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Film / Captain America: The First Avenger

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"Who's strong and brave, here to save
the American way?"

"You must promise me one thing: that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier... but a good man."
Dr. Abraham Erskine

Captain America: The First Avenger is a 2011 action/adventure based on the Marvel Comics character Captain America, produced by Marvel Studios, and directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Jurassic Park III); it is the fifth film in (and in some ways, a prequel to) the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its Phase 1. 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). It is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe chronologically. note 

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 (Hugo Weaving), who has his own plans for world domination.

Like Thor, The First Avenger serves as a proper introduction to Captain America in preparation for The Avengers. The original run of the film even included a trailer for The Avengers after the credits.

Steve is next seen in The Avengers, released on May 4th, 2012. An official sequel to The First Avenger was released in theaters April 4th, 2014, titled Captain America: The Winter Soldier. A spin-off TV show was also released on January 6th, 2015, titled Agent Carter, revolving around Peggy Carter's adventures in the 1940's set after the events of this film. A second sequel, Captain America: Civil War, was released on May 6th, 2016. A third sequel, focusing on Steve's successor following the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, is in development. An alternate take on the plot of this film is the focus of the debut episode of What If...?, showing what would happen if it was Peggy who took the super-serum instead of Steve.

Captain America: The First Avenger provides example of:

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    Tropes A to D 
  • Aborted Arc: Both in-universe and a meta example, despite it being a trademark of his backstory and one of the reasons the army is in the supersoldier business, Steve doesn't actually fight any Nazis, just in films and comic books. Justified since by the time he gets sent overseas and begins to take part in the war, Schmidt and HYDRA are much larger threats. Although material in Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows that the Howling Commandoes did other deployments between their HYDRA attacks.
  • 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 behind enemy lines and through heavy anti-aircraft fire just to get Captain America where he needs to be.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Steve and Peggy in the bombed out pub where Peggy consoles Steve after Bucky goes missing in action.
  • Action Girl: 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 (2005) film.
    • We see the original Human Torch at the World of Tomorrow expo... not to be confused with the other Human Torch played by Chris Evans.
    • Tommy Lee Jones pushes the red button in a fancy black car to make it go faster.
    • Red Skull makes quite a few allusions to Hugo Weaving's role as Agent Smith in The Matrix.
      • His real name, Johann Schmidt, is a coincidence because that's the character's name in the comics, but it sort of counts; "Schmidt" is the German form of "Smith".
      • His 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 Agent Smith 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.
      • His fight with Cap in a plummeting plane, which makes a suspended-gravity environment, is reminiscent of a scene in The Matrix.
      • There are a few times Steve is shown or implied to make an impossibly long jump, which is one of the signature moves of characters in The Matrix.
      • 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.
    • It's also not the first time Hugo Weaving has played a megalomaniacal psychopath.
    • A character played by Hugo Weaving is a terrorist who intends to bomb major landmarks while wearing a mask to hide his disfigured face.
    • The John Slattery incarnation of Howard Stark towards Roger Sterling.
    • This isn't the first time Neal McDonough has portrayed a member of an elite combat unit in World War II.
  • Adaptational Badass: Bucky Barnes starts out as much more of a badass than he did in the comics. Instead of starting out as a Kid Sidekick like in Earth-616, he's a year older than Steve note , he starts out as a Badass Normal soldier who's a hit with the ladies, to boot. And instead of being Steve's spokesman/medic like in the Ultimate Universe, he's the sniper, coming to Steve's aid when his guard is down.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • In one scene of Steve trying to join the army, Steve claimed his parents both served until they died. In the comics, Steve's dad was an unemployed drunkard.
    • In the comics, Project Rebirth is a division of Weapon Plus Program which is, if you know this name, you know how amoral they can be. Here (although it's also because X-Men film rights is owned by Fox), the project is run by Strategic Scientific Reserve, predecessor of S.H.I.E.L.D., and is more ethical in its methods (for example: Dr. Erskine and the others almost stop the procedure when Steve is screaming in pain).
  • Adaptational Personality Change: In the comics, Red Skull is the ultimate Nazi and fully believes in their ideologies, taking part in their many war crimes against humanity. Here, while technically aligned with the Nazis at first, he was only using them as a means to an end to fulfill his own goals. Once that's done, he splits HYDRA from the Nazis and targets Germany as well as the rest of the world. Doesn't make him any less evil, but on the bright side, at least he's not a full-on Nazi!
  • Adaptational Villainy: Red Skull of all people gets this treatment, going from Hitler's fanatically loyal right-hand man to someone who invokes an Eviler than Thou on the entire Nazi Party.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • Like Thor, the story takes several elements from both the mainstream Marvel Universe (Earth-616) and the Ultimate Marvel universe (Earth-1610).
    • 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 Phillips, the Howling Commandos, Red Skull, Peggy Carter, Gilmore Hodge, Steve being an orphan and his Wide-Eyed Idealism ring true to his mainstream incarnation.
    • In the original universe, the Red Skull had been a brilliant spymaster born around 1920 and brought up via training from an uneducated street punk. In the film, Dr. Erskine describes him as a brilliant scientist and chief of HYDRA (51-year old) — 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:
    • Subverted with Steve himself. He has brown hair on the poster, but is blonde in the film itself.
    • Played straight with Johann Schmidt. His hair is brown in the movie, red in the comics.
    • Peggy Carter has blonde hair in the comics, which gets changed to brown in the film.
  • Aesoptinum: 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. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier would delve deeper into this aspect though; here it mostly sets up the classic good vs. evil conflict.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Red Skull's gigantic bomber has several small airplanes/piloted bombs on board.
  • All-American Face: Played with (see Captain Patriotic below).
  • All Germans Are Nazis: This film averts it in several ways.
    • HYDRA breaks away from the Nazis early on in the film, though it's unclear if they disagree with the Nazi views or just think they have bad leadership (with Johann calling the führer a fool).
    • This trope is outright defied by Dr. Erskine, himself an exiled German, who states that many people forget that the first country the Nazis conquered was Germany.
  • 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 abilities 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.
  • 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.
  • America Won World War II: 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. Additionally, Schmidt also planned to bomb Berlin along with the other major cities.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • During the moviehouse scene, a war newsreel shows a British Sherman Firefly, a Medium tank that wasn't introduced into the British Army until June 1944, while the scene itself is set in 1942, a full two years prior.
    • 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.
    • Morita wears a modern tactical headset when he operates as the Howling Commandos' radioman.
    • During the serum administration, several technicians are wearing modern (thin, loose-fitting, and white) latex gloves instead of the thick, black rubber gloves that would more likely have been used at the time.
    • Two-tone emergency vehicle sirens can be heard in the scene where Steve sits in the bombed-out London pub. However, British police cars, fire engines and ambulances were fitted with bells at this point in history. The once-familiar 'nee-naw' klaxon wasn't introduced until the late '60's.
    • During Captain America's war movie shoot scene, when they cut the rear projector footage changes to an SMPTE Universal Countdown Leader (the familiar kind with the sweep-around animation behind the numbers in a circle), which did not come out until the 1960s.
    • The Unisphere is seen at the exposition that Steve and Bucky attend at the beginning of the film, set in 1942. The actual Unisphere wouldn't be built for another 20 years, for the 1964 New York World's Faire.
  • Anachronistic Clue: Late in the film, Steve awakens in an unfamiliar room and he realizes that something is not right.
    • A nearby radio is playing the broadcast of a baseball game. A young woman in 1940s period clothing enters the room, and he demands answers from her, informing her that it can't be 1945 since the game on the radio was played in 1941 and he knows this because he attended that game.
    • He is likely also clued in because she's wearing a haircut that didn't come into vogue before the mid-2000s (American professional women in the 1940s did not wear their hair loose like that) and a style of bra that didn't exist before the 1990s (a modern push-up bra that is not properly fitted, so the edge of the cups can be clearly seen through her period blouse)..
    • Steve's own T-shirt is decorated with a stylized eagle over a circle. Decorated T-shirts did not truly come into vogue until 1950.
  • And Starring: The cast roll ends with "and Stanley Tucci".
  • Anti Climax Cut:
    Senator Brandt: [to the now-muscular Steve] Congratulations, soldier. You've just got promoted.
    [cuts to Steve in a backstage with Captain America tightsuit, ready to sell war bonds]
    Steve Rogers: I don't know if I can do this.
  • 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, though whether or not this is canon is debatable.)
  • 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: To varying degrees.
    • Averted example: Steve addresses his drill sergeant as "Sir", which is correct for that era in the US Army and is still used by the US Marines.
    • Averted again when, after going AWOL to rescue Bucky and the rest of the men of the 107th, the first thing that Rogers does upon his return to the base camp is to voluntarily submit himself for discipline. Of course, who's going to court-martial someone who singlehandedly rescued 400 POWs?
    • Steve salutes Phillips and then lowers his hand without Phillips ever saluting him back. Military etiquette is that the junior salutes first but holds the salute until it is returned.
    • Despite being awarded the Medal of Honor, Steve never wears the appropriate ribbon. Possibly justified, as the USO arranged his exemption from the usual regulations regarding his uniform.
    • The various awards seen on Captain Rogers' uniform are described here. While most are plausible (or fictional) one inaccuracy stands out. Steve wears an American Defense Service Medal — an award specifically for those who were in active service prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor — despite the movie showing him enlisting long after the US entered the war. Note that this may have been deliberate nod to the comics on the part of the filmmakers, as the comic book version of Steve Rogers did enlist before Pearl Harbor.
    • The campaign award that Steve is eligible for - the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal - is missing from his uniform. Note that this is actually an aversion: while the award was authorized in 1942, the actual medal design was not finalized - and thus none were issued - until after the war.
    • A British SOE agent publicly assaulting an American soldier would be completely unacceptable, if not politically scandalous. If General Patton didn't get away with hitting a GI scot-free, Peggy sure as shit isn't going to. Never mind firing a gun at Cap, which could easily have killed someone if the bullets ricocheted, would have seen her instantly court-martialed.
    • A subversion: The Red Skull (Dr. Erskine flashback scene, 25 minutes 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, but given his attitude towards the Nazi party, one assumes that he doesn't give a damn whether his uniform is correct or not.
    • Out of the 3 senior officers coming from Berlin to inspect HYDRA facilities and credited as Roeder, Schneider and Hütter, their chief Roeder wears the insignia of SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer (4-star General rank) on a field-grey, Waffen-SS uniform, with battle decorations suggesting he earned them previously on the front. The scene is set in early 1943. Only 4 men in the entire Reich were promoted to the rank, and only in mid-1944 were promoted those from the Waffen-SS, Sepp Dietrich and Paul Hausser. There was no need for 4-star officers during the times the Waffen-SS was limited to a few divisions.
    • In addition, Schneider wears a black uniform that was used by the Allgemeine SS. However, by 1942, the entire SS had phased out its black uniforms and used field-grey uniforms.
    • There were no integrated US Army units before 1948: this was probably a deliberate choice to make the unit seem more special. No integration of Black troops below platoon level (and that only late-war) only. For Asians and Latinos by comparison, there was no official policy (especially in units built around national-guard cadre they weren't that uncommon). Japanese Americans were "combed-out" of other units to provide replacements for the 442nd RCT from around 1944.
  • 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 a minor character, little more than a Satellite Love Interest. 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.
  • The Atoner: Dr. Erskine works with Americans to create an American super-soldier because he was responsible for the creation of the Red Skull... even if it was at gunpoint.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Played with. The vibranium shield "completely absorbs all vibrations." A review points out that this should make it unable to ricochet off solid objects, but Cap uses it to do just this as one of his signature techniques. On one hand, Peggy launches a few bullets at him right after he picks up the shield for the first time, and the bullets hit the shield and drop at his feet rather than ricochet with equivalent force. That would argue on the side of vibration absorption. Clearly, the shield is a Vibranium/Phlebotinum alloy of sorts. Then on the other hand, something else happens in The Avengers. When Thor slams his hammer down on the shield, there's a Kung-Fu Sonic Boom which would argue vibration reflection. Both of these attacks are directed at the center on the shield.
  • Attentive Shade Lowering: Howard lowers his protective shades with a look of interest when Steve emerges from the super-soldier serum pod (after the experiment caused a power outage.)
  • Audible Gleam:
    • The Tesseract.
    • Cap's shield in certain scenes.
  • Audience Participation: A couple of kids in the audience try to warn Cap about the actor sneaking up behind him.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Skull's mooks, despite their extensive use of Magitek, are easily defeated by conventionally-armed soldiers. Their disintegration weapons are bulky and heavy and only have single shot firing mode. In the Final Battle, they are shown picking off enemies one-by-one while Allied forces charge in and overwhelm them with much more efficient conventional firearms.
    • The Valkyrie bomber is eyebrow-raising to a fairly massive extent: It has twin turbojet engines... and eight propellers. These are justified since they are the bomb aircraft's propeller. If anything, it's more of a redundant feature on the plane. Also Truth in Television: Many post-war aircraft designs, especially bombers and transports, featured a mix of propeller and jet engines, due to limitations in jet engine technology of the time. One of the most famous examples being the Convair B-36 Peacemaker, which had six rear-facing propeller engines and added four jet engines in later models. True to the trope, Peacemaker crews typically only used the jet engines during takeoff and for attack runs, but usually shut them off to conserve fuel otherwise.
    • The bomb aircraft also apply. They have the maneuverability 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.
    • Schmidt's Cool Car looks neat, but it apparently handles like an 18-wheeler in Real Life. There's a reason the scenes with the car in motion show it going in a straight line.
  • Ax-Crazy: Everyone recognizes Schmidt as insane and his methods of employee discipline are horrific. However, according to Zola, he is to be feared regardless because his insanity means he never stops to ponder the downsides of his plots, meaning he will carry them out against all odds and circumstances.
  • 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 rides into a HYDRA with his shield out front.
  • 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.
      Captain America: Why not? That's exactly what we're gonna do.
    • A conversation that took place between Dr. Arnim Zola and Col. Chester Phillips after the formers capture. Somewhat subverted, because the person Arnim is boasting about, is his boss, the Red Skull.
      Dr. Arnim Zola: Schmidt believes he walks in the footsteps of the gods.
      Col. Chester Phillips: Hm!
      Dr. Arnim Zola: Only the world itself will satisfy him.
      Col. Chester Phillips: Did you realize that's nuts, don't you?
      Dr. Arnim Zola: The sanity of the plan is of no consequence.
      Col. Chester Phillips: And why is that?
      Dr. Arnim Zola: Because he can do it!
      Col. Chester Phillips: What's his target?
      Dr. Arnim Zola: His target... is everywhere.
  • Badass Bystander: Krueger's hostage, a young boy who after being thrown in the river, tells Rogers to go after the bad guy because, "I can swim!"
  • Badass Crew: And not just any Squad, but the Howling Commandos.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Peggy Carter wears a tie to battle!
  • Badass Longcoat: Red Skull really works that Nazi coat, especially after his "normal appearance" mask comes off.
  • Badass Normal: Steve's allies may not be super soldiers like himself but they are still mighty soldiers.
    • Bucky, and the Howling Commandos.
    • Peggy Carter is certainly no slouch herself in this department either.
    • Col. Phillips definitely has some badass tendencies too, if the, "Let's go find two more!" bit during the attack on the main HYDRA base is any indication.
  • Bad Boss: Both used straight and subverted with the Red Skull.
    • 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. Zola's still useful.
    • He coldly shoots down an officer who protests that "we fought to the last man!" with, "Evidently not!"
  • Bait-and-Switch: The fleeing Hydra spy tosses a kid into the channel to force his lone pursuer to make a choice between following him and saving the kid. Steve chooses the kid, but it turns out the kid can swim, so he can chase down the spy after all.
  • Bald of Evil: Red Skull, without his full head mask.
  • 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: Dr. 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 defected to the Allies 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 Phillips' mercy. Zola thus sings like a bird.
  • Battle Cry: Dugan does a "WAAAH-HOOO!" when he, Gabe Jones and Montgomery Falsworth commandeer one of the HYDRA tanks at the POW camp.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: It's implied the Super-Soldier serum horribly disfigures anyone not pure of heart and amplifies attractiveness in good men — hence Johann Schmidt's deformation and Steve's rocking new body.
  • 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 Super-Soldier 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. He starts out as a USO propaganda figurehead playing the heroic Captain America in stage productions and films and then becomes the real deal. At one point, he even comments to Bucky how the shtick has grown on him.
  • Beneath the Mask: During Red Skull's first confrontation with Captain America, he takes off his false skin and consigns it to the flames, at last revealing and fully embracing his identity and further dispensing any pretenses to Nazi loyalty.
  • Beta Outfit: The USO costume is intended to be Steve's permanent costume, and it's just for show, not for combat. This is why Steve puts more appropriate pants and a jacket over it when he goes to save the POWs. After he proves that he can be a soldier, not just a symbol, he designs a new outfit that is more practical and looks more fitting to his new role.
  • 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 - Steve's hometown. The dramatic music that just started? That means It's Personal.
  • Big Bad: The Red Skull is The Leader of HYDRA and the one that the good captain needs to stop.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Captain America earns his military credits this way; single-handedly rescuing 400 POWs (at least until they get some weapons and help him fight the HYDRA troops).
    • Peggy gets her chance to save Cap's bacon when she shoots down a flamethrower-wielding enemy soldier who has a shield-less Cap on the ropes right after the above-mentioned scene.
  • 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 Heinz Kruger, barefoot, while the spy is driving a stolen taxi.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The world is saved, but everyone lives their lives thinking Steve and Bucky are dead. Steve and Peggy didn't get their dance, and Steve is in severe culture shock when he's awakened.
  • Black-and-White Morality: This is one of the few Marvel movies to follow this morality exactly (in fact, aversions include this movie's own sequel). This is justified in-story through the Super Serum that created both Captain America and his enemy the Red Skull, as it enhances people's true qualities — good becomes great, bad becomes worse. Steve Rogers is an idealistic, friendly guy who just wants to do his duty for his country by fighting bad guys and helping the helpless, and becomes a Super Soldier. Red Skull is a bullying Nazi extremist too evil even for Hitler, is so narcissistic as to have a god complex, and becomes an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Black Box:
    • HYDRA's Tesseract-powered technology. Not even Howard Stark, one of the best mechanical engineers and inventors in the United States and in the world as a whole, 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 understands how it works.
    • The implication exists that Howard Stark's Arc Reactor designs (which Tony then miniaturized) 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: Lampshaded when Dum Dum Dugan notices that another POW, future Howling Commando Jim Morita, is Asian. Mistaking him for a Japanese national, Dugan asks, "Are we taking everybody now?", only for Morita to flash his dogtags and respond, "I'm from Fresno, Ace." Morita belongs to one of the Nisei (American-born Japanese) battalions that fought in the US Army's European theater during World War II. The US Armed Forces avoided sending them to the Asian theater of the war in case they had conflicting loyalties about fighting Japanese nationals, and to avoid being shot by friendly fire. Ironically, if you were an Allied soldier from a white or other colored division in Europe and you saw a division of Asian troops, you'd instantly know they were Allies and didn't have to question whose side they were on.
  • Blood Knight: 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.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Surprisingly averted at times, moreso than previous MCU films; one mook experiences the Helicopter Blender trope on-screen (complete with a blood trail as the plane keeps flying) and several people who get shot get red mists accompanying the hits.
  • Blunt "Yes": Dr. Erskine's answer to Steve's first time asking "Is this a test?"
  • 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... 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. Shown in a trailer, you can see Rogers getting taller inside the Vita ray chamber.
    • Say nothing of what happened when Schmidt gets turned into Red Skull.
  • Bond One-Liner: "Cut off one head, two more shall—" (Phillips shoots him with a shotgun) "Let's go find two more!"
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Averted surprisingly well by the Red Skull, who immediately attempts to kill Steve nearly every time they meet. The worst thing he does is just assuming Steve and Bucky will die in his exploding weapons factory the first time they meet face-to-face, and even then it seems that he just doesn't have anything on his person that's powerful enough to immediately take Steve out.
  • Book Ends:
    • Just after becoming Captain America, Steve is forced to rush out of a building and run through the New York City streets. At the end of the film, after waking up from being frozen in the ice, he does it again. For bonus points, he's even dressed almost identically.
    • Schmidt's first scene in Norway has him admiring a Tesseract replica. During his final battle with Captain America on the Valkyrie bomber, he ends up holding the actual Tesseract in the exact same pose just before being vaporized by it.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Peggy impedes Kruger's getaway by drilling the getaway car driver in the back of the head. From nearly two blocks away with a pistol.
  • Boring, but Practical: Captain America's shield. Howard 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. It doubles as a hidden test of character. The seemingly humble, defensive vibranium shield is the only one capable of absorbing HYDRA's disintegration weaponry. Without it, Cap would die a hundred times over. Of course, Stark would have a very good reason for making Steve take one of the more fantastic shields: the classic one is made of an untested material with unknown properties.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Averted in the train shootout. Bucky's Thompson submachine gun runs out of ammo, he reloads, runs out, switches to his pistol, and that runs out too. Steve tosses him a loaded pistol so that he can take out the last HYDRA soldier in their car.
    • Played straight when Kruger keeps firing his eight-round pistol for five minutes straight, but averted again when the spy tries to shoot Cap after taking a kid hostage, only for the gun to click empty, and then played straight again. Sixteen times with an eight-round gun would be enough for two magazines were Kruger not driving a car during the time he fires rounds eight and nine. There also isn't nearly enough time between those shots for him to reload even if he weren't driving, unless he already had one round in the breech and then inserted a full eight-round magazine, reloading after all nine were spent, or had a second gun.
  • Brains Versus Brawn: Johann Schmidt (Brains) vs. Steve Rogers (Brawn). Both are Super Soldiers created from the same Super Serum, and fight on opposite sides of the war, with Schmidt being a brilliant scientist using advanced technology who works from the shadows, while Rogers fights on the frontlines using a shield. Overlaps with Brains Evil, Brawn Good.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: "Star-Spangled Man", the song produced for Cap's USO war bonds tour, with a healthy dose of Patriotic Fervor added to it.
  • Breaking Bad News Gently: S.H.I.E.L.D. makes Steve's room look like something from the 1940s so that he can have more time to rest and recover before being confronted with the fact that he'd been frozen for decades. It doesn't work out.
  • Breaking Speech: Red Skull gives one to Captain America each time they meet. The subject is always how "special" they are compared to normal people and how he especially should rule the world.
  • Break the Fake: Schmidt smashes the fake Tesseract before finding the real one.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Howard Stark comments that Captain America's body armor can stop a knife but doesn't expect any HYDRA soldiers to attack him with a pocketknife. Such an attack occurs aboard the Red Skull's flying hangar.
    • While filming the propaganda movie, Steve is told by the director not to look at the camera. When Steve becomes a genuine hero and is shown in combat camera footage of the Howling Commandos, he looks at the camera.
  • Bringing Running Shoes to a Car Chase: As soon as he gets his new physique, Steve Rogers takes off after Kreuger. Kreuger steals a car and Steve runs after him and catches up. Then, Kreuger climbs into a submarine and Steve swims after him and catches him.
  • Broken Masquerade: In The Stinger, a woman in a WAC (Women's Army Corp) uniform (who's actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in disguise) attempts to convince Steve that he was rescued and is in a hospital. It almost works, but is given away by the baseball game being broadcast on the radio; Steve actually went to that game, and remembers enough details to clue him into the hospital being a trick.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Averted. Steve may be from Brooklyn but he doesn't have much of a temper (and neither does Bucky, for that matter).
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": ... or "A". Steve's costume, both before and after Becoming the Mask.
  • Bullet Proof Human Shield: Steve uses one to get out of Schmidt's custody during the assault at the end of the film. This time it's nicely justified since the gun is a Tesseract-fueled superweapon that only damages the target.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Two of the Nazi officials who arrive to inspect Red Skull's progress spend a bit too much time insulting him, and they pay dearly for it.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: "The Star-Spangled Man with a Plan" is this from what we see of the USO show that Steve's a part of. This is most evident during the performance in New York City, where we see dancing showgirls, tanks that shoot out confetti, and a very elaborate (and very patriotic) stage. This plays very well in bond drives and Special Services displays at home. Not so much to war-weary veterans on the front lines who've lost many of their comrades in combat.
  • 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.
    • Tønsberg, Norway. Centuries before, they nearly got obliterated in another war between awesome powers... and all they apparently got from being a living battlefield was some powerful ancient artifact they themselves couldn't use. Strangely, they hold onto it, and the results are equally traumatic when Johann Schmidt arrives looking for it.
  • Call-Back:
    • Steve's words of "I can do this all day!" are first used early on against a thug beating him up outside a movie theater and later used towards the end against the Red Skull while he is punching the crap out of Steve. This ties in with Steve wanting to fight because he hates bullies, showing that he sees the Red Skull as just one more bully.
    • "I had him on the ropes." When Steve says it after Bucky saves him, Bucky's like "Yeah, sure." When Bucky says it, Steve actually sounds really sympathetic, saying "I know you did."
  • 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 uses 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.) Also, 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 is then called back to when a kid uses a decorated trashcan lid as his shield in a game.
  • Canon Foreigner: Senator Brandt and Pvt. Lorraine.
  • The Cape: One of the very few earnest and well-executed examples in 2000s superhero movies: Steve is an honest and heroic Nice Guy who can't stand bullies, be they thugs or megalomaniacs.
  • Captain Patriotic: Subverted, as the whole gimmick of Captain America is created by the government as a wartime propaganda device, and Steve has a more complex motivation than patriotism alone.
  • Car Fu:
    • First, Kruger attempts to use his stolen cab to run over Peggy Carter, but Steve tackles her out of the way in time.
    • 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.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
    • Dugan talking to Jones about when he learned German while they're in the middle of commandeering a tank to flee the HYDRA base (AND participating in a prisoner revolt in the same base, at that).
    • The final conversation over the radio between Steve and Peggy is them making plans to go dancing, even when they both know that Steve won't make it.
    • Steve and a delirious Bucky's chat also qualifies.
  • Catastrophic Countdown: The Azzano 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.
  • The Cavalry: Later the favor is returned. 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.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Averted. Captain America comics exist, and when we see them, they're nearly identical to our own... Except that Bucky, who is present on the cover of the first Cap comic cover is missing.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Kind of: Hugo Weaving explained in a press release that Red Skull's accent is a cross between that of Werner Herzog and Klaus Maria Brandauer.
  • Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: While searching for Bucky, Cap happens to spot Dr. Zola fleeing his lab, but abandons pursuing him in favor of finding Bucky. A few minutes later, the two encounter Schimdt and Zola as they all head for the elevator, and Zola ends up cutting them off so that the heroes can't reach them.
  • Chaste Hero: Steve Rogers, even after becoming Captain America.
  • 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 the paint job he gets for his army gear.
  • 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. One can see where Tony Stark got it.
    • 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 is also one back in New York. He laments the loss of this status around Post-Serum Steve.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Howard Stark may be a playboy inventor, but when it comes to working within the SSR, he buckles down to business and takes his work very seriously. He 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 get dinner.)
  • 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.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Implied to be what happened to Bucky after his unit is captured and Steve, coming to rescue him, finds him Strapped to an Operating Table. Word of God says Zola was Playing with Syringes. This explains how Bucky survived the fall off the train, and the sequel suggests that that whatever torture Bucky underwent was the first conditioning towards becoming the Winter Soldier of the 21st century.
  • Colonel Badass: Phillips. More like Colonel Jerkass, but hey, he's Tommy Lee Jones. 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. He still packs a gun because, you know, there's a war going on out there. 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. Here, he's an RAF paratrooper.
    • 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 is the rank that Sen. Brandt bestowed on him), it's hard to tell when people are using "Captain" or "Cap" in reference to "Captain America" or "Captain Rogers".
  • Compensating for Something: Not outright stated in the film, but according to the HYDRAmobile's designer, the car is "over 25 feet long... much longer than anything you would consider a car, but he's a dictator, he wants to show his power." Yes. "Power."
  • 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 Cavalry arrives.
  • Composite Character:
    • This movie's Peggy 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 Phillips' aide).
    • Dr. Erskine combines elements of Erskine with the original incarnation of Chester Phillips.
    • Col. Phillips oddly has elements of the mainstream version of Nick Fury. Also, in the comics, Phillps chose Steve Rogers personally for being the Super Soldier test subject, while General Saunders was contrary. In the movie, Phillips fills Saunders role as he opposes the choice until being convinced otherwise.
    • Movie version of Red Skull has elements of Baron von Strucker (leader of HYDRA) and Baron Zemo (responsible for Cap getting frozen). Von Strucker actually shows up again during the credits of Winter Soldier.
    • Composite Group: The film's Howling Commandos team 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. note  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 become similar to one of the original Howling Commandos.
    • Lt. Falsworth is a composite of Union Jack I/James Montgomery Falsworth (name), Union Jack II/Brian Falsworth (camaraderie with Captain America & Bucky) and Percival Pinkerton (physical appearance, camaraderie with the Howlers).
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. Steve tries to use a torn-off taxi door as a shield when being shot at by the HYDRA spy in New York. One bullet goes straight through the door and grazes Steve's side.
  • 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.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Instead of someone noticing Steve's repeated attempts to enlist and it being brought to Erskine's attention, Erskine stumbles across Steve and Bucky arguing about it at the World Fair and tracks Steve's next enlistment attempt down the following day.
  • 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 is pretty cool. Too bad Steve has 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. The Real Life car built for the film has the size, weight and maneuverability of an 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.
    Red Skull: [drops the keys in Zola's hand] Not a scratch, Doctor. Not a scratch.
  • 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, incidentally "borrowed" from one of the USO performers.
  • 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. It's 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 Red Skull's bomber in pusher configuration bear striking resemblance to American Northrop XP-56 Black Bullet with some elements of German Henschel Hs P.75 design.
    • Howard's Stark plane is pretty impressive for a private civilian aircraft flying through enemy territory.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits incorporate 3D-ified versions of famous WWII 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 the creator). This marks Lee's first cameo in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film about a character he did not himself create.
  • Cue Card: Cap uses them during his first USO show, taped to the back of his shield so he can read them easily. As he settles into the role, he is able to say the lines by rote and no longer needs the cards.
  • Curbstomp 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 back to base in the Jeep with Carter if they can take a flag down from the top of a flagpole (which no one has ever accomplished in 17 years). All the recruits 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, and wins the free ride.
  • 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. This later tips off Phillips that Zola can be bargained with, since he didn't make the crunch-crunch. Funnily enough, the comic canon states that only AIM has dental.
  • 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 Phillips: If I read the posters correctly, you have somewhere to be in thirty minutes.
      Steve Rogers: Yes, sir. I do. [invades Germany]
  • 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.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Steve realizes the SSR room he's woken up in is fake, but starts fighting the moment two black-clad S.H.I.E.L.D. guards enter. Having spent the entire movie fighting HYDRA mooks dressed in black, and seeing a bunch of agents in dark suits outside, it's no surprise that Steve doesn't stop running until he gets to Times Square and realizes he really is back in the USA.
  • Deadly Euphemism:
    Johann Schmidt: [glaring at the three Nazi officers shortly after one of them calls him "Red Skull"] Gentlemen, you have come to see the results of our work? Allow me to show you.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Colonel Phillips, especially at Rogers' expense. Bucky has his moments, too. Howard Stark, too. So do Peggy and Steve for that matter.
  • Dead Sidekick: Though the term "sidekick" isn't explicitly used, and it isn't made an official designation, the dynamic with Steve is the same. Yes, Bucky Barnes "dies", but they never found the body.
  • Death by Origin Story:
    • Dr. Erskine is killed, ensuring that Captain America is the only super soldier.
    • Bucky too, although like in the comics they Never Found the Body.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Of the Captain Patriotic trope. Steve only ended up as "Captain America" because Erskine was killed before any more super soldiers could be created, meaning Steve couldn't properly be fielded by the military and ended up as a propagandist selling war bonds. While his Captain America performances charmed the general public, he was very poorly received by actual soldiers, who considered him a joke in a silly costume. However, when Steve learns that his friend Bucky was captured by HYDRA, he leaps into the fray to rescue him and all the other American soldiers captured in HYDRA's facility... while still wearing his Captain America costume and wielding his prop shield. This act of valor successfully earns him his stripes and his own fireteam, and because Steve saved the soldiers as Captain America he gets a battle-ready version of the costume for the battlefield, becoming a real Captain Patriotic.
    Bucky: Hey! Let's hear it for Captain America!
    [the soldiers Steve rescued all cheer]
  • 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 being a loudmouth 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.
  • Diesel Punk: In spades.
  • 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 by disintegrating bodies when they strike human flesh and causing explosions when they hit solid material. 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.
  • Disobeyed Orders, Not Punished: During World War II, after a spy sabotages the Vita-Ray experiment, and Steve Rogers becomes the only Super Soldier in the U.S. Army, as opposed to an entire unit, he tours America with the U.S.O.. When he goes to an army camp in Italy, he finds out that Bucky was captured, and is being held in a Hydra base a few miles from the camp, and requests permission to rescue him and the other P.O.W.s, but he's ordered to stay put as he's just a propaganda tool. Steve decides to mount a one-man rescue operation, and when he breaks out the prisoners, he's reassigned from morale booster in the U.S.O., to the leader of his Howling Commandoes.
  • Disrupting the Theater: After failing to enlist in the army, Steve goes to a theater for a showing and sees a news reels of World War II on it. Some jerks in front of him however complain about wanting to get to the main feature already much to the annoyance of the other theater goers till Steve tries to tell them to knock it off. This does get them to stop but results in Steve getting beaten up in an alley outside the theater till Bucky comes to save him.
  • 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.
  • Diving Save: After the serum is stolen by HYDRA, Peggy attempts to shoot the HYDRA man while he is driving straight towards her. Right before Peggy is almost hit by the car, Steve tackles her out of the way.
  • 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. Steve thinks it's one considering this was a Stark talking to a woman. "It's just bread and cheese." Howard is actually a consummate professional.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
    • Peggy Carter violently punches a soldier in the face early in the film without any reprimand. Somewhat justified by the film's time period, as it was considered shameful upon a man to be assaulted by a woman in those days, and punishing Peggy for this would be a tacit admission that this happened in the military. Though, the narrative certainly justifies Peggy's actions also.
    • After Peggy catches Steve being forcibly kissed by a Sexy Secretary, she takes out her jealousy on him by firing a gun at his shield without warning. Had Steve not reacted quickly enough, he could have been seriously injured or killed for all she knew. This is Played for Laughs, and she receives no punishment despite putting other people in danger as well. It's also never acknowledged that Steve did not consent to the kiss, which pushes this into that other double standard.
  • Double Take:
    • An SS officer ends up experiencing this when he notices the targets on Schmidt's map. When he checks for a closer confirmation, he then expresses shock and anger at the fact that Berlin is on the map (likewise revealing that Schmidt intends to retaliate against Hitler). See Wham Line for the line in question.
    • Also the blonde secretary who was reading the newspaper about Captain America's heroic rescue of POWs, only to realize that Steve Rogers is standing in the room right there.
  • 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 Führer'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.
  • Dramatic Irony: Howard Stark is this trope packed into a single person. It's rather painful to see this kind, happy heroic character in WWII when the audience already knows from Iron Man 2 that he grows to become the neglectful and borderline abusive father that Tony knows.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Peggy Carter dabbles in it during boot camp. There is also an actual drill sergeant in the boot camp sequences.
  • Driving a Desk: In-Universe, we see during Rogers' tour as a performer a shot of him and some other actors playing soldiers pretending to walk through a European forest.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Steve after Bucky goes missing in action, except he can't get drunk because his enhanced metabolism burns alcohol as fast as he consumes it.
  • During the War: World War II to be exact.

