This film and Dan DiDio’s douchery during DC’s d…dpanel? at SDCC put me firmly on Team Marvel Movies for life. I wasn’t expecting to like Captain America: The First Avenger as much as I did–I haven’t read the comics, but I have seen Generation Kill and consumed a lot of post-September 11th pop culture, so Steve Rogers’s story–brave but physically unimpressive specimen becomes brave built superhero, loses none of his patriotic earnestness–made me worry that this was going to be on one side of the AMERICA! Spectrum, which looks like this:
You never want to be on one side of the AMERICA! Spectrum, because it probably means all your friends secretly hate you.
This movie was neither cloyingly Beckish nor abrasively Olbermannesque–nay, Captain America is Stephen Colbert on an optimistic day, aware of our faults but not convinced that we cannot overcome them.
Haha, okay, that’s enough of that line of (over)thinking. ON TO THE RECAP.
We begin with headlights in a wicked Arctic storm. The owners of the headlights are “boys from Washington,” at the North Pole because something huge and saucer-shaped has saucered itself right into the ground. Everyone is wearing the exact same fuzzy-hooded adventure parka, which is alarming because it’s roughly 400 degrees Celsius in many parts of the U.S. right now. People are MELTING here, Captain America: The First Avenger! How could you be so insensitive?
A sweet but unnecessarily complicated laser contraption opens a manhole in whatever has crashed. The boys from Washington go down to explore the distinctly alien-y interior, because this place has money for rad lasers but none for exploratory RC cars with cameras taped to them or something. Nope, send two government agents down into the creepy dark place where all kinds of dangerous aliens could just be cryogenically frozen or in hypersleep or hanging on the ceiling, waiting to drip acid spit or blood on your hair and then impregnate you in your FACE.
Avast, what lies at the end of the agents’ journey? Verily and forsooth, it is Captain America’s shield! One of the agents, who I don’t think is Coulson but would very much like to be Coulson, tells someone to get ahold of the Colonel, and yes, he knows what time it is but doesn’t give any kind of fuck.
Suddenly a castle! Wait, shit, this is triggering some serious Game of Thrones flashbacks. Let us light a candle and pray that it comes back to us soon.
Two men in a cool Norwegian castle talk cryptically about how the Nazis are coming for something that they cannot be allowed to have. They talk until the walls start a-booming. A huge mechanical battering ram just annihilates half the castle, killing the younger man and allowing a bunch of Nazis to stomp in and get their Nazi bullshit all over everything, one of them getting all prissypants and yelling in German (nobody in English-language movies ever just discusses things calmly in German). A shiny car with a skull/octopus/skullctopus emblem for a hood ornament pulls up just short of the wreckage, and out comes a pair of shiny boots. Those shiny boots (with a dude inside them!) walk into the castle. The dude inside the shiny boots has a skullctopus hat and the distinctive hairline of one Herr Elrond Smith, Queen of the Desert, here playing Nazi officer Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving).
He Nazis around a little bit, having a calm yet threatening discussion with–is that Filch from Harry Potter?–about some secret artifact. He shoves the lid off of a coffin, and unfortunately doesn’t melt because this is the wrong film about Nazi artifact theft. He seriously does like nineteen things in this one scene that should get him vaporized if this were Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Inside the coffin is a dead Viking, and in that dead Viking’s hands is a suspiciously modern glowing cube. Schmidt smashes it, then goes to a secret wall and mutters something about Yggdrasil, poking around until a box that doesn’t look like it came from the Ikea clearance bin presents itself. Schmidt opens it, and it glows in his face.
Filch is like “Don’t take it! You cannot control the power you hold!” Schmidt disagrees and shoots him, has a mild TMJ flareup, and stands there while blood drips ominously over his skullctopus pin and his band of Nazis opens fire on the town around the castle.
A row of young men read newspapers about WWII in the Selective Service registration office. Several names are called, including one Steven Rogers, and one of the young men remarks that a lot of people are dying in the war. “Kind of makes you think twice about enlisting, huh?” Scrawny Steve Rogers stands up, folds his newspaper, and says “Nope” as he makes his way to the recruiter. This is the part I was dreading, because I’m one of those people who can’t handle the Uncanny Valley in any way. However, the CG for Scrawny Rogers was very well done, and I only had to cringe most of the time instead of all of the time (please understand that this is a problem on my end, and you might think it‘s the fine). The voice was what threw me off the most; Chris Evans has a deep voice befitting a man of his stature, and hearing it coming out of a 90 pound weakling did more to break the illusion than any failure of CGI could. Still, I was impressed.
