Captain America wasn’t the first character introduced into the MCU, but he is arguably the most important (or, at the very least, he’s tied with Iron Man and Thor). It was about time he came to the big screen; he’s the leader of the Avengers and an all-round fantastic character.
In Tony Stark’s words, Steve Rogers is “a living legend who kind of lives up to the legend.” But then he also called him “a laboratory experiment.” Point is, we’ve followed this guy on an incredible journey over the past eight years since his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. With Chris Evans leaving the MCU after Avengers: Endgame, bringing Cap’s 78-year character arc to an end, here are The 10 Most Important Scenes In Captain America’s MCU Journey.
10 Steve dives on a dummy grenade
When the U.S. Army is looking for a candidate to test out their super-soldier serum on, Tommy Lee Jones suggests a big, strong, well-built man in favor of the 90 lb Steve Rogers, who’s struggling to get through a simple training exercise. But he’s told they’re looking for attributes “beyond the physical.”
So, Jones tosses a dummy grenade down and all the other guys – including the one he vouched for – flee. However, Steve dives on the grenade and tells everyone to get back, showing that he’s quick-thinking and prepared to sacrifice himself for others. This is the moment it’s decided that he’ll be Captain America, setting off his character arc.
9 The super-soldier serum is injected
For the first few scenes of Captain America: The First Avenger, we have to look at weird, scrawny CGI Chris Evans. He has the patriotic spirit of Captain America, but he doesn’t yet have the body. That all changes when he’s injected with the super-soldier serum and turned into the U.S. Army’s ultimate fighting machine.
In reference to this moment, Tony Stark would later tell him, “You’re a laboratory experiment, Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle.” Those are pretty harsh words, and he would later say nice things to undo the damage, but either way, the super-soldier serum scene was a pivotal moment in Cap’s journey.
8 Steve is cryogenically frozen as he saves America
Steve Rogers was already a war hero at this point, but as he found himself on a plane full of weapons of mass destruction headed for America, after the perpetrator Red Skull was sucked into space (and sent to guard the Soul Stone on Vormir, as we’d discover some seven years later), he decided he had no choice but to crash the plane into the Arctic.
He thought he was making the ultimate sacrifice to save America, but he actually just froze himself and was thawed out 70 years later. This is when Nick Fury recruited him to be, as the title suggests, the first Avenger.
7 The Avengers assemble
After a bumpy start, in the final act of their first team-up movie, the Avengers finally banded together to help save Earth from a Chitauri invasion in what is now known as the Battle of New York. We only saw his troubles briefly, but after being thawed out and suddenly finding himself living in the 21st century, Steve Rogers struggled to find his place in the world.
He was from a totally different era and felt like an outcast in the modern world. But as he joined Earth’s mightiest heroes, he found where he fit in. That transformation is summed up, along with a bunch of other characters’ similar transformations, in the shot where they all assemble and the camera pans around them.
6 Cap realizes the Winter Soldier is Bucky
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, for the first time, we get to truly focus on Steve Rogers as a man out of his time. The gravity of losing everyone he cared about, including his love interest Peggy Carter and his best friend Bucky Barnes, has fully set in and he’s trying to catch up on everything he’s missed.
That’s when he’s swept up in a political conspiracy as he goes on the run, realizes he can trust no one, and is pursued by an assassin called “the Winter Soldier.” When Steve realizes this assassin bent on destroying him is actually Bucky, the tension and conflict are suddenly heightened. The plot thickens...
5 Steve disagrees with the Sokovia Accords
When General Thaddeus Ross video-chats with the Avengers and tells them the United Nations are setting up a team to oversee them and govern their actions, he expects everyone to be on board. However, it instantly divides the whole team.
Surprisingly, Tony Stark – who has butted heads with the government before and often brags about privatizing freedom – was on the UN’s side, while Steve Rogers – who is a stalwart patriot and was given his powers in a government experiment so that he could fight for his country – decided he trusted his own judgment more than that of the government. This was a huge turning point in Steve’s character development, as we delved into the blurry distinction he sees between right and wrong.
4 He fights Iron Man to protect Bucky
There are a bunch of fights and conflicts in Captain America: Civil War, but it all boils down to the last one. Iron Man finds out Bucky killed his parents, but he was brainwashed at the time, and he’s Cap’s best friend. So, this creates a dilemma. Driven by sheer emotion, Iron Man tries to kill Bucky.
Cap jumps in to protect him, remembering the dozens of times Bucky protected him when they were kids, and he and Iron Man clash in an epic way. It’s such a spectacular sequence that it made it to the movie’s poster and became its defining image.
3 Cap becomes a political fugitive
When Captain America was disgraced for his handling of the Sokovia Accords situation and evaded the law, he became a political fugitive and had to seek asylum in Wakanda. This scene doubled as a teaser for the then-upcoming Black Panther movie and a huge leap in Cap’s character arc.
He was the quintessential American hero, and now he’d turned his back on the U.S. government and gone into hiding. Cap was going dark. Before then, he was the goody two-shoes who told the other Avengers to watch their language and did what he was told. Now, we were seeing his dark side for the first time.
2 Nomad is born
“Get this man a shield!” Although he is never explicitly called Nomad in the film and, for all intents and purposes, is still Captain America, when a grizzled Steve Rogers emerges from the shadows in Avengers: Infinity War with a target on his back and a beard on his face, Nomad is born.
Bucky is back, too. He has officially escaped from the clutches of his brainwashing while hiding out in Wakanda and he’s ready to join forces with Steve and the rest of the Avengers to take on Thanos (and maybe take up the Captain America mantle if Steve dies in Avengers: Endgame).
1 He tries to single-handedly remove the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos’ hand
This was futile, sure, but God bless him for trying. In a last-ditch effort to stop the Mad Titan’s evil plan, Steve attempted to single-handedly remove the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos’ hand. This is a guy we’ve seen bicep curl a helicopter as it took flight, so if anyone had the strength to yank that Gauntlet off his hand, it would be Cap – and he fails.
It’s one of the key moments, along with Thor’s similarly failed attempt to kill Thanos with a Stormbreaker hit to the shoulder, that led to the Avengers ruthlessly launching their “whatever it takes” campaign in the Endgame trailer.