Endgame confirms it: Captain America will always be my favorite Avenger
Spoiler-filled commentary: In Avengers: Endgame, Steve Rogers reminds us once again that it’s not the star-spangled suit and Vibranium shield that make a hero.
Connie GuglielmoSVP, AI Edit Strategy
Connie Guglielmo is a senior vice president focused on AI edit strategy for CNET, a Red Ventures company. Previously, she was editor in chief of CNET, overseeing an award-winning team of reporters, editors and photojournalists producing original content about what's new, different and worth your attention. A veteran business-tech journalist, she's worked at MacWeek, Wired, Upside, Interactive Week, Bloomberg News and Forbes covering Apple and the big tech companies. She covets her original nail from the HP garage, a Mac the Knife mug from MacWEEK, her pre-Version 1.0 iPod, a desk chair from Next Computer and a tie-dyed BMUG T-shirt. She believes facts matter.
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Well -- MAJOR SPOILER HERE -- fear no more.
doesn't die. But he does end his run as an
in an exit that's emotional, bittersweet -- and well, just perfect.
And I say that as a huge Captain America fan. He's my favorite Avenger -- and the fact that we're both from Brooklyn is only part of the reason. It's because he embodies the ideals -- bravery, honesty, loyalty, nobility -- that get overlooked when we talk about what makes someone a superhero in movies these days.
So while I'll miss Captain America, Endgame does a great job of reminding me why I'm glad to have known him at all. If Tony Stark/Iron Man is the brains, Thor the brawn and Natasha "Black Widow" Romanova the soul of the Avengers team, Cap is the heart, showing us how one good guy can make all the difference. And I'm not talking about superpowers here.
"The serum amplifies everything that is inside. So good becomes great, bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life may lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength and knows … compassion."
We see just how much of a good man he is over and again in The First Avenger, including how he throws himself on top of a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers or when he goes into an enemy camp on his own to save his childhood friend, Bucky. He gets knocked down by a bully but stands up each time, offering up his now signature line: "I can do this all day."
Rogers' answer: "Nothin'. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn."
Humility is its own superpower.
At a time when our world is fractured, with some espousing the same un-American values he fought against successfully 75 years ago, Cap is a role model we can all get behind. Some argue he personifies an idealized version of American values and plays into audience nostalgia for a time that never existed. Maybe. But who doesn't want a leader who's honest, humble, compassionate, courageous and noble, a team player able to earn the trust of those around him so much so that they're willing to go to the end of the line with him?
In Endgame, Captain America's story stands out as the Russo brothers lean intothe overarching theme of loss. The story (mostly) takes place five years after Thanos' deadly finger snap in last year's Infinity War. The tone for the movie is set with the opening track -- Steve Winwood's Dear Mr. Fantasy: "Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune, Something to make us all happy, Do anything, take us out of this gloom."
Some of the Avengers cope with that loss by -- SPOILERS AHEAD -- wallowing in self-pity, drinking beer and playing
(Thor at his funniest). Or going on a bad-guy killing spree (Hawkeye, at his most disturbing) or focusing on putting the past behind them (Stark, at his most detached). Cap not only doesn't let that devastating loss take him down, he has the strength to help others deal with it. He hosts a self-help group with other survivors struggling with the aftermath of Thanos' evil plan.
"The world is in our hands. We gotta do something with it," he tells the group, with a touch of world-weary sadness. "Otherwise Thanos should have killed all of us."
It could be a mushy, overly sentimental scene, but it's not. It's another moment that shows us that Captain America's true superpower is his humanity. And it's not the only moment in Endgame that makes the point that this is a man who's more than his star-spangled suit and cool Vibranium shield. In a quietly touching scene -- SPOILER -- a time-traveling Rogers comes across his photo on the desk of Agent Peggy Carter, the woman he loved, lost and can't forget. But it's not a photo of our buff superhero in his cool costume. It's a snap of that skinny kid from Brooklyn, taken before he got the serum boost.
I'm pretty sure it's the same photo Carter puts away in Rogers' file at the end of The First Avenger, as she's coming to terms with his loss. He promised he'd take her dancing, right before he ditches his plane into the ocean to save New York from oblivion. As he takes one for the team, he stares at the photo of Carter he carries around in his pocket compass. My lip quivered just a bit over their goodbyes when I saw the movie eight years ago.
And it did again earlier this week as I watched a new ending to their story. It's his abiding love for Carter that prompts Captain America to do a hero handoff to his friend Sam (the Falcon) and retire from the Avengers, after Thanos is vanquished, of course. MAJOR SPOILER HERE -- I applaud screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for giving Rogers the chance to rewrite his story so he and Carter can share the life together they wanted. Captain America has certainly earned it.
As Endgame comes to a close, we see Rogers and Carter finally get their dance while the old World War II ballad "It's been a long, long time" plays. It's a lovely moment. And it delivers an exit that's emotional, bittersweet -- and well, just perfect.
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