The recruiter asks about Steve’s family history–his parents are both dead–and reads the list of health issues. It’s all asthma and scarlet fever and rheumatic fever and sinusitis and chronic or frequent colds and high blood pressure and palpitation/pounding in heart and easy fatigability and heart trouble and nervous trouble of any sort and household contact with tuberculosis and family history of diabetes, also some kind of ear discharges? The man is sickly, is the point.
The recruiter does everything short of calling him Sickypants McUnfitForCombat right to his face, stamps a 4F on his form, and sends him on his way. He’s so bummed! His creepy face is so heartbroken!
Propaganda. Steve stares glumly at the images of heroism–even tiny little young teeny weeny kids are helping with the war effort–while some jackhole down in front yells at the propaganda, demanding cartoons. Steve is like “Shut up, I’m grieving for the chances I never had!” and the jackhole is all “I will punch your head in an alley until you have a whole new set of disqualifications for military service!” and then does so. Steve gets up after every punch, whipping out a trash can lid at one point, until a dashing figure in a sergeant’s uniform kicks the jackhole’s ass out of the alley.
“Sometimes, I think you like getting punched,” says Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan, of that horrible movie The Covenant and that awesome show Kings). Steve says he had him on the ropes. They talk, and it’s revealed that Bucky just got his orders to ship out and fight the Axis. Steve’s creepy face is so heartbroken again! Bucky tries to cheer him up (dude, you’re the one who’s probably going to get bayoneted by a Nazi) by taking him to a science expo. Nerds.
There are hot girls there, though, so it’s okay. There’s also Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), who is even more awesome! He’s got costumed ladies standing in front of a hovercar he invented, and it’s all very Iron Man 2…until the car falls down. He plays it off like a champ, though.
Steve catches sight of a propaganda poster nearby. The poster has a soldier with a mirror for a face, but he’s too tall, and Steve ends up somewhere around the soldier’s collar. Bucky shows up to remind him about the girls, and also of how war is dangerous and he’s probably going to get arrested for falsifying details on his enlistment form fifty times. Steve’s annoyed, they argue, and you get the feeling that this is something they go through a lot. Steve wants to go try and enlist at the fair again. Bucky realizes he’s not going to talk Steve out of trying, so they hug, call each other “punk” and “jerk,” and Bucky goes off to have a sad but attractive threesome with the two hot girls. Or, whatever, goes to dance with them. A balding guy in glasses follows Steve to the recruiter.
A nurse comes in and whispers something to the doctor, and she and the doctor leave. Steve stares guiltily at the sign on the wall that says he’s not allowed to falsify information on his enlistment form. He realizes that he might go to jail, and he would do anything for his country but he also understands what happens to guys like him in prison, and it rhymes with “hexual pass salt.” He pulls on his shoes, but an MP appears to glower at him, only leaving when the balding guy in glasses comes in, makes fun of him for trying so hard, and introduces himself as a Doctor Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci). He has a German accent, but he tells Steve Rogers that he’s from Queens by way of Germany.
Erskine asks Steve if he wants to kill Nazis, twice. Steve, because he is kind of awesome, asks if this is a test. Erskine says that it is. Steve says no, he doesn’t want to kill anyone. He just doesn’t like bullies.
Erskine: There are already so many big men fighting this war. Maybe what we need now is the little guy.
Steve doesn’t know what to say to that. Erskine says he can offer Steve a chance. His only chance. Steve agrees. Erskine gives him his 1A stamp and tells him congratulations, he’s a soldier. It would have been hilarious if Steve fainted like I thought he was going to, but he doesn’t.
Mountains. A secret mountain base! For Nazis! Schmidt talks to a scientist, Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), about getting the cube inside the Viking box to do…something. Zola is hesitant, so Schmidt grabs his machine and zaps the…cube? I don’t know, I wish this scene was in German so I could read subtitles and maybe understand what the hell is going on. In any event, sparks fly all over the lab, accompanied by what sounds like a distortion of people screaming. Whatever happened, this is going to change the war/world.
Camp Lehigh. PEGGY CARTER (Hayley Atwell) ARRIVES. She’s so pretty, and English, and when this recruit gives her sass and a little bit of sexual harassment, she knocks him on his ass with a haymaker that Steve seems to like. HE ENJOYS GETTING PUNCHED YOU GUYS. HE’S MAKING PLANS ALREADY. She’s a Strategic Scientific Reserve officer working with the U.S. military, which explains the Englishness and the ladyness.
Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones, who never fails to remind me of all of my grandpas and is thus one of my favorite actors) seems to approve of punching assholes and tells the recruit to get up out of the dirt and await further orders. Phillips starts speeching:
“General Patton has said that wars are fought with weapons, but they are won by men. We are going to win this war because we have the best…” He notices Steve. “…men.” He looks at Erskine, who’s like “Doot doot doot” and not meeting Phillips’s eyes and is about a second away from scuffing his shoes in the dirt or running away. “And because they are going to get better. Much better.”
The remainder of the speech plays over a montage. You guys know how I love montages!
“The Strategic Scientific Reserve is an Allied effort made up of the best minds in the free world. Our goal is to create the best Army. But every army starts with one man. We will choose that one man. He will be the new breed of supersoldier. He may personally escort Adolf Hitler to the gates of hell.”
Steve has brought books. There is rope-climbing and crawling through mud beneath coils of barbed wire, during which a recruit (the asshole one, I think) kicks one of the posts and causes the wire to fall down on Steve. An instructor stops the recruits at a flag as they run, and tells them that this is the halfway point. Whoever brings the flag down, which nobody has done in 17 years, will get a ride back to camp with Agent Carter. Everyone but Steve scrambles, but they’re not very good at it, and thus are ordered back into formation.
Steve steps up to the flagpole, and even though the instructor orders him to fall in, he undoes the screws at the base of the pole and lets it drop to the ground, retrieving the flag and handing it to the instructor. He jumps into the Jeep with Peggy, and I don’t know if the word swagger really applies to someone as unassuming as Steve, but he’s got it for now.
Erskine and Phillips discuss Erskine’s wanting to put Steve in the supersoldier program. Phillips says this is a terrible idea, because “you put a needle in this kid’s arm, it’ll go right through him.” IT MIGHT. Steve is not very good at jumping jacks, and Phillips jokes (“jokes,” maybe. TLJ is funny, but he has never actually made a joke in the history of time, I think) that Steve’s terrible jumping jacks/general weaknesses are going to make him cry.
Phillips wants Hodge, the big asshole recruit, because he’s big and an asshole. Erskine’s like, “That guy’s a fucking douche,” and Phillips says that nice doesn’t win wars. Neither does being a dick, though. Phillips grabs a dummy grenade off of a nearby truck, pulls the pin, and tosses that mofo into the middle of the recruits with a halfhearted “Grenade.” Everyone runs away except for Steve, who just jumps on it, like his body is big enough to absorb the blast (Peggy runs toward it, too, but she probably knew it was a dummy). Aaw. After a few seconds of it not exploding, Steve looks up and says “Was this a test?”
Phillips stares, and Erskine does not say “Told you.” Phillips, annoyed but impressed, grits “He’s still skinny,” and walks off.
Late at night, Erskine goes into the barracks and has a heart-to-heart with a nervous Steve. He tells Steve that he was a respected scientist in Germany when Hitler wanted him to make the Nazis stronger, and sent another respected scientist, Schmidt, to convince him. There is a montage of Schmidt looking intense and some old art as Erskine tells Steve that Schmidt and Hitler both like the occult and Teutonic supremacy. Erskine gave Schmidt a prototype of his Awesome Serum, which will emphasize what’s inside: “good becomes great, bad becomes worse.” Schmidt got worse, and on top of that, the serum wasn’t ready so there were side effects.
Steve was chosen for the program because, as a physically weak man, he knows the power of strength better than anyone else. Steve says “Thanks…I think.” It‘s a good thing, Steve! I really like that these actors and the script can make this seem like it isn’t a hackneyed concept. A lot of reviews have discussed the nostalgia inherent in this film, and I think that’s true, but I also think that these ideas that seem nostalgic–earnestness, a desire to do what’s right, the lack of MISERY AND DARKNESS at the hero’s core that explains everything about who he is (Christopher Nolan’s Batman, my laundry hamper is not a good hiding place)–are just things that we’ve forgotten are actually good things as a society. Pop culture is so entrenched with characters that have ~dark secrets~, even the good guys, so somebody like Steve Rogers comes along and we don’t know what to do with him. I’m glad that the movie’s doing well and I’m glad that people are responding positively to him, because sweetness and light is not a sustainable course for films to take, but it really doesn’t hurt to have a hero you can get behind 100% every few years. You can’t get behind Christopher Nolan’s Batman 100%, because he’ll probably kill you in your sleep without even meaning to. That guy’s crazy.
