"The Man with the Shield"
In my series of movie reviews leading up to the release of “Avengers: Infinity War”, I’ve chosen to focus on the most important and impactful members of the super powered Avengers. This isn’t to denigrate any of the other members that are not mentioned, but let’s be honest for a moment. Does anyone actually give a damn about Ant-Man, Hawkeye or the Scarlet Witch? Now, sure, they do each have a role to play. In their own way, each does their small part to save the planet. On the Mt. Rushmore of heroes, none of them however would come close to making it.
Captain America, on the other hand, is a legend. In the movie “Captain America; The First Avenger”, we see Steve Rogers, played admirably by the affable Chris Evans, yearn to do his part to help the country survive World War II by enlisting in the United States Army. Unfortunately for Steve, he is physically challenged. An earnest yet sickly young man who wants nothing more than to go to the frontlines and be a hero; Rogers is turned down time and again for his various health problems. Dejected because of the rejections, he proceeds to go to an exposition of future technologies put on by Howard Stark the father of the future Iron-Man, Tony Stark. He is joined by his friend Bucky Barnes who has successfully enlisted in the military and will leave for the war the next day. He is attempting to lift Steve’s spirits by setting him up on a double date. Wandering away from the group and the obviously unimpressed women on the double date, Steve walks into a recruiting booth at the expo for the U.S. Army. The attending physician, Doctor Abraham Erskine overheard Rogers earlier explaining to his friend Bucky the importance of him enlisting and being a part of the war effort to fight Nazis. After the doctor, played by Stanley Tucci, approaches Steve about joining the Strategic Scientific Reserve (the “Super Soldier program), he is only too happy to sign up regardless of the fact that he does not know exactly what he is getting himself into. As Steve is going through basic training, it is painfully obvious that physically he can’t compare with the other recruits, but what he does not have in brawn, he makes up so much more with brains and heart and bravery. This is proven out when one of the leaders of the super soldier program (Colonel Chester Phillips played with scene stealing glee by Tommy Lee Jones) throws a fake grenade on the ground. He does this to test his recruits and while the rest of the troops in his group scurry away, Steve self-sacrificially jumps on the dummy grenade. Col. Phillips and British Agent Peggy Carter who help head up the program along with Dr. Erskine all notice and finally decide that Steve is the perfect candidate to receive the super serum.
The super serum provides anyone who receives it in an extremely painful process, the ability to be at the absolute peak and edge of human physical capabilities. While not a mutant or a super powered being, Steve Rogers has a body that was formally scrawny; transformed into tip top physical shape. With his natural leadership ability combined with his newfound body at peak physical conditioning and the gift of a shield made out of vibranium that can withstand virtually any force brought against it, there is little wonder that he is a natural leader. Steve sets out on a mission to mission to attack Hydra a terrorist organization that has become even more dangerous than Nazis. This group is led by The Red Skull who raises Hydra to heights surpassing what the Nazis have done. Their plan is to use weapons of mass destruction to take out major American cities and eventually take over the world. With a brave group of soldiers by his side, Steve Rogers now known worldwide as Captain America attempts to snuff out the Red Skulls plans and is largely successful. He catches up to him on a plane headed to the United States to deliver his weaponry. Rogers fights him and eventually emerges victorious. After their vicious battle where the Red Skull is beaten but isn’t killed, he makes the mistake touching one of the Infinity Stones. The tesseract which wields immense power and is dangerous for anyone not worthy of holding it dissolves the Red Skull in a flash of light where he finally meets his demise. Rogers now done fighting the Red Skull sees no way to safely land the plane and decides to crash land it in the Arctic so as not to allow it to cause destruction if it hits a populated city Once again self sacrificing in order to save others is in the forefront of his mind and proves why he deserves the name and moniker of Captain America. In the beginning of the movie we see a flash forward where Rogers’s body is found in the ice of the arctic in modern times. During the end of the movie we go back to right after this moment where Steve, unbeknownst to him, wakes up in what he thinks initially is the 1940’s recovering in the hospital. He knows something is amiss when he wakes up and realizes the radio broadcast is fake and designed to fool him. He gets up and runs out of this “hospital” and sees that he is actually in modern times. He tries to run away but as the movie ends he is stopped and approached by Nick Fury, the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D about a worldwide mission that we learn in later movies is about forming the Avengers. Captain America was truly enjoyable for comic book fans as it showcases one of the most popular comic book characters in a fun, breezy thrill ride with action and heart throughout.