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Captain America’s Complete MCU Story Finally Explained


The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an immensely
complex shared universe full of stories but even amid all that complexity, the story of
Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, is particularly twisty. Luckily for you, we’re here to make sense
of it all. This is Captain America’s whole timey wimey
MCU story, explained. Steve Rogers was born in New York City in
1918. By the time he reached adulthood, he was an
orphan, and relied instead on his chosen family his best friend, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes. By 1943, as World War II raged in Europe,
both Steve and Bucky were trying to enlist in the U.S. Army. While Bucky was accepted, Steve’s multiple
chronic illnesses and small stature led to constant rejection, even when he attempted
to use fake names and addresses to enlist. Steve’s luck changed when he met Dr. Abraham
Erskine, the head scientist in an experimental program called “Project Rebirth,”
which aimed to create a “Super Soldier” to help turn the tide of the war for the Allies. Steve was accepted into the program on a trial
basis, and his courage impressed one of the program’s supervisors, a British officer in
the Strategic Scientific Reserve named Peggy Carter. Others in the program remained unconvinced
that Rogers was the man for the job. Then came the moment that put Rogers over
the top. In an effort to prove that one of the stronger
soldiers would be better suited to the procedure, SSR Colonel Phillips threw a dummy grenade
on the ground at camp. “Get away! Get back!” and that settled the matter. Steve Rogers would be the man to take Erskine’s
Super Soldier Serum. Steve Rogers was driven back to New York City
to take part in the Project Rebirth procedure under Erskine’s supervision. The night before, Erskine warned him of previous
attempts that hadn’t gone well, including one on a German officer named Johann Schmidt
who was at that very moment pursuing his own ambitions in Europe as the leader of the fascist
organization known as HYDRA. Though extremely painful, Rogers’ version
of the procedure went smoothly; he emerged with a dramatic increase in height and muscle
mass, boasting enhanced abilities and free of his previous chronic illnesses. Rogers’ first encounter with HYDRA sadly arrived
just moments after the procedure, as a HYDRA agent snuck into the room and gunned down
Erskine. Steve was able to pursue and catch the agent,
but he took his own life before he could be questioned. Erskine’s death changed the course of the
SSR and Project Rebirth, as his formula apparently died with him. With only one super soldier at their disposal,
the U.S. government pressed Steve Rogers into service immediately, but it wasn’t the kind
of service he wanted. Captain America was viewed by Congress as
more important to the war effort as a symbol than he was as a soldier, so Steve Rogers
was dressed in a colorful costume and sent on a tour throughout the United States to
sell war bonds, followed by a tour of Europe to increase morale for the troops. “Series E Defense Bonds. Each one you buy is a bullet in the barrel
of your best guy’s gun!” After spending the rest of 1943 doing shows
instead of fighting battles, Steve grew weary, and then saw his chance to fight. In Italy, he learned that Bucky’s unit was
MIA, and opted to stage a one-man rescue mission for his friend. With the help of Carter and industrialist
Howard Stark, he dropped behind enemy lines and rescued Bucky and a number of other troops,
proving himself as a front line asset in the fight against HYDRA. He also met Schmidt, who revealed his own
encounter with the super soldier process had transformed him into the Red Skull. In an effort to clear out HYDRA and disrupt
its operations, Steve recruited a crack team of commandos, including Barnes and Dum Dum
Dugan, and they began a series of missions throughout 1944 to infiltrate HYDRA bases
and rescue captured Allied soldiers and the legend of Captain America grew. By 1945, Captain America and his “Howlin’
Commandos” had succeeded in helping turn the tide of the war, but it came at great cost. During a mission to capture the Red Skull’s
chief aide Arnim Zola, Bucky fell to his apparent death, leaving Steve and the rest of the Commandos
to gain the location of HYDRA’s final stronghold from Zola. Steve then discovered Red Skull’s endgame. Using a powerful artifact called the Tesseract
later revealed as an Infinity Stone Schmidt engineered weapons of mass destruction which
he planned to drop on America with the help of a long-distance bomber. Steve snuck onboard the plane and, in the
ensuing confrontation, Red Skull seemingly died when the unshielded Tesseract pulled
him through a wormhole. The Tesseract then fell into the ocean, to
later be recovered by Howard Stark. With HYDRA defeated, Steve was left alone
on the damaged plane, and realized he couldn’t risk landing it because there was a chance
the weapons would detonate and kill countless civilians. While radioing with Peggy who he’d recently
shared his first kiss with Steve revealed his intention to crash the plane into the
ocean and sacrifice himself. “Peggy…” “I’m here.” “…I’m gonna need a raincheck on that dance.” So, near the end of World War II, Steve Rogers
flew a plane into the Arctic Ocean and passed into legend, becoming an American hero who,
as far as the rest of the world knew, gave his life to save countless others. In the years following his apparent death,
Captain America became a national symbol of heroism, spawning everything from trading
cards to museum exhibits. Peggy Carter went on to co-found S.H.I.E.L.D.