Erskine makes Steve promise that, after he becomes a supersoldier, he will remain who he is–a good man, not the perfect weapon. He and Steve toast with the liquor that Erskine brought, but Erskine takes Steve’s glass before he can drink it because he’s got a procedure tomorrow. Steve, good-natured, says he’ll drink it after, but Erskine’s already drinking both glasses, because he doesn’t have a procedure. That’s the greatest excuse for drinking I’ve ever heard. “What? I don’t have surgery tomorrow. BRING ON THE TEQUILA.”
Nazi mountain base of German opera and awesome vistas. Zola walks in and Schmidt turns out the light, silhouetting himself against the glass. There is a painter there with a lot of scarlet paint on his palette. Zola looks concerned, and continues to do so as he looks at creeper shots of Erskine in the U.S. Schmidt says he‘s given the order. Uh oh.
New York. Steve points out places he’s been beaten up as he rides in a car with Peggy. She asks why he never ran away, and he tells her it’s because he’d have never stopped running. He knew he needed to stand up and push back. She knows what that’s like. Steve immediately asks why she’d want to join the Army if she’s a “beautiful dame.” Then amends that to “beautiful woman,” then “woman,” then tells her not that she’s not…no, wait, she’s beautiful, but but but–and if we didn’t know Steve is genuinely a decent person who likes getting punched, it would seem disingenuous. Instead, we know that he’s probably way less sexist than most dudes in the Forties and may be trying to get her to pop him in the mouth. Eh, that joke is disingenuous of me. He’s just cutely frazzled by pretty ladies.
Peggy’s amused, and correctly surmises that he’s not used to talking to women. He’s always figured that they weren’t interested because they didn’t want to date someone they might step on, but he does want to dance with a girl someday. He‘s just waiting for the right one/time. Aaw.
The car stops in front of an antiques shop in Brooklyn. Peggy exchanges code phrases with the shop owner and leads Steve down to a huge operating theatre, where he is strapped into the Stark Industries Supersoldierifier 3000 and injected with penicillin and I guess HGH, then locked in a metal coffin to begin the process. The process involves a lot of bright light, sparks, and Steve yelling in pain, then yelling for them not to turn it off. The whole process takes about a minute, and when the coffin opens up, Steve has a thousand muscles, and all of them are oiled to perfection. He also can’t really stand up, so he needs to be supported on his way to Peggy, who hilariously touches his sexy pecs for a second before regaining control of herself and giving him a shirt. She is a stronger woman than even Howard Stark, who very subtly has his hand plastered to Steve’s abs the whole time. Steve feels taller.
A silver case has been left on a chair by one of the government observer guys. BUT WHY. The government observer guy opens a Zippo just as he is recognized by Erskine as NOT A GOVERNMENT OBSERVER! but a Nazi assassin, Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage). The lighter remote-detonates the bomb in the silver case, and there is a distraction explosion (distraplosion) while Kruger steals the last vial of serum and makes his escape. He also shoots Erskine dead. In return, Peggy shoots him in the arm and gives chase.
Steve goes to Erskine, who has a few seconds to poke in the general vicinity of Steve’s heart before dying.
Kruger runs through the shop, shooting the old owner before she can kill him with a machine gun. Kruger, Kruger’s driver, and some agents posted outside trade fire, but Kruger escapes, firing his own machine gun out the car’s window and blowing up another vehicle behind Peggy when she gets to the street. She looks at the explosion but is totally unfazed by it, and kills Kruger’s driver with a single headshot while he is driving an erratically moving vehicle. Undaunted, Kruger steals a cab and prepares to run Peggy down while she stands in the middle of the street, calmly trying to put bullets in his face. Peggy rules. Steve tackles her before Kruger can run her over, and she’s pissed off in his general direction while he apologizes and tries to run the cab down on foot. By “run” I mean “flail wildly but with a swiftness in the general direction of the thing he is chasing,” and he smashes his way through windows and bridal shops because he doesn’t quite know how to work this new body yet. It’s funny, especially because his tiny-dude pants have become culottes on said new body.
Kruger crashes the cab in a shipping yard, and ends up grabbing a little boy as a human shield while Steve chases him. Steve corners Kruger, who runs out of bullets and throws the kid into the water as a distraction. Steve runs to the edge to get the kid, but the boy’s like “I can swim! Go get him!” Haha, little boy, you are fantastic.