    Tropes E to H 
  • Eagleland:
    • 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.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Peggy had the sudden urge to touch Steve's pecs 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.
  • Enemy Civil War: Hydra starts this with the Nazis.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: After he's captured, Zola is offered a nice steak dinner. He declines, claiming that he's a vegetarian and clearly suspecting it to be drugged. So Col. Phillips takes it and casually chows down right in front of him. If Zola was lying about the vegetarian bit, it surely didn't take long for him to regret it.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The pub where Captain America drinks with the Howling Commandos. Cap still drinks there in his grief, even after it has been bombed..
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Steve Rogers:
      • Steve gets one on his first appearance, sitting next to another Army volunteer who is reading a newspaper.
        Recruit: Boy, a lot of guys getting killed over there. Kinda makes you think twice about enlisting, huh?
        Steve Rogers: Nope.
      • Steve repeatedly mentions getting beat up, and if those other times were for the same reason as in the theater, it sets up that Steve happily goes into situations that're way over his head because it's the right thing to do. He later saves several hundred soldiers by doing just that, except with a HYDRA base.
      • 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 that completely sums up Captain America when Erskine asks him if he wants to kill Nazis.
        Steve Rogers: I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies, I don't care where they're from.
      • One of these moments occurred during his transformation into a Super Soldier. Further into the procedure, it becomes a lot more intense and he starts screaming in agony. This causes everybody to panic, Peggy orders Erskine and Stark to shut down the machine (which they attempt to do so in haste) — but suddenly they are stopped by no other than Steve:
        Steve Rogers: [still obviously in a great deal of pain] NO! DON'T! I CAN DO THIS!
    • 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 slightly later in the scene, she's the only other one besides Steve who goes toward the dud grenade, though he got to it first.
    • And Dum Dum Dugan's first line:
    • First thing Bucky is seen doing is defending Steve from a beating.
    • In his first appearance, Schmidt sees three strapping young Nazis struggling in vain to open a stone sarcophagus. He simply hands his hat to a subordinate and opens the sarcophagus himself, establishing him as: 1) superhumanly strong; and 2) a Reasonable Authority Figure as Nazi mad scientists go.
  • 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. 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. "Girls much cuter."
  • 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. Both were injected with a Super Serum and became superhumans, but the similarities end there. Captain America is the embodiment of patriotism, an Ideal Hero who fights for freedom. Red Skull was originally a Nazi who embodied fascism, and if that wasn't enough he ends up betraying his own country and seeks world domination.
  • Eviler than Thou: Notably, the Skull tries to do this to Hitler. And what's worse is that he comes chillingly close.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Hugo Weaving is clearly having a ball playing Red Skull.
  • Evil Overlooker: Some posters have Red Skull's eyes looming over Cap.
  • Evil Wears Black:
    • This is the most common color worn by everyone in HYDRA.
    • When Steve wakes up in the future, and catches on to the deception the door opens and black-clad S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers enter. Steve naturally assumes the worst and throws them through the wall.
  • Exact Words:
    • Howard Stark says in a few years' time, cars won't have wheels. Once 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 leaves 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. The dynamic of his response does not go unnoticed.
      Schmidt: HYDRA is assembling an arsenal to destroy my enemies in one stroke, wherever they are, regardless of how many forces they possess, all in a matter of hours.
      Nazi Inspector: Your enemies? note 
    • An implied instance of this also occurs during the boot camp training. The drill sergeant tells the marchers that if one of them manages to get the flag from the flagpole, they'd get a free ride back to base from the midway point. However, he never actually says how they are 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 collapses to the ground.
  • Expecting Someone Taller:
    • During Stan Lee's cameo.
    • Also when Steve shows up for the Super Soldier 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.
      Steve Rogers: I thought you were dead.
      Bucky Barnes: I thought you were smaller.
  • 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 (even though Steve and Tony spend most of their time bickering in The Avengers, but they start working out the kinks as that movie goes on), although Howard is further from the cynicism end of the scale than Tony, justified in part by the time frame.
    • Howard Stark is also an expy for Howard Hughes.
    • Col. Phillips acts a lot like the Silver Age version of Nick Fury.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Before The Reveal of his true face, the Red Skull is shown having a portrait done while his face is obscured in shadow while light is shining from a window behind him.
  • Faceless Goons: Most HYDRA soldiers have face-covering masks and helmet wear. Not quite Gas Mask Mooks but close.
  • Faked Rip Van Winkle: Inverted with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s failed attempt to make Steve think he's waking up in The '40s at the end.
  • Fake in the Hole: 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.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: The USO attempts to invoke this in regards to Captain America, later subverted when Steve becomes the mask.
  • False Crucible: By Jumping on a Grenade (thankfully an inactive one), Rogers shows to his commanding officer that long before his body is treated, he has the heart of Captain America!
    Col. Phillips: He's still skinny.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: The HYDRA energy weaponry vaporizes its targets cleanly and efficiently. Downplayed in the sense that regular guns and bullets are just as prominent and the movie makes no effort to cut on the gritty scenes.
  • 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.
  • Fanfare: Cap's theme in this film is a triumphant war march by Alan Silvestri.
  • Fantastic Firearms: Using the Tesseract, Johann Schmidt, Dr. Arnim Zola, and HYDRA manage to develop advanced weaponry based around its energy, including a number of pulse weaponry both handheld and mounted. These weapons use the Tesseract's energy to either blast a hole into anything made of metal, or outright disintegrate anything organic in one hit. Unfortunately, for all their power, they prove to be Awesome, but Impractical, being overall heavier and more cumbersome than conventional firearms, and also having much slower firing rates. The tesseract itself is a 4-dimensional storage box for an Infinity Stone, making them effectively Magitek rayguns.
  • Fantastic Nuke: HYDRA plans to destroy a bunch of the major cities of the world, using WMDs powered by the tesseract.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Played with and likely inverted. Steve has a photo of Peggy in his compass, cut out from a newspaper, 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 now seventy years older by his reckoning. A deleted scene in The Avengers shows that Peggy is just about the only person Steve knew from back then who isn't dead, though he can't bring himself to try to contact her. He does, however, in The Winter Soldier.
  • Fatal MacGuffin: The Tesseract is dangerous to touch with your bare hands, which can have devastating effects as seen when the Red Skull picks it up.
  • A Father to His Men: Col. Phillips is a particularly curmudgeonly sort — but when Steve goes to ask him about Bucky, he didn't need to check any paperwork; the clear implication is that he knows the name of every man he's lost in the last mission.
  • 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 a necessary one).
  • Film Adaptation (Live-Action): This adaptation creates an updated Origin Story for Captain America, preparing for his role in the upcoming film, The Avengers.
  • 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 the present day at the end of the film. S.H.I.E.L.D. 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.
  • Flagpole Challenge: Steve Rogers is accepted from among the group of candidates because he got the flag by knocking down the flagpole by removing the bolt that was holding the flagpole to the base (all of the other recruits just tried climbing the flagpole).
  • 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.
  • Foil: Abraham Erskine to Ho Yinsen. Both were scientists (actually Yinsen was a doctor but same principle) that served as respective mentors to two of the mightiest heroes/avengers the world has ever known. The defining difference between them is that Yinsen helped Tony reevaluate his morals and become a better man, while Erskine insists Steve to stay the good man he already was. Even their deaths, both die in the arms of their charges, Yinsen using his last breath to tell Stark to not waste his life whereas Dr. Erskine wordlessly points to Steve's heart, reminding him to stay the person he was.
    • Steve to Red Skull. Both are super-soldier serum recipients, one is good and one is evil, but the parallel is a bit more subtle than that. In Zola's first test of his Tesseract energy-extraction device, he turns it up to 70% before deciding to stop there for safety. Red Skull forces him to turn it all the way to 100%, stating he doesn't care about safety and risking the destruction of the device in his pursuit of power. Later, when Steve is in the Vita-Ray infusion chamber, Stark turns the machine up to 70%, then hesitates when Steve screams in pain. He's ready to shut it down, before Steve cries out to tell him not to. Instead of someone else's work, Steve is willing to risk himself by turning the machine up to 100%.
  • Food Porn: Phillips enjoying a meal consisting of potatoes and beef while interrogating Zola.
  • Forceful Kiss: Steve gets forcibly pulled into a kiss with a flirty secretary, only to be caught by his Love Interest Peggy. Cue the Woman Scorned.
  • 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 about what happened, but rather how.
  • 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 transported to Vormir, which has an effect akin to him disintegrating.
    • 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 has taken the Super-Soldier serum himself. You can even see the seam of his mask if you're looking for it.
    • When the car carrying Peggy and Steve arrives at the lab, Steve takes notice of two of the plainclothes MPs who we will later see try to shoot at Kruger during his getaway, and the camera also does a lingering shot on Kruger's getaway driver.
    • HYDRA's motto: Every head that's cut off, two more will take its place.
    • Note the drop of red blood that covers the skull on Schmidt's HYDRA insignia when he kills the monk. Also the guy who paints a portrait of Schmidt. He's using mostly red paint...
    • When Schmidt tells the Nazi officers, "Gentlemen, you have come to see the results of our work...let me show you," the seam of his mask is visible just in front of his right ear and going down to his neck.
    • A minor one at the beginning: Getting beaten up by a bully, Steve uses a round trash-can lid to defend himself. Made even more obvious near the end when a kid uses a similar trashcan lid as a shield painted just like Cap's shield.
    • When Doctor Zola is first introduced, we are treated to his face on some kind of screen. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Zola has uploaded his mind into a computer. It is also pretty similar to his appearance in that film.
    • A broken taxi cab door is used as a shield by Cap when he's fighting the HYDRA agent right after getting the serum injection.
    • When Steve asks where they're going, Bucky answers, "To the future." And they do.
    • The last thing Bucky does before he leaves 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 HYDRA soldier with his crosshairs lingering over Steve's head for an oddly long moment first, suggesting that whatever formula they tried on him might have messed with his head somewhat....
    • As part of the recruitment drive, Steve is used in a propaganda movie showing him walking at the head of a mixed race group of soldiers. The scene plays out for real when he liberates the prisoners held by HYDRA.
    • A very long term, ironic example with Red Skull's final bit of dialogue with Steve. Johann claims he has seen the future and that "There are no flags", to which Steve replies "Not my future." Steve Roger's costume in Infinity War after the events of Civil War is almost entirely black, with the American flag motif gone completely since he is now a fugitive.
    • When Red Skull is seemingly disintegrated, we see a huge burst of white light blast through what appears to be a portal to a distant point in space, not unlike the Bifrost. Sure enough, Infinity War confirms that he's not dead, but was actually transported across the galaxy — specifically, to Vormir, where he is forced to guard the Soul Stone.
  • For Science!: The main motivation of Dr. 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.
  • Found the Killer, Lost the Murderer: Kruger kills himself with a cyanide pill after his submarine getaway doesn't exactly turn out as planned.
  • Four-Star Badass: Even prior to becoming a super-soldier, the film version of Schmidt is a General in the SS.
  • Framing Device: The film starts with the wreck of the Hydra aircraft being found, and then Cap's shield is seen in the ice. Everything is a Flashback until Cap wakes up in the present.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • When Schmidt is having his portrait painted, you can see Schmidt's mug in all its gory glory for a fraction of a second after he's switched off the lights.
    • And when you look closely at Steve's enlistment form: his birthday is July 4th, 1918.
  • Friendly Sniper: James "Bucky" Barnes.
  • From Zero to Hero: Steve Rogers enters the movie as a scrawny, weak kid from Brooklyn with poor health, but he really wants to be a soldier. Then, a doctor sees something in him and puts him through the Super Soldier program, giving him superhuman fitness. Donning a suit and a shield, he ends up kicking lots of nazi ass and saving even more people.
  • Funny Background Event: After the serum treatment, a nurse holds out a shirt for Steve to put on... then gets a second look at him and silently walks away.
  • Futureshadowing:
    • The Incredible Hulk features 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.
    • Iron Man 2 reveals that Howard Stark was a founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. during WWII, and Cap's shield's prototype/replica is seen in Tony's workshop (and is even used in one of his experiments to prop up a component).
  • Generation Xerox:
  • 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.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Steve disobeys orders to rescue the allied POWs, and even turns himself in for discipline after her returns. Yet he saved 400 people, so he's instead given the Congressional Medal of Honor.
  • Gilded Cage: Red Skull believed that his position as head of the Nazi science division is this. He feels that Hitler is hiding him in the remote base in the Alps because his appearance prevents him from representing the Aryan ideal. Because of this point of view, he swears to mold HYDRA into a force of terror beyond even that of the Third Reich. And he almost succeeds.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: They're a part of the USO stage show that Steve's put in.
  • A God Am I: The Red Skull has one hell of a god complex and gets deflated whenever Cap calls him out on it or acts humble despite his own commensurate super power. The fact that he made himself a godlike figure to his followers also suggests that, assuming he was ever aware of it, he sought (somewhat successfully) to hijack the role of "HYDRA god" from Hive.
  • The Good Captain: Unlike the traditional comic book version, Steve Rogers is a commissioned US Army Captain.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Strategic Scientific Reserve. Implied to be the OSS to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s CIA. Explicitly stated to be so in the extended ending scene.
  • 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!
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Steve is heroic, noble, honorable, selfless, and blonde.
  • 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. These are the first things he does after getting the Super Serum. He still has to pass through military training too harsh for his scrawny body before taking the serum.
  • Harmless Freezing: After Steve crashes the Valkyrie into the Arctic to stop it from destroying New York, he is frozen inside the wreckage for almost seventy years before he is found. Not only does he survive this — being in a comatose state for all this time — but he is completely alright when he wakes up, with no physical or neurological repercussions. Well, apart from the culture shock and finding out that everyone you loved is either old or dead. Justified with the implication that the Super Serum is the only reason why Steve survived this ordeal, and in a flashback in The Avengers, the people unthawing him clearly assumed that they were dealing with a corpse, and were in shock when they realized that he was still alive.
  • 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 to some extent.
  • He Knows Too Much: Col. Phillips warns a captured Zola that Schmidt will see him this way.
  • Held Gaze: Steve and Peggy after he proves her faith in him by liberating the prisoners, and after Peggy saves Steve's life from the HYDRA mook with twin flamethrowers. Both instances also include the "You're late" quip.
  • 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.
  • Hero Stage Show: Steve Rogers first takes the Captain America mantle as part of a USO show to raise war bonds, only to become a real superhero under the Captain America name later on.
  • Heroic Build: Steve Rogers has this body post-transformation.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • During the boot camp training, Steve curls himself around the fake grenade, showing that he would be willing to sacrifice himself for his comrades if a live grenade was thrown at them.
    • Cap himself crashes the plane with city destroying bombs, 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, because Cap softened HYDRA up first, and HYDRA was prepared for small-unit raid tactics like the Commandos typically use.
  • Homage: To the opening scene of A Matter of Life and Death. Peggy herself even resembles June from the same scene.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: When Peggy meets Steve and Bucky at a bar in London, the Commandos can be heard singing various verses from the song "There is a Tavern in the Town" in the background, seemingly as commentary on the testing of Steve and Bucky's friendship with Peggy's introduction to the mix, and timed specifically to the three's actions throughout the scene in ways that are clearly deliberate. Said song is also explicitly romantic in nature, being about the singer's beloved leaving her for another woman, with context establishing the singer as representing Bucky, the singer's beloved being Steve, and the other woman being Peggy.
  • 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.
  • 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?: Steve doesn't know his strength after getting out of the chamber. At one point he loses control while running and flies through a plate glass window. He gets the hang of it pretty quickly, though.
  • How We Got Here: After the HYDRA bomber is found in the arctic, the film flashes back to Steve becoming Captain America, and finally crashing the jet to avoid hitting any cities. Then the film resumes in the present with Steven being unfrozen and alive.
  • 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, unconscious in a half-thawed block of ice with a group of scientists standing around him, in shock at discovering that he's still alive.
  • Humble Hero: This is part of the requirement Dr. Erskine has for who should be given the super soldier serum.
    Captain America: Nothing [makes me special]. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn.

