also, on the subject of steve’s superhuman status…
i felt like this movie was brutally heavy-handed about showing us just how much steve’s body can take. like, we get a hint of it in first avenger but even steve isn’t sure by the end of the movie the entire scope of what his body can do—what can be done to it. then in the avengers, we get a little more…ideas about his endurance, his agility, his combat skill—but they’re just glimpses, and really, nothing earth-shattering is discovered.
and then this fucking movie comes along, and all of a sudden, the audience is seeing in visceral constant detail just how super this soldier has become.
steve fights like lightning in a bottle—he’s a tremendous force in a contained, controlled package. we see his skill, but more than that, we see how his skill is the vehicle for his power. how many times do we get it reiterated that this dude is magnificent? the very first scene of the movie is all about how he’s running THIRTEEN MILES in 30 minutes like it’s nbd. and then rumlow pointing out steve’s jump sans parachute and how well he was single handedly taking on the ship’s crew before rumlow landed. and then his fight with batroc, how it’s very specifically meant to show that even without the shield, steve is more than capable. that he can withstand things and do things other human beings can’t. that HE and HIS FISTS AND FEET AND MASSIVE MUSCLES AND CORE STABILITY can and will fuck you up. the entire first half of the film is all about steve being a force to be reckoned with, not just as a person but as a body, as a physical presence.
and as the battles escalate, so too do the stresses on steve’s body. every new thing was like a dare. a step further. a question—how much can this guy withstand?
steve, leaping through a window into ANOTHER BUILDING ENTIRELY, crashing through WALLS like they’re nothing, running at top speed and withstanding the force of throwing the shield and being thrown the shield, stopping a hairsbreadth from the edge of the roof.
steve, getting ambushed in an elevator, several burly and skilled men and their assorted weapons against him. this scene is SO important—those little electricity things that rumlow zapped steve with at length and several times? remember how a tiny little zap was enough to knock out that french mercenary? yeah, well, it barely pHASED steve even after it’s stuck to his gut for like 30 agonizing seconds, repeatedly. that whole scene is an exercise in showing the audience that steve literally has the strength of multiple men, maybe even more. (and he knows it, too. it’s why his fairness, the fact that he gives those goons the OPTION TO GET OFF THE ELEVATOR, is so much more remarkable than it otherwise would be. because he knows what his body is capable of now. and it’s a fucking lot.)
oh and then he leaps out of the elevator and falls several thousand feet at full speed and not only lives but barely staggers after a couple minutes of shaking it off and then he leaps onto a moving jet and disables it before somersaulting to the ground? this isnt just innate confidence, it’s a lack of fear borne from the knowledge that his body can take it.
like sitwell said—“are you kidding me?” it’s pretty significant that in a world of superheros and mutants and gods, sitwell is shocked by a SUPERSOLDIER and what his body can do. as well sitwell should be, tbh.
bc MULTIPLE TIMES steve uses his own body as a buffer between the shield and people he’s protecting—two times with nat and a potentially catastrophic and close range explosion and once FALLING OUT OF A FUCKING SPEEDING VEHICLE. he knows the shield will provide the first line of defense, but he also knows his body is capable of creating another. his body becomes a shield, too. a weapon and a tool.
and it’s worth noting that he’s posed as superhuman by acting as a mirror to another superhuman. when he’s fighting bucky on the bridge, he matches bucky move for move—i still cant decide whether that fight is meant to drive hom how powerful bucky is or steve, tbh. like, on one hand, we already KNOW how strong steve is, so the fact that bucky is fighting him shows the audience this isnt just an assassin—he’s souped up more than the average human. but on the other hand, we see early on how fast and powerful bucky is, and when we see his fist hit the shield we get a sense of his incredible strength even more, and that just shows us AGAIN how very strong steve must be to keep up with him and fight him like an equal.
anyway, the next round of death defying comes with the helicarrier business. and a lot of his awesome comes from how well he moves and how tactical he is, but there are elements—when he leaps into the open air and freefalls waiting for sam to catch him, when he uses his upper body strength to fucking climb up the outside of the helicarrier after being thrown off the side—that you’re reminded again that beyond him being a great soldier, he’s also got a body that is a conduit for all that knowledge, all that skill. and that body is a weapon unto itself.
guys. guys, he’s shot MULTIPLE TIMES and STABBED and he just wrestled a super assassin into submission and he STILL makes it up to change the blade for the helicarrier. and when the helicarrier is crashing, he stILL has enough strength to move a steel beam off bucky. and then he SITS THERE AND GETS PUNCHED REPEATEDLY IN THE FACE BY A METAL HAND. this is the first time we really see steve rogers bleed in this movie. the first time we really see how exhausted and worn down he must be. THE FIRST TIME in TWO HOURS—after multiple battles and running away and fatigue and villains.
but even as he bleeds, he lives. he’s alive. conscious. TALKING. as a viewer, at this point, i was just like—how much can steve take??? how much MORE??? and it seemed that steve would keep answering me with “i could do this all day!”
except then he falls into the potomac. but EVEN THEN we don’t see him get mouth to mouth. we see bucky drag him to shore and leave and steve’s breathing on his own. his lungs are EXPELLING THE WATER IN A THIN STREAM OUT OF HIS MOUTH. steve is literally defying everything i know about drowning and breathing in this scene. his body :( so magic :(
given all this, the fact that one of the last scenes of the movie was steve in a hospital…it feels right. it feels like we finally get to see steve slow the hell down and take CARE of himself. it feels like there was a natural culmination to all that getting beat up and beating other people up, and it’s there in that hospital bed, waking up with his wounds not yet healed, showing that as superhuman as he is, even he has some limits.
but those limits are pretty well fucking beyond most powered humans, imo. and that’s another reason i love steve rogers.
I also loved the symbiosis between Steve’s body and the shield, you really get a sense of it being an extension of his self and of his power? so it’s not just decoration or symbolism (though it is that, particularly that in context of this meta); it’s also fairly brutal. the speed and power with which Steve wields it seemed very deliberate to me in a way it wasn’t in the previous films, in a way that makes you cringe a little ‘cause that looks like it hurts. sure, Cap’s weapon of choice will disable you without killing you, but maybe you’ll kinda wish it had. which makes the moment when Bucky just catches it with little apparent effort and throws it at Steve hard enough to push him back that much more of an unexpected, stakes-raising moment.
ALL OF THIS IS BEAUTIFUL AND YOU BOTH ARE BEAUTIFUL AND STEVE IS BEAUTIFUL