The most awesome-looking submarine ever almost helps Kruger escape, but Nazi seacraft are no match for Steve’s determination. He punches through the window to depressurize the cabin and yanks Kruger out, throwing him onto a dock. The serum container breaks when Steve kicks Kruger. Steve demands to know who he is, but Kruger swallows a cyanide pill in a false tooth, heils Hitler, and dies. I would like to get a false cyanide pill in a false tooth. Like, it can just be a toothpaste pill, so I’ll foam at the mouth and pretend to die, but then make my escape when nobody’s looking. Plus, my breath will be minty fresh.
Nazi officials give Schmidt shit for not actually doing anything, which seems like a fair assessment. Missing the point, he thinks it‘s because Hitler no longer thinks he‘s pretty. But as he soon shows them, he has been doing a lot of things, and most of them involve breaking with Hitler and going even more bugfuck insane than anyone ever thought possible, even Zola, the guy who created the weapons he is now using to poof those Nazi officials out of existence. He hits them with a laser and they disappear, leaving only a few burning scraps of flesh or cloth behind. It takes him a couple of shots to get one of the officials, and Schmidt makes a face when it doesn’t nail the guy the first time. After all the officials are dead, Schmidt turns to Zola and tells him that “Hydra could go no further” under Hitler, and some henchmen pump both fists into the air and say “Heil Hydra.” Schmidt stares expectantly at the horrified Zola, who musters enough strength to heil Hydra, too. Schmidt is satisfied.
Back in New York, Steve is bummed. Peggy assures him that Erskine would have been happy if Steve was the only thing to come out of his experiment, but he’s convinced that Erskine deserved better. Peggy and Phillips brief everyone on Hydra, and Phillips tells Peggy that she and a team are going to confront Schmidt on his own turf. Steve wants to go, too, but Phillips refuses. As soon as Phillips leaves, one of the government guys says that Steve is too valuable as a symbol to not let him do anything, so a symbol he shall be.
The way he helps with the war effort is this (MONTAGE!): he puts on a cheap-looking costume and stumbles out through a bunch of chorus girls, reading awkwardly off of index cards that are taped to the back of his shield. He holds babies and takes pictures, films propaganda. At every show, a fake Hitler sneaks up behind him, and he fake-punches that Hitler. Eventually, he learns his lines and gets more comfortable onstage. Sometimes he lifts up girls on motorcycles. There are comic books. It’s terrible and hilarious, and pretty depressing, too, especially when he ends up in Italy, trying to entertain the soldiers on the front line. They are having precisely none of it, and you can see how much the whole situation hurts him. The soldiers yell for the girls to come back, but Steve’s like “I think they only know the one song?” and no matter how hard he tries, nobody wants him there. Three chorus girls show up to rescue him, and he leaves the stage.
He draws a monkey riding a unicycle to symbolize his symbolry, and Peggy shows up to exposit a little. The soldiers he was trying to perform for, the 107th, were sent up against Hydra directly–two hundred men, but only fifty returned, the rest either killed or captured. Steve’s like, “Hang on, I had a best friend in the beginning of this movie! And he was stationed in the 107th! Let’s go get him right now!”
Phillips greets him sarcastically. Steve demands to know if Bucky’s name is on the list, and Phillips points at Peggy and says “We are going to have a conversation later that you won’t enjoy.” I like that they’re friends, kind of, or that he respects her at least–even when he‘s a dick to her later, it‘s because he trusted her and was disappointed, not because he thought she was going to screw up from the beginning. Phillips says that Barnes sounds familiar, and tells Steve that they’re working on a strategy to rescue the captured soldiers, but since they’re being held thirty miles behind enemy lines, it’s a little bit complicated. But he wouldn’t expect Steve to understand that, since “You’re a chorus girl.” I honestly can’t tell if Phillips is using doublespeak to tell Steve to go or not, but I’m going to pretend he is, since that’s what all of my grandpas would do.
Peggy asks if Steve is planning on walking to Austria, and he says yes, if that’s what it takes. She’s got a better idea.
One stolen chorus girl helmet and apparent agreement to a fondue date with Howard Stark later, Peggy, Steve, and Stark are flying over Austria, looking for a place to drop Steve. They start taking fire just as things get awkward in the air, and Steve jumps after ordering Peggy to turn the plane around, because he’s a captain and thus outranks her.
Hydra headquarters. The captured American soldiers are herded into cells, and one of them gets his hat knocked off. He retrieves it and turns around, saying “You know, Fritz, one of these days, I’m gonna have a stick of my own.” with a pretty big smile on his face, considering the circumstances. It’s Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan, played by the always-fantastic Neal McDonough and an equally fantastic moustache.