    Tropes I to L 
  • I Can't Dance: Part of what makes Cap so endearing. It also forms the basis for the plot involving Steve and Peggy's budding relationship, where the plans the two make for a "dance" acts as a metaphor for their growing closeness.
  • Identical Grandson: Howard Stark, aside from being a little younger and having different facial hair, he looks exactly like his son Tony.
  • 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?
    Rogers: [smirks] Nothing. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn.
  • 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!"
  • Immune to Drugs: A distraught Steve tries to drown his sorrows in alcohol, only to discover he can't because his metabolism is four times faster than the average man. He literally can't drink fast enough.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: "Look, it's Captain America! Everyone, aim directly for his shield!" HYDRA troopers prove quite capable of killing regular soldiers, and his shield is 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. It is, however, in keeping with the pulpy tone of the film.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Captain America's Mighty Shield.
    Howard Stark: I hear you're kind of attached... [gestures to Cap's scuffed and dented prop shield]
    Steve Rogers: It's handier than you might think.
  • 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. 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.
    • A brief example when Red Skull is escaping to the Valkyrie — he arms himself with one of HYDRA's disintegrator rifles and starts taking down soldiers with pinpoint aim. But then, like Cap, he is enhanced.
  • 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.
  • Incoming Ham: Red Skull barely has a single line in the film that is understated.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Like the comics character, one of the reasons Steve is chosen is because he has this, and the serum emphasizes it. With a character like Schmidt, however, it emphasizes the negative traits.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Zola is portrayed as this in the film, compared to the amoral mad scientist he is in the comics. With what we know in the sequel, it's implied that this may be an act.
  • 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.
  • Insert Grenade Here: Cap drops a bandoleer of explosives into a three-story-high tank.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: When they build Steve's hospital room in 2012, they try to play radio clips from 1945. The baseball radio clips are actually from 1941, which Steve is quick to point out. What makes this research failure even worse is that of all the games they could have picked, they chose the only one in history to feature a Brooklyn Dodger hitting an inside-the-park grand slam. Even if Steve, who lived in Brooklyn, had not been at that game, it is highly likely that he'd heard of it.
  • Irony: The HYDRA army, essentially Nazis, are defeated by Captain America who greatly resembles the archetype of the Aryan race: a blond-haired, blue-eyed man of perfect physique. Depending on who you ask, this was the point of the character in the first place. The character created by two Jewish guys.
  • Is This Thing On?: Erskine taps against a microphone and asks "Is this on?" before holding a short speech and starting Steve Roger's procedure.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Averted. Phillips cracks Dr. Zola like a quail egg with a few soft words, a Batman Gambit and a steak dinner. Which Phillips ends up eating.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Col. Phillips 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, but once Rogers succeeds in rescuing 400 allied soldiers from a POW camp against his orders, he gains his respect.
  • Joisey: Bucky can't believe Steve would try to pass himself off as "from Jersey" to the recruiters.
  • Jumped at the Call:
    • Steve, even before learning of Erskine's experiment. He tried to enlist four different times, a fact which intrigues Erskine enough to give him a pass. He is thrilled at the idea of finally being able to serve his country.
    • The future Howling Commandos, too. They even lampshade that Steve is asking them to jump back into the very danger he just rescued them from, but they will do it anyway.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Pre-Captain America Steve does so in boot camp with what turned out to be a dummy grenade. Phillips threw it as a character test, but was hoping one of his favored men would jump on it, but they all just ran away.
  • Keystone Army: 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 come into play at all and HYDRA is defeated by methodical base-by-base warfare.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    • Happens to the SS officer that is chewing out Schmidt when Schmidt decides to demonstrate his weaponry. Specifically, he is telling Schmidt that because of the discovery of his plan to nuke Berlin, he will be brought before the Führer for his actions, but doesn't get a chance to finish his sentence before Schmidt disintegrates him.
    • During the assault of the Hydra base:
      HYDRA mook: CUT OFF ONE HEAD, TWO MORE— [bang]
      Colonel Phillips: Let's go find two more.
    • Also Cap, from the perspective of Peggy and Col. Phillips. In reality, it's more like "the radio died mid-sentence before Steve froze over".
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Red Skull's reason for setting off the Italian HYDRA facility's Self-Destruct Mechanism. Prison break? No problem. Rampaging Super Soldier? No thanks.
  • Lady in Red: Peggy shows up at the pub in a red dress that shows off her superhuman physique.
  • Large Ham:
  • 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.
  • Latex Perfection: The Skull's flesh mask resembling his original face. Except for those creepy flaps behind his face. Brrr... At least in this case, he actually has the bone structure to make it work, and it's depicted as being rather difficult to peel off.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • Averted, since Captain America does succeed in rescuing those 400 troops from HYDRA, alone, despite Col. Phillips' orders to back off.
    • Subverted in the climax. 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 tuchus.
  • Lost in Translation: The part where Steve assumes that "fondue" is something sexual doesn't make sense in the French dub since every French person knows that fondue is melted cheese.
  • 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.