and later married and started a family, with Steve always alive in her memory, and it was
S.H.I.E.L.D. which continued to hold out hope to at least discover his body. At last, in the early 2010s, a breakthrough
happened. S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists searching in the Arctic uncovered
the aircraft and Rogers’ intact, frozen body, then discovered to their amazement that Steve
was somehow still alive, having been frozen in time by the ice. At first, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury
tried to keep Steve unaware that he’d been in stasis for nearly seven decades, constructing
a 1940s-era hospital room and even playing 1940s baseball games on the radio, until one
day he heard a game on the radio that he knew had already been played. His deception revealed, Fury appeared to Steve
and revealed the truth: It was 2011, and he would have to adjust to life in a new world,
because he might need to save it again someday very soon. In 2012, Rogers was called back into action
when the Tesseract, which had been in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody for years, fell into the hands of
Thor’s brother Loki, who planned to use it to open a wormhole and summon an alien army
to Earth. At Fury’s urging and working alongside S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Captain America superfan Phil Coulson,
Steve teamed up with Iron Man a.k.a. Tony Stark Bruce Banner and his alter-ego The Hulk,
and Thor. Rounding out the team were S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives
Black Widow and Hawkeye a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton, respectively. The group was dubbed The Avengers. The team’s relationship was rocky at first
amid a clash of personalities, but Coulson’s death at Loki’s hand galvanized them, and
Steve in particular took point as a field captain for the group. When Loki used Stark Tower to open his wormhole
over New York City, the Avengers took to the streets to fight the ensuing alien Chitauri
invasion, with Steve often taking point in getting civilians away from danger. In the chaos, the World Security Council opted
to bomb New York rather than risk the invasion spreading, but Stark was able to divert the
missile while Romanoff closed the wormhole. After Stark narrowly escaped death, the Avengers
took Loki and the Tesseract into custody, sending both back to Asgard with Thor. Their mission complete, the Avengers went
their separate ways, and Steve became a full-time S.H.I.E.L.D. field operative. Working closely with both Fury and Romanoff,
Steve remained an active S.H.I.E.L.D. operative for the next two years, pouring himself into
his work even as he tried to learn as much as he could about this new era. Everything changed when, after growing suspicious
about data recovered by Romanoff on a mission, Fury was nearly killed by an assassin known
as the Winter Soldier. Working while on the run from an internal
faction seeking to destroy them, Rogers and Romanoff uncovered the truth: HYDRA had managed
to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. and had been working as a sleeper cell for years. “The new Hydra grew, a beautiful parasite
inside SHIELD.” Fury was attacked because he and Romanoff
had found data that would compromise HYDRA’s plan to use S.H.I.E.L.D. assets to kill millions. Then there was the bigger secret: Bucky had
been kept in stasis for decades, brainwashed, and given his own super soldier treatment,
making him the Winter Soldier. “Bucky?” “Who the hell is Bucky?” In the ensuing battle, Steve, Romanoff, Fury,
and Falcon a.k.a. Sam Wilson were able to expose HYDRA and stop its planned attack at
the last moment. Bucky escaped in the chaos after Steve refused
to kill him, but not before sparing and then saving Steve’s life and gaining a new curiosity
about who he really was. With S.H.I.E.L.D. in ruins following the HYDRA
discovery, Rogers re-teamed with the Avengers to take out the remaining HYDRA cells now
under the command of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. While infiltrating the last HYDRA stronghold
in Europe, the team discovered two new metahumans Pietro and Wanda Maximoff who’d gained their
abilities through Strucker’s experiments. After defeating Strucker, the Avengers faced
