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"No matter what happens, stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier... but a good man."
Captain America: The First Avenger is a 2011 action/adventure film adaptation of the iconic comic book character directed by Joe Johnston; it is the fifth film in (and in some ways, a prequel to) the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film is not to be confused with the 1990 film Captain America, the two Captain America TV movies from the 1970s, or the classic movie serials from the 1940s, all of which have no relation to this film (aside from being based on the same comic book character). Shouldn't be confused with Generation Kill and its Captain America (named for said comic book character) either.
Taking place in the timeframe of 1942 to 1945, First Avenger tells the story of US Army reject Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), who volunteers for a secret government program which transforms him into the very epitome of human potential. As the Star-Spangled Soldier, Rogers goes to war against Nazi Germany's military forces -- including Johann Schmidt (The Red Skull, portrayed by Hugo Weaving), who has his own plans for world domination.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ace Pilot: Howard Stark is specifically described as being one of the best civilian pilots in the world, and is certainly not afraid to fly a small, unarmed passenger plane into German airspace and through heavy anti-aircraft fire just to get Captain America where he needs to be.
- Steve is no slouch either.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Steve and Peggy in the bombed out cafe where Peggy consoles Steve after Bucky dies.
- Action Girl/Lady of War: British Special Agent Peggy Carter. In her first action scene, we get a glimpse of her Improbable Aiming Skills and perfect poise. We only get to see her on the front lines once, but she mows down a flamethrower mook with a machine gun.
- Actor Allusion:
- Chris Evans kisses a love interest from outside a moving car, as he did in the first Fantastic Four film.
- Tommy Lee Jones pushes the red button in a fancy black car to make it go faster.
- Johan Schmidt's introductory scene has him approaching in a car, and then walking into the church hideaway with his feet being focused on first, and Erskine's explaining about Red Skull has the first flashback depicting him with several copies of himself, similar to a certain Agent in The Matrix. The shot of a dozen Schmidts is a particularly strong example as it makes absolutely no sense except as an Actor Allusion.
- This is lampshaded in the Riff Trax: during this shot the guys start saying "Mr. Anderson" over and over in Agent Smith voices.
- Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) while fighting Captain America in a suspended gravity environment (the plummeting plane) reminds somewhat of a similar scene in The Matrix.
- "Schmidt" is the German equivalent of "Smith."
- At a meta level, things like Red Skull's fighting style and even how he levels his gun ("Unfortunately I am on a tight schedule...") have apparently stayed with Hugo Weaving after the Training from Hell he went through to play Agent Smith.
- Adaptation Distillation: Like Thor, the story takes several elements from both the mainstream Marvel Universe (Earth-616) and the Ultimate Marvel universe (Earth-1610). For example, like his Ultimate counterpart, he and Bucky were best friends before the war and Bucky defended him from bullies. Also, some elements of his movie costume are lifted from the Ultimate version (in particular, a helmet with his signature "A" on it). However, the similarities are slim beyond that. Supporting characters like Colonel Philips, the Howling Commandos, Red Skull, Peggy Carter, Gilmore Hodge, Steve being an orphan and his Wide-Eyed Idealism ring true to his mainstream incarnation. (He's also a genuinely nice person as opposed to the Ultimates version, who is a Jerkass.)
- In the original universe, the Red Skull had been a brilliant spymaster, brought up via training from an uneducated street punk. In the film, Dr. Erskine describes him as a brilliant scientist and chief of HYDRA - which is an advanced military research unit. It takes literally a lifetime of learning, since elementary school begins, to become a scientific researcher, it can't be done in a few months or years. This means the entire biography of the Skull has to be rewritten from scratch to fit this new personality.
- Adaptation Dye Job: Sharon Carter is usually depicted as blonde in the comics. This may be deliberate to give her a resemblance to Peggy, though.
- Adaptational Badass: Bucky Barnes starts out as much more of a Badass than he was in the comics (pre-Winter Soldier, at least). Instead of starting out as a Kid Sidekick like in Earth-616, he's the same age as Steve, he starts out as a Badass Normal soldier (who's a hit with the ladies, to boot) and gets himself enlisted in the Army before Steve ever does. And instead of being Steve's spokesman/medic like in the Ultimate Universe, he's the leader of the Howling Commandos, and a respected leader in his own right.
- The Super Serum. It emphasizes all qualities in the recipient, good and bad, but cannot fundamentally change human nature. Therefore, it is best administered to humble individuals who know what abuse of power is.
- Averted with Tesseract technology; it's just technology, it doesn't corrupt its wielder, cause undue harm, come at a price, go haywire with catastrophic implications, or cause any negative effects typically present when artifacts of such magnitude are abused by villains for personal gain. As such, many soldiers who have been in combat with HYDRA troops tend to employ trophy weaponry. Of course, all that wondertech is dependent on the Tesseract to power it, even by proxy. Even Howard Stark has to pass his notes on to his son to complete research into the Tesseract.
- The Cube itself is dangerous, however. Touching it directly, without protection, didn't end well for Schmidt...
- Adorkable: Even after his lab procedure, Steve is painfully earnest about everything and the opposite of smooth with the ladies.
- Dernier, who looks like he just got a puppy for Christmas after he blows up an armored car.
- Affably Evil: Red Skull is this to Dr. Zola, even letting him take his Cool Car out to escape the exploding facility.
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Red Skull's gigantic bomber has several small airplanes/piloted bombs onboard.
- All-American Face: Played with (see Captain Patriotic below).
- All Germans Are Nazis: Surprisingly and gratifyingly averted, for ONCE. They actually only mention Nazis/Hitler a few times, and the conflict between Captain America and HYDRA (who break away from the Nazis early in the film) is really only set in the 1940s, but the actual War is pretty much ignored. This trope is outright defied by Dr. Erskine, who claims that Germany was the first country to be invaded by and fall victim to the Nazis (something that he also notes is what many people tend to forget).
- All of the Other Reindeer: Even after becoming the peak of human physical perfection, Steve still struggled with gaining respect, with Col. Phillips seeing him nothing more but a lab rat, and soldiers thinking of him as a fool in star-spangled tights. However, once Steve starts using his superpowers for more than selling war bonds, his courage, character and prowess gain him deep respect from his peers.
- All There in the Manual: The comic mini-series Captain America: First Vengeance which reveals the backgrounds of the minor characters, such as Dugan and Bucky having been in the same unit and Peggy having formerly been undercover in HYDRA.
- Almost Kiss: Steve and Peggy, after Peggy saves Cap's bacon by gunning down a HYDRA flame-thrower, before they remember that Steve was in the process of chasing down Red Skull.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: In the scene where Red Skull is making his escape, he makes his getaway in a weird-looking aircraft that was powered by three jet motors on a spinning rotor placed on the center of the aircraft. Sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie? Real Life military prototype logs say otherwise.
- Surveillance cameras. Germans pioneered TV and regular TV broadcasts in the late 1930s. (They even understood it was too expensive for ordinary customers, so they used large TV sets in a sort of mini-movie-theaters.) They built a TV-guided anti-ship missile in 1944. It would be the most logical choice for the Red Skull to use on his factory.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Dr. Erskine. Especially given that he looks a lot like Albert Einstein, sans the hair, and had to flee Nazi Germany. A case of All There in the Manual, in the lead in comic, Erskine's wife is confirmed as being of Jewish ancestry. Johann Schmidt couldn't care less, but makes it perfectly clear to Erskine that he is willing to act on it if Erskine refuses to work for him.
- His name is Abraham Erskine. Hardly the typical given name for an ethnic German.
- America Wins the War: Averted. Not only are other fronts and allies mentioned in passing, but the Strategic Scientific Reserve and Howling Commandos are both multinational, and eventually, things evolve into a feud between the SSR and HYDRA. HYDRA's defeat saves the world, but that is unrelated to World War II proper.
- Anachronism Stew: Falsworth reminds them to "Mind the Gap" when they are about to jump on the HYDRA train. A reference to the unofficial motto of the London Underground, which first appeared in 1968.
- Applied Phlebotinum:
- The Cosmic Cube is essentially the only thing that allows HYDRA to power their advanced technology.
- Vibranium makes its first named appearance in Marvel movie continuity; the iconic round shield is made from their only sample. (The novelization of Iron Man 2 also names it as the element Howard Stark leaves to Tony to recreate.)
- Appropriated Appellation: "Captain America" was the name given to Rogers when doing the USO tours and he called himself that name during his first big military operation. The soldiers he rescued, who originally derided him, started calling him that without sarcasm.
- Arc Number: 70 crops up somewhat often.
- Artistic License Military
- Steve addresses his drill sergeant as 'Sir'
- This is actually correct for that era in the US Army and is still used by the US Marines.
- Steve salutes Philips and then lowers his hand without Philips ever saluting him back.
- Despite being awarded the Medal of Honor, Steve never wears the appropriate ribbon. He also wears an American Defense Medal ribbon which he would not have been eligible for.
- The Red Skull (Dr. Erskine flashback scene, 0h 25min in the film) in his guise as Johann Schmidt wears an Allgemeine SS uniform with SS-Obergruppenführer (3-star General rank) collar tabs, but a SS NCO peaked cap (black chinstrap, not the silver-braid chinstrap of officers) and no visible shoulder boards. This would be an unacceptable breach of uniform regulations and etiquette for a German officer.
- Steve addresses his drill sergeant as 'Sir'
- Ascended Extra:
- Howard Stark is a very minor character in the comics, hardly making any appearance, if at all. While Peggy did show up in the comics, she was the subject of a retconned love interest for Steve and a minor character. Here, she is more prominent and has become an Adaptational Badass.
- Jim Morita and Jacques Dernier were only recurring characters in the Howling Commandos series, but in the movie they're promoted to full-fledged team-members.
- Audible Gleam: The Tesseract.
- Awesome but Impractical:
- The Valkyrie bomber is eyebrow-raising to a fairly massive extent; it has twin turbojet engines... and eight propellers.
- The eight propellers are justified, since they are actually the bomb aircraft's propeller. If anything, it's more of a redundant feature on the plane.
- Truth in Television: The post-war Convair B-36 bomber, designed during the war to bomb Europe from the States if England fell, had six rear facing propellers and four turbojets to help it reach takeoff speed.
- The bomb aircraft also apply; they have the maneurability of a fighter and an ejection seat, presumably to give the pilot a fair chance of survival once it's on a collision course with the target... but there are no parachutes anywhere aboard or in the hangar, preventing the Captain from leaving the bomber once it's about to crash.
- Badass Adorable: Steve, before and after super-soldier serum is such a polite and kind sweetheart that whether you're a man or woman, you'd wanna hug him.
- Badass Bandolier: Invoked in one of Captain America's propaganda films. Played straight with Gabe Jones.
- Badass Biker: Cpt. Rogers.
- Badass Boast: By Rogers, when going over the plan to attack HYDRA headquarters in the Alps.
Jim Morita: So what are we supposed to do? I mean, it's not like we can just knock on the front door.
- Badass Bystander: Krueger's hostage.
- Badass Crew: And not just any Squad, but the Howling Commandos.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Peggy Carter wears a tie to battle!
- Wearing a tie in battle would actually be Truth in Television to some degree for World War II. Pilots and other aircrew in many of the services fighting in World War II (the RAF, Luftwaffe and US Army Air Force in particular) often flew in combat wearing service dress uniforms that included neckties.
- Badass Longcoat: Red Skull really works that Nazi coat, especially after his "normal appearance" mask comes off.
- Badass Normal: Bucky, and the Howling Commandos.
- Peggy Carter is certainly no slouch herself in this department either.
- Badass Mustache: Dugan. By the grace of God, Dugan.
- Bad Boss: Both used straight and subverted with the Red Skull. He coldly shoots down an officer who protests that 'we fought to the last man!' with 'Evidently not!', but later the audience is made to think he's going to abandon Zola because his escape rocket only seats one, only for Red Skull to give him the keys to his car instead.
"Not a scratch, Doctor, not a scratch."
- Bald of Evil: Red Skull. Sort of.
- Bash Brothers: After Steve's transformation, his Odd Friendship with Bucky becomes this, now that he's taken enough levels in badass to match and surpass his friend's Badass Normal.
- Batman Gambit: Arnim Zola's failure to take his Cyanide Pill leads Colonel Phillips to realize that he is pliable. So Phillips simply sends a communique saying that Zola's made a Heel Face Turn using an encryption method he knows HYDRA has broken, but that HYDRA does not know that he knows they've broken. Upon hearing this, Zola does all the work himself: He knows as a demonstrated fact that the Red Skull does not broker failure, so his only chance is to throw himself on Phillps' mercy. Zola thus sings like a bird.
- Battle Cry: Once, by Dugan.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: It's implied the Super Soldier Serum horribly disfigures anyone not pure of heart, and amplifies attractiveness in good men - hence Red Skull's deformation and Steve's rocking new body.
- Well, you could make a case for this trope thematically. Erskine explicitly says the serum formula that Schmidt used was "not ready." The version Steve got was apparently more refined and supplemented by a heavy dose of Vita-Rays. Also, Steve was already a good-looking guy, just scrawny.
- Becoming the Mask:
- Inverted. The characteristic red head that Red Skull has is in fact his true face, and the human face is in fact a mask resembling his original self. It is also stated in an interview with Hugo Weaving and implied in the movie itself that the red head was the result of his undergoing the first supersoldier serum project due to a combination of the serum being imperfect at the time, and his dark inner nature.
