This will sound like a shock coming from me. I’m a Marvel fan whose obsession with Captain America (and by extension, Chris Evans) has no bounds. I have a six-foot tall cardboard cutout of him that I’ve showed off, multiple times, in public. People have given me a swarm of Captain America-themed items, from pajamas (not kidding) to a washcloth (still not kidding). Captain America’s star-spangled face has been all over my Tumblr dashboard and my blogs.
So how could I say that I want Cap to die? It’s not that I really want him to. If I could have my way, he’d have his old friends from the war back and alive and he’d live happily ever after in a mansion in the shape of a bald eagle. I’m not writing this post to be sadistic. I’m writing this post because I don’t know what’s going to happen to him. I’m writing to prepare myself to lose one of the most important characters in my life.
We already know that Chris Evans has hung up his shield for the foreseeable future, and he deserves the chance to move on with his life. This movie will technically not be his last, as he’s confirmed to be in Avengers 4. (Though who knows, it might be just a flashback.) Either way, his character has an upcoming expiration date.
I know that some of my friends and family think that I love Captain America because he’s gorgeous. But if I was just interested in six-packs, I would Google it. Focusing on the Marvel Muscles™ misses the point. Long before he took on the Captain America mantle, Steve Rogers started as a little guy – ignored, lonely, overlooked. He had one friend in the entire world.
Even though he started small, he only needed one person to see the inner greatness. One of my favorite scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is when Dr. Erskine tells Steve the reason he chose him for the Super Soldier Serum. Instead of praising his aggressiveness or bravery or power, Dr. Erskine stressed that his weakness was in fact his strength. Steve had compassion. He had innate moral goodness. “Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier. But a good man.”
All this time, Steve has maintained his promise. He has inspired me to stay true to myself and hold my ground when everyone else in the world is trying to take me on a different path. Ironically, the man out of time became the most solid character out of all the Avengers – not in the sense that he always assumed he was right, but that he always knew what he valued most. Steve Rogers has been the rock foundation for the Avengers. Everyone trusts him, including the ones who have the hardest time trusting in other people. (His relationship with Black Widow stands out in particular.)
Of course, his perspective was shaken up quite a bit in Captain America: Civil War. His team fell apart, his best friend’s mind got hijacked, he had to run rogue from the government, and the world hated him for things that had spun out of his control. From the moment he emerged from the ice, he has been disappointed by people, by history, and by society. That’s why I was excited by his rough-around-the-edges aesthetic in Infinity War. No uniform. No shield. It was a visceral transformation from the clean, put-together classic 40s golden boy to a scarred, badass warrior who’s seen his world fall apart.
Only a problem of galactic proportions like Thanos could bring the team back together again, including Cap. People who know him still rely on him. I can’t think of a character death that would have stronger emotional resonance than Steve’s. He’s the heart of the team. He shows gentleness towards others in their dark moments, just as much as he kicks butt on the battlefield (like he said, he hates bullies). He has stuck to his beliefs and principles through the worst traumas of his life. He’s a role model not only for the other Avengers, but for us as an audience.
I am so grateful that this character has been brought to life. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe first started, I don’t think anyone could imagine us ending up here. I never thought I could become a comic book geek. I never knew that my love of fantasy and daring knights in shining armor could translate so well to science fiction and superheroes in spandex, but I’m grateful to know it now. Thank you, Captain America, for how far you have taken us, and for the inspiration you’ve given me. I hope we can carry your legacy long after you’re gone.
(Meanwhile, I’m going to try to use fanfiction to resurrect you. Just in case.)