a new threat when Stark’s experimental AI technology known as Ultron gained sentience
and began formulating a plan to wipe out humanity. To make a long story short, Ultron crippled
the Avengers by having Wanda use her mind-bendy powers to distract, hypnotize, and otherwise
splinter the team. As a result, a rift formed between Stark and
Rogers as Steve questioned Tony’s motives in trying to build what Tony called “a suit
of armor around the world.” “Every time someone tries to win a war before
it starts, innocent people die. Every time.” The Avengers regrouped in Sokovia, where Ultron
attempted to launch an entire city into the sky before dropping it back to Earth like
an asteroid. With the help of the Maximoffs and Ultron’s
own android creation Vision, and with Rogers again acting as field commander, the team
was able to defeat Ultron’s robotic army and prevent the city from impacting Earth, losing
Pietro who gave his life to save Clint in the process. With Ultron defeated, the original Avengers
went their separate ways, so much so that Hulk fled the planet in a Quinjet. Rogers took command at the team’s new upstate
New York facility, and prepared to train a new team of Avengers with Romanoff including
Wanda, Sam, James “Rhodey” Rhodes better known as War Machine and Vision. In 2016, Steve met two new challenges. The first came after an operation by his new
Avengers team caused civilian casualties, leading a number of nations to come together
and establish the Sokovia Accords, a new system of regulations to keep superpowered heroes
in check. Stark, believing the Accords were a necessary
way to save innocent lives, stood by the new policy, while Rogers stood in opposition,
believing that ” … The safest hands are still our own.” The conflict was complicated by the re-emergence
of Bucky Barnes, who could still be triggered by various brainwashing codewords. These codewords fell into the hands of Helmut
Zemo, who launched a plan to bring down the Avengers from the inside, using Barnes’ assassination
of Howard and Maria Stark in 1991 as the fulcrum point. To make matters even worse for Good ol’ Cap,
Peggy Carter whom Steve had visited on her deathbed around the same time that he was
reunited with Bucky passed away, dealing another emotionally draining blow to the typically
stoic hero. Rising tensions finally culminated in a physical
battle between Stark and his loyal Avengers and Rogers and his own squad. The battle continued at a secret HYDRA facility
in Siberia, where Stark learned that Barnes had killed his parents. Bucky and Steve fought Tony in a vicious battle
before escaping, permanently fracturing the Avengers. Steve took Bucky to Wakanda in an effort to
finally remove his Winter Soldier conditioning, and began performing covert operations with
Natasha, Wanda, and Sam as a fugitive from the U.S. government. In an act of friendship, Steve left behind
a letter and a cell phone so Tony could call him if the need ever arose. More than a year passed as Steve and his team
continued to carry out covert operations around the world, but their time in hiding was interrupted
when they had to rescue unlikely lovebirds Wanda and Vision from a pair of alien invaders
in Scotland. This was followed by a call from a returned
Bruce Banner, who revealed to Steve that Thanos had begun his final push for the Infinity
Stones, threatening all life in the universe. Vision, who held the Mind Stone in his head,
offered his life if it meant the stone would be destroyed and Thanos would be stopped,
but Steve refused. While Tony carried out his own fight with
Thanos off-planet, Steve called in a favor to King T’Challa of Wakanda, and the two prepared
for a pitched battle in the secluded African nation. Thanos’ army arrived in a push to get the
Mind Stone, and Steve led the charge to hold them off while Wakandan scientist Shuri tried
to remove the Stone from Vision so it could be destroyed. Though Thor, Groot, and Rocket arrived to
reinforce their fight, Thanos himself later appeared to take the Stone. Wanda used her power to destroy it, but Thanos
used the Time Stone to rewind time and take the Mind Stone from Vision’s head. Though Thor nearly killed Thanos, Thanos snapped
his fingers wielding all six Infinity Stones, wiping out half of all life in the universe. Three weeks after the battle in Wakanda, Steve