- Played straight with Captain America himself, however. He starts out as a USO propaganda figurehead playing the heroic Captain America in stage productions and films, and then becomes the real deal.
- Berserk Button: The term "Red Skull" only comes up once in the movie, and it's subtle but clear enough that Schmidt doesn't like it. (It's said by a Nazi chewing him out on Hitler's behalf; shortly afterward Skull shows the Nazis his new weaponry.) Although, in this case it may be referring to HYDRA itself, which has a red skull as part of its logo.
- Betty and Veronica: Subverted. It looks like Steve and Howard are going to be competing for Peggy, but Peggy and Howard have no interest in one another.
- Big Applesauce: Skull/Schmidt was originally targeting several cities, but once Steve pissed him off by calling himself "just a kid from Brooklyn", it became personal, and he targeted New York City specifically, bypassing the European cities along the way.
- When Steve reaches the bomb bay, the camera pans over several bombs labeled with American targets like Boston and Chicago. But the dramatic musical sting doesn't play until it reaches the more prominently displayed bomb destined for New York. Uh, Steve, it's "Captain America" not "Captain New York".
- Big Bad: The Red Skull.
- Big Damn Heroes: When Red Skull captures Captain America and is about to execute him, cue Dugan, Falsworth and Jones as they zipline through a window and start gunning down everything in sight.
- Big Damn Kiss: In a speeding, rocket-powered car, no less.
- Big Heroic Run: The very first thing Steve Rogers does after his procedure is to chase down a HYDRA spy. On foot. While the spy is driving a stolen taxi.
- Bittersweet Ending: Everybody lives (well, Bucky died, but not at the ending) and the world is saved, but everyone lives their lives thinking Steve had died. Steve and Peggy didn't get their dance, and Steve is in complete culture shock when he's awakened.
- Black Box: HYDRA's tesseract-powered technology. Not even Howard Stark, one of the best mechanical engineers and inventors in the world, really understands how it works.
- HYDRA doesn't understand their own technology much better. They only know (and care) that it works.
- HYDRA's technology only works because of the Cosmic Cube, and nobody really understands how it works.
- The implication exists that Howard Stark's Arc Reactor designs (which Tony then miniaturized) actually came from the study of the Cube as well. He did, after all, boast about "making the nuclear reactor look like a Triple-A battery".
- Black Vikings: Invoked in-universe when Dum-Dum Dugan notices that another POW is Asian, future Howling Commando Jim Morita. He asks "Are we taking everybody now?", only for the man to flash his dogtags and respond "I'm from Fresno, Ace". Truth in Television the Nisei (American Born Japanese) battalions were active in the European theater and serious Real Life Badasses.
- Black Dude Dies First: Averted, Gabe Jones, the African American member of the Howling Commandos is in fact one of the surviving members of the unit. In fact, he's also the one who successfully manages to capture Zola.
- Blessed with Suck: A distraught Steve tries to drown his sorrows in alcohol, only to discover he can't; his metabolism is four times faster than the average man. He literally can't drink fast enough.
- Though really this should only mean he needs to drink four times as fast as he would otherwise (hardly difficult if you're of a mind to get plastered!), and (prior to the transformation) he didn't exactly look like someone who'd spent much time building up any kind of resistance to alcohol.
- Body Horror: The procedure gives Steve a dramatic change in height as well. That means that even his bones were growing along with him, from the limbs and digits to the spinal column... And bear in mind that while Bruce Banner is only conscious for about half of the transformation into Hulk, Steve was very much aware during the whole thing.
- Boisterous Bruiser: The Howling Commandos, particularly Dugan and Falsworth. They spend periods of days to months in a POW camp, get liberated, and sign up to go back to fighting the same people that captured them again.
Dum-Dum Dugan: "I'll always fight."
- Bond One-Liner: "Let's go find two more!"
- Boom! Headshot!: Peggy impedes the HYDRA assassin's getaway by drilling the getaway car driver in the back of the head. With a pistol.
- Boring but Practical: Captain America's Shield. Stark shows him a handful of prototypes with built in weapons and gadgets (never demonstrated, but he starts to talk about them) before Steve settles on the simple, round shield.
- Made of Vibranium, however.
- Also doubles as a hidden test of character. The seemingly humble, defensive vibranium shield was the only one capable of absorbing HYDRA's disintegration weaponry. Without it, Cap would have died a hundred times over.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted in the train sequence. Bucky's Tommy runs out of ammo, he reloads, runs out, switches to his sidearm and that runs out too. Steve tosses him a loaded gun so that he can continue fighting.
- Played completly straight with the HYDRA spy who keeps firing his eight-round gun for five minutes straight but never reloads once.
- And then averted again when the spy tries to shoot Cap after taking a kid hostage, only for the gun to click empty.
- Bragging Theme Tune: "Star-Spangled Man", the song produced for Cap's USO tour, with a healthy dose of Patriotic Fervor added to it.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In-universe, Steve Rogers/Captain America (or at least someone in his "troop") in the USO's propaganda films ended up looking directly at the camera, forcing the director to issue a retake.
Director: CUT! Don't look at the camera!
- Break the Fake: Schmidt smashes the fake Tesseract before finding the real one.
- Brick Joke: Howard Stark comments that Captain American's body armor can stop a knife but doesn't expect any HYDRA agents to attack him with a pocketknife. Such an attack occurs aboard the Red Skull's flying hangar.
- Brooklyn Rage: Averted. Steve may be from Brooklyn but he doesn't have much of a temper.
- Brought To You By The Letter A: Steve's costume, both before and after Becoming the Mask.
- Butt Monkey:
- Steve, before he gets the Super Serum and becomes Captain America. Even after he gets the Super Serum, he's still put-upon until he finally proves himself in battle.
- He expresses his chagrin at being stuck as a USO dandy by sketching a circus monkey wearing his costume.
- This doubles as a subtle Continuity Nod to the comics, where Steve Rogers was a comic book artist.
- Call Back: An easy-to-miss one - Steve is having "trouble sleeping" the night before the procedure, and at the beginning of The Stinger.
- Call Forward:
- In Arnim Zola's first appearance, we can only see his face through a small magnifying glass. This hints at his eventual appearance in the comics, where he survives into the present day in a cyborg body that's mostly just a giant TV screen with his face on it.
- The iconic shield is foreshadowed twice. First, when Steve picks up a trashcan lid to defend himself from a bully. Later, when he rips off the door of a taxicab to defend himself from a Nazi assassin (the door reads "Lucky Star Cabs", and it has a big star on it).
- The shield's classic design is called forward at the end of the USO stage tour montage, as we see the background behind Steve and the performers with a familiar red-white-red-blue pattern.
- The first one was then called back to when a kid uses a decorated trashcan lid as his shield in a game.
- The Cameo: Stan Lee's cameo is of a general, highly decorated, and waiting for Captain America to show up. When the politician aide appears.
Stan Lee (To a friend): "I thought, he'd be taller."
- Canon Foreigner: Senator Brandt and Pvt. Lorraine.
- The Cape (trope): One of the very few earnest and well-executed examples in recent superhero movies.
- Car Fu: Used twice. First, the HYDRA assassin attempts to use his stolen cab to run over Peggy Carter, but Steve saves her with a heroic dive. Later, Steve himself rides a motorcycle up to HYDRA's main base and "knocks on the front door" with it, leaping off to blow up the main entrance.
- Captain Patriotic: Subverted, as the whole gimmick of Captain America was created by the government as a wartime propaganda device, and Steve has a more complex motivation than patriotism alone.
- Casual Danger Dialogue:
- The final conversation over the radio between Steve and Peggy was them making plans to go dancing, even when they both know that Steve won't make it.
- An earlier scene has Dugan talking to Jones about when he learned German while they're in the middle of escaping the HYDRA base (AND participating in a prisoner revolt in the same base, at that).
- Steve and a delirious Bucky's chat also qualifies.
- Catastrophic Countdown: The Italian HYDRA base briefly explodes before stopping and then resuming the self-destruct explosions. Justified in this case, as the reason for the delayed explosions was because Zola interrupted Red Skull's arming the self-destruction devices when expressing shock that he's blowing up the base before pointing to a video monitor and telling Zola that their forces are outmatched before resuming the arming of the self-destruction devices.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Kind of: Hugo Weaving explained in a press release that he based Red Skull's accent on that of Werner Herzog and Klaus Maria Brandauer.
- Chaste Hero: Steve Rogers, even after becoming Captain America (see A Man Is Not a Virgin below).
- Cheap Costume: Rogers is initially put into USO shows to boost morale and war bonds, wearing a costume that is more reminiscent of the spandex/tights of earlier live action versions of the character. He generally looks ridiculous, but both the look of the costume and the shield he was given serves as the inspiration for his official "hero" costume.
- Chekhov's Skill: Prior to his transformation, Steve mentions that he grew up in the area of Brooklyn in which the experiment will take place, and knows the streets well. Shortly afterwards, when he has become Captain America, he uses this knowledge to take shortcuts that let him catch up to and intercept Kruger's getaway taxi.
- Chick Magnet: Howard Stark is the more straightforward "ladies man" example, as shown in his first appearance. Post-procedure Steve is a more subtle version; the combination of his stage celebrity, beefcake physique, courageous spirit, and all around Nice Guy attitude attract Peggy, a foxy secretary, and a doe-eyed starstruck blond.
- Bucky was also one back in New York.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Howard Stark may be a playboy inventor, but when it comes to working within the SSR, he takes his job very seriously, and is not going to spend his time chasing girls, as he later explains to Steve Rogers about what he actually meant by "Fondue." (Essentially he was requesting that he and Peggy go out and eat.)
- Clarke's Third Law: Brought up by the Red Skull when a Nazi agent calls his technology magic.
- Close on Title: The words, "Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present a Marvel Studios Production, a film by Joe Johnston: Captain America: The First Avenger" do not appear until during the end credits.
- Coconut Effect: The vibranium shield, when it's hit, thrown, or touched, or moved around slightly for display, makes a sound like a cymbal or gong being swept.
- Which is especially odd, considering that Vibranium is supposed to absorb and neutralize all vibrations. Sound is vibration, so no matter how hard you hit the shield, it shouldn't react by producing sound waves.
- Colonel Badass: Philips. More like Colonel Jerkass, but hey, he's played by Tommy Lee Jones. And when he goes into combat, he shows that he's very much a Badass: He joins the fray in the final fight and coins the response to HYDRA agents' "cut off one head, two more will take its place" evil creed.
Colonel Phillips: Let's go find two more!
- Combat Pragmatist: Cap's shield has important symbolic value, as it establishes that his goal is to be a defender, not an aggressor. But he still packs a gun because, you know, there's a war going on out there...
- Notably, however, he only uses his gun a few times, in montage sequences, before he starts relying almost exclusively on his shield (and a knife, once).
- He also has no problem with throwing enemies out open bomb bay doors or into spinning rotor blades.
- Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: The Red Skull is the most prominent example. He is only called that once, as an insult. The rest of the movie refers to him by his full name, Johann Schmidt.
- Technically, Montgomery Falsworth is based on the character of Union Jack from the comics, but he isn't a costumed hero in this story.
- Steve is an iffy case. He assumes the name for a USO stage show and uses it the most while on tour. During the rescue operation, Steve introduces himself to the POWs as Captain America, and the Red Skull calls him Captain America without any qualms. The rest of the time, he's called by his real name. However, unlike in the original comics, "Captain" is Steve's official rank in this film, lacking his secret identity as "Private Steven Rogers". Since "Captain" is both his superhero title and his official rank, it's hard to tell when people are using "Captain" or "Cap" in reference to "Captain America" or "Captain Rogers".
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: When Cap keeps Peggy from getting run over. He apologizes.
- Complexity Addiction: Averted by the Red Skull who plans to just shoot Captain America in the head; until the Big Damn Heroes moment mentioned previously.
- Composite Character: Agent Carter combines elements of Peggy Carter (Action Girl-ness and the name and relationship to Sharon Carter) with Lt. Cynthia Glass from the Sentinel of Liberty Miniseries (who had the same look and was also Philips' aide).
- Dr. Erskine combines elements of Erskine with the original incarnation of Chester Philips.
- Col. Philips oddly has elements of the mainstream version of Nick Fury.
- Composite Group: The film version of the Howling Commandos is a hybrid of the Invaders and the comic book version of the Howling Commandos. In the comics, the Howling Commandos were a special forces squad while the Invaders were costumed superheroes. The movie Howling Commandos are soldiers pulled from various elite groups, have no powers (except for Cap) and wear military gear. They include two Invaders (Cap and Bucky), two comics Howling Commandos (Gabe and Dugan), two characters that were allied with the Howling Commandos and one that was allied with the Invaders, who also has has become similar to one of the original Howling Commandos.
- Continuity Nod: The Norwegian town of Tønsberg, in the Red Skull's first scene is the same one seen early on in Thor, some centuries earlier - which neatly explains how the Tesseract got there.
- Cool Bike: HYDRA troops have retro-futuristic ones, while Cap's souped-up Army Indian is a bit more old school.
- Cool Boat: The HYDRA assassin's mini-sub was pretty cool. Too bad Steve had to wreck it to get to him.