Steve sneaks through the woods in his chorus-girl helmet and hopefully operational shield. He jumps into a passing truck, which has a couple of Nazis in it. He throws them out onto the road and rides the caravan into the Hydra camp, slapping an officer down with his shield and basically knocking people down left and right on his way to the prison cells. He steals an energy weapon of some kind as he goes.
Steve frees the prisoners, there’s some camaraderie, and he tells them to go to a clearing and wait for him. They’re like “Who are you and do you even know anything about anything?” And he’s like “Yes, I am Captain America, and I’ve knocked out Adolf Hitler over 200 times.” They are accepting of this, and tell him that Bucky was taken away, but nobody ever comes back after they’re taken away. Steve goes to find Bucky, and the former POWs go raise a little hell with tanks and giant guns and MORE CAMARADERIE. I sound sarcastic, but I really do like it.
Zola, seeing all the hell that is being raised by the former POWs and also Captain America, decides to get his plans and get the fuck out of this nuthouse. That sounds like a good plan. Steve lets him go when they meet briefly in a hallway. Bucky is in a room, strapped to a table and deliriously reciting his name, rank, and serial number. Steve frees him and catches him up on the past few months as they run.
Schmidt meets Steve on a catwalk. They talk about Erskine, then trade punches until Zola retracts both sides of the catwalk. Schmidt rips off his fake face (his eyelid had been drooping since Steve punched him) and reveals the red skull underneath. Bucky’s like “You don’t have one of those, do you?” and thank god he does not, because ick.
Schmidt and Zola make their exit as the headquarters explodes all over the place, Schmidt in a cool plane and Zola in a cool car. Steve and Bucky, on the other hand, have to do a lot of scary beam-walking and jumping through fire.
Phillips dictates a letter saying that Steve disappeared behind enemy lines and is probably dead. Peggy comes in with no new news, and Phillips dresses her down. There’s a commotion as they speak. It’s Steve! He totally didn’t die halfway through his own movie, what a surprise! He offers to surrender himself for disciplinary action, but Phillips, with a small smile, tells him that won’t be necessary. He flirts a little with Peggy, and Bucky shouts “Let’s hear it for Captain America!” Everyone claps and cheers.
Captain America is supposed to be presented a medal for valor, but he’s in an underground English warroom instead, trying to strategize a plan of attack on Schmidt. Phillips is putting together a team, but Steve has a better idea. He will make the team out of the POWs. They discuss it in a bar, and everyone’s basically okay with it as long as they can get their drink on.
Bucky tells Steve he knew they’d be dumb enough to agree to join his squad, and that he’s not going to follow Captain America into battle–he’s going to follow the scrawny kid who didn’t know how to run away from a fight. Aaw.
Peggy shows up, looking super stunning, and flirts with Steve while ignoring Bucky completely. Bucky’s all “I am YOU.” and probably has a crisis on the inside.
Steve goes to meet with Howard Stark. A blonde woman gets all sexy with him, saying that the women of America owe him a bang, but since she’s the only one there…I have to admit that if “I can drink because I don’t have surgery tomorrow” is a near-valid reason for drinking, “I have to fuck you on behalf of America” is near-valid reasoning for climbing Steve Rogers like a tree. The blonde makes out with his face until Peggy shows up and ahems at them. Steve’s like “You can’t be mad! I thought you were fonduing with Howard Stark!” Peggy’s all “You’re patently ridiculous!” And later, Stark’s like “LOL fonduing is just bread with cheese in this context. I will tell you about the other four contexts when you are no longer a giant hot virgin. Look at this sweet shield I made!” And verily, it is a sweet shield. Steve wonders why the super-special metal it’s made of isn’t standard issue, but it’s so rare that all of it is in his shield. Peggy shoots the shield way too many times, revealing that yes, it can shield things. Stark and Steve are just a little flabbergasted.
Montage of Cap&Co wrecking Hydra bases all over the place. The shield works as a boomerang, too! SHIELDARANG. This montage is so awesome that text cannot contain it, so here is a series of screenshots:
Schmidt is pissed, just yelling at Zola and killing his own dudes all over the place. I’d say he’s red-faced with anger, but…uh. You know.
Steve and the squad are in the mountains, watching some train tracks with an approaching locomotive. They have to zipline down over a valley and land on the train. Bucky asks if this is Steve’s revenge for that time Steve threw up when Bucky made him get on the Cyclone at Coney Island? Steve says no, but his eyes say yes, yes it is.