    Tropes M to P 
  • 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. Has a more important role in The Avengers, where Loki has it. It might also have done something a bit more exotic than "simple" disintegration to Johann Schmidt. And as it turns out, it did.
  • Made of Explodium: A justified example. A HYDRA tank is blown up by sticking a bomb to the undercarriage. On virtually any land-based vehicle, this is the most vulnerable area.
  • Made of Indestructium: Captain America's shield, naturally.
  • 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.
  • Magic Pants: The uniform trousers that Private Steve Rogers is wearing when he begins the transformation process. They still fit, and are undamaged, when he comes out of the process, having gained 135 pounds of bone and muscle in a matter of minutes. It does look like he's wearing Capri pants, now, though, due to him gaining ten inches of height.
  • 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 withering away in a work camp and selects five of them for his special crack commando team.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Steve is shown as being quite reluctant to rush into anything regarding women. He does try to brush away the aforementioned secretary, but definitely not with the effort that Peggy would have liked to have seen from him. (In his defense, she was played by Natalie Dormer.)
  • Manly Tears: Steve has obviously been crying before Peggy finds 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 Phillips 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:
    • Steve and Bucky:
      "I had him on the ropes."
      "I know you did."
    • "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: In Captain America and Red Skull's first meeting, Captain America punches Red Skull hard enough in the face to upset his latex face mask (the right eye is knocked out of position slightly, showing the red beneath), and Red Skull retaliates by punching Captain America's steel shield, denting it in the process.
  • The Men First: The very first words out of Steve's mouth after returning to camp with a train of rescued prisoners and captured HYDRA technology and saluting Col. Phillips are "Some of these men need medical attention".
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: 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.
  • Mistaken for Imprisonment: Steve wakes up after being frozen for almost seventy years. The room he wakes in is designed to look like it's in the 1940s, in order to ease him into the news that he's in the future, but Steve notices something's up when he recognizes the baseball game playing on the radio as one he attended a few years before even becoming Captain America. Assuming he has been retrieved and captured by the enemy, he easily breaks out, only to find himself in modern-day Times Square.
  • 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 are not amused. It's an In-Universe whiplash, too, as Steve is pleased by the responses of the crowds back home, and is very upset to learn the troops aren't at all happy with him.
    • 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 goes sour. (They like 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: Besides the Training Montage and On Patrol Montage, we get:
    • "The Star Spangled Man" song plays with a montage of Captain America's propaganda.
    • The supporting cast around VE-Day when Steve is "dead".
  • Motivational Kiss: Steve receives a kiss from Peggy just before he boards the Red Skull's plane. Phillips declines to do the same.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Played with, and Zig-Zagged almost to the point of deconstruction through the rest of Cap's film appearances.
    • His first Captain America costume is an almost 100% accurate reproduction of his outfit from the comics, though it's just used for stage shows at that point.
    • His combat uniform has much more practical lines, and more muted blue and red colors. Justified, since as a soldier in an active war zone he doesn't want to be too highly visible, but still wants to play up the Captain America symbolism for both allies and enemies.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Where to start...
  • Mr. Smith: Johann Schmidt's name is German for "John Smith"—suggesting that "Johann Schmidt" is just an alias.
  • 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. 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. The best the Red Skull can come up with is to use it as a battery. Seeing as how it is said to "burn" people that try to use it directly, though, turning such an awesome power into a reliable battery in the 1940s is a feat in itself.
  • Muscle Angst: Steve before he gets upgraded. He has a Heroic Spirit, but that can't overcome his scrawny muscles.
  • 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. Phillips 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 the World War I-era hero Union Jack, who is basically the British Captain America (sans superhuman powers) and thus wears 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.
    • The original Human Torch appears as "The Synthetic Man" 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.
    • The display also bears the name of Phineas Horton, the inventor who created both the Human Torch and The Vision in the comics. Additionally, Phineas is step-father of Frankie Raye, one of Johnny Storm's ex-girlfriends, and she also appeared in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer as potential love interest for Johnny, who was portrayed by Chris Evans, who portrays Captain America in this movie.
    • 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 S.H.I.E.L.D. agents frequently used flying cars in the comic books and The Avengers has the Helicarrier, 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 '70s (yes, even before the '90s 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!" in 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 is 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 is 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.
    • 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 realizing just how long he's been asleep once he's outside. (That was actually not shown in The Ultimates, just Cap escaping from S.H.I.E.L.D.)
    • Many of the HYDRA weapons make the same sound that Iron Man's hand repulsors do in his films.
    • There's a brief shot of a rocket in the background when Cap fights Red Skull for the first time, referencing his The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes origin story, in which he got frozen while trying to stop a giant rocket that Red Skull had fired at the US.
    • A number of elements of the motorcycle chase scene reference similar scenes in the 1979 films, in particular the rear mounted flamethrower mimicking the rocket propulsion of the 1979 motorcycle, as well as Steve at one point wedging the shield between the handlebars, where it was mounted as a windscreen in the earlier film.
    • Cap's handpicked squad consists of the four kids from Young Allies, albeit grown up.
  • 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 is blatantly Nazi-like in its imagery, as they were originally the Nazi's Deep Science division before they went renegade.
  • Nerd Action Hero: It's a downplayed example, but a lifetime as a 90 pound weakling means Steve has learned to fight smarter, not harder, and thus he wins the Flagpole Challenge. There's a reason he leads the Howling Commandos and, later, the Avengers. There's a brain in there. Note he pulls a handful of books out of his footlocker when he gets to Erskine's camp.
  • Nerves of Steel: Peggy steadily taking aim at the 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 Bifröst, and that the cube was also used for dimensional travel in The Avengers, it's just as likely as not that 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.) In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as with the comics, Bucky becomes, well, the Winter Soldier.
  • 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.
  • Never Mess with Granny: An old woman runs the antique shop that serves as the front for the Super Soldier laboratory (a detail from the very first Captain America comic). When the Hydra spy runs out, she grabs a machine gun... and is immediately shot dead by him. Points for effort, though.
  • Nice Guy: Steve Rogers is made of this trope. It's the entire point of the movie that he makes a great hero because he was always a great person to begin with.
  • 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 Schmidt.
  • No Conservation of Mass: According to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve gained 135 pounds over the course of the procedure that turned him into Captain America. The only thing his body could have used to make all that muscle and bone is the serum itself, but the technicians in that scene (and the escaping HYDRA spy in the next scene) didn't act like the serum vials weighed 23 pounds each.
  • No, Mister 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.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Red Skull doesn't mess around when it comes to facing Cap. When he sees Steve rampaging through the base, he immediately activates the self destruct sequence to kill him and the escaping prisoners all at once. When he captures Cap at his mountain base, there's no elaborate death trap or Cold-Blooded Torture, just a quick No-Holds-Barred Beatdown and a Tesseract-powered pistol to the head. And when Cap arrives on the Valkyrie and reaches the control room, Red Skull sneaks behind him to get off another Tesseract-powered shot.
  • No One Gets Left Behind:
    • The Captain's raid to rescue the Allied POWs who are being held by HYDRA.
    • Also, Bucky refuses to leave without Steve when the two get separated in the exploding factory.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup:
    • The Super-Soldier serum. Erskine keeps the notes all in his head to protect the secret from abuse. The only viable sample not used on Cap is spilled in the ensuing theft attempt.
    • 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 is ever seen (aside from the propaganda commercial during the beginning) is 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 the cheesy slogan ("HAIL HYDRA!") which are obviously modeled after the Nazi salute and the associated chant.
    • And you can still see the odd swastika if you look carefully whenever Nazis appear. One example is the Hitler actor from the stage show, who wears the armband. You just don't see it clearly.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Minor example. Red Skull is technically Cap's physical equal and is superhuman, but unlike the experienced Cap, Red Skull clearly treats direct combat as a last resort; beneath him. This shows when they do fight, as Red Skull relies either on factors like his advanced technology, or the other agents to give him an advantage, and if forced into direct one-on-one, he doesn't have the same fighting prowess Cap does.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: 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.
  • 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 scene is in Austria. Steve leads the POWs all the way to Italy through very hostile territory.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • 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.
    • When Steve learns that the angry soldiers he failed to entertain are the 10% not on the casualty list of an operation and that it was the 107th... Bucky's unit.
    • 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.
    • Phillips has one when he's interrogating Dr. Zola when Zola says that Johann Schmidt was targeting "everywhere".
    • That beautiful look on the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent's face when Steve says, "The game. It's from May 1941. I know because I was there."
    • The men sent to inspect the progress of Red Skull's operations have this when the only one of them not too busy insulting Red Skull bothers to glance at his map of targets and sees that Berlin is on it. It quickly gets worse once he starts zapping them.
  • Omniglot: Gabe Jones, aside from English, also knows 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! Downplayed, 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. In a bit of Tempting Fate, Phillips initially rejects Steve's attempt to get in the fight because he doesn't believe one man can be an army.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted and subverted. James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, James "Jim" Morita and James Montgomery "Monty" Falsworth are members of the same unit, in addition to Jacques Dernier—Jacques being the French equivalent. None of them go by James. Also played straight, as there is in fact only one Steve: Steve Rogers.
  • On Patrol Montage: The Howling Commandos wrecking HYDRA.
  • Orbital Shot: Cap gets one at the end when he escapes the S.H.I.E.L.D. holding area in Manhattan and ends up utterly bewildered by modern-day Times Square.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Cap rides a motorcycle out the window of a barn, as the barn is blowing up.
  • Outside Ride: Rogers does this briefly during his chase for the Hydra spy. Slightly more justifiable because Steve is superhuman and the windows were broken, meaning he had something to hold.
  • 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.
  • Painful Transformation: Two of them.
    • Firstly, Johann Schmidt: he is shown injecting himself with the unfinished Super Serum in a flashback — fire then burns around him and it cuts to his face twisting in agony, turning into Red Skull.
    • Secondly, Steve Rogers. During Project Rebirth, he has the serum and Vita-Rays pumped through his body, making his muscles and bones grow — about half way through the procedure it becomes a lot more intense and he is heard screaming from within the pod. The scientists immediately get up to shut down the machine — but Steve yells at them to keep going despite the pain (becoming a freaking man mountain when it's done).
  • Parody Sue: Captain America as a USO show character.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Unsurprisingly, USO shows featuring Captain America are made of this trope. He's selling war bonds after all. Steve himself is more nuanced.
  • Period Piece: Unlike the rest of the MCU, it is set during the second World War.
  • 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.
    • The Red Skull giving Dr. Zola the keys to his Cool Car. He's doing that at least in part to make sure his car will be delivered to him at the rendezvous, but it also shows, even for a monster like him, that he likes/trusts Dr. Zola enough to let him borrow his car.
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: Schmidt does this to set up HYDRA.
  • Pink Mist: The goriest part of the movie is on the New York bomb-plane, after a HYDRA soldier falls into the propeller.
  • Pineapple Surprise: Rogers 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.
  • Planning for the Future Before the End: After 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 in the form of Gabe Jones, but a Japanese-American member in the form of Jim Morita, as well, despite the fact that the military segregated those minorities at the time. (It wasn't desegregated until under Harry S. 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 that Gabe Jones was a cook, as most African-American servicemen were in real life.
    • Averted slightly when Dum Dum Dugan wonders if HYDRA must have captured a Japanese ally, only to have Jim Morita say "I'm from Fresno, ace." Fresno was the site of an internment camp where Japanese-Americans were detained following the attack on Pearl Harbor, so Morita may have enlisted to avoid incarceration.
    • Averted in the USO show. The lyrics to "The Star Spangled Man with a Plan" refer to the Germans as "Krauts".
    • In the tie-in comics, it's shown that HYDRA deliberately put men from different units in the same cages in an attempt to prevent them working together to escape. However, when their cell mate Jimmy (actually Bucky) falls ill, the future Howling Commandos put aside their differences to save his life, neatly explaining why they get on so well come the time of the movie. All but Jim Morita have proven their worth already, despite their race or nationality, which is why Morita's apparent nationality is the only one that is called attention to.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Hitler is stated to have sent Schmidt to his position just because he doesn't look like the Aryan ideal anymore. Schmidt himself seems to not be a white supremacist anymore, in that being a super soldier, he thinks everyone else is now beneath him (hence why he's willing to nuke Berlin along with allied cities).
  • Powered Armor: Apparently employed by HYDRA Elite Mooks, at least to some capacity. The one present in the train seems to carry weapons far heavier than can be wielded without Super Strength and can take Rogers' 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, as 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 blonde secretary puts the moves on Steve. During the debriefing scene between Steve, Peggy and Col. Phillips, she can't keep her eyes off of him. When he asks if he can speak with Howard Stark later, she isn't even about to give him the time of day until she recognizes 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 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, mere decals for the head wings, 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 WWII 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 archetypal 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 re-imagined to be older and much more competent, not to mention lethal, for several years by this time, and the influence is cited by the filmmakers themselves.
    • Also of note is the fact that neither Rogers nor Bucky have secret identities. This was a standard trope for comics in the 1940s, but it doesn't really make much sense A) to have special forces risk court-martial for doing the jobs they're actually there to do, and B) to keep commanding officers in the dark and run the risk of them unwittingly sending two of your top special forces into the line of fire as Cannon Fodder.
  • Preemptive "Shut Up": When Phillips rejects Steve's request to go and save the 107th (which includes his best friend):
    Agent Carter: [breathes in]
    Colonel Phillips: If you have something to say, right now's a perfect time to keep it to yourself.
  • Produce Pelting: This is what the American unit stationed at Italy eventually does to Rogers during a USO war bonds tour after a performance gone sour. One has to wonder where that tomato even came from, except they are in Italy, and they do use tomatoes in pizzas and pastas there...
  • Propaganda Hero: Cap's set up as the poster boy for the American troops, mostly to sell war bonds. Ironically, the men actually on the front line have no respect for a leotard-wearing shill who has never seen combat. That changes.
  • Protagonist Title: Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Psycho Prototype: Red Skull is revealed to be the one who received the Super-Soldier serum before Rogers did, and boy did the results backfire on him, or maybe 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: HYDRA was originally a Nazi organization, but then they take OFF the Reich and branch out on their own. This is shown in the double-fisted air salute, which represents the two heads of the Hydra that pop up when one is cut off, and when Red Skull decides to wipe out even the major cities in Germany.