- Cool Car: Gaze upon the HYDRAmobile, and despair! And notice the look of glee on Zola's face when the Skull lets him drive.
Red Skull: (drops the keys in Zola's hand) Not a scratch, Doctor. Not a scratch.
- The Real Life car built for the film has the size of a bus, the weight of a truck, is just as maneuverable as a 18-wheeler truck - and (apart from the one time with Zola) the Skull always drives it himself. It's never shown to be driven by a chauffeur.
- Cool Guns
- Par for the course, Schmidt uses a Luger, which he later upgrades to be tesseract powered.
- The Howling Commandos use Thompsons and M911s.
- Falsworth and his Sten.
- Cool Helmet: Arguably, Cap's blue combat helmet with the signature "A" on it.
- Cool Plane: The rocket-powered helicopter and the giant flying wing, both designed by HYDRA.
- Note that both were real designs from the period -- the Triebflugel and the Horten X.XVIII. Its also hinted that the tesseract/Cosmic Cube was the only reason why they even made it out of development instead of scrapped in real life.
- Also, The Red Skull's Flying Wing aircraft seems to have been inspired by the never-built, but still impressive, Amerikabomber
- The mini-aircrafts (or rather piloted bombs) on board of Red Skull's bomber in pusher configuration bear striking resemblance to American Northrop XP-56 Black Bullett with some elements of Germans Henschel Hs P.75 design.
- Howard's Stark plane was pretty impressive for a private civilian aircraft flying through enemy territory.
- Creative Closing Credits: The end credits incorporate 3D-ified versions of famous WW 2 posters like Uncle Sam and Rosie The Riveter.
- Creator Cameo: Par for the course, Stan Lee, who shows up as a general at a medal ceremony. While he was not Cap's creator, he was responsible for reviving the character and bringing him into the Avengers (while teamed up with Jack Kirby, who was).
- This marks Lee's first cameo in a Marvel film about a character he did not himself create.
- Cue Card: Cap uses them during his first USO show. At first they are taped to the back of the shield. As time goes on, he becomes a better speaker and he dispenses with them.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Pre-serum Steve gets curbstomped by bullies on a regular basis, and the Allied army's first major engagement with HYDRA ends up this way as well. Suffice to stay, once Steve becomes Captain America, he starts curbstomping HYDRA.
- Custom Uniform: No two Howling Commandos wear the same uniform.
- Cutting the Knot: The drill sergeant entices the Super Soldier prospectives with a ride for the rest of the jog next to Ms. Carter in a nearby jeep if they can take a flag down from the top of a flagpole (which no one has ever accomplished). All the knuckleheads clamber up and slip down the pole. As the sarge tells them to get back to jogging, Steve simply pulls the pins out of the flagpole's base mount, and topples the flagpole.
- Cyanide Pill: HYDRA agents have a false tooth filled with cyanide so they can't be taken alive. So, to review, great dental plan, lousy retirement package.
- Funny enough, the comic canon states that only AIM has dental.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Schmidt has been following Steve's propaganda films, so the second he sees Steve is in his base, he sets the self-destruct. Just in case.
- Dare to Be Badass: After completing a failed USO performance in front of soldiers, Steve is confronted by Peggy, who offers him this advice:
Peggy: You know you were meant for much more than this...
- This is also how Steve takes the Colonel's derisive dismissal after calling him a chorus girl.
Colonel: If I read the posters correctly, you have somewhere to be in thirty minutes.
- Darkest Hour: Rogers just got booed off stage by the soldiers of 107th who can't stand his cheesy propaganda show and he is left sitting alone, drawing himself in the rain as a trained monkey doing that stupid show.
- Notably, this is after he was starting to feel pretty good about himself. Sure, selling war bonds isn't exactly how he imagined helping the war effort, but at least he was doing something, and a lot of kids idolized him for it. When he gets faced with the harsh reality of war on the Italian front (one of the biggest quagmires of the second World War), he's completely unprepared for it.
- Dead Sidekick: Though the term "sidekick" wasn't explicitly used, and it wasn't made an official designation, the dynamic with Steve was pretty much the same. Yes, I mean Bucky Barnes. Yes he "dies". Yes they Never Found the Body. Yes this is pretty much a case of It Was His Sled.
- Deadly Euphemism:
Johann Schmidt: (Glaring at the three Nazi officers shortly after one of them calls him "Red Skull") Gentlemen, you wanted to see the weapons I'm working on that will turn war in our favor? Allow me to show you.
- Deadly Fireworks Display: Red Skull attempts to use the Tesseract/Cosmic Cube in his plane after Captain America smashes the device. Predictably, his attempt to use it results in him being disintegrated into a blinding flash of light. Or was he?
- Deadpan Snarker: Colonel Philips, especially at Rogers' expense. Bucky has his moments, too.
- Howard Stark too
- Determinator: "You just don't give up, do you?" "I can do this all day."
- Call Back here too. The first time is a man who is beating up Steve because he was told to be quiet in a movie theater (the guy speaks and Steve replies). The second time is just as the Final Battle between Red Skull and Captain America begins (Skull speaks and Cap replies).
- Also, when Erskine and Peggy hear Steve screaming in agony while being bathed in Vita-rays, they demand Stark abort the experiment. Steve tells them not to, that he can take it.
- Digital Head Swap: This was going to be done for the scenes of Steve Rogers before he becomes Cap, sticking Chris Evans' face on a shorter, scrawnier stand-in. The director decided against it, in order to preserve Evans' unique body language. Instead, Evans was digitally shrunk down.
- Dieselpunk: In spades. Most obvious at the Future Expo, which includes (among other things) a 1940s car fashioned into a hovercraft.
- The Red Skull's car is a 1938 design blown to gargantuan proportions, incorporating the front half from a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K, the rear two-axle section of a Mercedes-Benz G4, the utilitarian toolboxes of a WWII Kubelwagen (light German jeep) and a frontal supercharger from a Bentley Blower (while most top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz models ran similar superchargers, those were side-mounted and inside the engine bay). In-universe, it's supposed to run a V-16 aircraft engine for which the blower is too small.
- Diner Brawl: A pre-serum Steve points out a diner in which he was beaten up.
- Disintegrator Ray: HYDRA's energy weapons work this way--which conveniently give us a lot of Bloodless Carnage. Not that there aren't a lot of other, messier deaths in the film. Captain America's indestructible shield is the only known thing that can completely ignore a shot from the ray guns.
- Disney Villain Death: Several HYDRA Mooks during the Final Battle.
- Also, Bucky gets a heroic variant of this when he apparently falls off the train to his death--possibly to leave open the possibility of him returning in a future film as the Winter Soldier.
- Worth noting because, unlike the other prisoners who were being used for forced labor, Bucky was possibly being experimented on by Zola...
- Also, Bucky gets a heroic variant of this when he apparently falls off the train to his death--possibly to leave open the possibility of him returning in a future film as the Winter Soldier.
- Distracted by the Sexy: After Steve's conversion the Hospital Hottie has to get him a new shirt, but simply stares at his chest without handing it over. Eventually Peggy (who'd been doing the same thing) grabs the shirt off her and hands it to Steve.
- The Dog Bites Back: The POWs escape their jails with a vengeance.
Dugan: You know, Fritz, one of these days I'm going to have a stick of my own.
- Double Entendre: Fondue. At least Steve thinks it's one. Though considering this was a Stark talking to a woman...
- Dragon-in-Chief: Johann Schmidt was originally a loyal member of Hitler's inner circle, until his face melted off and he no longer fit The Fuhrer's "Aryan Ideal". At which point he was apparently banished to the Alps to lead the HYDRA science division. Eventually Schmidt decided to turn HYDRA against the Nazis and take over the world himself.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Peggy Carter dabbles in it. There is also an actual drill sergeant in the training scenes.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Steve after Bucky dies on duty, except he can't get drunk.
- During the War: World War II to be exact.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Chris Evans got ripped for the role and dyed his hair golden blonde (his real hair color is quite a bit darker).
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Boy, does the Red Skull go out with a bang!
- Though whether or not he actually died is a matter of debate.
- Eagle Land: Invoked (Type 1-style) with the Captain America character cooked up for the USO shows in-universe but subverted by the movie itself (it doesn't gush about Captain America's role as the ultimate patriot, instead just letting him be a genuine superhero who fights a terrible evil).
- Something of an opposite effect was averted as well. When the show went into the international market, countries were given the option of simply calling it The First Avenger. Despite America's less than stellar reputation in the world right now, most kept the Captain America in the title, with only the Ukraine, Russia, and South Korea deciding not to.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Sharon Carter
- Eating the Eye Candy: Peggy had the sudden urge to touch Steve's abs after his transformation. For bonus points, that wasn't scripted.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Technically an "elaborate ground level base hidden behind a bunch of old stores".
- HYDRA also has a couple of "elaborate bases right out in the open."
- And the main HYDRA base: It is dug into the Alps mountains and said to be 500 feet underground.
- Elite Mooks: The heavy-weapons HYDRA soldiers.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: Mostly averted. Of Cap's team, only Falsworth is from a special unit (British paras), which isn't even mentioned.
- Environmental Symbolism: The pub where Captain America drinks with the Howling Commandos. After Bucky's death, it is hit with a bomb, but Cap still drinks there in his grief.
- Establishing Character Moment: After Phillips praises Gilmore Hodge as a big, tough, obedient soldier, Erskine condemns him as a bully. Phillips then says Nice Guys Finish Last, and throws a dud grenade to make his point. Steve Rogers not only dives right onto it but cradles it as the rest scatter. Hodge is also the first to scatter.
- Steve gets one on his first appearance, sitting next to another Army volunteer who is reading a newspaper.
"Boy, a lot of guys getting killed over there. Kinda makes you think twice about enlisting, huh?"
- Steve gets one that completely sums up Captain America when Erskine asks him if he wants to kill Nazis.
"I don't want to kill anybody. I don't like bullies, doesn't matter where they're from."
- Also, Peggy Carter's first on-screen appearance. She shows up all brisk and no-nonsense and, when Hodge starts mocking her for being English and makes various crude comments to her, she easily knocks him on his ass.
- And Dum-Dum Dugan's first line:
- First thing Bucky is seen doing is defending Steve from a beating.
- Even Evil Has Standards: One may get the inkling that Dr. Zola becomes increasingly disturbed by Red Skull's megalomania as the movie goes on before his capture.
- It's relatively clear early on that Zola serves Red Skull not out of a sense of loyalty, but out of fear. Especially after Erskine is killed. Colonel Phillips is able to use this to get him to turn on Red Skull after he's captured.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Gabe Jones admits this is why he switched from German to French in college.
- Evil Is Hammy: Hugo Weaving is clearly having a ball playing Red Skull. In all honesty, though, can you really portray Red Skull as anything but a hammy over-the-top megalomaniac?
- Evil Counterpart: Doctor Zola to Howard Stark: both are genius engineers decades ahead of their time designing weapons and equipment for their respective governments (before Zola defected to HYDRA).
- Certainly, the Red Skull is Captain America's evil counterpart.
- Eviler Than Thou: Notably, the Skull takes this Up to Eleven by trying to do this to *HITLER*. And what's worse is that he comes chillingly close.
- Evil Redhead: The Red Skull, literally.
- Exact Words: Howard Stark says in a few years time, cars won't have wheels. After the flying car, shortly after gaining air, crashes down into the ground, he then remarks "I said a few years, didn't I?"
- "You're in a recovery room in New York City." Technically, yes, but she left out one important thing...
- A group of Nazi officers have come to HYDRA HQ to ask Schmidt just where those superweapons they were promised are...
Schmidt: HYDRA is assembling an arsenal to destroy my enemies in one stroke...
- An implied instance of this also occured during the boot camp training. The drill sergeant told the marchers that if one of them managed to get the flag from the flagpole, they'd get a free ride back to base at the midway point. However, he never actually said how they were supposed to get the flag, resulting in Rogers getting a free ride back to base after getting the flag... by unscrewing the bolts of the flagpole and easily getting the flag after the flagpole collapsed to the ground.
- Expecting Someone Taller: During Stan Lee's cameo.
- Also when Steve shows up for the Supersoldier experiment. As soon as they gaze upon him, the entire room falls silent.
- Inverted when Bucky sees Steve for the first time since he shipped out.
"I thought you were dead."
- Expy: If it's possible to be one for your own son. A lot of Howard Stark and Steve's interactions foreshadow the relationship Steve will most likely have with Tony later on, although Howard is further from the cynicism end of the scale than Tony, justified in part by the timeframe.
- Sharon Carter, confirmed to be the woman that greets Cap in the end, is an obvious and invoked expy of Peggy.
- Howard Stark is also an expy for Howard Hughes.
- Col. Philips acts a lot like the silver age version of Nick Fury.
- Face Framed in Shadow: In one scene, Red Skull was obscured in shadow while light is shining from a window behind him. Presumably, this was to hide his true face.
- Faceless Goons: Most HYDRA soldiers have face-covering masks and helmet wear; not quite Gas Mask Mooks but close.
- Fake in the Hole/False Crucible: When pre-enhanced Steve Rogers and his training unit are confronted by an armed (but actually inactive) grenade being thrown by Col. Phillips, he immediately jumps on it while all his comrades run. In doing so, Rogers shows to his commanding officer that long before his body is treated, he has the heart of Captain America!
