Captain America is the keystone that brings the Avengers movies together.
It’s the last bit of information that’s needed to answer all the out standing questions brought up in the other movies.
Where did the Cosmic Cube come from at the end of Thor?
What was this mysterious and powerful energy source that Nick Fury said Howard Stark was working on in Iron Man 2?
Sure it’s a bit campy — the three minute chorus line montage, anyone? — but it puts Steve Rogers in the sepia-toned golden age of comics when America kicked ass and took names.
Steve Rogers: Just a kid from Brooklyn
The first third of the film we see nothing but Steve Rogers. Not Captain America, but Steve Rogers. A person that’s nothing more than an idealist teenage-twentysomething who wants nothing more than to stand up for the little guy.
Problem: He is the little guy.
He isn’t a man killer like his childhood friend, Bucky Barnes nor is he a lady’s man like Howard Stark, as seen at the first Stark Expo, when he’s showing off an early generation of Stark Technologies repulsor technology — technology and charisma that’s seen in Iron Man nearly 70 years later in Iron Man.
Steve Rogers is simply a young man with a never-say-die demeanor.
Enter Dr. Abraham Erskine. The German defector, creator of Super Solider Serum, mentor in Steve Roger’s journey and the man who gives the little guy his shot.
Comic book fact: If you look at the establishing shot of the Stark Expo exhibit hall you’ll see a man with a red jump suit in a glass case.
This is the nerdiest of all Easter eggs because that is a throwback to the original Human Torch. Not Johnny Storm, but the original golden-age-era Torch.
Steve Rogers: Super soldier
As it turns out. Steve Rogers isn’t the first or the last super soldier. The first being a rabid, antique-hunting Nazi named Johann Schmidt, or the Red Skull to his friends. And by friends, I mean his brainwashed, personal goon army known as Hydra.
The Skull wants the Cosmic Cube, the crown jewel of Odin’s treasure trove and source of endless power and wonderment blah, blah, blah etc.
Anyway, the Red Skull wants the Cosmic Cube something fierce so he ends up demolishing a small village called Tonsberg in Norway.
Tonsberg being the same village where Odin and his army came off the rainbow bridge and kicked the shit out of the frost giants in the prologue sequence in Thor — How Odin lost his crown jewel on Earth is beyond me. Maybe it fell out of his pocket or something while he was ending the Ice Age.
So, Schmidt has it and is going to conquer the world with it.
Except the tiny Steve Rogers has been replaced with a garbage-can-lid-hurling-flag-wearing destroyer of worlds called Captain America.
The Cap and his merry band of Howling Commandos start beating the shit out of Hydra and their toys like a three-story-tall tank and all their weapons factories.
But it’s not all fun and game, Along the way Bucky Barnes, now Captain America’s right hand, “dies” when he falls off a train when trying to capture the Red Skulls lead scientist, Arnim Zola who was able to harness the Cosmic Cube before Howard Stark was able to get his hands on it.
And I say Bucky Barnes “dies” because there’s no body.
Steve Rogers: The first Avenger
Now we have Captain America, a super solider with a dead best friend facing an unstoppable force, up against the Red Skull, an evil super soldier who has had all of his toys broken facing a flag-wearing unstoppable force.
What happens next?
A fight on a giant cosmically powered bomber is what.
After the two duke it for awhile on the bridge of the Red Skulls plane the Cosmic Cube starts freaking out and sucks the Skull into the world tree and he “dies” too.
Again, he “dies.”
And Captain America has to sacrifice himself by flying the damaged bomber into the arctic ocean so it doesn’t destroy New York.
Fast forward 70 years later and Cap wakes up in New York at SHIELD not knowing exactly how he got there, but knowing that he missed his date with his lady friend Peggy Carter.
That’s it, True Believers. you’re officially caught up on the Avengers.
Time to count it down till assemble time.