Today with America celebrating Independence Day (July 4, 1776) and given the epic fight the USA currently has on its hands battling Covid-19, I thought we could all use a hero! So what better crusader to the rescue than The First Avenger! But before we get started let me be clear, Captain America is not just a hero, or a man, he is a straight up full-fledged champion! This is why I absolutely love this movie and why Steve Rogers (aka Captain America played by Chris Evans) grew to be my favorite Avenger of all time. I will admit, I was late to the Captain America party. I was much more up-to-speed with the other Avengers series (Iron Man, Hulk, Guardians…), but once introduced to Captain America I was hooked, and for good reason. Directed by Joe Johnston this screen gem is set during wartime 1941, which is why Captain America is considered the 1st Avenger even though other series in the franchise were previously created. In short, Captain America predates his defender counterparts (e.g. Iron Man, Hulk…). With that information out of the way let’s recap the plot of this fabulous film and its deeply meaningful life lessons.
The picture centers on Brooklyn born want-to-be soldier Steve Rogers, an archetype of New York’s 1920s Charles Atlas (98-Pound Weakling originally 97-Pound Weakling), who has all the bravery in the world but no muscle to back it up. That is until scrawny Steve is accepted into an American Armed Forces Military Experimental Program that transforms him into a super-soldier, which makes him a prime candidate to lead the fight against the Nazis HYDRA Party. Without giving too much away this film is built on a strong story-line and to its credit includes a star-studded cast. Besides Chris Evans (Captain America – Steve Rogers) the movie features Tommy Lee Jones as stern strict Colonel Chester Phillips, Sebastian Stan serves as fellow solider and Steve’s best friend Bucky Barnes, Hayley Atwell is stellar in the role as Steve’s pin-up pretty love interest Agent Peggy Carter; not to mention Hugo Weaving as sinister villainous Nazi leader Johann Schmidt, and a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury WWII superhero, as well as Dominic Cooper who plays young scientist/inventor Howard Stark, (in case you missed it he’s the future father-to-be of Iron Man Tony Stark), and of course the always spectacular Stanley Tucci as lead US Government Scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (an exiled German) who spots Steve’s potential via his unmatched qualities. Which brings us to the discussion on the main take-away message of this film.
Unlike many of the other Marvel action-packed ensembles “Captain America: The First Avenger” does not heavily rely on special effects to win over audiences (though the CGI in this film is first-rate). Instead this movie smartly employs an inspirational foundation of rich contextual texture constructed on well-developed characters with substance, namely leading man Chris Evans as main protagonist Captain America. Depicted as an all-round good guy, Steve Rogers is unrelentingly bold, knows right from wrong, appreciates the opportunity to show what he’s made of, and never gives up despite the odds. As Winston Churchill so wisely stated, ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’ So true. Steve Rogers does just that – continues – even though he’s often pinned against the ropes. But regardless of Rogers’ newfound impressive stature and strength, his most redeeming quality throughout (prior to acquiring his brawl) is his prized possession – the innate makings of a good man. An aspect of the film that pointedly shows a beautiful body is only a shell that houses the soul and means nothing unless heartfelt quintessence dwells there. This story also epitomizes that with great power comes great responsibility, and that remaining gracious and humble when it would be very easy to become a self-centered narcissist is a testament of true character. However, the main take-away message is embedded in the representation of Captain America’s colorful shield. On the surface this emblematic armor is used as his primary defense to ward off danger. That said, the essence enveloped in needing a shield in the first place implies self-awareness of one’s own vulnerabilities. It is no surprise that the best leaders know and admit their weaknesses. They embrace their limitations and as a result are able to show compassion as well as empathy for the shortcomings of others. An admirable attribute indeed. Integrity vs. Arrogance – to be a strikingly handsome fierce man is to first be a formidable nobleman.
An aside; in my opinion the Captain America series weaves in the sweetest of all the superhero love stories. Gotta love a fella who knows what he wants and goes after it. Sure there’s heartbreak but being disappointed in love just means you aimed for something and took a shot. On this point here are some helpful Captain America romance notes for the chaps: gentlemen make and keep their dates, if you want a good woman be a good man on the inside, wait for the right partner, and if you need to take a rain-check, try not to stupidly miss out on what could be the dance of a lifetime. BTW if you’re a fan of the Big Three (The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Endgame) you will NEED to know the backstory of Captain America to thoroughly enjoy the full impact of how fantastic the ending is in Avengers: Endgame. A bit of trivia. I’m not alone in my preference for Captain America as top dog. He is tied for 1st Place with Iron Man as the all-time favorite Avenger. Too bad Endgame was just that for… Yikes! I will stop there for those who have not seen it yet! In closing, it’s a big viewership commitment but for anyone interested in watching Marvel’s fabulous Avenger Movies in chronological viewing order here is what some fans have suggested:
- Captain America: The First Avenger (takes place during WWII)
- Captain Marvel (takes place in 1995)
- Iron Man (takes place in 2010)
- Iron Man 2 (takes place after Iron Man)
- The Incredible Hulk (time unspecified, pre-Avengers)
- Thor (takes place six months before Avengers)
- The Avengers (takes place in 2012)
- Iron Man 3 (takes place six months after The Avengers)
- Thor: Dark World (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
- Captain America: Winter Soldier (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (sometime in 2014)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (after Guardians)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (takes place in 2015)
- Ant-Man (takes place in 2015)
- Captain America: Civil War (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (post-Civil War, pre-Infinity War)
- Doctor Strange (takes place in 2016)
- Black Panther (takes place in 2017)
- Thor: Ragnarok (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
- Avengers: Infinity War (takes place in 2017)
- Ant-Man and The Wasp (ambiguous, but fits nicely between IW and Endgame)
- (starts in 2017, finishes in 2022)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (post-Endgame)
P.S. Interestingly, Joe Johnston the director of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ also directed ‘Jumanji’ with Robin Williams (who I happily met when he performed for the OHF in 2012), as well as Honey I Shrunk The Kids, which funny enough Owen acted in ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: TV Episode – Honey, I’m Wrestling with a Problem.’ Also, longtime former US Army Serviceman Ryan Johnston turned film producer (no relation to the director) recently sent me a fabulous picture taken of himself with Owen (who was an American & Canadian citizen – his mum was from NY) while visiting US Troops in Kuwait. A great picture to include in this post given the backdrop of the US July 4th celebrations. With this in mind, circling back to the movie; Captain America sacrifices all to save New York’s Big Apple, one of my favorite cities (I have visited NYC many times as a tourist and for work), and sadly also the first Covid-19 epicenter in the USA. All the more reason why the OHF is so happy to support NYC’s Hart Island Project and the amazing work they do to assist families of unclaimed loved ones with burial info on those lost due to Covid-19. Speaking of the pandemic, not since WWII as depicted in this film, has the world experienced such uncertainty about what is to come and the future of our planet. But much like the dark shadows of WWII all this too shall pass. Bless the United States of America today and everyday in their fight again Covid-19. Just know your Canadian neighbors to the north wish the best for you and everyone combating this hostile enemy.