"He's still skinny."
- Faked Rip Van Winkle: Inverted with SHIELD's failed attempt to make Steve think he's waking up in The Forties at the end.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: The USO attempts to invoke this in regards to Captain America; later subverted when Steve becomes the mask.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: The HYDRA energy weaponry vaporizes its targets cleanly and efficiently. Averted in the sense that regular guns and bullets are just as prominent and the movie makes no effort to cut on the gritty scenes, such as...
- Family-Unfriendly Death: We get a rather graphic (and gory) shot of a HYDRA mook getting thrown into a airplane propeller. At least, it goes fast enough not to show any organs - just a gigantic spray of blood. Still very unsettling though.
- The film establishes very early on that it's not going to be 100% family friendly though. The first death shown is quite graphic.
- Fatal Family Photo: Played with and likely inverted. Steve has a photo of Peggy in his compass and it's the last thing he looks at before Red Skull's plane crashes. Steve wakes up seventy years in the future perfectly all right... but Peggy is probably long gone by then.
- Faux Affably Evil: Okay, so Zola may be an evil Nazi scientist who designs killer laser guns, but let's face it, he's lovable. He's Toby Jones!
- The Fettered: Steve. His uncompromising devotion to his principles is exactly why Dr. Erskine picked him.
- Fighting Irish: Dum-Dum Dugan. Somewhat averted with Steve, who although Irish-American (in the comics and presumably here too), isn't that big on fighting (which isn't to say he'll ever back down from one or have one if necessary).
- Final Boss Preview: In the first fight between Steve and the Red Skull, he manages to knock down Steve and dent Steve's steel shield with nothing but his fist.
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: We see Steve waking up to some serious culture shock in 2011 at the end of the film. SHIELD tries to ease Cap into the 21st century at first, but he sees right through the ruse almost immediately when he recognizes the baseball game on the radio as one he'd been to.
- Flirting Under Fire: Employed dramatically when Steve and Peggy share a kiss in the hangar while trying to catch the Red Skull's plane, and again when they talk about going dancing while Cap attempts to safely crash-land the plane in the Atlantic.
- Foot Focus: Purposely averted. Right after Steve was given the serum, he chased a HYDRA spy across Brooklyn in his bare feet, but Chris Evans was wearing these flesh-colored rubber... things, to keep from hurting his feet on the rugged pavement. They looked weird in close-up stills.
- Four-Star Badass: Even prior to becoming a super-soldier, Schmidt was a General in the SS.
- Foregone Conclusion: If you didn't know that Cap gets frozen for decades before waking up in the present day, you probably will after the first five minutes. Of course, the story isn't necessarily how, but rather why.
- Foreshadowing: When the Red Skull acquires the cube, the old monk warns him that if he tries to use the Cube's power "It will burn him". In the climax, when the Skull tries to use the cube himself, he is seemingly disintegrated by it.
- In the same scene, a group of Nazis are scrambling to get the lid off a tomb to no avail. Moments later, Schmidt walks over and effortlessly shoves the lid off all by himself. This clues in the audience that he's taken the Super Soldier Serum himself. You can even see the seam of his mask if you're looking for it.
- HYDRA's motto: Every head that's cut off, two more will take its place.
- Note the drop of blood that covers the skull on Schmidt's HYDRA insignia during his first appearance.
- Not to mention the guy who paints a portrait of Schmidt. He's using mostly red paint...
- A minor one at the beginning: getting beaten up by a bully, Steve uses a round trash-can lid to defend himself.
- A broken taxi cab door when fighting the HYDRA agent right after getting the serum injection.
- When Steve says where they're going, Bucky answers "To the future." And they do.
- The last thing Bucky does before he leave Steve at the expo is salute him affectionately. Next time he sees him, Steve's The Captain.
- The USO scene has one during the New York City performance when we see the background behind Steve and the performers with the red-white-red-blue rings, no doubt evoking the design of Cap's future shield.
- Bucky found strapped to an operating table, hinted at in the Director's Commentary to Bucky getting at least a partial Super Soldier test done to him. Also, he at one point saves Steve by sniping a German.
- For Science!: The main motivation of Zola in regards to working for HYDRA. However, on the other hand, he seemed reluctant to activate the Tesseract machinery at 100% in the beginning of the film (self-preservation trumps science for Zola, and he wasn't at all sure the machinery could withstand full power), and it was also hinted that he was shocked and horrified about using POWs as slave labor.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Schmidt is having his portrait drawn, you can see Schmidt's mug in all its gory glory for a fraction of a second after he's switched off the lights.
- Friendly Sniper: James "Bucky" Barnes.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Steve Rogers became this to the Nazis. See Humble Hero example.
- Futureshadowing: The Incredible Hulk featured the ramifications of the super soldier project. The Hulk is the result of Bruce Banner's attempt to improve on it, while Emil Blonsky is injected with another attempt credited to Dr. Reinstein.
- Generation Xerox: Howard Stark is a Large Ham, a Casanova, and an ahead of his time genius. Apparently, these were all genetic traits.
- A subtle example with Steve and his father. Both were soldiers who served in a World War and never came home to their lovers.
- Also worthy of note, Howard Stark similarly mentions to Steve that he considers himself more of a workaholic and his work takes priority over being the Casanova, has people in his lab working on a motorbike and attempts to ignore the Vibranium shield completely.
- Gentle Giant: Mr Rogers, post procedure.
- Ghostapo: While HYDRA is primarily a Stupid Jetpack Hitler organisation, they take a lot of their inspiration from Norse mythology and use ancient Nordic artifacts in their weapons. Except the Marvel cinematic universe seems, so far, to firmly establish Asgardian "magic" as merely sufficiently advanced technology which can be understood with advanced scientific knowledge.
- There are references to Hitler being interested in magic artifacts as well; Red Skull says it's one of the things they have in common, though their intended use of such objects are different, Hitler for inspiration and Red Skull for direct harnessing.
- Gilded Cage: Red Skull believed that his position as head of the Nazi science division is this. He felt that Hitler was hiding him in the remote base in the Alps because his appearance prevented him from representing the Aryan ideal. Because of this point of view, he swore to mold HYDRA into a force of terror beyond even that of the Third Reich. And he almost succeeded.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: They're a part of the USO stage show that Steve's put in.
- A God Am I: The Red Skull's attitude after taking Erskine's serum and having perfected technology using the Cosmic Cube.
- The Good Captain: Unlike the traditional comic book version, Steve Rogers is a commissioned US Army Captain.
- Good-Looking Privates: If you weren't bisexual before, you are now.
- Army Division Of Fiction: The Strategic Scientific Reserve. Implied to be the OSS to SHIELD's CIA.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Peggy reacts negatively when she walks in on a blonde secretary seducing Steve. Steve also gets the wrong idea when he thinks Peggy and Howard Stark are "fonduing."
- Gross Up Close-Up: "YOU ARE FAILING!!!"
- Guns Akimbo: Done by a HYDRA mook on a couple of occasions. But with flamethrowers!
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: The first scene between Dr. Zola and Schmidt.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Due to his multiple health issues, Steve would never have been able to sprint several miles, run down a car on foot, fight a guy, then out-swim a submarine and capture him. This is the first thing he does after getting the Super Serum.
- He still had to pass through military training too harsh for his scrawny body before taking the serum.
- He Knows Too Much: Col Phillips warns a captured Zola that Schmidt will see him this way.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Not about any of the super powers in the film, but about the way Steve's lack of strength gave him the character to make him the right man for the project:
Dr. Erskine: A strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.
- Heel Face Turn: Dr. Zola, sort of.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Johann Schmidt in spades. Even his shirt appears to be made of fine leather.
- All HYDRA troopers wear uniforms and masks that look as if they were made of leather.
- Hello, Nurse!: Peggy Carter. Red dress.
- Heroic Build: Steve Rogers post-transformation.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Cap himself pulls this at the climax of the movie, setting up the opening scene and the impetus for his presence in the future.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Steve and Bucky, who in this universe were best friends even before entering the army.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Red Skull abuses the powers of the Tesseract throughout the movie and ultimately ends up getting... somethinged by it. He was even warned about it beforehand.
- There's also the POWs fighting HYDRA with their own captured weaponry.
- Hollywood Tactics: The American troops just kind of run at the fortified HYDRA base in a big crowd, in keeping with the pulp aesthetics of the film. Of course, they take terrible losses, but they get there, thanks to Cap softening HYDRA up beforehand.
- Homage: to the opening scene of A Matter of Life and Death.
- Oddly enough, Peggy herself strongly resembles the female character, June, from the scene in A Matter of Life and Death
- Honor Before Reason: Steve will not abandon 400 men (amongst them his best-friend Bucky) to torture and death, even if he must skydive into a barrage of cannon-fire to save them all by himself. This selfless decency is yet another quality for which the Good Doctor Erskine selected him to become the ultimate warrior.
- Hood Hopping: Captain America does this to catch a HYDRA spy.
- Hot Chick in a Badass Suit: Agent Carter, who wears her dress uniform at all times in the field, even more than she wears it on base.
- Howard Stark Is Useless: Averted hard, when put into prospective with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: when he first appears he shows us the prototype of Iron Man's repulsor technology, last we see it he has just got his hands on the Tesseract that he's implied to have tried to reverse-engineer, creating the first ARC Reactor in the process and failing only because he was limited by the technology of his time (Tony would later succeed using his data, as the technology had advanced enough to allow him to do the impossible), and Hydra used power armors that looks like unprotected versions of Tony's Iron Man Mk I armor.
- Also, Captain America is implied to have wrecked Peenemunde, cutting short the developement and production of the V-2 flying bombs, and an important Nazi munition facility (see Shown Their Work for more detail).
- How Dare You Die on Me!: Peggy warns Steve that he "better not be late" for their first dance. He promises to be there, but unfortunately, it was not to be.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Invoked when Steve, fresh out of the procedure, goes after the HYDRA spy. Unused to his brand new high-performance body, he winds up bashing into a couple of windows.
- How We Got Here: The whole film basically.
- Human Popsicle: Captain America is implied to be frozen in the block of ice containing his shield in the beginning of the film; one of the characters says that he was "in a coma", and it's not outright stated he was frozen, however, the time gap usually associated with the trope is intact. The Avengers makes this explicitly clear and shows a brief flashback of Rogers lying, suit and all, in a half-thawed block of ice with a group of scientists standing around him.
- Humble Hero:
Captain America: I'm just a kid from Brooklyn.
- I Can't Dance: Part of what makes Cap so Adorkable.
- It also forms the basis for the plot involving Steve & Peggy's budding relationship, where the plans the two make for a "dance" acts as a metaphor for their growing closeness.
- Identical Grandson: Deliberately invoked in the case of Howard Stark. Aside from being a little younger and having different facial hair, he looks exactly like his son Tony.
- Somewhat Justified as a case of Uncanny Family Resemblance.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: During the prison revolt at one of the HYDRA bases, one of the soldiers, when picking up one of HYDRA's weapons, becomes a bit careless as to how one is supposed to operate it. It's even lampshaded. Thankfully, he misses.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Schimdt sees himself as the next step in human evolution. That's why he's so pissed at Rogers. He thinks they're the same, but the captain believes he's just a regular guy.
- Cap picks up on this little weakness and twists the knife:
Schmidt: [Erskine] resented my genius and tried to deny me what was rightfully mine, but he gave you everything. So... what made you so special?
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Averted. Because of Steve's superhuman metabolism, it's exceedingly difficult for him to get drunk.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Zola's response to Red Skull, when he asks him why he can't defend HYDRA's facilities from Captain America's raids. "I'm a scientist, not a soldier!"
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: "Look, it's Captain America! Everyone, aim directly for his shield!"
- May be justified by Cap's superhuman reflexes. HYDRA troopers prove quite capable of killing regular soldiers.
- Further justified when you consider that his shield is pretty much a bullseye that would attract the eye, and would certainly distract enemy soldiers in combat situations.
- Without his shield they don't even seem to bother aiming at him, such as when nobody shoots him at close range after he charges into the middle of a pack of HYDRA troopers and starts throwing his shield instead of using it defensively.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: Captain America's Mighty Shield.
Howard Stark: I understand you're somewhat attached... (Gestures to Cap's scuffed and dented prop shield)
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Peggy makes some improbable shots with a handgun. Also, Steve and his shield, true to comic form.
- Dugan, Jones and Falsworth gun down several HYDRA troopers without hitting Cap who is standing right in the middle of them. Particularly Egregious as Jones is using a machine gun freehand and Dugan is using a shotgun, weapons that even at short range, aren't made for pin-point accuracy.
- Improvised Weapon: While chasing down a HYDRA spy, Steve uses a car door as a shield. This serves as the inspiration for giving him a shield in the first place, though they didn't expect him to actually use it as a weapon.
- And before that, the skinny pre-serum Steve picks up a trash can lid and tries to use it as a shield during a back alley brawl.
- Improvised Zipline: How Steve, Bucky and Jones board Zola's train.
- Incoming Ham:
Schmidt: "CAPTAIN AMERICA! How EXCITING!!!"
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Like the comics character, one of the reasons Steve was chosen was because he had this, and the serum would emphasize it. With a character like Schmidt, however, it emphasizes the negative traits.
