Making his comic book debut in 1941’s Captain America Comics #1, the book’s titular hero is one of the oldest Marvel heroes there is, existing for more than two decades before other popular Marvel characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men. Created during World War II, Captain America was initially intended to serve as the embodiment of American patriotism, but has since become a much more three-dimensional character, generally acting as the representation of freedom and justice. Thanks to his unswayable moral compass and perpetual altruism however, Captain America hasn’t always remained the most popular comic book character with fans. Following the character’s inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe though, Captain America has once again become one of the most popular characters in all of media.
Becoming the hero known as Captain America following a secret government super-soldier experiment, there’s been a lot of debate of over the years on whether Captain America technically has superpowers. While he’s often said to possess “peak-level” human attributes rather than actual superhuman abilities, he frequently displays power that far exceeds that of even the most powerful humans – so much so that he’s revered as one of the most formidable heroes in the Marvel Universe. The same is also true in the MCU, with Captain America pulling off some truly incredible feats of strength over the course of his movie appearances. With that in mind, we’re here to take a look at Captain America’s 20 most overpowered moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.
20 TEARS A LOG IN HALF
For those of you familiar with chopping wood, you’ll know that certain logs can be more stubborn than they’ve any right to be – even with an axe. Of course, this isn’t a problem for Captain America.
Hiding out at Hawkeye’s family cabin during the cataclysmic events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Cap and Iron Man are sent outside to chop some wood. Not content with going about the task the normal way, Cap nonchalantly tears one log in half during a particularly heated debate with Tony. Sure, it begs the question of why he even needed the axe in the first place, but it was an undeniably cool moment nonetheless.
19 TOSSES A MOTORCYCLE INTO A JEEP
While Captain America is known primarily for his tremendous strength, durability and unmatched willpower, Steve Rogers is also an incredibly quick thinker, boasting some seriously impressive reflexes and improvised combat maneuvers.
Take for instance his raid on a Sokovian base in the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Hurtling towards a jeep full of HYDRA agents while on his motorcycle, Steve doesn’t panic. Instead, he takes the opportunity flip himself over the handlebars of his bike, before tossing it into the oncoming vehicle. The two machines collide with such great force that the impact completely obliterates the front of the jeep – proving yet again why Cap is the Avengers’ de facto leader.
18 OUTRUNS HIGH-SPEED TRAFFIC (AND BLACK PANTHER)
During one of Captain America: Civil War’s many memorable action set pieces, Cap chases a vengeful Black Panther through a highway tunnel as the Wakandan warrior hunts down a fleeing Bucky Barnes.
While it makes sense for the super-powered Black Panther to be outrunning vehicles moving at over 60mph however, it’s a much more impressive feat for the supposedly “peak human-level” Steve Rogers, who proves himself to be more than a match for T’Challa in a foot race. On the surface this may seem more like a feat of speed than a feat of strength – and you’d be right – but just imagine the leg strength required to reach a speed more than double that of the current world record.
17 SINGLE-HANDEDLY DESTROYS A SHIELD AIRCRAFT
Captain America has had more than his fair share of cool scenes over the course of his MCU career, but one of his best to date came in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which he destroys an entire SHIELD aircraft with incredible ease.
Using a motorcycle to avoid the aircraft’s machine gun fire, Cap leaps onto the back of the craft, using his trusty shield to scale the rapidly moving jet. Once he finds his footing, Cap quickly dispatches the aircraft by throwing his shield into two of its turbines, before jumping to safety and giving the audience a classic “superhero landing”.
16 KICKS A CAR INTO A MERCENARY
In one of Captain America: Civil War’s earlier scenes, fans were treated to a scene reminiscent of something from Secret Avengers, in which Cap, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow travel to Lagos to prevent Crossbones from stealing a particularly dangerous biological weapon.
As you’d expect, it doesn’t take too long for everything to collapse. Although Cap manages to defeat the dangerous Crossbones during the skirmish, it’s a moment earlier in the battle that stands out as Cap’s most impressive. Surrounded by Crossbones’ soldiers, Captain America takes out one of the men by kicking a car so hard it collides with him, immediately incapacitating the henchman.
15 BATTLES LOKI
While Loki’s morality has been in constant flux throughout the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Avengers saw the God of Mischief at perhaps his most evil. Wreaking havoc in Stuttgart, Loki shows no qualms with executing innocent civilians. Fortunately, Captain America soon shows up to put a stop to the trickster’s schemes.