Their target is Zola. Their zipline journey goes down without a hitch. Steve and Bucky go into the train, leaving the cool French-speaking black dude, Gabe Jones (Derek Luke) to wait on top. I hope he doesn’t die.
The doors close on the train compartments, separating Steve and Bucky and allowing Nazis packing laser weapons in crazy exoskeletons to attack them. They give as good as they get, even though they only have handguns, and victory seems within their grasp…until the big one shows up and blasts Bucky through the side of the train. Steve throws the shield and goes to save Bucky, both of them holding on to railings on the side of the train, but Bucky’s railing loosens and he falls down into the gorge. Steve stares in horror, then cries, still clinging to the side of the train. Ten bucks says Bucky survived that shit, I’m calling it right now. (Actually, I am googling it right now.)
TOTALLY SURVIVING GABE JONES GETS THE DROP ON ZOLA YAY! Zola is taken to Phillips and fed a better meal than I have eaten since I moved out on my own, steak and broccoli and potatoes. Zola is understandably concerned about what’s in the food, but Phillips is like “It’s cow, I promise it’s totally just cow.” Zola says he doesn’t need to eat because the food disagrees with him, and Phillips asks if cyanide gives Zola “the rummmmmbly tummy, too?” Phillips takes the tray and starts eating the steak, telling Zola “Every Hydra agent we’ve tried to take alive has crunched the little pill before we could stop him. But not you. So, here’s my brilliant theory: you want to live.”
Zola: You’re trying to intimidate me, colonel.
Phillips: [shrugs] I bought you dinner.
Zola reads the note Phillips had with him, which states that Zola has been sent to Switzerland, but doesn’t believe that Phillips really sent the note out. Because that would be unethical! And Nazi doctors hold ethics in the HIGHEST REGARD. Phillips basically tells him that Steve’s BFF died because of him and he’s super fucked unless he decides to give up Schmidt. Zola is only too happy to rat him out, but since Schmidt’s plan is to become a god and take over the world, it’s not that helpful. Still, Phillips looks nonplussed for the first time.
Schmidt gives an amusingly crazy speech about being borne on the wings of the Valkyrie to victory, and you just know that a couple of the less committed Hydra Nazis are rolling their eyes under their masks.
Peggy walks into a bombed-out bar to find Steve crying a little and drinking hard, except his super metabolism means he can’t get drunk. She’s sympathetic, but only until he starts blaming himself. She tells him in no uncertain terms that he’s disgracing Bucky’s memory by thinking that it’s his own fault, because Bucky made his choices and followed Steve because he wanted to, not because Steve told him to. Steve says he’s going to get Schmidt. Peggy tells him he doesn’t have to do it alone.
Meeting in the war room. I like that this movie gets to the point rather quickly. Schmidt is at his base in the Alps. They’ve got 24 hours before he tries to wipe out the Eastern seaboard. Steve decides they’re going to “knock on his front door.” Steve is then riding a motorcycle through the forest, and he’s being chased by Hydras on motorcycles. He takes them out one or two at a time and reaches the front door, which is guarded by a tank that he blows up.
He ditches the motorcycle once he’s inside and beats the shit out of thirty guys on his own, throwing his shield and fists all over the place. These fights are really good, so I hope that this fight coordinator gives tips to Thor’s for next time.
Steve’s luck runs out soon, though, and he finds himself surrounded by a
ring rhombus of fire, then a ring of Nazis.
He’s brought to Schmidt, and is stout of heart in the face of overwhelming crazy.
Steve: Erskine told me you were insane.
Schmidt: Erskine was a jealous bitch with a fat ass. Then he abandoned me and went to America and gave you superpowers, that two-timing hobag. What made you so special?
Steve: Nothin’. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.
Schmidt: *GOES APESHIT ALL OVER STEVE’S FACE IN A RAGE*
Schmidt whips out a gun, saying he’s on a tight schedule so he can’t go apeshit on Steve’s face for much longer. Steve’s plan is revealed, finally–he was bait. His squad ziplines through the windows and starts firing. YEAH! Schmidt runs away, and Steve chases him.
Everything goes all Saving Private Ryan with lasers when backup is called in. Peggy and Phillips are among the Allied attackers, and both kick a sufficient amount of ass. Peggy saves Steve from a flamethrower Hydra, and he gets all kissyface before she reminds him that he’s got a crazy red motherfucker to catch.