- Informed Ability: The vibranium shield "completely absorbs all vibrations." See the note for Coconut Effect above. A review points out that this should also make it unable to ricochet off solid objects. On the other hand, if they meant to say that it perfectly reflects all vibrations, these attributes might actually make sense.
- Given what happened when Thor slammed the shield in The Avengers, there's a definite 'reflects vibrations' going on there.
- Then again, Peggy launches a few bullets at him right after he picks up the shield for the first time, and the bullets just hit the shield and drop at his feet rather than riccochet with equivalent force. So that would seem to argue on the side of vibration absorption. Clearly, the shield is a Vibranium/Phlebotinum alloy of sorts.
- Unless it sheds the vibrations from the edge, which is why he so often tags people and objects with the rim of the shield to massive effect.
- Insert Grenade Here: Turned Up to Eleven in every way possible. Cap drops a bandoleer of explosives into a three story-high tank.
- In Medias Res: The opening scene takes place in the modern day, hinting towards what is going to happen in the movie and where they are going to end up.
- I Thought It Meant: Steve thought "fondue" was a euphemism for sex.
- Is It Something You Eat?: Yes, Steve. Yes it is.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Surprisingly averted. Philips cracks Dr. Zola like a quail egg with a few soft words and a Batman Gambit.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Col. Philips makes it clear in no uncertain terms that he feels Rogers would be nothing but a hindrance to the cause, and even feels that way to an extent once he undergoes the transformation.
- Once Rogers succeeds in rescuing 400 allied soldiers from a POW camp against his orders, he gains his respect.
- Jumped At the Call: Steve even before learning of Erskine's experiment. He is thrilled at the idea of finally being able to serve his country. His friends too certainly weren't hesitant about putting themselves in danger just after escaping it, even relishing the idea.
- Jumping on a Grenade: Pre-Captain America Steve does so in boot camp with an (unknown-to-the-troops) dummy grenade.
- Keystone Army: Set up to be played straight but ultimately averted. While all HYDRA technology is reliant on the Tesseract and cannot operate without it (it's up to debate whether the secondary power sources empowered by the Tesseract need to be recharged periodically by it or are linked to it via some sort of wireless energy transfer), this doesn't actually come into play at all and HYDRA is defeated by methodical base-by-base warfare.
- Killed Mid-Sentence:
HYDRA mook: CUT OFF ONE HEAD, TWO MORE--
- Also Cap, from the perspective of Peggy and Col. Philips. In reality, it's more like "the radio died mid-sentence before Steve freezes over".
- Kink Meme: Cap Kink. Takes both movie- and comics-related prompts.
- Know When to Fold'Em: Red Skull's reason for setting the Italian HYDRA facility to self-destruct.
- Lady in Red: Peggy shows up at the pub in a red dress that shows off her superhuman physique.
- Large Ham: Tommy Lee Jones as US Army Colonel Chester Philips. But especially Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull.
- Latex Perfection: The Skull's flesh mask resembling his original face. Except for those creepy flaps behind his face. Brrr...
- Last-Name Basis: Falsworth with Rogers, and possibly the others as well. Could count as Nice to the Waiter since, as their commander and superior officer, he should be addressed as 'Sir'. Of course, Rogers may be in command, but he's still a soldier, just like the rest of the Howling Commandos, so this makes perfect sense given his personality.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Averted, since Captain America did succeed in rescuing those 400 troops from HYDRA, alone, despite Col. Phillips' orders to back off.
- And Subverted. Steve runs at HYDRA's front door and is captured. As it turns out, it's a diversion for the rest of Howling Commandos to get into position.
- Let Me Get This Straight...: Almost said line for line by Timothy Dugan, when Steve is recruiting the Howling Commandos. Effectively, Steve is asking freshly-liberated POWs to march right back into Hell with him. They all accept.
- Literal Ass-Kicking: Bucky pulls a bully off Steve, punches him, and then sends him packing with a kick to the tuchas.
- MacGuffin: The Tesseract/Cosmic Cube, introduced briefly in Thor, and seen (as a sketch) in Howard Stark's notebook during Iron Man 2. Doesn't actually do much here except power everyone's laser guns and super vehicles and such. Will have a more important role in the Avengers film now that Loki has it.
- It might also have done something a bit more exotic than "simple" disintegration to Johann Schmidt.
- Made of Explodium: A HYDRA tank explodes with one shot to the undercarriage. Kind of an awkward weak point for a vehicle that big...
- Truth in Television though. Many army vehicles are notorious for having weak undersides to the point where troops are known to weld scrap metal to the bottom of their transports in case of driving over a mine/bomb. Even the modern-day M1 Abrams main battle tank has very little armor underneath.
- Made of Iron: Special mention must be made of Heinz Kruger, the Nazi spy who gets shot a couple of times and still outruns anyone that isn't post-procedure Steve.
- Mad Scientist: Howard Stark has a touch of this, especially when investigating the strange weapons the Red Skull was developing. Arnim Zola of course is a more straightforward example.
- Schmidt himself is a scientist in this continuity, and is by far the craziest one out there.
- Magitek: Something like it, anyway. HYDRA's machines are powered by energy from the Tesseract, an artifact whose power may as well be magical. Schmidt claims that it's just Sufficiently Advanced Technology, but even he doesn't really know everything about how it works.
- Magnetic Hero: Steve saves 400 men from being withering away in a work camp and selects five of them for his special crack commando team.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted hard. Pre-Transformation Steve Rogers is terribly intimidated by women (owing to his small stature), even afraid to ask girls to dance with him. His apprehension remains after receiving the Super Soldier serum, even when women throw themselves at him. His brief macking with the secretary may very well be his first kiss.
- Manly Tears: Steve had obviously been crying before Peggy found him drinking alone.
- Marquee Alter Ego: Steve Rogers spends a lot of time not wearing the half-mask hood—sometimes as himself, and other times with it simply pushed back. At one point he wears a helmet instead.
- The Red Skull spends about half the movie wearing Hugo Weaving's face before he finally dramatically peels it off.
- Meaningful Background Event: When Captain Rogers is on the radio with Peggy at the end, he tells her that there's no way to safely land the warplane. Colonel Philips immediately leaves the room and instructs Jim Morita to do the same, leaving Peggy time to talk to her love alone. He knows what's coming.
- Meaningful Echo:
"I had him on the ropes."
- "You're late." Peggy at Cap and later Cap at Peggy.
- "I could do this all day."
- "Is this a test?"
- "It was his choice/This is my choice."
- "Waiting for the right partner."
- Megaton Punch: Captain America and Red Skull's first meeting, Captain America punches Red Skull hard enough on the face to damage his human face mask (revealing a bit of his true face under his right eye), and Red Skull retaliates by punching Captain America's steel shield, denting it in the process.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard/Death by Origin Story: Dr. Erskine.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Averted, even after he gets super-serumed Steve still acts dorky, and as Peggy notes, still has no idea how to talk to women. In fact, this was actually why Erskine picked Steve, and he tells him as much.
- To some degree inverted; it is implied that Schmidt developed his... unusual features in response to the serum because he was an evil man at heart. Cap however is noble, so he undergoes no such transformation.
- Mood Whiplash: Quite a few. Most notably the cut between Steve and the USO showgirls performing in the US and his first impression with soldiers on the front line. Needless to say, they were not amused. And then there's the Bittersweet Ending cutting to a rather happy and uplifting ending credits.
- Mooning: Done by one of the soldiers stationed in Italy when his performance for them at the USO went sour (they liked the dancing girls more than Captain America himself). It's off screen, but the fact that he turns around and says something insulting and bends down before panning back to Cpt. Rogers makes the fact unmistakable.
- Montage: Ones of the supporting cast around VE-Day when Steve is 'dead' and one of the USO bond tour. We also get:
- Motivational Kiss: Steve receives a kiss from Peggy just before he boards the Red Skull's plane.
- Mr. Fanservice: Where to start..
- Ms. Fanservice: Three words: Peggy in red.
- On an unrelated tangent, the USO singers during the tour montage are quite the lookers themselves and are examples in-universe. Riff Trax creatively rewrites the lyrics of their song as, "Legs, all the leggy leggy legs! Legs, lots of legs, win the war with the leeeegs."
- We even see the soldiers in Italy demanding that the USO "bring back the girls" to the stage, after Steve's performance goes south.
- Mundane Utility: The Cosmic Cube has the ability to warp the very fabric of reality itself, and the Red Skull decides to use it as a glorified battery. It seems he either didn't understand its capabilities or just figured that laser guns were good enough.
- He knew it could do a lot, but even with the most advanced technology of their time, that was all they could get it to do.
- Muscle Angst: Steve before he gets upgraded.
- Musical Nod: As promised, we hear "Make Way For Tomorrow Today" in this film as a theme for the World's Fair, just as it was a theme for the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2.
- My Eyes Are Up Here: Though Peggy doesn't notice it, Bucky's eyes wander when she shows up in that red dress. Steve himself is not above flicking his eyes briefly downward.
- Mythology Gag:
- Col. Philips refers to Steve in a telegram as Steven G. Rogers, a reference to a storyline where he had fake memory implants of him being a middle class guy from Maryland named Steven Grant Rogers.
- Montgomery Falsworth's appearance (at least in the scene depicted in the trailer) owes a lot to Howling Commandos Percy Pinkerton, while his name comes from Invaders member Union Jack, who is basically the British Captain America (sans superhuman powers) and thus wore a Union Jack uniform. While the movie Falsworth isn't a superhero and doesn't wear a uniform, he wears a pair of crossed belts over his battle dress to carry grenades, which - when combined with flaps of his battle dress' breast pocket - resembles the bars on the Union Jack.
- Cap's first costume (for the USO show) is basically his comic book costume (except it looks like it was sewn by a blind woman who was drunk on moonshine).
- The original Human Torch appears as a display at the Modern Marvels of Tomorrow exhibition at the Future Expo that Steve and Bucky go to. Made better by Chris Evans's other big superhero role.
- Mr. Stark shows off his latest technology, a shiny red thing that flies, at an expo while being surrounded by dancing girls. Like son, like father.
- Specifically, he's showing off a Flying Car. Nick Fury and other SHIELD agents frequently used flying cars in the comic books.
- Promo art for The Avengers shows a/the Helicarrier in the background, so this may also be a way to foreshadow that.
- Bucky mostly eschews his comic book tights for more sturdy fatigues, however his jacket follows the design of the top of his comic costume. There's also a point in the movie where he picks up Cap's shield, a reference to the fact that he was Captain America for a while in the comics.
- At one point, Steve puts his shield on the front of his motorcycle, much like he did in an earlier made for TV movie in the 70's (yes, even before the 90's movie), as well as the comics.
- During the scene where the soldiers of the 107th escape from the HYDRA base, Dugan can be heard screaming "WA-HOOOOOOOOOOO!", a reference to the battle cry that the comic versions of the Howling Commandos use when going into battle.
- The first we see of Arnim Zola is his face on a television screen. His comic counterpart has a robot body with his face displayed on a screen in his chest. Also, some of the cameras in his lab mimic the design of the "head" his robot body possessed.
- It's also featured a bit later on: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene, when Zola runs into his office in the Austrian factory, a few frames show him grabbing the blueprints for a strangely familiar android with a monitor on its chest.
- There is a scene where children are eagerly buying the original Captain America comic book that depicts Cap famously punching out Hitler. In-universe, the cover is inspired by Cap punching a Hitler impersonator as part of his USO show.
- This was later referenced when, while rescuing the American prisoners in Schmidt's HYDRA base, they ask if he know what's he's doing, and Cap responds, "I've knocked out Hitler over two-hundred times."
- Stan Lee makes his regular cameo appearance, this time as an American general attending one of Cap's award ceremonies.
- Red Skull was the result of the same formula used to make Captain America, just like in the 90s movie.
- The Skull also had the facial disfigurement, although in the comics it was because of an accident involving his "Death Dust" during his fight with Steve Rogers and John Walker; he was also in a body that had been cloned from Rogers, and thus also benefited from the serum.
- Steve is shown sketching in his downtime, and able to reproduce base locations on a map after a brief glance. In the comics, part of his civilian life was drawing for Captain America comics.
- Steve uses makeshift shields several times before getting his real one.
- The prop shield for the Captain America USO shows looks a lot like the one the character used in his earliest appearances.
- The famed "Psyche Hitler" from an earlier film seems to be referenced.
- Steve is given a single shot in the arm which he thinks is the serum but which is actually just penicillin. In the original comic, the serum was just a single shot to the arm as opposed to the dozen plus injections and vita-rays.
- There are a couple of references to the animated Ultimate Avengers film, specifically, a German officer (Skull in TFA, Kleiser in UA) denting Cap's steel shield with a punch and Cap realising just how long he's been asleep once he's outside (that was actually NOT shown in The Ultimates, just Cap escaping from SHIELD.
- A Mythology Is True: Norse Mythology, in fact. The Tesseract comes from Marvel's version of Asgardians, who are Human Aliens with Magitek. Also, considering that this is the same universe as Thor...
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Invoked: HYDRA was blatantly Nazi-like in its imagery. In this case, it's perfectly justified, as they were originally the Nazi's Deep Science division before they went renegade.
- Nerves of Steel: Peggy steadily taking aim at car barreling directly towards her.
- Never Found the Body:
- Cap spent several decades lost and frozen between WWII and his eventual recovery.