    Tropes Q to T 
  • Rated M for Manly: After the hi-tech flying action of Iron Man, the monster mashing of The Incredible Hulk and the mystic smashing of Thor, we have Captain America and the Howling Commandos as a more down-to-earth war movie with normal soldiers clashing with others, and it is no less manly for it.
  • 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 from people who had never heard of the 442nd RCT or Nancy Wake and Julia Child.
    • 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 Boston on them — three cities that would be spelled the same whether they were written in English or German.
  • 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Character Development turns Col. Phillips into one, starting from the moment Steve surrenders himself to disciplinary action and up to his final scene when he gives Peggy Steve's folder with a heartfelt look of sympathy.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Hitler does this to Schmidt, whom he considers an embarrassment, by assigning him to a fortress buried in the German Alps. It backfires spectacularly, as with no one to watch over his shoulder, Schmidt doubles down on his doomsday weapon research and even starts carrying out his own operations in Norway, America, and along the Western Front. By the time the German government realizes what he's up to, he's completely beyond their control, and would have wiped them out along with the Allies if Cap and his comrades hadn't stopped him first.
  • Reconstruction: Of Golden Age Captain America comics, and do-gooder The Cape superheroes in general. It specifically addresses common quibbles with the character (Patriotic Fervor, Invincible Hero, 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. Though that moment is also symbolic that Hitler is against everything that Steve, and America, is supposed to stand for (the intention of his creators).
  • Red and Black Totalitarianism: HYDRA, and by extension the Nazi regime, make heavy use of red and black on their uniforms and imagery. The HYDRA emblem itself is usually depicted as a red skull and tentacles logo surrounded by a black background. Even after Schmidt splits HYDRA off from the Nazis in secret, they retain the red and black, not helped by the fact that Schmidt himself has a red Skull for a Head.
  • Red Right Hand: The Red Skull is marked by what the first super soldier serum did, but the very deformity he named himself after.
  • Red Shirt Army: US 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 Take a Level in Badass after Captain America and the Howling Commandos return from their missions with intelligence and stolen weapons.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless:
    • Averted by Howard Stark, when put into perspective 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 uses power armors that look like unprotected versions of Tony's Iron Man MkI armor.
    • Also, Captain America is implied to have wrecked Peenemünde, cutting short the development and production of the V-2 flying bombs, and an important Nazi munition facility (see Shown Their Work for more detail). One suspects the whole reason that Steve is not actually fighting in the war until a third of the way into the movie is because a Super Soldier would, putting it bluntly, wreck Hitler's shit. Winning World War II that easily would change the course of human history considerably, not to mention be a mite disrespectful to actual war veterans.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist:
    • Dr. Erskine. He only initially developed the Super-Soldier serum because Johann Schmidt forced him to.
    • Dr. Zola would rather build his designs in a environment that did not require chanting "Hail HYDRA". The sequel reveals that he was only "reluctant" to work for Red Skull; he's quite happy to be a Mad Scientist and is ideologically proud to work for HYDRA, especially since it's implied that the Skull's successors treat him with more respect than the Skull did himself.
  • Required Secondary Powers: It is mentioned that Captain's cells have a healing layer over them, most likely to combat the damage super strength would cause to the human body. Of course, this has the side effect that Steven cannot get drunk.
  • The Resenter:
    • At first, Red Skull makes claims that his lack of a human face is no consequence, and that he's actually better for it, going so far as to refer to himself as Erskine's "greatest success". However, when he later has Cap at his mercy after the two have been nemeses for years, he says Erskine "gave [Cap] everything" and asks Cap what made him "so special". So much for the Blatant Lies.
    • Also 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.
  • La Résistance: Before getting captured by HYDRA, Dernier was one of these.
  • Retraux: 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.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The Red Skull reveals his eponymous Red Skull to Steve and Bucky by ripping his rubber normal-face mask off. However, eagle-eyed viewers rewatching his first scene can see the edges of the mask in some close-up shots of the side of his face.
  • Riding the Bomb: Done 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 can even get himself secured in the cockpit.
  • Right Makes Might: Believed by Dr. Erskine to be the real secret to the serum's power.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Steve, who was asleep for 70 years.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: It never actually comes to it, but Steve claims he won't stop until all of HYDRA is locked up or dead after Bucky falls.
  • Role Called: Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Lt. Montgomery Falsworth is a British Lord.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The two-fists of the Hydra salute represent their axiom of two heads growing for every one cut off.
  • 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.
      Kid: Go get 'im! I can swim!
    • Played straight in the beginning of the film, where Schmidt persuades the Norwegian monk to direct him to the Tesseract's hiding spot in the church with the strong implication that he will order a tank shell the entire town of Tønsberg if he doesn't comply. Predictably, as soon as he gets the Tesseract, Schmidt orders the town shelled anyway to destroy evidence, and then executes the monk. To be fair, the monk had refused and Schmidt found the Tesseract himself, so he was only doing what he'd promised.
  • 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!"
    • Steve as he sees Bucky nearly falling off the train to his supposed death.
    • Peggy also undergoes the trope when the plane crashes into the Arctic and ends Steve Roger's final transmission abruptly.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Lt. Falsworth wears one.
  • The Scrappy: The troops like the USO show when the girls come and dance, but Captain America is hated for taking away from the main appeal of the show with his talk of war bonds.invoked
  • 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 for 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 of HYDRA or powered with their "godly" energy source. The actual Third 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 Have Money!: Specifically stated by Colonel Phillips as the reason Howard Stark is going to get away scot-free for helping Steve with the above mission.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The reason Steve Rogers 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.) And just to emphasize his strength of character, this trope gets later averted when he immediately submits himself to Colonel Phillips for disciplinary action. This is actually how soldiers are supposed to conduct themselves if they disobey orders that they feel compromise their personal morals.
  • 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 passes and others fail. "Do you want to kill Nazis?", Jumping on a Grenade, etc. Lampshaded each time by Steve!
    Steve: Is this a test?
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Nick telling Cap that he's still needed in the present. Then there is the end credits finishing with:
      Captain America will return in The Avengers.
    • There are some other things that remain self-contained, though: Bucky being discovered tied to a table in Zola's lab then 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.
  • Series Continuity Error:
  • Sexy Secretary: Pvt. Lorraine.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Colonel Phillips brings Dr. Zola a steak dinner as a softening-up technique. When Zola asks what's in it, Phillips cheerfully replies, "Cow!"
  • Shield Bash: A symbolic weapon for Captain America, 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 Dugan's weapon of choice.
  • Shout-Out: Collected in their own subpage for this movie.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In the film reel Steve makes while stateside, bullets are shown bouncing off his shield. At the time, reliable squibs weren't available so gunshots were depicted on film by expert marksmen firing low-velocity ammunition dangerously close to actors.
    • 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. Apparently, jumping out of Howard's plane counts! (It's also the only time we see Steve use a parachute...)
    • 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 US Army unit, so lesser known 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.
    • The baseball game which is playing on the radio describes Pete Reiser hitting an inside the park grand slam home run (which is probably why Steve recognizes it so easily, it's a very rare play—in fact that game's the only time a Brooklyn Dodger ever did it). He tells the nurse that the game is from "May, 1941." On 05/25/1941 Pete Reiser of the Brooklyn Dodgers hit an inside-the-park-grand-slam against the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    HYDRA soldier: CUT OFF ONE HEAD, TWO MORE SHALL— [gets shot]
    Colonel Chester Phillips: [pumps his shotgun] Let's go find two more!

