Steve Rogers could have saved himself from freezing in Captain America: The First Avenger, but he wasn’t going to risk the lives of millions.
Steve Rogers’ decision to crash the bomber plane in Captain America: The First Avenger may seem illogical, but it makes sense on the spur of the moment. The First Avenger establishes Captain America (Chris Evans) as the noblest member of the Avengers. Even before he gets his superhuman body and his (almost) unbreakable shield, Steve still has all the courage and the humility that makes him the poster boy for superheroes. But all heroes have to make tough decisions in the nick of time, and Captain America’s fate depends on his sacrifice at the end of his first movie, which lets him sleep in the ice for the right amount of time for him to wake up in the present and help save the world – and the universe – multiple times throughout the MCU.
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The final fight between Cap and his nemesis, The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), brings huge surprises for both of them. While Red Skull is teleported to Vormir by the Tesseract, Cap has to face a more immediate issue: stop the bomber plane that’s heading to New York. He tries to pilot it, but he soon decides to give his beloved Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) one last call before he dives it into the Arctic. With Steve Rogers’ superhuman abilities, it’s odd that he takes this decision, even more so after Captain America: The Winter Soldier proved that he can dive from a plane without a parachute and throw himself off a building, all without a scratch. Besides the MCU’s need to freeze Steve for seven decades until The Avengers, the reason for why he stays in the plane lies within his character.
Steve Rogers always wanted to be a soldier, but unlike many of the more physically-suitable aspirants, he was always willing to give up his life if the situation called for it. This is why Dr. Abraham Erskine specifically chooses him for Project Rebirth and also why Steve has been the only Super Soldier experiment that hasn’t gone wrong. Prior to getting his superpowers, he’s the only soldier willing to jump on top of the fake grenade that Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) throws as a test of courage. This selfless act is later mirrored with Steve wearing the star and stripes. Precisely, when he faces the question of whether to attempt to land the bomber plane safely and protect his own life or crash it in the Arctic, regardless of his own safety.
The plane’s control stick actually responds when Steve tries to pilot it, but as soon as he releases it, the plane corrects its trajectory toward New York. None of the switches on the board work either, and he has no time for complex strategies. Hydra locked the plane on autopilot so it couldn’t be hijacked. Of course, Steve could try to wedge the control stick and jump out of the plane, but there’s always the slight chance that the wedge would fall at any time.
This is the kind of solution that a character like Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) would at least attempt, but it’s also the kind of solution that has made the billionaire fail miserably multiple times, constantly making him suffer even worse consequences because of it (Ultron is created as a tool for peace, after all). In keeping with Steve’s perpetually selfless personality, crashing the plane leaves no room for error, even if that means sacrificing his life and his promised dance with Peggy.
Steve Rogers’ sacrifice in Captain America: The First Avenger feels like a convenient plot device to freeze him in time. However, his decision makes sense when the human behind the shield is taken into account. Moments like these prove that Steve Rogers deserved his second chance at life from the very beginning of his MCU journey.
Next: Iron Man Correctly Predicted Captain America’s Endgame Fate
Key Release Dates
- Black Widow (2021)Release date: May 07, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Feb 11, 2022
- Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
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