- Red Skull. Given how similar his "disintegration" is to travel via the Bifrost, and that the cube was also used for dimensional travel in The Avengers, it's almost certain we haven't seen the last of him.
- Bucky, who fell to his apparent death. Onto ice/water. In almost the exact same conditions as Cap. After being subject to unspecified experimentation by Red Skull and Dr. Zola. (And after his actor reportedly signed a multi-film contract.)
- This is in keeping with how the comic book version was found frozen by Russia and subsequently became The Winter Soldier, and suggests developments for a future Captain America film.
- Never Gets Drunk: Quite literal in Cap's case, due to his accelerated healing factor and increased metabolism. Unfortunately, this means he's unable to drown his sorrows.
- Nice Guy: Steve Rogers is made of this trope. It is, in fact, the entire point of the movie, that he makes a great hero because he was always a great person to begin with.
- Nice Hat: Being in a military setting, there are peaked hats, maroon berets, and even a blue M1 helmet, but they all pale in comparison to Dum Dum Dugan's bowler [dead link]. It gets even better! Later on when he gets promoted he puts chevrons on his bowler.
- Nice to the Waiter: Steve gets up to buy his newly minted squad a round of drinks.
- No Body Left Behind: Anyone caught in any Tesseract/Cosmic Cube-powered weapon's blast is instantly vaporized to the point that no body is left behind, all in a blue mist. Yet, this happens differently for Schmitt. See Never Found the Body.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Subverted. Col. Phillips brings Dr. Zola his dinner, which he fears is drugged. Col. Phillips prods him to eat, and Zola refuses, claiming vegetarianism. Col. Phillips promptly starts eating the difficult-to-obtain steak.
- No Name Given: None of the Howling Commandos get named, except for Cap and Bucky. Even the unit doesn't.
- That's apparently supposed to be Sharon Carter at the end, but the only way you'd know it is if you knew that the actress signed on for the next film.
- No One Gets Left Behind: The Captain's raid to rescue the Allied POWs who are being held by HYDRA.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The super soldier serum. Erskine kept the notes all in his head to protect the secret from abuse.
- The vibranium shield is explicitly stated to be a prototype by Howard Stark, and seeing as he claims they've used all of the element that's ever been found, it's not hard to see why only incomplete copies could be attempted in the intervening years.
- No Swastikas: Due to HYDRA secretly going rogue within the German military regime, swastikas are surprisingly hard to come by.
- Initially Red Skull wears a hat with the (swastika-carrying) Nazi eagle, and the HYDRA insignia below it. The only other time the swastika was ever seen (aside from the propaganda commercial during the beginning) was with the three Nazi officers who come to chew him out and are met with a taste of his weaponry.
- HYDRA still has a vaguely swastika-like flag, and a two-fisted salute and cheesy slogan ("HAIL HYDRA!") which strongly recall Nazi imagery.
- And you can still see the odd swastika if you look carefully whenever Nazi's appear. One example is the Hitler actor from the stage show, who wears the armband, you just don't see it clearly.
- Not So Different: The Red Skull seems to view Cap in this manner, especially considering they're both somewhat a product of the same science.
- Red Skull tries this speech on the Tesseract's Norwegian custodian, who quickly refutes this in a Shut UP, Hannibal manner. The Skull admits they aren't alike, but have similar views on mythology and the occult not really being so mysterious.
- Not What It Looks Like: A female secretary aggressively puts the moves on Steve, and Peggy walks in, assuming that he's become less selective. Steve protests in vain.
- The Obi-Wan: Erskine.
- Officer and a Gentleman: 2nd Lt. Montgomery Falsworth.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The screen cuts out just before Cap's epic leap to safety during his first mission.
- Remember that that scene is in Austria. Steve leads the POWs all the way to Italy through very hostile territory.
- Oh Crap: That beautiful look on Sharon Carter's face when Steve says, "The game. It's from May 1941. I know because I was there."
- During his first face-to-face encounter with Red Skull, when he sees the fist-print impression left in his steel shield after he blocks Skull's punch. Even funnier as just seconds before he demonstrated his strength to the Skull with a punch... which barely made his opponent flinch and tore a bit of his latex mask.
- There's a subtle one at the start of the movie when Steve has just submitted a falsified enlistment form (again). The doctor examining him steps out, and an MP steps in. Fortunately, he's not in trouble.
- Omniglot: Gabe Jones, aside from English, also knew enough German to identify which buttons to pilot a hijacked HYDRA tank (telling Dum-Dum which one to press), and French (he implies that the reason why he switched from German to French was so he could woo girls.).
- One-Man Army: We're talking about CAPTAIN AMERICA here!
- Subverted, however, in that in the two times he's explicitly working alone, he's first on a stealth mission (that ultimately goes loud when he starts a prisoner revolt), and the second time, he's a distraction. In other words, he's really good on his own, but he still has limits, and works with the Howling Commandos as a result.
- One Steve Limit: Averted and subverted. James "Bucky" Barnes, Jim Morita and James Falsworth are members of the same unit. In addition, Jacques is the French form of James, and a fourth member is Jacques Dernier. None of them go by James. Also played straight, as there is in fact only one Steve.
- Origins Movie: The movie served as this to introduce Cap's origins.
- Overranked Soldier: Steve makes the jump from a buck Private to a Captain for propaganda purposes.
- Somehow, Falsworth starts out as 2nd Lieutenant in November, 1943 and is a Brigadier by VE-Day.
- Parody Sue: Captain America as a USO show character.
- Patriotic Fervor: Unsurprisingly, USO shows featuring Captain America are made of this trope.
- Period Piece: With generous helpings of Alternate History.
- Personality Powers: The Super Soldier Serum "amplifies everything inside: good becomes great, bad becomes worse.”
- Pet the Dog: Gilmore Hodge, the sexist, vicious, cowardly candidate for the super-soldier serum, isn't beneath applauding Steve when he brings 400 POWs home.
- Piggybacking on Hitler: Schmidt does this to set up HYDRA.
- Pineapple Surprise. Captain America pulls the pin on a grenade being carried on the back of a HYDRA bike during a bike chase.
- Pinned Down: Whilst boarding the HYDRA train, Steve and Bucky get trapped on separate cars. Two squads of HYDRA troopers are sent in to take care of them, and while Steve easily takes care of his assailants, one straggler manages to corner Bucky behind cover. Steve has to backtrack to Bucky's car and flank the straggler so Bucky can get the headshot, leading to the Meaningful Echo.
- Plain Name: Steve Rogers. Also, Johann Schmidt (basically, German counterpart to John Smith).
- Planning for The Future Before The End: After the Cap makes his choice to sacrifice himself, he and Peggy make plans for a date. A tearful Peggy tells him, "Don't you dare be late." He agrees, and reminds her that he can't dance, and worries about stepping on her feet. He gets cut off mid-sentence as he crashes into the ice.
- Politically-Correct History: The Howling Commandos have not only an African-American member but a Japanese-American member as well despite the fact that the military segregated those minorities at the time (it wasn't desegregated until under Harry Truman right after the war). Justified by it being a special unit personally selected by Cap himself (and deliberately composed of people he knew personally), and most the members were clearly not in the same unit before. It's also implied the African-American was a cook, as they were in real life, and that an actual Japanese-American unit served in the European theater.
- Averted slightly when Dum-Dum Dugan wonders if HYDRA must have captured a Japanese ally, only to have Jim Morita say that he's from Fresno.
- To be fair, the segregation laws in the American military didn't apply to their forces abroad. There were race riots by American GIs in the UK when they discovered they would be forced to board and dine with their African American comrades.
- Powered Armor: Apparently employed by HYDRA Elite Mooks at least to some capacity; the one present in the train seems to carry weapons well heavier than can be wielded without Super Strength and can take Captain's punches like a man, too.
- Power Glows: The "Vita rays" used in combination with the Super Serum cause the chamber to glow from within as Steve undergoes his transformation.
- The Tesseract emits a strong blue glow; so does the energy transference machine when used to empower secondary energy sources, and every single piece of HYDRA technology operated by said source seems to have a bright blue dot on it somewhere.
- Power Is Sexy: Seems to be the reason the blond secretary puts the moves on Steve. During the debriefing scene between Steve, Peggy and Col. Philips, she can't keep her eyes off of him. When he asks if he can speak with Howard Stark later, she wasn't even about to give him the time of day until she recognized him. After that, she's all over him.
- Power Walk: An entire liberated POW camp does so, which also serves as a Call Back to the propaganda film Steve participated in earlier in the movie.
- Pragmatic Adaptation:
- First to note is Captain America's costume. The first time he actually suits up, he's basically wearing the exact outfit from the comics, and it looks hilariously campy. When he gets his actual suit proper, it's radically different, with a helmet rather than a cowl, the head wings are mere decals, body armor rather than scale mail, red utility straps rather than gaudy red stripes, and no "buccaneer" gloves/boots. It actually looks like a plausible outfit for a propaganda soldier.
- The Avengers version drives a bit closer to the comic vision, though it's still different. It's more of a modernization of his WW2 gear, replacing and stripping away outdated and unneeded equipment with 21st century equivalents in order to be lighter and more flexible in battle.
- Second is Bucky's character. In addition to being an underage teenager, he was essentially a joke in the comics and archetypical of the whimsical, brightly-colored sidekick who's always getting captured. In this story, he and Steve are friends before the war, about the same age, and Bucky is a sniper. He also serves as a foil to juxtapose Steve with before and after his transformation. A lot of this persona is taken from The Ultimates and Ed Brubaker's run on Captain America. Bucky had been retconned and reimagined to be older and much more competent, not to mention lethal, for several years now, and the influence is cited by the filmmakers themselves.
- First to note is Captain America's costume. The first time he actually suits up, he's basically wearing the exact outfit from the comics, and it looks hilariously campy. When he gets his actual suit proper, it's radically different, with a helmet rather than a cowl, the head wings are mere decals, body armor rather than scale mail, red utility straps rather than gaudy red stripes, and no "buccaneer" gloves/boots. It actually looks like a plausible outfit for a propaganda soldier.
- Precognition: In Red Skull's Motive Rant just before being incinerated/bifrosted by the tesseract, he claims he can see into the future, though this may be figurative.
Red Skull: I have seen the future, Captain! There are no flags!
- Preemptive "Shut Up": Philips to Peggy.
"If you have anything to say, this is the perfect time to keep it to yourself."
- Produce Pelting: This is what the American unit stationed at Italy eventually does to Captain America during a USO tour after a performance gone sour. One has to wonder where that tomato even came from...
- Well, they were in Italy...
- Psycho Prototype: Red Skull is revealed to be the one who received the super project before Rogers did, and boy did the results backfire on him.
- Not so much backfire as Gone Horribly Right.
- Punch Clock Villain: It's clear that not only is Zola in HYDRA for the science, but that Red Skull scares the crap out of him.
- Putting on the Reich: Surprisingly enough, not in reference to the Nazis themselves, but to HYDRA, whose method of saluting even emulates the Nazi salute, and the predominant colors of HYDRA emulate the Nazi colors. On the other hand, HYDRA was originally a Nazi organization, but then they take OFF the Reich and branch out on their own.
- The salute is basically from the comics as well.
- The double-fisted air salute represents the two heads of the Hydra that pop up when one is cut off.
- The salute is basically from the comics as well.
- Rated "M" for Manly
- Real Men Wear Pink: Sort of, as Steve's USO costume includes tights and a knit mask. And the helmet that becomes part of his official uniform was stolen from one of the dancing girls.
- Steve is also a talented artist who carries a sketchbook with him. In the comics Steve was a comic artist before volunteering for Project Rebirth and even drew comic books based on Captain America as well as illustrating children's books as his civillian job.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Some viewers (including Roger Ebert, for a time) thought that the bulked up Chris Evans was achieved through CGI. It was actually inverted - the skinny, pre-serum Evans is made by CGI.
- PCing history accusations were also made about the inclusion of Asian American soldiers, as well as female intelligence agents. Probably having never heard of the 442nd RCT or Nancy Wake.
- Some obvious non-German speaking audience members didn't like the fact that Red Skull labeled his bombs "in English". These bombs had the names of New York, Chicago, and other US cities on them and would be spelled the same whether they were written in English or German.
- Reality Subtext: Cap's early career mirrors the character's origins as a propaganda piece, and early issues of the comic are made in-universe to help this. In fact, Golden Age comics were used to promote and sell war bonds. Hence the Superman cover asking readers to buy one to "slap a Jap".
- His poor reception with the troops is the same as several 1940s actors who got out of the draft because they were making morale-raising war movies.
- Reconstruction: Of Golden Age Captain America comics, and do-gooder superheroes in general. It specifically addresses common quibbles with the character (Patriotic Fervor, Boring Invincible Hero, Unfortunate Implications, etc.) and tries to breathe new life into the concept. It's particularly prominent with the Captain Patriotic trope: the whole image of an invincible American superman bitch-slapping Hitler that the character is usually flanderized into is explained as a propaganda stunt, hated by the "real" Captain America, who has much more depth.
- Red Right, um, Head?
- Redshirt Army: U.S. Army members that aren't comic book characters don't do too well initially, considering they're up against Tesseract-powered HYDRA technology. But they Took a Level in Badass after Captain America (comics) and the Howling Commandos returned from their missions with intelligence and stolen weapons.
