This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
“Whatever happens tomorrow you must promise me one thing, that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.” - Dr. Erskine, to Steve Rogers the night before the procedure.
I said in my post on Thor (2011) that Odinson was the only character in the MCU other than Tony Stark with a comparable character arc. Lots of Steve Rogers fans might have taken umbrage with that, but I think the quote above from Erskine exemplifies why I’m right. Steve has a BEAUTIFUL storyline across this 22 film saga (his includes lots of color from the Agent Carter TV series as well), but fundamentally he doesn’t change. He is, was, and continues to be a very good man. Tony becomes a hero, a selfless, sacrificing hero. Thor becomes a leader, a confident, graceful and forgiving leader. Steve is was and continues to be a good man.
The fact that he’s battled gods and devils and gained super-powers and been frozen in ice and survived a universal apocalypse doesn’t change the fact that “(he) doesn’t want to kill anybody, he just doesn’t like bullies.”
I know WHY this film ends with the jump to the modern day, we needed Cap alive and well to join the Avengers film that was premiering just one year later. But it’s clunky, even knowing that’s where it’s going. It’s unsatisfying dashing through WWII, skipping over adventures. Bucky’s scenes in this film are so few that they only have resonance because of the later movies I’ve already seen. I remember at the time talking with Kelly about the character and what was to come for him and she kept asking, “who?” He’s just not a major figure in this film, and that’s because of how much they had to setup before we could have the massive team up that Disney had paid so much for. I get it. But, in the future where we reboot this entire universe and have the Ultimate MCU, I hope we get a couple solo films from each of our heroes BEFORE the first Avengers movie. If we’d at least have had two WWII Cap films (one that ends in a win for the allies, but Red Skull survives and Bucky is lost, then a second where the Skull is defeated and zapped into the space stone, while Cap says goodbye to Peggy and crashes into the ice), Bucky and Peggy in particular could have been fleshed out. We’d have gotten more continuity in Arnim Zola’s story (rather than just hints at a few specific points in the timeline of where things went) and we’d have gotten SOME relationship time with Peggy and Steve. Just a scene or two having coffee, leaving each other’s tent something. THIS is one of my biggest MCU do-overs if I had the Infinity Gauntlet to snap things my way.
I love SOOOO much about this film, though some of its seams do show almost 10 years later. Chris Evans is a rockstar here, suggesting exactly what he’d bring to the table with this character over the remainder of his run. Tommy Lee Jones is delightful as the gruff general here (interestingly, only the second real “General” we’ve seen represented in the MCU since, Thunderbolt is the only one that’s returned.
The entire Howling Commandos team is great and only makes me jealous that we didn’t get a real sequel with this whole team superheroing around WWII BEFORE they jumped Cap to the modern day. Perhaps, with the ending we got for this character in Endgame, we can revisit the past and this team-up specifically sometime in the future/past (are we confused yet?).
Haley Atwell is amazing and has yet to be rivaled by any love interest/sidekick in the MCU even though Pepper Potts has gotten more screen-time and an actual costume, Agent Carter stands alone. Part of this is the nature of some of the sidekick characters and the fact that few of the ones used so far are also romantic partners (Ant-Man and The Wasp could get here eventually, perhaps, but we’ve only really had one film with her). I watched the first season of Agent Carter when it came out, but I never got around to the second season (the show had been canceled by that time and I was disheartened) but I’m excited to revisit it entirely with Endgame in mind.
I can’t wait for the Steve Rogers/ Peggy Carter “What If?” episode and sincerely hope that we get one or both characters again in the future as we continue to flesh out the past of the MCU. It’s a rich, rich vein for great stories and Peggy Carter is a character you can absolutely build an entire world around.
I am so thankful that they finally got their dance.