Steve Rogers. Captain America. While he may be the star-spangled man with the plan, the line between the hero and the man behind the mask is indistinguishable. As we’ve seen him develop across the last seven years since Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s very clear that it isn’t the super-serum that makes him a hero. Steve Rogers has always been the best mankind had to offer regardless of his physical abilities. Whether it’s taking a beating from a bully in 1942, or defending his moral compass against former friend Tony Stark in Civil War, he can do this all day.
But what’s even more remarkable than the hero himself, is how each solo film improved on the previous instalment while still respecting the character’s history. 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger brought the hero into a semi-realistic World War II (before the Tesseract changed all that of course), with Steve leading the Howling Commandos and fighting Hydra head on. It was a fantastic way of bringing the hero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although the space-age Hydra weapons and vehicles felt a little out of place for the 1940s. The Winter Soldier took the man out of time and enveloped him in the world of espionage and assassins. It asked questions about global security and personal privacy, all while pushing the universe into tearing S.H.I.E.L.D. down.
And then we get to Civil War. With the reveal that his best friend Bucky Barnes had been alive all these years, albeit brainwashed, Steve was faced with a moral conundrum. Does he hold him responsible for the countless assassinations he carried out as the Winter Soldier for Hydra, or does he deserve help? Steve’s decision forced a wedge between himself and Tony Stark, which made for one of the most emotional fight-scenes that the MCU has to offer (or at least on the big screen, Netflix have been doing that just fine…).
Steve’s character development across Chris Evans’ tenure in the franchise has been incredible. He’s been a soldier, superhero, super-spy and vigilante outlaw. During Avengers: Infinity War, Steve had got to a place where he no longer needed the iconic shield or the Captain America identity. He was fighting purely for what he believed in and not held back by the restraints of the United Nations and the Sokovia Accords. That’s what Captain America really represents, rather than a flag-waving poster boy. The line between his role as an Avenger and as Steve Rogers is no longer clear, because he’s a pure hero.
This doesn’t mean he’s perfect. He can be stubborn, angry and even borderline reckless at times – but aren’t the best heroes always a little flawed? Chris Evans has graced the screen with a phenomenal performance across the years, but it looks like he’ll be saying goodbye in Avengers 4. Whoever picks up the shield next, whether it’s Bucky or Sam Wilson, they’ve got some pretty big boots to fill.
Agree with our thoughts on Captain America or got a particular character in the MCU that you resonate with? Let us know on Twitter @HeroesDirect!