    Red Skull: You are deluded, Captain. You think of yourself as a simple soldier, but you are simply afraid to admit that we have left humanity behind! Unlike you, I embrace it proudly! Without fear!
    Captain America: Then how come you're running?

    Red Skull: You don't give up, do you?!
    Captain America: Nope.

    Red Skull: You could have the power of the gods! Yet you wear a flag on your chest and think you fight a battle of nations! I have seen the future, Captain! There are no flags!
    Captain America: Not my future!
  • Single-Use Shield: Rogers starts off using a roughly-triangular "heater" shield he picks up during his stage show (a Mythology Gag to the character's roots). The shield is used precisely once as a guard against the Red Skull's fist. The Red Skull caves it in, and it is quickly discarded.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Peggy seems to fall for Steve on the basis of his humble, kind, and rather dorky nature.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer:
    • Schmidt (and thus his actor Hugo Weaving) receives very little screen time in the commercials for the movie, possibly to make him much more terrifying.
    • Bucky even less.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Red Skull or the MCU as a whole. Despite appearing in only one film, the repercussions of his actions extend far beyond his lifetime. Schmidt's discovery of the Tesseract ultimately leads to Thanos turning his attention to Earth (leading to the events of both Avengers films), and his incarnation of HYDRA later destroyed S.H.I.E.L.D. and plunged the world into a state of uncertainty. It's likely that, without Schmidt's influence on history, the spread of superhuman and world-changing conflicts would not have come to dominate Earth at the turn of the 21st century.
  • Small Steps Hero: Stop the Nazi spy escaping with a serum that can make an army of Super Soldiers or rescue a drowning boy? Trick question, Steve — the boy can swim.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Outside of the secretary that hits on Steve and out of all the support crew for Captain America, Peggy Carter is the only significant female member of the SSR's personnel. She, however, is arguably one of the main characters of the movie.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Steve, even after he gets serumed. He has no idea what "fondue" is and thinks it's a sex metaphor (which it is, in a way).
  • Soft Glass: During the chase right after getting the serum, 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.
  • Special Person, Normal Name:
    • Steve Rogers.
    • Also, Johann Schmidt (basically, German counterpart to John Smith).
  • Spiking the Camera: In-universe, Steve Rogers/Captain America (or at least someone in his "troop") in the USO's propaganda films ends up looking directly at the camera, forcing the director to issue a retake.
    Director: CUT! Cut! Don't look at the camera!
  • Spotting the Thread: Rogers knows something's wrong about the baseball game on the radio because "It's from May 1941. I know because I was there."
  • Spy Speak: When Peggy takes Steve to the secret military lab in Manhattan.
    Antique Store Owner: Wonderful weather this morning, isn't it?
    Agent Carter: Yes, but I always carry an umbrella.
  • The Squad: The Howling Commandos.
  • Stab the Scorpion: We get a brief look at Cap in the crosshairs of sniper rifle... only for it to actually be Bucky shooting an unseen HYDRA soldier.
  • Stamp of Rejection: When we first see Steve in a recruitment office, the doctor takes one look at the list of medical conditions Steve has and stamps his form with "4F" (not qualified for service).
  • Standard Sci-Fi Army: HYDRA, with its mythical artifact-powered weapons.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Torn apart by time and space, Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter will nevertheless forever be each other's first loves, and despite both eventually falling in love again, will love each other for the rest of their lives.
  • The Starscream: The Red Skull fully intends to usurp Hitler, and has his minions chanting "Hail HYDRA". Eventually he's revealed to have Berlin as one of his targets for annihilation, and kills the Nazi officers who come to look through his projects.
  • Stealth Pun: Stan Lee's cameo in this movie is as a general. General Lee.
  • The Stinger: There's only one movie left to tease. Notably, while the other films had teasers, this ends on an actual trailer. Sadly, some preview screenings didn't show it.
  • Stock Scream: A Wilhelm scream is heard during the motorcycle chase scene when Cap is on his way to the Red Skull's last base. Cut short, to keep it from being absolutely ridiculous.
  • Storming the Castle:
    • The allied assault on HYDRA HQ in the climax.
    • 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 labor.
  • Strange Salute: HYDRA has their own version of the Nazi salute, done with both arms and closed fists. As though its soldiers are spontaneously sprouting an extra two heads.
    "Hail HYDRA!"
  • Strapped to an Operating Table:
    • How Cap finds a semi-delirious Bucky in the HYDRA base. The room is apparently part of Zola's lab, so god knows what happened to him there. Watchful viewers will notice that during the confrontation between Steve and the Red Skull on the way out of the base, Bucky is staring in anger/horror not at the Skull but at Zola.
    • When Zola himself is captured, he's put in an interrogation room with a hospital gurney, and is disturbed to see a patch of blood on the floor beneath it. It's possible this was set up just to mess with his head so he'd be more willing to co-operate.note 
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Up to and including an entire room full of bombs going off at once.
  • Stumbling in the New Form: While a newly empowered Steve chases after a HYDRA saboteur, he has trouble controlling his momentum with his much larger, more powerful body, and ends up crashing through a storefront.
  • 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 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 pilots 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.
  • 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."
  • Suit Up of Destiny: Both subverted and played straight. Subverted the first time Cap appears in his iconic costume, as there's nothing dramatic about it — he's popping up on stage in a garishly bright outfit for a bond rally. Later, the trope is played straight after Cap gets his shield and suits up to raid a HYDRA base, revealing a more practical (and subdued) version of his uniform.
  • 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. However, he still seems to do more actual damage with his fists and shield than any bullets.
  • 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 title character. Anyone who knows about Red Skull's character, however, is in for a big surprise. It should be noted though, that the Red Skull had been exposed to the Super Soldier serum in that other film about the Captain.
  • 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 showgirls sitting on it over his head is not accomplished by 1940s stage effects, either.
    • Right in the beginning of the film, Johann Schmidt/the Red Skull manages to effortlessly remove the lid from a coffin that even four of his own men could not move an inch. A simple punch from the Red Skull dents Steve's metal prop shield like it is 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.
    • In addition, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that greets Steve near the end has more than a passing resemblance to Peggy.
  • 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!
  • Take Five: Col. Phillips tells the corporal who's been typing his letters to get a cup of coffee before he begins dressing down Peggy for taking Steve on his unauthorized rescue mission.
  • Take My Hand!: Steve tries one of these nearly verbatim to Bucky to prevent him falling from the train, and fails.
  • Take Over the World: The Red Skull makes no secret of his goal. As Zola points out, it doesn't matter if he's delusional if he has the power to do so.
  • Tank Goodness: Gabe, Dum Dum and Falsworth (all of whom later join the Howling Commandos) manage to hijack a tank so that they can 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, manage to blow up a tank that's about three stories high. The super-giant tank is based on the real-life (but never completed) Nazi "Maus" and "Ratte" projects.
  • 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...
  • Technology Porn: The filmmakers really enjoyed all the cool HYDRA tech.
  • Technicolor Death: Red Skull attempts to use the Tesseract/Cosmic Cube in his plane after Captain America smashes the device. Predictably, his attempt results in him being disintegrated into a blinding flash of light. Or was he?
  • Temporary Substitute: Black Widow was going to make a cameo at the end, either in Nick Fury's role, or the fake nurse.
  • 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.
    • 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 (such as this one that shows the circumstances under which Bucky and some of the other Howling Commandos are captured) show HYDRA attacking both the German army and the Allied troops at the same time.
  • Throwing Your Shield Always Works: Captain America, naturally, once he starts using his vibranium shield.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: On the Valkyrie, Captain America takes out the first HYDRA Mook with a thrown knife to the back.
  • 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. Phillips' disbelief (who also almost says this trope word-for-word).
  • Time Skip: Cap finally wakes up in the 21st century at the very end.
  • To Absent Friends: During the V-E Day montage, the survivors of the Howling Commandos can be seen drinking to the Captain's memory.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Obey orders to stay out of the battlefront (Lawful), or single-handedly rescue 400 POWs (Good)? Steve Took a Third Option — save the POWs and then surrender for disciplinary action. But considering that he gets results, the Colonel doesn't particularly care by that point.
  • Token Enemy Minority: Jim Morita and Dr. Abraham Erskine.
  • Too Fast to Stop: Happens when Steve, fresh out of the procedure, goes after the HYDRA spy. Unused to his brand new high-performance body, he winds up bashing a couple of windows.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Steve Rogers goes from nice guy to Captain Freakin' America.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Played with. All the scenes in the trailers occur in the movie, but the context of several of them gives them a whole different meaning. In a good way, natch.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer touting the fact that it's the #1 movie in America not only partially spoils a character death, but the final scene in the movie. Not cool, editors. Not cool.
  • Training "Accident": Grenade!
  • Training Montage: Unusually, the training doesn't actually go well.
  • 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 the 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 Howling Commandos.
  • True Companions: The Howling Commandos.
  • Truer to the Text: Captain America: The First Avenger is significantly more faithful to the source material than Captain America (1990) was, to say nothing of the 1979 films starring Reb Brown.
  • 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 '40s pulp fiction.
  • Two-Timer Date: Captain America ended up having to miss out on a Medal of Honor ceremony. Unlike most other tropes, he had a very good reason for doing so: He had to debrief Allied officers on the situation and tell them that he discovered the locations of various HYDRA facilities throughout Europe.