The two engage in a brief battle, in which Captain America puts up a surprisingly good fight, landing several heavy blows on the Asgardian. Sure, Loki’s capture turns out to be part of his plan the entire time, but the fact that Captain America managed to hold his own against a bona fide god is nothing short of impressive.
14 SHATTERS A SUBMARINE WINDOW WHILE UNDERWATER
Looking at the physics of the situation, it’s pretty much impossible to break a window underwater from the outside of a vehicle, but since when has Captain America cared about what physics says?
Chasing down the HYDRA operative responsible for Dr. Abraham Erskine’s demise during Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap is eventually forced to pursue the villain underwater after he escapes to a small submarine. Not only does Steve manage to catch up to the sub with his swimming skills alone, but he then proceeds to smash its reinforced windows with a single punch, dragging the assassin back to the surface for questioning.
13 JUMPS FROM A PLANE WITHOUT A PARACHUTE
For as inherently good a man as Steve Rogers is, he can’t help but show off every now and again. With Captain America: The Winter Soldier hoping to fix Cap’s status as one of the least popular Avengers among fans, the movie reinvented Captain America as one of the most beloved characters in all of pop culture.
This is in no small part thanks to several small moments in the movie that paint Captain America as a much cooler character. Take the scene in which Cap casually jumps from a plane without a parachute for instance, which shows off Captain America’s durability, bravery, and confidence in full force.
12 CLIMBS A BROKEN BRIDGE ONE-HANDED
If there’s one thing Captain America represents at his very core, it’s good old-fashioned heroism. This is no better exemplified than in Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which Cap manages to save a woman from plummeting to her doom from a broken bridge.
Dangling from the bridge with one hand and holding the woman with the other, Captain America manages to scale his way up the bridge by jumping with his only free hand, eventually pulling the woman up to safety. It’s just a small moment in a movie full to the brim with over-the-top action sequences, but it serves as a perfect encapsulation of the Captain America character.
11 LIFTS A GIRDER OFF OF BUCKY WHILE GRAVELY INJURED
Widely considered to be one of the best superhero movies to of all time, Captain America: The Winter Soldier succeeded in further popularizing the Steve Rogers character by giving him a compelling, emotionally-charged antagonist to go up against.
During the movie’s climax, we once again see Cap’s true colors as he saves his best friend turned enemy from certain doom. Trapped under a girder on a collapsing helicarrier, Steve is unable to leave Bucky behind even after all he’s done, managing to lift the insanely heavy girder off his friend. This is impressive enough in itself, but considering Cap is dealing with multiple knife and bullet wounds inflicted by Bucky at the time, it easily stands out as one of Captain America’s greatest moments.
10 TAKES ON WAR MACHINE AND BLACK PANTHER AT THE SAME TIME
With the airport fight in Captain America: Civil War serving as one of the most entertaining and crowd-pleasing action sequences in many years, all the MCU’s heroes got their moment to shine in the skirmish, but Captain America stands out as one of the battle’s biggest winners.
Coming out on top of pretty much every punch-up he finds himself in, Captain America even manages to take on Black Panther and War Machine at the same time – two characters who are both incredibly powerful even by themselves. Managing to toss around the super-powered Black Panther like it’s nothing, Cap somehow manages to find the time to dodge and counter War Machine’s attacks, incapacitating the iron-clad hero in the process.
9 DEFEATS TEN SHIELD AGENTS IN AN ELEVATOR
Arguably the scene that solidified Captain America as one of the coolest heroes in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers’ scuffle with multiple SHIELD agents in a crowded elevator is amongst the most memorable moments of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Not only does the fight see Steve use his wits and strength to outmatch ten highly-trained agents, he also manages to resist two extremely powerful magnets and brush off several blasts from SHIELD-issued tasers during the fight. Despite how cramped and intimate the scene is, the choreography and white-knuckled tension on display here is amongst the best in any Marvel movie to date.
8 WEAPONIZES A STRIKE FROM MJOLNIR
The three-way fight between Captain America, Iron Man and Thor in the first Avengers movie was one of the earliest indicators of just how special the Marvel Cinematic Universe had shaped up to be. Of the three heroes partaking in the fight however, it seemed like Captain America was by far the most outmatched.
Going up against a legitimate god and a man in a highly-powerful suit of armor, Cap managed to get the last laugh in the scuffle. Using his vibranium shield to block a strike from Mjolnir, the resulting shockwave managed to incapacitate all three heroes, technically making Cap the battle’s victor.
