Although introduced last in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America (Chris Evans) is the first Avenger. 2011’s appropriately named “Captain America: The First Avenger,” relays the origin of Steve Rogers’ transformation into Cap, and alludes to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s founding as well. It’s a unique in the Marvel canon in being a period piece, and “Captain America” also conveys multiple key elements which play monumental roles in the MCU. Let’s explore what Marvel left for us to find.
The opening scene hails back to “Thor.” A Norse city where the Tesseract is hidden was shown in a brief flashback during the 2010 film. There’s also a shot of a massive tree, which depicts the nine realms. A book showing the Tesseract appears as well, and at the film’s conclusion, Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) recovers the artifact from the ocean’s depths. We’ve now seen the relic in “Thor” and “Captain America,” and further in the universe it blossoms into an important plot point. We also meet Hyrda and the Howling Commandos, both central to Marvel, and S.H.I.E.L.D. lore.
“The Incredible Hulk” introduced the concept of super soldiers, but “Captain America” acts as a creation story. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was transformed when an accident went awry, and unbeknownst to him, Banner was working on a super soldier project. Later in the movie, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) receives the serum as well, though Dr. Erskine’s (Stanley Tucci) original formula obviously hasn’t been recreated to perfection. A clever shot in “Hulk” shows a canister labeled “Stark Industries,” and actually signed by Dr. Reinstein, a moniker used by Erskine. As we’ll see, the concept of super soldiers plays prominently into the MCU.
“Captain America” is ripe with foreshadowing. First, there are hints at the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. A few allusions to “Captain America: the Winter Soldier” creep in, which we’ll explore later. At the Stark Expo, there’s a flying car. Well, it’s more like a hovering, then falling car. However, Phil Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) beloved vehicle Lola proved that eventually the technology was polished. Clearly visible in the center of the Expo is the Synthetic Man, who bears a striking resemblance to Human Torch.
Amidst the plethora of foreshadowing, a few neat throwbacks linger. The scene where Captain America punches Adolf Hitler was a famous cover from one of the comic books. One segment in the movie features a table stacked with Captain America comics, and astute viewers will note that it’s actually the cover of “Captain America #1.” Stan Lee has a cameo as a general, and surprisingly, he seems made for the military life. “Captain America: The First Avenger” feels distant from the previous Marvel Studios productions since it’s a period piece set during WWII, but it’s arguably the most important. Rather than a post-credits scene, “Captain America” features a trailer for “The Avengers,” a film which marked the next phase in the MCU.
Join us for “The Avengers,” as we hop along, discovering where our Easter egg trail leads next.