- Engineer Exploited For Evil: Dr. Erskine. He only initially developed the super serum because Johann Schmidt forced him to.
- Renegade German: HYDRA is a very rare Nazi twist on the "Renegade X" trope. They start as a Nazi superscience division, and then break away from the Reich while keeping up the fight against Allies and the Axis.
- La Résistance: Before getting captured by HYDRA, Dernier was one of these.
- Replacement Goldfish: The SHIELD agent in the fake hospital ward set up to help Cap ease into 2011 is meant to be a replacement Peggy Carter. Word of God states that it's her younger relative, Sharon.
- The Resenter: Averted. Bucky seems like he'll turn into this, particularly in the scene where Peggy snubs him, but he's never anything but a loyal friend.
- Played straight with Col. Phillips, once Steve is turned into a Super-Soldier. He thinks little of him and doesn't see much use for Steve outside of being a guinea pig. Though, he decidedly changes his tune once Steve rescues the 107th from HYDRA's clutches.
- Riding the Bomb: Pretty much done literally with the Valkyrie's plane bombs, which are designed to act as both a plane for the various HYDRA members to pilot to the targets and a bomb to blow targets up with, with the targets' names being written on them. A slightly less straight example is when Captain America sends a mook plummeting to his death when he opens the bay doors and releases the locks on one of the plane bombs before the mook could even get himself secured in the cockpit.
- Rip Van Winkle: Steve, who was asleep for 70 years.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Lt. Montgomery Falsworth is a British Lord.
- Sadistic Choice: Subverted. A HYDRA agent, on the run from Steve, captures a small boy to use as a human shield. When the agent realizes he's out of bullets, he pitches the kid into New York harbor and flees. Steve edges over to the lip of the quay... to see the kid treading water.
"Go get 'im! I can swim!"
- Played straight in the beginning of the film, where Red Skull persuades the Norwegian monk to direct him to the Tesseract's hiding spot in the church with the strong implication that he would have a tank shell the entire town of Tonsberg if he refused. Predictably, as soon as he gets the Tesseract, Red Skull orders the town shelled anyway and then executes the monk.
- Say My Name: The final words of the last Nazi official after finding himself unable to escape from Schmidt's lab before the tesseract cannon fires at him is a terrified and enraged scream of "SCHMIDT!"
- Peggy also undergoes the trope when the plane crashes into the Arctic and ends Steve Roger's final transmission abruptly.
- The Scrappy: How the troops view Cap at the USO show.
- Scarf of Asskicking: Lt. Falsworth wears one.
- Scenery Porn: Magnificent snow-covered Alpine landscapes.
- Schizo-Tech: An unusual example. HYDRA tech isn't too outlandish by the standards of modern audiences (Horten-like flying-wing bomber, mounted flamethrowers, a mini-submarine etc), but it's incredibly advanced by WWII standards. This is also lampshaded.
- Most of it is real Nazi designs they either never got to work or abandoned because they were ultimately impractical. It makes sense a research group would have access to it, presumably perfected by the resident mad scientists or powered with their 'godly' energy source.
- The Real Life Reich had a few flying wing prototypes able to fly (Real Life USA also had them in the late 1940s), smaller one-hand flamethrowers compared to the well-known 80lbs "backpack" model, and multiple types of mini-submarines, including a prototype able to steam underwater as fast as a modern SSN. Making them usable in large enough numbers for the battlefield was a different question altogether.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The reason Steve moves out for his first real mission, and succeeds. Also, why he lies on his enlistment papers four times (one presumes the first time he got rejected, he told the truth).
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Specifically stated by Colonel Philips as the reason Howard Stark is going to get away scot-free for helping Steve with the above mission.
- Sealed Good in a Can: The movie opens with the discovery of the craft that Captain America ditched with himself inside, in order to save New York.
- Secret Test of Character: Several, all of which Steve passed and others failed. "Do you want to kill Nazis?", Jumping on a Grenade, Etc.
- Lampshaded each time by Steve!
Steve: Is this a test?
- Sequel Hook: Of course.
Captain America will return in The Avengers.
- There are some other things that remain self-contained, though. Bucky being strapped to the table then subsequently falling to his "death" and Schmidt having an uncertain endgame when he touches the Cosmic Cube. All good jumping-off points to work with in future Marvel Cinematic Universe entries.
- Sexy Secretary: Pvt. Lorraine.
- Shield-Bash, Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me, and Throwing Your Shield Always Works: Captain America, who is the page image for at least two of these.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me goes into overdrive as the movie goes on, protecting large areas of people and/or equipment behind it as HYDRA agents seemingly can't help but shoot right at it. During the motorcycle chase at the end, the only section of Cap's bike that gets any gunfire is right on the shield.
- A symbolic weapon for him, since he's more about defending the weak than defeating the strong.
- Shirtless Scene: Steve gets quite a many... but they aren't really noteworthy until after he gets the serum.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: Dum-Dum's weapon of choice.
- The teaser poster to Captain America v5 #4.
- Like another Marvel superhero's movie, Cap sticks a bomb into a tank and then has a slow motion cut of him moving away as it explodes behind him. Unlike Iron Man, however, Cap was on top of the tank while he was blowing it up.
- This poster. You know what it's a shout out to. This also counts as a Shout-Out to one of Joe Johnston's earlier works,The Rocketeer.
- If one listens closely, the Red Skull, upon gaining the Tesseract/Cosmic Cube at Tonsten, remarks that Hitler is digging around in the desert for trinkets. Guess what he's referencing?
- Which in itself is a Truth in Television, as the Nazis often tried to seek out occult artifacts in their plans for World Domination, often sending out the Thule Society and the Ahnenerbe for expeditions and experiments involving these occult artifacts.
- There are also two thematic references to the "He chose poorly" scene from Last Crusade: firstly when Schmidt is clever enough to realise that the Cube hidden in plain sight must be a fake and works out where the real one is hidden, and secondly when Cap chooses the simplest of the shields.
- At one point during the final battle, a Mook ends up getting shredded by an airplane propeller, just like in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unlike the original though, we actually see what happens.
- The motorcycle chase through the forest acts as a double Shout-Out to the bike chase from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the speeder chase from Return of the Jedi.
- One presumes that's why the bike chase scene features a prominently-placed Wilhelm.
- This isn't the first time a key part in a person's plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler was named Valkyrie (although the person in question this time had an evil motive, unlike the real life and movie version.). This doubles as a reference to the fact that Skull is using power from an Asgardian artifact. And for a bonus reference, the Valkyries' job in Norse mythology was to choose who lived and who died in battle, rather fitting for a plane designed to bomb the entire planet.
- The repeated references to "bullies" and how "it doesn't matter where they come from" are clear references to Jack Kirby's reason for creating Cap in the first place: I know a gangster when I see one! Changing the jargon from "gangster" to "bully" could actually be considered an improvement on an already awesome point - bullies, gangsters, Nazis... they're all just thugs who hurt people For the Evulz.
- A non-comics shout-out by the prop guys: one of Stark's shield prototypes is clearly the classic RX-78-2 shield.
- The climax to the film involves a black trenchcoat-wearing Large Ham villain with Super Soldier powers fighting the main protagonist in his flying-wing style bomber, presumably on a mission to ensure Complete. Global. Saturation. Also, both Red Skull and Albert Wesker injected themselves with a serum that enhanced their power, but at the cost of their humanity and what is also heavily implied to be their sanity as well (although Wesker had it better since at least he retained his human form, velociraptor red eyes non-withstanding).
- Speaking of video game shoutouts, Red Skull developing delusions of godhood and descending into insanity after a botched attempt at granting himself supersoldier powers (and also being the first test volunteer with an imperfect testing process no less) mirrors a certain Monster Clown in the Final Fantasy series.
- Howard Stark is clearly based on both Real Life and The Aviator Howard Hughes. First by his given name, then by being a brilliant aircraft engineer and pilot, inferred he is wealthy enough to not care about risking his career, being a renowned ladies' man, last by his physical appearance.
- Shown Their Work: The Allied units that Cap rescues from a POW camp are the ones you'd find in the Italy campaign.
- HYDRA's superweapons are faithfully based on scrapped weapons programs of the Third Reich.
- Two HYDRA facilities near the former Polish-German border (one is located by Steve 'somewhere in Poland near the Baltic Sea') roughly correspond to the locations of Peenemünde facility where V-2 rockets were developed and tested and the Riese complex in Owl Mountains, a network of underground munitions factories where, according to rumors, Germans were allegedly working on some Wunderwaffen.
- Steve's dress uniform includes a badge: A parachute surrounded by laurels. That's a parachutist's jump badge, earned either upon completion of army jump training or following an actual successful combat jump, first awarded in America during WWII.
- When Steve brings the prisoners back to base, all of the soldiers gathering around to gawk have slung Garands, because the Army makes it clear that soldiers never go anywhere in a combat zone without their weapons. However, as an added touch, the few visible medics don't have weapons on hand.
- The 107th Infantry is a lesser known Army unit, so lesser know that typing it in Wikipedia won't even direct you to the unit's page under its better known name, The 7th Regiment of New York, a unit that did serve in WWI.
- In the scene where Steve and the Howling Commandos are going to jump on the train, it is mentioned that they intercepted an encrypted communication. While this is mentioned, you can clearly see a typewriter-like device beside them. Crypto experts and historians will recognize it as the Enigma Machine, used by the Nazis during World War II and famously cracked by the Poles and GCHQ (including a young Alan Turing). Given that HYDRA is a (renegade) division of the Third Reich, they would use the same ciphers as the Nazis.
- Shut UP, Hannibal:
HYDRA soldier: CUT OFF ONE HEAD, TWO MORE TAKE--(shot)
Red Skull: You just never give up, do you?!
Red Skull: I have seen the future, Captain! One without flags!
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Peggy seems to fall for Steve on the basis of his humble, kind, and rather Adorkable nature.
- Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer: Red Skull (and thus his actor Hugo Weaving) receive very little screen time in the commercials for the movie.
- Bucky even less.
- Socially Awkward Hero: Steve. Even after he gets serum'ed. He has no idea what "fondue" is and thinks it's a sex metaphor.
- Soft Glass: During a chase, Steve stumbles through a large store display window, but is mostly unfazed and shows no signs of cuts despite wearing minimal clothing and bare feet (having stripped down to undergo his transformation). It's possible the Super Serum made him scratch resistant.
- Spotting the Thread: "The game. It's from May 1941. I know because I was there."
- Spy Speak: When Peggy takes Steve to the secret military lab.
- The Squad: The Howling Commandos.
- The Captain: Captain Steve Rogers.
- Friendly Sniper: Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes.
- Cunning Linguist: Gabriel Jones. He also brings the Dakka.
- The Big Guy: Corporal Timothy "Dum-Dum" Dugan. He also brings the shotgun.
- The Generic Guy: 2nd Lt. Montgomery Falsworth.
- Old Soldier: Jacques Dernier.
- The Radioman: Jim Morita.
- Stab the Scorpion: We get a brief look at Cap in the crosshairs of sniper rifle... only for it actually be Bucky shooting an unseen HYDRA soldier.
- Standard Sci-Fi Army: HYDRA, with its mythical artifact-powered weapons.
- The Starscream: The Red Skull was this to Hitler in this movie, though he doesn't want to depose Hitler so much as outright surpass the Nazis.
- State Sec: HYDRA, expanding from a research division to a high-tech army before The Red Skull goes rogue.
- Stock Scream: Yup, Wilhelm. Cut short, to keep it from being absolutely ridiculous.
- Storming the Castle: The allied assault on HYDRA HQ.
- Cap himself pulls off a one-man attack on another HYDRA base to rescue Bucky, as well as the other members of the 107th, who had been captured and used for slave labour.
- Strange Salute: HYDRA has their own version of the Nazi salute, done with both arms and closed fists. Heil HYDRA!
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: HYDRA.
- And in an interesting case of Shown Their Work, HYDRA gets to play with some of the crazier weapons that were being developed IRL by the Nazis during the war, such as Schmidt's getaway jetcopter, the ginormous tank that Cap blows up during his heroic montage, and the enormous Flying Wing Red Skull piloted in the climax.
- Averted in the sense that Hitler doesn't actually get to play with any of HYDRA's new toys; the moment the Tesseract technology is perfected, HYDRA splits off and starts its own agenda.
- The Stinger: There's only one movie left to tease... Notably, whilst the other films had teasers, this ends on an actual trailer. Sadly, some preview screenings didn't show it.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Up to and including an entire room full of bombs going off at once.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: This is Red Skull's take on the Tesseract Cube. He outright corrects one of his Nazi inspectors at one point when he calls it magic, and insists that advanced science "has always baffled primitive men".
- Superhero Packing Heat: This version of Captain America is totally okay with using guns to complement his shield, particularly in the beginning of his career.
- Super Soldier: Anyone who has read the comics, or any media relating to Captain America, should not be surprised by this in regard to the titular character. Anyone who knows about Red Skull's character, however, is in for a big surprise.
- Super Strength: Enough to pick up an armored HYDRA soldier and throw him 20+ feet through the air.
- Presumably, the war bonds performance where Steve holds a motorcycle with three show girls sitting on it over his head was not accomplished by 1940's stage effects either.