7 HUMILIATES SPIDER-MAN
It might be unfair to give Spider-Man too much of a hard time for losing to Captain America in Civil War given his relative inexperience as a hero, but it’s the nonchalance with which Cap beats the much more powerful wall-crawler that highlights the star-spangled Avenger’s true chops as a soldier.
Not only does Captain America manage to catch Spidey off guard with his strength and skill, but even proves himself capable of cutting through his webbing like butter – a feat even Spider-Man’s most powerful enemies often can’t achieve. Not known for quips unlike many of his fellow heroes, Cap’s fun back and forth with Peter during the fight proves he doesn’t quite see Spider-Man as a true threat – at least not yet.
6 DEFEATS IRON MAN
With Captain America and Iron Man sharing one of the most tumultuous relationships in all of Marvel, Captain America: Civil War doubled down on the drama between the pair with the revelation that Cap’s best pal Bucky Barnes murdered Tony’s parents.
With the protective Cap hoping to spare Bucky from Tony’s wrath, the resulting three-way fight soon leaves only Cap and Iron Man standing, with Steve managing to lay a serious beatdown on his former teammate. Using his shield to destroy Iron Man’s suit, Captain America emerges victorious after a lengthy slug-fest, proving himself capable of defeating even Marvel’s most formidable heroes.
5 FIGHTS OFF CORVUS GLAIVE AND PROXIMA MIDNIGHT
One of the few triumphant moments in Avengers: Infinity War sees Captain America emerge from the darkness to save Vision and Scarlet Witch from the nefarious Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight. Helped by Black Widow and Falcon, Cap forces the duo to flee, later coming back into conflict with Glaive during the movie’s eponymous war.
Considering that Glaive and Midnight were handpicked by Thanos himself for their sheer power, and that Vision and Scarlet Witch – by far two of the most powerful MCU heroes – couldn’t defeat them, the fact that Cap managed to hold them off even briefly is nothing short of miraculous.
4 USES A HELICOPTER AS A DUMBBELL
When you’re as strong as Captain America, sometimes dumbbells just don’t quite cut it.
While chasing down a fleeing Bucky Barnes in Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers manages to pull off perhaps his most impressive feat of strength yet. As Bucky takes off in a helicopter, Cap manages to grab hold of both its landing gear and the corner of the helipad, preventing the aircraft from taking off. Essentially using the helicopter to do bicep curls, it would require an estimated 3000lbs of strength to perform the exercise, which considering Cap’s apparent status as a “peak-level” human seems incredibly unlikely.
3 BUDGES MJOLNIR
For all the fans who’d hoped to see the iconic comic book image of Captain America lifting Mjolnir on the big screen, Avengers: Age of Ultron teased the possibility quite heavily. During a party at Avengers Tower, various members of the team try and fail to lift Thor’s hammer.
All except Captain America, who manages to budge the hammer enough to make it creak, leaving a shocked God of Thunder with a very concerned expression on his face. Still, given the unfortunate demise of Mjolnir in Thor: Ragnarok, the possibility of this happening now is all but gone – but the fact that Cap managed to budge the hammer in the first place is incredible regardless.
2 DESTROYS A PUNCHING BAG
It’s no secret that Steve Rogers wasn’t exactly his usual, optimistic self at the beginning of The Avengers. Recovering from a 70-year stint frozen in ice, everything Captain America knew and loved was well and truly gone by the time he woke up, leaving him completely alone while trying to adapt to the new world.
For one unfortunate punching bag, however – or perhaps several, for that matter – Cap’s newfound anger would spell its doom. Beating the hell of the bag while having flashbacks of his old life, Cap busts a large hole in its side, sending it flying across the room in the process.
1 HOLDS OFF THANOS
The scope of Thanos’ strength is established early on in Avengers: Infinity War, during a scene in which we see the Mad Titan toss around the Hulk like a mere rag-doll. The scene immediately makes it very clear that nobody can match Thanos in the strength department. And then, somehow, Captain America does – albeit extremely briefly.
As Thanos closes in on our heroes during the movie’s climax, Captain America manages to physically hold back the Mad Titan for a few seconds in a desperate, last-ditch effort to buy our heroes a few extra seconds. Exactly how Cap managed to pull off this impossible feat of strength is one of the most glaring questions posed by the movie – and is still the subject of extensive fan speculation.