and a team of Avengers were shocked by the return of Tony Stark and the appearance of
Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel. Together they learned that Thanos had used
the Stones again on a distant planet, and Steve led a team to go there and take the
Stones back. When they arrived, they found that Thanos
had used the Stones to destroy the Stones, rendering their efforts useless. Thor beheaded Thanos in a rage, and the team
returned home. Five years passed, during which time Steve
did his best to be a help to others in a world decimated by Thanos. “You did the hardest part you took the jump,
you didn’t know where you were gonna come down. And that’s it: that’s those little brave baby
steps we’ve got to take.” While Natasha led field operations for the
remaining Avengers, Steve spent much of his time in New York City, attending support groups
for survivors and trying to keep morale up while acknowledging that he himself was having
trouble moving on from defeat. Everything changed when Scott Lang, Ant-Man,
re-emerged after being lost in the Quantum Realm, and revealed to Steve and Natasha that
time travel could be a possible solution to undoing Thanos’ harm. They approached Stark, who was at first reluctant
to help but, after cracking the time travel problem, returned to the Avengers facility
to launch a mission to retrieve the Stones. Using Pym Particles as their time travel fuel,
the Avengers split into teams to journey back to previous encounters with the Infinity Stones
in order to steal them and form a Gauntlet of their own that would undo Thanos’ snap. Steve journeyed with Stark, Banner, and Lang
to New York in 2012, and successfully recovered the Mind Stone after a battle with his own
past self. Since the Space Stone was lost after it fell
into Loki’s hands, Tony and Steve needed to launch an unplanned journey to 1970 New Jersey
to recover it at a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. While there, Steve stole Pym Particles to
facilitate the trip home. Though Natasha was lost during her mission
to capture the Mind Stone, the Avengers succeeded in getting all six Infinity Stones, and Banner
now a sort of Bruce/Hulk hybrid snapped to undo the decimation. It worked, but moments later a past version
of Thanos arrived, having learned of the Avengers’ plan via Nebula’s memory banks. A battle ensued in upstate New York, and at
one point Steve was the last soldier standing. He proved himself worthy of wielding Mjolnir
and led the reformed Avengers in a massive fight which culminated in Tony sacrificing
himself by wielding the Stones and using them to kill Thanos and his entire army, ending
the Infinity War once and for all. With Thanos defeated, it was important that
the Avengers return the Infinity Stones to the exact places where they took them to prevent
disastrous alternate timelines from continuing and disrupting the flow of time in general. Steve took this responsibility on himself,
and had a conversation with Bucky about his plans before leaving. After Tony’s funeral, Steve stepped back on
the time platform and returned the stones to their previous locations. Steve was only supposed to be gone for a matter
of seconds for the Avengers in 2023, but he missed his timestamp. “Where is he?” “I dunno — he blew right by his timestamp.” Steve had saved extra Pym Particles to use
after returning the Stones, and used them to travel back to the 1940s to reunite with
Peggy Carter and live out the rest of his life in peace with her. He didn’t reveal himself to the Avengers again
until moments after he left them in 2023, appearing on a bench by the lake at the Avengers’
upstate facility to reveal what he’d done. Now an old man who’d spent the last half of
his life happily married, he handed over his shield to Sam Wilson, making him the next
Captain America while also declining to reveal any details about his married life. “You wanna tell me about her?” “No. No, I don’t think I will.” The only glimpse that we, the audience get
of Steve’s second chance at a normal life is the dance that Steve had promised Peggy
all those years ago. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about the MCU
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Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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