    Tropes U to Z 
  • Underestimating Badassery: Even after the medical procedure, Steve still has difficulty being taken seriously mainly because he is the star of a silly propaganda show with no actual combat experience. It isn't until after he goes out of his way to prove himself in combat that people recognize that he means business.
  • Undying Loyalty: The members of Hydra are suicidally loyal to the Red Skull, even though he does very little to disguise that he is a Bad Boss who cares nothing for any of them (it's implied that they are loyal to the organization as a whole, which is confirmed in later MCU movies and shows).
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: Schmidt used the super soldier serum before it was ready. While it did give him the physical powers Steve has, it deformed his face.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Invoked by Steve with the word "fondue". This kinda gets him in trouble with Peggy.
  • Vehicular Turnabout: HYDRA's advanced weapons and technology are turned against them by Allied POWs. The opening seconds of the breakout is a Zerg Rush, but with every soldier taken down, the escapees get access to weaponry and vehicles.
  • [Verb] This!: A soldier in Italy says, "Hey Captain! Sign THIS!" before proceeding to moon Captain America during a USO tour gone sour.
  • Villain Ball: Nicely averted until the very end. The Red Skull's plan is completed in full with precision. Only a last-minute attack and Cap's final fight leave the Red Skull literally picking up the Villain Ball (more specifically, the Tessaract) and stopping his own plans cold.
  • 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?
    Schmidt: [calmly] Our forces are outmatched.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • "YOU ARE FAILING!!! We are close to an offensive that will shake the planet, yet we are continually delayed because you cannot stop a simpleton with a shield!"
    • A more subtle instance: Red Skull delivers a Breaking Lecture, then is incensed by Cap's flippant response and resorts to simply punching him.
  • Villainous Friendship: Red Skull's interactions with Zola imply this. Despite his contempt for those he views inferior, Schmidt is almost always polite to the doctor and always treats him with respect. He even seems to regard him as a friend or at the least as a close confidant, asking his opinion on a portrait of him. Schmidt even gives the doctor his personal car to drive out of the exploding base. Though he gets annoyed by the doctor's failure to stop Cap, he instead vents his anger on a soldier. Of course, this could fall under Pragmatic Villainy as he requires the doctor's scientific expertise. Also, Zola knows that Schmidt is a certified psychopath and knows full well the Skull will not hesitate to kill him if he finds him to be a liability. But even then, the sequel shows that Zola is still carrying on Schmidt's legacy in a roundabout way.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Red Skull mentions upon meeting Captain America that he's a great fan of his films.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: At the end the film, Steve Rogers wakes up in a hospital recovery room in New York City after landing the Valkyrie in the ice. However, after escaping from the recovery room, he soon learns that he's been asleep for nearly 70 years in the ice.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Red Skull gives Zola the keys to his Cool Car to escape the POW-staffed factory, warning him not to scratch it. Later, when Phillips jacks the car to catch up to Skull's flying wing, he winces when the propellers do a number on the paint. Clearly, he loves that car.
  • War Comes Home: Averted with Captain America when he stops Red Skull from bombing America, including his home state of New York, by performing a heroic sacrifice where he crashes the bomber into the Arctic Circle.
  • Weapons Understudies: In-universe, one of Cap's war films features an M3 Stuart standing in for a German Panzer.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Not only are Cap's outfits based on the Stars and Stripes, but the Chorus Girls in the war bonds drive wear short dresses based on the flag.
  • We Need a Distraction: Steve brazenly storms the front gates of the last HYDRA base, and gets captured just after he breaches the front wall. This means that not only did he break an opening for the rest of his division to get in, but that HYDRA troops are just paying attention to Steve until it's too late.
  • 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:
    • During the Nazi officer's visit:
      SS Officer: [pointing to a map of locations Schmidt intends to destroy] Berlin is on this map!
    • In-Universe for Steve:
      Nick Fury: You've been asleep, Cap. For almost 70 years.
  • Wham Shot: When the Red Skull takes hold of the Tesseract, it opens a portal into space in a manner that resembles the Bifrost. This particular shot became much, much more important when the Tesseract is revealed to be holding the Space Stone.
  • 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 US Senator who set Steve up as the face of the USO'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 looks 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 they 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.
  • 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."
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted; Red Skull has no problem just shooting his enemies. In their second confrontation, he pauses to ask Steve a small question that one can forgive him for asking (what about Steve made Erskine choose him to get the serum), and then he pulls out a sidearm and decides to get it over and done with. Later when Steve infiltrates his aerial bomber, Skull hides and ambushes him with a rifle, and when disarmed of it resorts to his sidearm again.
  • Wicked Cultured: When Zola walks in on Schmidt getting his portrait painted, Schmidt is listening to German opera. Götterdämmerung, to be precise. Props to the music editor who timed it out so that the ominous double chords fall at an appropriate point in the conversation.
  • 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.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Hotness: Like in the comics, Steve Rogers gets this makeover after his infusion of super-soldier serum. He goes from short and scrawny to so buff it results in Peggy Carter (and Hayley Atwell) touching his abs.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The imperfect Super-Soldier serum that the Red Skull took enhanced his cruelty, narcissism and lust for power to the level of insanity. However, being completely out of his mind is no obstacle to his success.
    Armin Zola: Schmidt believes he walks in the footsteps of the gods.
    Col. Phillips: Hm.
    Armin Zola: Only the world itself will satisfy him.
    Col. Phillips: You do realize that's nuts, don't you?
    Armin Zola: The sanity of the plan is of no consequence.
    Col. Phillips: And why is that?
    Armin Zola: Because he can do it!
  • 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.
  • 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 gets super-powers is so he can keep up with everyone else.
  • Yellow Peril: Averted and Defied; In Morita's backstory he endured a lot of harassment for being Japanese after Pearl Harbor, but there's no mention of his race in the movie itself, and he's just as loyal and dedicated to bringing down the Nazis / HYDRA as the other Commandos.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: At the end of the film, Steve Rogers wakes up in the present day, approximately 65 years after he crashed the Valkyrie to prevent the bombing of New York City. Most of the landmarks of New York have changed and almost everyone he knew is dead. He can go back to Brooklyn, but he can never truly return home.
  • 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.
  • 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: I'm sorry, Herr Schmidt. We fought to the last man.
      Red Skull: Evidently not. [shoots the officer]
    • 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. Which makes sense on two fronts: it's a very nice car, and Zola (who is carrying the blueprints of his latest Tesseract-powered weapons) is still useful.
    • Invoked by Phillips to get Zola to talk after he is captured, though.
  • You're Insane!: Invoked twice, both toward Red Skull. The first time is by various Nazi officials (before one of them alerts the others that one of the "enemy targets" that Red Skull plans to vanquish with his weapons is Berlin), when thanking him for proving to them how mad he truly is. The second time is Captain America's response to his Breaking Lecture, noting that Erskine told him that Red Skull was insane.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: When raiding the Tønsberg church in Norway, Johann Schmidt/Red Skull forces the Monk to reveal where the Tesseract is actually hidden with the strong implication that he will order a tank to shell the entire town to the ground if he refuses. 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 by 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: 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.
  • 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:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the tie-in comic, Johann Schmidt is drawn as blond. In the actual movie he's a brunette, and in the comics he has red hair.
  • Cool Car: Howard Stark's convertible, which is bulletproof, fires rockets and has a wet-bar.
  • 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.

Tropes found in the tie-in video game:

See Captain America: Super Soldier.

"Let's hear it for Captain America!"


Howling Commandos

The Howling Commandos' battle against Hydra is mainly shown through a 2-minute montage.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / OnPatrolMontage

Media sources: