Why Captain America Is Still Popular
Pre-'Infinity War' and Pre-'Endgame'
In this day and age, Captain America continues to be an adored and popular character; this is the result of his virtuous and admirable qualities, as well as actions, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To begin with, the Captain America: The First Avenger movie is when the audience is first displayed his righteousness and ready-to-fight attitude. Steve Rogers' eagerness to fight in the film rings true to people who want to enlist in the army, and who are willing to do or give up anything. Steve vehemently claims,
“There are men laying down their lives, I got no right to do any less than them.”
The statement depicts how he does not care whether or not he lives or dies, what truly matters to him is knowing that he did everything in his realm of possibility to help this country defeat the Axis powers. That forms an immediate connection with individuals who have the same type of pugnacious attitude, and want to make the world a better place through actions—not just words. This quote also helps those who are legitimate soldiers relate to Steve Rogers character, and to see themselves within him, as well as understand his reasoning for wanting to join the Army. Rogers truthfully declares,
“I don’t want to kill anyone, I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.”
With this moment the line links with those in the audience who are underdogs, and the “little guy” as Steve was; the way the movie portrays him in the beginning as coming from nothing provokes the viewers to root for him and his success, while also giving a form of inspiration to those who don’t think they could triumph. Dr. Abraham Erskine reveals,
“This is why you were chosen because a strong man who has known power all his life may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength and knows compassion… [promise me] that you will stay who you are not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”
The statement explains why Dr. Abraham Erskine chose Steve Rogers as the candidate for the Super Soldier Program, and illustrates how due to Steve’s pure heart he would not be corrupted by power. The quote also displays how Steve is not a perfect soldier, and how he should not aspire to be, because what Dr. Erskine wishes for Steve to understand is that what matters is not blindly following orders without questioning them, but for Steve to stay an honest man, and do what is right. An authoritative figure being perverted by power is a narrative seen time and time again in the real world, which makes Steve’s unwavering integrity more enticing to watch. At the end of the movie, Captain Rogers defeats the villain Red Skull, and plummets an explosive-filled aircraft into the Arctic in order to save New York City from detonating; his assumed last words were, “If I wait any longer, a lot of people are gonna die... this is my choice.” This unselfishness is one of his most appealing characteristics that is exhibited in the movie. Steve cherishes the survival of innocent people, so he would immediately disregard his own life if it meant saving the lives of others. Thus, the way Steve’s story ends in the first movie satisfies the audience, because it culminates the character’s benevolence, righteousness, and noble traits in one last heroic deed (Director Johnston).
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier there is an interaction between S.H.I.E.L.D Director Nick Fury and Captain America where Steve exclaims,
“Thought the punishment usually came after the crime... By holding a gun to everyone on Earth and calling it protection... But we did it so people could be free. This isn’t freedom, this is fear.”
To explain, S.H.I.E.L.D wanted to implement project Insight, which would eliminate terrorists before they committed any crime, and Steve was completely against that plan. His opposition to this program once again solidifies how Steve’s number one priority is freedom and justice for all people, no strings attached. This appeals to the audience, because it keeps a consistent pattern with the characteristics and actions portrayed by Steve in the first Captain America movie. The scene sets up for the events of this movie, which, as opposed to the ones in Captain America: The First Avenger, lead to Steve feeling responsible for the entirety of humanity, instead of just for America and its values. In this movie, Steve realizes how, while S.H.I.E.L.D was an organization with great power that could do great good, it also had the power to do great evil. This appeals to the audience because it elevates the stakes, and makes the pay off for the audience higher when Captain America is able to defeat the Hydra agents. Rogers postulates,
“For as long as I can remember, I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I’m not quite sure what that is anymore, and I thought I could just throw myself back in: follow orders, serve. It’s just not the same.”
This statement is a very important part in the movie, because this shows Steve going through a personal struggle, and for the first time he does not know what to do. The situation humanizes him, because it illustrates how, even though Steve is a super-soldier, he still deals with real problems that real people go through. The audience empathizes with his character and the emotional turmoil he is experiencing, especially actual soldiers who have been to war, and who have lived through the same things Captain America had. Throughout all his movies Steve is shown to have a complex and long emotional range, which increasingly furthers his relatability with the audience. Towards the end of the movie, Steve proclaims,
“Attention all S.H.I.E.L.D agents this is Steve Rogers... If you launch those helicarriers today, Hydra will be able to kill anyone that stands in their way unless we stop them. I know I’m asking a lot, but the price of freedom is high. It always has been and it’s a price I’m willing to pay, and if I’m the only one, then so be it, but I’m willing to bet I’m not.”
This speech illustrates how Captain America is always prepared to fight alone and to die if it means people will have freedom. He continues to battle Hydra, because even though he was frozen for 75 years, his personal ethical compass never changed, and to him, it does not matter if he has to confront Hydra over and over again, what is important is that people are free. The quote also depicts how Rogers has faith in humanity, and he believes humans are able to stand up and fight alongside him to defeat evil. Captain America's words were able to inspire the uncompromised S.H.I.E.L.D agents to join together, and take down the Hydra Agents (Dir. Joe and Anthony Russo). In Captain America: Civil War, Steve argues,
“We are for taking responsibility for our actions. This document just shifts the blame... No, but it’s run by people with agendas and agendas change... If we sign this, we surrender our right to choose. We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.”
To clarify, the United Nations believed that the Avengers had operated long enough without jurisdiction, so the United Nations wrote the Sokovia Accords contract in which enhanced humans had to reveal their identities, and follow the commands of the United Nations panel. As shown by the quote, Captain America disagreed and opposed these accords. Steve does not think anyone but the Avengers should take responsibility for the damage the occurs when fighting super-powered threats, this illustrates Steve’s honorability and honesty, because he wants to take full blame for his actions. In this situation, Steve Rogers decides the ability to help others out of his own free will—instead of the restrictive oversight, and loss of self-sovereignty—is the better alternative; that displays how the right to choose is a very important ideology to Captain America. The movie also shows how Steve is willing to break the law if it means protecting people and their rights; Captain America cares more about his moral codes than the government or the law, which means his integrity will never fade. Steve’s actions in this movie allures the viewers, because even though the side he picked meant dismembering the Avengers, even though it meant losing half his friends, even though he would become a criminal in the eyes of the law, Steve did not change his mind, and continued to fight for what he thought was right (Dir. Joe and Anthony Russo). He has a three-dimensional character arc where he goes through a tremendous amount of catastrophes in every movie, yet he has never given up, or wavered in his ideologies. The struggle against evil is the pivot of every Captain America story, and the way he makes his decisions are multilayered and complex; his actions highlight the significance of an appropriate moral judgment. Throughout his movies, Captain America has always represented truth, justice, freedom, and the American Ideal. Therefore, all of these actions and quotes from the films are the reason this character is still so beloved and famous in this decade.