in turn pulled some of the other Avengers more to the edge of unadulterated morality.
Both Tony Stark and Thor have grown from self-obsessed individuals with extreme power in Iron Man and Thor to full-fledged heroes who are deeply concerned with the wellbeing of those who rely on them in Avengers: Infinity War.
Part of that transformation can be credited to the character of Captain America. He is so good that he makes others around him better by association.
While Captain America may depart, his character’s impact will last forever on the rest of the Avengers team.
This lasting effect on the future of the MCU would not have been possible without Evans’ terrific performance as the Captain. Evans portrayal perfectly exemplifies what Captain America is supposed to be. Perhaps this is because a little piece of Steve Rogers has always been inside Evans. Maybe Evans is just being himself, which happens to be a good person.
An MCU without Captain America is a scary thought, but thanks to Evans’ work, the world knows that anyone who stands for what is right can be a hero, regardless of their superpower.