Said red motherfucker is already flying one of his endless supply of cool escape planes when Steve finds him, but Captain America scoffs at gravity and tries to run the plane down. It doesn’t really work, but Phillips and Peggy pull up and tell him to get into Schmidt’s cool car so they can drive after the plane before it leaves the hangar. They catch up to it and have enough time for Steve to kiss Peggy and be coldly denied a kiss from Phillips before he leaps up onto the landing gear. Phillips and Peggy narrowly avoid falling off the edge of the tarmac, but they make it.
Steve ends up in the plane and finds some missile planes labelled NEW YORK/BOSTON/CHICAGO etc., painted in what has to be the cutest nuke-writing ever.
Steve throws some more Hydras around, but ends up stuck on the New York missile as he grapples with one. The Hydra drops through the tiny missile-plane’s propeller in an explosion of blood I wasn’t expecting but was nonetheless tickled by, and Steve manages to fly himself back into Schmidt’s big plane.
BOSS FIGHT! Again, very well choreographed. I really enjoy that Steve uses his shield as a weapon instead of just a defense throughout the whole movie, because it represents his new status as a soldier, a weapon that’s also meant to defend. Schmidt tries to make fun of Steve for not using his powers to be a creepy sociopath, but Steve is having none of it. He manages to knock the cube out of its holder, and Schmidt grabs it. The cube goes just as nuts as he is, and poofs him out of existence, apparently. I wouldn’t bank on him being dead, either.
There’s a problem, and it’s that a plane full of nukes is headed to New York. Peggy tries to convince Steve to let her find him a place to land, but he has to land in the water to avoid massive civilian casualties. He tells her it’s his choice and puts her picture on the dashboard, then puts the plane into a dive.
She cries when he tells her he’s going to need a rain check on that dance, and she tells him fine, they’ll dance at the Stork Club next Saturday. He agrees, and they talk a little more. The radio cuts out just as he tells her they’ll have the band play something slow. She says his name a few times. Everybody is really sad, including me.
People celebrate VE-Day in the streets, and the remaining squad members toast to Steve’s memory. Their name was the Howling Commandos, according to the internet. I figure if I don’t tell you, nobody will, least of all this movie. Howard Stark retrieves the cube from where it fell into the ocean, but orders his team to keep looking, apparently trying to find Steve‘s body.
Peggy packs her things in the war room. Phillips gives her Steve’s file, and she stares at a picture of scrawny Steve, probably thinking about how much she misses him but ALSO probably thinking about how sick his shoulders were.
A little boy pretends to be Captain America.
The Arctic wind howls as we get a closeup of Chris Evans’s eyelashes–these things are ridiculous:
He blinks himself awake to the sound of a radio in the background. He’s in an apartment, wearing an SSR shirt, and suspiciously healthy-looking for someone who has been frozen for seventy years. He listens to the olde-tymey radio as a pretty girl in old-tymey uniform comes in and lies to him about where he is. He knows she’s lying, because the game he’s listening to is from May of 1941, and he knows because he was THERE, MAN. She’s like “Shit” and he tries to get intimidating, but she doesn’t know him like we do and thus doesn’t realize that he would probably rather die than hit a lady. She presses a button, and two SWAT-looking guys come in. Steve kicks them through the wall, which appears to be the wall of a shipping container inside of a warehouse.
The woman calls a code 13, Formerly Frozen Coma Hottie Has Escaped Containment, as he tries to run away. Again, I use run for lack of a better word, because he’s still doing that flaily uncoordinated-but-fast thing again. I don’t know if this is a Chris Evans thing or what, because Steve should have been used to his body by now, 70 year coma notwithstanding.
Steve flails himself out onto the street and looks around at how everything’s changed. Shouldn’t SHIELD headquarters be somewhere less…busy? At least the containment cells should be in, like, the Catskills or something, where your formerly frozen coma hotties are not going to draw undue attention if they run away.
Nick Fury yells at him to slow his roll–and I don’t know about you, but if I lived in the Marvel Universe, I’d be getting Nick Fury’s number tattooed on my forehead. That dude can probably fix ANYTHING. He tells Steve that Steve’s been out for several decades, and asks if he’s all right.
“Yeah,” Steve says sadly. “It’s just…I had a date.”
Downer ending. :(
The after-credits bonus was a teaser for the Avengers movie. Here is what is going to happen in 2012. Who else is excited for Armvengers: Operation Beefcake Extravaganza? I think the tagline is something like Warn your significant other that you’ll be imagining at least one of these people while you’re fucking for the next month. Super clunky, I know, but also very accurate!