In celebration of this Friday’s release of Captain America: Civil War, I have put together a multi-night Marvel marathon. I have chosen the movies to focus on Steve Rogers, his relationship with Bucky, and his relationship with Tony Stark. The marathon is as follows:
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
There are no Iron Man stand alone films here because they give no insight into his present state that the Avengers films do not already give.
As I watch each film I will post entries on each in turn.
Attendance dropped dramatically for the second night of the marathon. While there were about twelve people at my house to see The First Avenger only four showed up for The Avengers and it’s easy to see why. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched the movie so many times over the past few years or maybe it’s because the novelty of getting the band together has worn off, but the emotion I felt over the majority of this viewing was boredom. It’s still fun by the time we get to the battle of New York in Act Three, but the journey there is very very long.
Coming in to this straight from Captain America, you find yourself thankful for the opening with S.H.I.E.L.D. since they were such a question mark at the end of The First Avenger. We start with the mysterious Nick Fury from Times Square and quickly get an idea what he’s about. He’s a government agent investigating the cube that Hydra used in WWII. The stakes are immediate, because we’ve just seen what that object is capable of. However when it opens, from the perspective of only seeing The First Avenger beforehand, the assumption is that the Red Skull is about to appear. Instead, Loki arrives and you are thrown into a state of confusion as more and more new players are introduced.
Finally, “we need soldiers” is uttered and the film arrives at Steve Rogers. He’s the only character that takes the time to show flashes from his previous film. He’s the man out of time. He’s secluded from the world for almost a year now. It appears that he trusts Nick Fury when the colonel arrives to ask for help, but other than that he appears to be in a dark and lonely place these days.
Immediately following Steve is the introduction of Tony Stark, which feels appropriate. In a world where you haven’t seen Iron Man or Iron Man 2 before, this sequence is fascinating. We’re underwater, and a robot or something sets a device on a pipe. This machine rises out of the water and flies into New York City. He speaks, very charismatic but with a great ego. We see a middle aged man with all manner of holograms around his head, most likely in the suit but you don’t know for sure yet. He flies toward a building that lights up bright with the word “STARK”. As in Howard Stark. Finally the suit comes off and Tony Stark is here. He has a glowing ring on his chest and a high tech suit of armor. He must be Howard Stark’s son, and he is possibly a greater genius than even his father.
But he’s also kind of a dick.
Steve learns about the legacy he’s left behind when he meets Agent Coulson. That even seventy years later he’s a hero to people. An icon of good from the golden age. He discovers how much of history came as a result of his mere existence. Iron Man is in a way the modern Captain America. He has sharper edges, darkness, and his powers are super technological instead of super biological. The Hulk came from an attempt to recreate the Super Soldier Serum gone wrong. In a way, that makes Steve feel responsible for Bruce’s condition. All of this came from him, even the god in possession of the cube was part of that object’s history.
Luckily Steve doesn’t have to dwell on all this, as he quickly flies to Germany to face Loki. It puts him in a good state of mind. Things were much more black and white in Germany, and they are once again here. But then ACDC plays and Iron Man arrives, and Steve is dragged back into the present.
What must that be like? To meet he son of an old friend, but that son is older than you ever knew your friend. The first thing Tony does is disrespect Steve, calling him old among other things. Tony never had a good relationship with his father and sees Steve as a relic of the past. It’s likely that as Tony grew up, Steve was the moral standard he was held to, and he resents the Captain for that. Meanwhile Steve doesn’t appreciate the attitude of the heir to his friend’s legacy. It’s not a very strong start to a friendship.
When Thor arrives their differences become even more clear. Tony dives in without so much as a plan, while Steve wants to understand the context of what is going on. Cooler heads (and Vibranium shields) prevail, but that certainly doesn’t help Steve and Tony grow closer together.
The first time Steve and Tony work together, they technically aren’t together at all. They approach the same problem with the skill sets of both of their times. S.H.I.E.L.D. is hiding something and both men intend to find out for sure. The difference is Tony wants to know what they are hiding and is using a virus to infiltrate their files. Steve, on the other hand, wants to be sure they aren’t hiding anything and sneaks into a storage space to find out. Both of them discover the ugly truth, that S.H.I.E.L.D. intends to base new weapons off of the ones Hydra used in WWII.
For once both men stand together against a common enemy, that is until their clashing ideologies (or maybe the influence of Loki’s scepter? Still unclear on that) puts them moments away from a fist fight. The scary thing is that their argument is fully based in truth.
“Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off and what are you?”
“Genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.”
“I know guys with none of that worth ten of you. I’ve seen the footage. The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play. To lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.”
“I think I would just cut the wire.”
“Always a way out. You know you may not be a threat but you better stop pretending to be a hero.”
“A hero? Like you? You’re a laboratory experiment Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle.”
“Put on the suit. Let’s go a few rounds.”
Luckily another common enemy appears in time for both men to stand together and truly work together.as they repair the Helicarrier, every insult they threw at each other becomes a strength. Steve can’t make heads or tails of the power relays, but with Tony’s genius help he figures it out. Tony wouldn’t be able to survive the start up sequence if he didn’t have Steve, always trustworthy, there to slow down the propeller blades.
Then they suffer the same loss when Agent Coulson is murdered by Loki. Coulson was, in a way, Steve’s legacy. A man inspired by him to be a hero. Fury’s “old fashioned notion” of the Avengers is exactly what Steve was a part of in the Howling Commandos back in WWII. But as Tony states, they aren’t all soldiers, and he’s never taken a personal hit like this. All Steve knows is loss, and the chasm between these two men begins to close.
Finally The Avengers assemble in the Battle of New York. Steve’s arc has taken him so far from where he began. Where he was alone, now he has this group of people as powerful and as broken as he is. He takes command, as he is the Captain, and The Avengers fight the Chitauri army. As they fight as one the Avengers learn how they complement each other.
But the big moment comes when Tony intercepts a nuclear missile headed for New York and takes it through the portal to take out the Chitauri. Tony makes the sacrifice play, proving Steve wrong with his nobility, and nearly dies defeating their enemy. Of course he makes it in the end, but the two men share a deep respect once the dust settles. Their friendship is rightfully formed.
And then they go out for shawarma!
PS, see you tomorrow with my write-up on The Winter Soldier!