Welcome to VOCIFERY, my attempt to re-watch every piece of media in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – every movie, every television series, every one-shot, every web series, and every tie-in comic book, using the Wikipedia entry on the MCU as a guide, before the release of Avengers 4 in May 2019. Join me as I write my thoughts about what I’m seeing, as I see it!
Also, spoilers follow – if you’re worried about that kind of thing, view before reading.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
If you were going to ding the Marvel Cinematic Universe for anything, it would be fair to say that they’ve consistently done a poor job in terms of character development. Even Tony Stark hasn’t really developed beyond the smarmy but lovable “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” we met in the original Iron Man film.
However, the one exception to this is Steve Rogers – and even though he hasn’t developed in terms of change, he is the character that we know the most about due to how he responds to the situations we find him in.
And a lot of that can be traced right back to this film.
We know Steve Rogers as loyal, courageous, wholesome and stoic, a morally unshakeable individual who stands up for equality, justice and freedom for all. The thing is, even though we think of Steve Rogers as the super-soldier who fights Hydra, all of those traits can be traced all the way back to his pre-super life as the sickly kid trying to join the army.
“I can do this all day,” he says to a bully in an alleyway, a line repeated later in the film, and again repeated during his sequels – famously in the final scenes of Captain America: Civil War, when he refuses to give in to Stark. It’s a sign of the quality of the man; he won’t give up fighting for what he believes to be morally correct.
And it is that continuity, the way Rogers (and Cap) develop over the course of the five movies he’s appeared in to date, which makes him the most interesting character in – and, along with Stark, one of the cornerstones of – the entire MCU.
To be honest, I enjoy Captain America: The First Avenger more each time I see it. For whatever reason, I didn’t rate the film after I first saw it. I suppose it is possible that his later appearances have made it better in hindsight, or that my love of Cap – which has grown over the course of his sequels – has made me think of it more fondly. It has been seven years since it came out; maybe I’ve just grown as a viewer, as an enjoyer of films, and it does things I enjoy more now than I did then.
Interestingly, on this viewing, I also found that it made the comic book series Captain America: First Vengeance better in hindsight too. I found myself thinking back to the book frequently, understanding some of what was being said – and this was especially true in the scenes featuring Erskine – at a much deeper level.
Take, for example, Rogers’ ditching Bucky on their double-date and applying for the military at the Stark Expo. In the film, Dr Abraham Erskine (played by Stanley Tucci #tuccigang) approaches Steve about his application – previously, it felt like happenstance, but the book makes clear that Colonel Philips has assigned Erskine to choose a candidate for the super-soldier program, leading Erskine to approach the courageous Rogers.
Or later, when Erskine is explaining who Schmidt is and how he became Red Skull; thanks to the books, it is much clearer that Erskine was held against his will by Schmidt, that his serum amplified Schmidt’s worst impulses, and adds the tragic back story that he lost his family as a result of everything that happened prior to his rescue by the SSR.
Maybe those tie-in comics might be valuable after all!
Next: The Consultant and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer one-shots!