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Joss Whedon’s Avengers Films Never Understood Captain America

Steve Rogers aka. Captain America (Chris Evans) has the best MCU solo movies, but Joss Whedon's Avengers films never truly understood his character.

Steve Rogers aka. Captain America (Chris Evans) has the best solo movies, but Joss Whedon's Avengers films - 2012's The Avengers and 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron - never truly understood his character. The Star-Spangled Man has been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since his solo origin movie, 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, which directly preceded the first Avengers movie. Outside the team-up films, Captain America's story continued in 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier and his solo trilogy concluded in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.

Captain America most recently returned in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War as Earth's Mightiest Heroes finally came face to face with the Mad Titan Thanos, a villain the MCU has been setting up since the very first Avengers movie. And after the cliffhanger ending of Infinity War, in which Thanos won and wiped out half of all life in the universe, Captain America was one of the heroes left standing, having watched his best friend Bucky Barnes aka. Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) die. Next, Captain America will return in Avengers: Endgame as the remaining heroes team up to take on Thanos again and try to reverse the snap.

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Related: Marvel Movie Timeline: A Complete History Of The MCU

Avengers: Endgame is set to conclude the story of the MCU so far, what Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige calls the Infinity Saga and, as such, we're looking back at the franchise as a whole. In particular, Captain America has had an interesting arc throughout his solo movies, but has been underutilized in the first three Avengers movies (Cap has more lines in his Spider-Man: Homecoming cameo than Infinity War). Further, Whedon's characterization of Captain America in his two Avengers movies gets certain key aspects of the hero wrong, revealing the writer-director doesn't understand the Star-Spangled Man. Now, we dive into how Whedon's characterization of Captain America is different and what it gets wrong.

Captain America Is The Best MCU Character - In His Solo Movies

Captain America MCU Trilogy

One of the lines of dialogue most associated with Captain America comes from his second solo movie, The Winter Soldier: "The price of freedom is high, it always has been. But it's a price I'm willing to pay." However, this dialogue is actually a callback to a scene early on in The First Avenger when pre-super soldier serum Steve picks a fight with a man in a movie theater who was being disrespectful of a newsreel about the United States Army's involvement in World War II. In that newsreel, the voiceover says, "Our brave boys are showing the Axis Powers that the price of freedom is never too high." These lines are important because they represent Captain America's core beliefs in the MCU. He believes in freedom and he believes in paying the price to earn that freedom, even if that price is giving his own life - and even, as seen in The Winter Soldier, if no one else is willing to give their lives for freedom.

Steve also demonstrates a stubborn fighting spirit, particularly in The First Avenger: "I can do this all day." In the first act of the movie, Steve picks a fight with a man much bigger than him, and it becomes clear from his conversation with Bucky that this is a regular occurrence. Then, it's revealed Steve has tried to enlist in the army and join the war five times - five times - before he's taken in by Dr. Erskine for the super soldier program. It's Steve's time fighting on the streets of Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s, then his time in WWII where he proves he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. That mentality carries through the rest of his solo films as he takes on an entire branch of the United States government in order to defeat the MCU's Nazi organization, Hydra, and again when he fights his own friends in Civil War in order to protect the Avengers' freedom from government oversight.

Related: Every Captain America Movie, Ranked

Captain America's relationship to the U.S. government is another key aspect of his characterization, and one that doesn't get explored much, if at all outside of his solo movies. Over the course of his three movies, Steve goes from putting all of his faith in the U.S. government's mission in WWII, to questioning an institution that can allow an evil like Hydra to foster within its ranks. And, having learned that even a government in which he placed so much faith can be fallible and corrupt, Civil War sees Steve fight to make sure no government has the power of the Avengers under their control. Since the Avengers movies tend to feature more extraterrestrial threats - with the exception of Ultron - Captain America doesn't have as strong a showing as he does against the villains of his solo movies.

Still, though Captain America may not be the most important Avenger in the team-up movies, his solo movies and his solo trilogy are arguably the best of the MCU. The Captain America films have a very specific trajectory and Steve Rogers is a fully realized, well-developed character through all three movies. He's a hero who fights for freedom, always, and one who appreciates his abilities after having grown up getting beat up in the back alleys of Brooklyn. Marvel Studios created one of its best heroes in Captain America - but he hasn't gotten to shine properly in the Avengers movies, and part of that is due to Whedon not truly understanding the character of Steve Rogers.

Next Page: Joss Whedon Rewrote Captain America & Got It Wrong

Key Release Dates
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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