- In addition, right in the beginning of the film, Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull managed to effortlessly remove the lid from a coffin that even four of his own men could not even move an inch.
- A simple punch from the Red Skull dents Steve's metal prop shield like it was cardboard. He doesn't even flinch while doing it.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Howling Commando Pinky Pinkerton is replaced with Montgomery Falsworth... Except he looks precisely like Pinkerton and not the least bit like Falsworth.
- Stylistic Suck: The stage show that Steve is in after he gets his powers could be one of these. Alan Menken even did a song fitting in with the theme!
- Tanks, But No Tanks: In-universe: In one scene of Steve's propaganda film, a knocked-out Nazi tank is "played" by a Stuart with an Iron Cross painted on the turret - which makes perfect sense, given the period...
- Tank Goodness: Gabe, Dum Dum and Falsworth (all of whom later join the Howling Commandos) managed to hijack a tank so that they could aid their fellow prisoners in eliminating the HYDRA guards in a prison revolt, even destroying some of the vehicles. Later on, Captain America and the Howling Commandos, while storming and taking down various HYDRA bases indicated on the European map, managed to blow up a tank that was about three stories high.
- The super-giant tank is based on the real-life (but never completed) Nazi "Maus" and "Ratte" projects.
- Technology Porn: The filmmakers really enjoyed all the cool HYDRA tech.
- Tempting Fate: Howard Stark notes the he "[doesn't] see what all the fuss is about" when it comes to a sample of the mysterious Tesseract energy that HYDRA utilizes. Then he touches some with an electric arc...
Stark: "Write that down."
- Think Nothing of It: When the flirty secretary commends Steve on rescuing the POWs, he replies that he was "just doing what needed to be done". This only entices her more.
- This Is Gonna Suck: See Meaningful Background Event above.
- Also, at the end of the rescue at the first HYDRA base, as Cap's about to leap a fiery chasm, he steels himself for an unpleasant experience.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Oddly downplayed, emphasizing the threat as HYDRA more so than plain ol' Nazis. In fact, HYDRA is even a threat TO the Nazis, making the Red Skull demonstrably worse than Hitler. Deleted scenes showed them attacking both sides.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After five different tries in five different states to get into the army, Steve is approved by Dr. Erskine, who also specifically recommends Steve for the super soldier project, to Col. Philips' disbelief (who also almost says this trope word-for-word).
- Time Skip: At the very end.
- Took a Level in Badass: Steve Rogers goes from nice guy to Captain Freakin' America.
- Token Enemy Minority: Jim Morita and Dr. Abraham Erskine.
- Training Accident: Grenade!
- Translation Convention: After the opening scene in the monastery, conversations between non-Americans tend to be in English. Compare the SS officers meeting with Skull to say, Dernier and Jones' exchange in French done mostly for laughs.
- It fits with the pulp-adventure genre that movie emulates, where the Nazis spoke German accented English peppered with "Neins" and "Herrs."
- The Skull always, even during the most horrible fits of rage, speaks in an eerily formal style, like an old-fashioned university professor, unlike Captain America and Allied commanders. This must have been deliberate on the part of the script writers.
- Translation: "Yes": Dernier and Jones, again, on joining the...
- True Companions: The Howling Commandos.
- Turbine Blender: A HYDRA soldier meets his doom in this fashion. Unusually, the resulting splash of gore is explicitly shown on screen.
- Two-Fisted Tales: Much in the movie's visual style and plot is inspired by 40's pulp fiction.
- Two-Timer Date: Captain America ended up having to miss out on a medal of honor awards ceremony. Unlike most other tropes, he had a very good reason for doing so: He had to debrief them on the situation and tell them that he discovered the locations of various HYDRA facilities throughout Europe.
- Underestimating Badassery: Even after the medical procedure, Steve still has difficulty being taken seriously. It wasn't until after he went out of his way to prove himself in combat that people recognized that he means business.
- Unusual Euphemism: Invoked by Steve with the word "fondue." This kinda gets him in trouble with Peggy.
- Up to Eleven: In addition to giving physical levels in Badass to Steve and Red Skull, the serum is said to do this to personality traits. Hence, Steve's natural compassion and altruism are amplified while Red Skull's greed/rage/evilness is amplified.
- Verb This: A soldier in Italy says "Hey Captain! Sign THIS!" before proceeding to moon Captain America during a USO tour gone sour.
- Villain by Default: Nazis, natch. HYDRA by extension of being Nazis dialed Up to Eleven.
- Villain Exit Stage Left: When his POWs start running amuck, Schmidt/Red Skull looks at a monitor to see what's going on. After taking one glance at Captain America routing his forces, he calmly begins to arm the self-destruct.
Arnim Zola: No! What are you doing?
- Villainous Breakdown:
- "YOU ARE FAILING!!!!"
- A more subtle instance: Red Skull delivers a Hannibal Lecture, then is incensed by Cap's flip response and resorts to simply punching him.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A bright faced girl greets Steve at his propaganda show, with a camera flash providing her Audible Gleam. She looks set up to be a possible romantic foil to Peggy, but after her two seconds she's never seen again.
- The U.S. Senator who set Steve up as the face of the U.S.O.'s campaign isn't seen again after he's "stood up" by Steve in the awards ceremony.
- Hodge the bully soldier actually appears again after Steve returns to the camp with the rescued prisoners. He appears resentful, but comes around to applauding Cap soon after, and is never seen again.
- A HYDRA mook and his fighter plane loaded with bombs fall out of the Valkyrie. They could have caused a load of damage, but are never heard about again.
- According to an Avengers tie-in comic, he managed to board the plane in mid-air, gave a 'Heil HYDRA' and promptly crashed.
- We Have Reserves: Red Skull's rationale for deciding to work the POWs to death building their weapons, and later when causing their base to self-destruct.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Red Skull has shades of this concerning Dr. Erskine. In the end, Schmidt took Erskine's serum for himself, but he always seemed bitter that he never really earned it. This is what sparks his intense rivalry with Captain America.
- Wham! Line:
SS Officer: (pointing to a map of locations Schmidt intends to destroy) Berlin is on this map!
- Who's Laughing Now?: Invoked when Dum-Dum Dugan is shown taunting the HYDRA jailor, and later commandeers a tank. Foreshadowed, when Dugan states "You know what, Fritz? One of these days, I'm going to have a stick of my own."
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Steve, both before his transformation and after. Also, Dr. Erskine, who was looking for someone exactly like Steve to fulfill his dream.
- Wicked Cultured: When Zola walks in on Schmidt getting his portrait painted, Schmidt is listening to German opera.
- Wilhelm Scream: It is heard during the motorcycle chase scene when Cap is on his way to the Red Skull's last base.
- Woman Scorned: After Peggy stumbles upon the blonde secretary kissing Rogers. If that weren't enough, he further ticks her off by retorting/asking if she and Stark were "fondue-ing," which later leads to an awkward situation where, when "testing" if the Vibranium shield could withstand a handgun, she aims for his head. She forgives him later when a film of one of their operations briefly shows that his compass contains a picture of her.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: It's hinted that the imperfect Super-Soldier Serum that the Red Skull took may have driven him even more insane than he already was.
- World of Badass: Spies that plan to escape in super-submersibles. An intelligence officer who can get a headshot on a moving target from half a city block away. Soldiers willing to go up against disintegrator weapons. A kid whose response to being thrown in the Hudson is "Go get him! I can swim!" Basically, the only reason Captain America got super-powers was so he could keep up with everyone else.
- World War II
- You Can't Thwart Stage One: Despite the Allies' efforts, they fail to disrupt HYDRA's activities and merely delay the completion of Red Skull's Doomsday Device, leaving Cap with no choice but to save the day just in the nick of time.
- Notably, the SSR forces do exactly what the military would do in their situation: lacking intelligence about the goal, but knowing what some of the components are, they attack those components, hoping to identify the goal based on their successful operations while simultaneously attempting to derail HYDRA's plans. The fact that they fail to accomplish either goal (substantially) is a credit to Red Skull's paranoia and preparation.
- X Meets Y: Described by Brian Michael Bendis as Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Saving Private Ryan.
- You're Insane!: Invoked twice, both towards Red Skull. The first time was by various Nazi officials (before one of them alerts the others that one of the "enemy targets" that Red Skull planned to vanquish with his weapons was Berlin), when thanking him for proving to them how mad he truly is. The second time is Captain America's response to his Hannibal Lecture, noting that Erskine told him that Red Skull was insane.
- You Have Failed Me...: Red Skull executes an officer after one of HYDRA's bases was destroyed by the Howling Commandos (including one of their tanks).
Officer: We fought to the last man.
- Surprisingly averted in the beginning scene in a demonstration of his Pragmatic Villainy: Several Nazis are trying to remove the coffin lid to no avail (with one of the officers shouting that they have to remove it before he gets there). Instead of executing them, he just removes the lid himself. He fully understood 3-4 men could not move over a ton of sculpted rock with bare hands, but the idea of an officer failing to do his duty - and, even worse, fleeing his men to remain the sole survivor - was a different kettle of fish.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Red Skull immediately turns on his Nazi overseers the moment he is able to produce tesseract-powered weaponry for himself. (That, and it's his revenge for their referring to him as "Red Skull".)
- Subverted in regards to Zola. Zola (and the audience) think that Red Skull is going to abandon him to die in the exploding base, but he opts to save... his car, by giving Zola the keys.
- Invoked by Phillips to get Zola to talk after he is captured, though.
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: When raiding the Tonsten church in Norway, Johann Schmidt/Red Skull forces the Monk to reveal where the Tesseract is actually hidden inside with the strong implication that he would have a tank shell the entire town to the ground if he refused. After finding it, he orders them to shell the town anyway before shooting the monk as he protests.
- Of course, the monk doesn't tell Schmidt where the Tesseract is; Schmidt figures it out himself (by looking where the monk looked or something). He then does exactly what he said he would do, but it's still For the Evulz.
- Zeerust/Retraux: The weaponry and technology of HYDRA is deliberately retrofuturistic, stylized after the visions of the future widespread in pulp sci-fi.
- The trope is lampshaded when Steve and Bucky attend a fair showing the marvelous world of the future including a Stark Industries Flying Car which doesn't work -- Call Forwarding the lack of such cars when Steve wakes up in the real future.
- This also extends to the overall aesthetic of the movie, with its slightly blooming colors and light sepia tone. This reverts to a more realistic style when Steve finds himself in 21st Century New York.
- Zerg Rush: The POW escape starts out this way. Then they begin arming themselves, taking weapons from the HYDRA soldiers they take down and commandeering vehicles.
Tropes found in the tie-in comic series 'Captain America: First Vengeance'
- Boisterous Bruiser: Cap himself.
- Cool Car: Howard Stark convertible which is bulletproof, fires rockets and has a wet-bar.
- Five-Man Band: An early incarnation of the Howling Commandos.
- It's Raining Men: Cap is shown jumping into an unnamed Danish island from a C-47, which promptly gets blown up. Falsworth is a former paratrooper.
- Mission Control: Howard Stark.
Tropes found in the tie-in video game 'Captain America: Super-Soldier'
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Von Strucker.
- Badass in Distress: Falsworth.
- The Baroness: Madam Hydra.
- Bash Brothers: Steve and Bucky. Tandem punching.
- Five-Man Band:
- Gun Fu: Madam Hydra's martial art involves a lot of fancy shooting and gymnastics.
- Herr Doktor: Zola, much more than he is in the movie.
- Humongous Mecha: The Sleeper.
- I Can Still Fight: Falsworth, after getting tortured by Zola.
- It's Raining Men
- Last-Name Basis: Falsworth is on it with everyone.
- Large Ham: Everyone, but Zola takes the cake. Falsworth also has this gem;
"Rogers. Carter. This is Falsworth. We heard your transmission. Are you certain you took out aaaaall' the long range guns?"
- Mission Control: Peggy and Howard.
- More Hero Than Thou: When it comes time to decide who stays with Cap and who falls back.
- Mythology Gag: A primitive 1940's version of Zola's robot body from the comics appears (complete with monochrome face-chest-screen!). It eventually turns out that the real Zola has not, in fact, put his mind into this body (after all, he was still human at the end of the movie!); it's just remote control.
- No One Could Survive That: Said by Falsworth.
- The Other Darrin: Zola, Stark and Red Skull are voices by new talent. Notably averted with Cap, Peggy and Bucky.
- Putting on the Reich: HYDRA's troops look much more German than they do in the movie.
- Superhero Packing Heat: Captain America doesn't carry a gun by default, but he's got no problem briefly grabbing someone else's rifle during a "weaponizing" attack and shooting other HYDRA goons.
- Villainous Valor: Baron Zemo finds his own castle appropriated by HYDRA and is mutilated in an accident with Adhesive X in the logs you find. He struggles to find a way to get revenge on the Red Skull and HYDRA and settles on a daring plan involving a fencing match; when that fails, he urges the reader to sabotage HYDRA and get revenge on his behalf.
- Would Hit a Girl: Steve would, provided the girl is The Baroness.
- X Meets Y: Video Game/Wolfenstein meets Batman: Arkham Asylum.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Madam Hydra's got a green hairdo, of course, though it's a dark muted green rather than bright.
Let's hear it for Captain America!
- Albeit Stark's improved, semi-customized versions. Presumably, the better to sell action figures with.