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Fridge / Captain America: The First Avenger

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Fridge Brilliance:

  • Look closely at the propaganda film that features Steve, specifically the shot of him on a "beach" with a Thompson submachine gun. As he holds up his shield to block incoming bullets, you'll see actual bullets bouncing off. Early special effects technology had yet to perfect the hidden squib so to get bullet shots on film, so sharpshooters were hired to fire real bullets with reduced powder loads.
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  • The Red Skull tells Captain America he's a great fan of his movies. The Nazis invented modern propaganda after all, so far from hating the corny aspects like the frontline soldiers in Italy, it would make perfect sense to the Red Skull that a Supersoldier is being used for propaganda as well as combat (not knowing that Steve was only being used for propaganda). The propaganda movies are about an invincible super soldier with strength beyond what any normal man could reach taking down the Nazis. It's exactly what Red Skull wants to do. It also serves as a parallel to the rumors of Adolf Hitler watching the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator.
  • When Arnim Zola, the scientist, visits Johann Schmidt, the Red Skull, Schmidt's face is in shadow. An artist is painting a portrait of him, and his palette consists mostly of chunky, deep red paint. The artist also looks visibly disturbed. Makes sense about halfway through the movie, when Johann takes off his mask.
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  • In Thor, we are told that magic is more or less sufficiently advanced technology. The arc reactor (60s tech) and Tony Stark's miniaturized version (2010s tech) are inspired by the Cosmic Cube but built from first principles, rather than containing elements of it. They are current humanity's early approaches to technology of a level enjoyed by Asgard.
  • The serum:
    • Dr. Erskine says that, "The serum amplifies everything that is inside, so good becomes great; bad becomes worse." Once put into Steve Rogers, it made Captain America. Put into Johann Schmidt, it made Red Skull. 60 years later, a reverse-engineered version was put into Emil Blonsky... and made the Abomination.
    • Plus the gamma-irradiated Hulk blood. Blonsky is a fierce mercenary soldier using a reproduction of the Super Soldier Serum. It's incomplete, but did seem to enhance what he was, a fighter/soldier. It gave him seriously advanced healing, agility, speed, and seemed to be adjusting his bones slowly to handle receiving a curb stomp battle. We have to also look at the series of events. Steve Rogers received a full vial of serum into each major muscle and enough vita rays to shut down the power grid, all at the same time. Blonsky received a syringe of "we hope it works" serum, had every bone in his body broken by the Hulk, recovered, then received some gamma blood. This ties into the old plot device regarding the gamma radiation where the person's subconscious influenced the outcome. The fact that they were able to tie this in with the Red Skull is pretty ingenious.
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    • And then you have Bruce Banner, a brilliant man with serious anger management issues. Give him the serum, and you get a massive rage monster with some remarkable improvisation and problem solving skills.
  • On the train just before Bucky falls out of the train, he picks up the Captain's shield to protect himself. It seems straightforward enough but when you think about what happens in the comics, it gains a whole other level of brilliance. In the comics, Bucky takes over being Captain America for a while after Steve is thought dead.
  • When Red Skull becomes angry at Steve Rogers' "I'm just a kid from Brooklyn" answer to what makes him so "special" becomes even more obvious when you consider that he was exiled from Hitler's elite circle for not resembling the Aryan ideal anymore. Meanwhile, the blond, blue-eyed Steve Rogers has essentially become the ultimate Aryan. Steve is essentially everything Red Skull wanted to be, and he's on the Allied side. More than that, when Steve Rogers denies there is anything special about him, he implicitly denies there was anything special about Schmidt. That is what really angers the guy.
    • Moreover, the fact that Steve considers himself "just a kid from Brooklyn" - i.e. that he feels, before and after the treatment, that he's just a regular guy - is probably why he's the only recipient of Erskine's serum or later attempts to replicate it who (unlike Schmidt, Blonsky, or Banner) still looks 100% human while under its effects. Even Banner only looks normal when his serum-born Hulk side is suppressed.
  • Tesseract technology:
    • Schmidt and Zola were able to use the Tesseract to turn Hydra into an N.G.O. Superpower. Howard Stark salvaged the cube, but doesn't do the same because he's one of the good guys. The Tesseract could be used to build powerful weapons, and would make building an empire simple via Phlebotinum Dependence - any attempts to turn the technology against them would be futile as the Tesseract is the only way to power it. But powering the world was something else entirely. The arc reactor technology he struggled with to his dying day was his attempt to make the technology widespread - turn nuclear warheads into nuclear reactors.
    • It also shows Howard's reasoning in deporting Vanko - Hydra proved that the technology was easily weaponized, but Stark refused to follow in their footsteps and was deeply disgusted by Vanko's attempt to plunge the world into Hydra-style Tesseract-powered warfare. Tony was less successful in protecting the technology from Senator Stern and Justin Hammer - the assholes only saw arc reactor tech as a weapon, never understanding how much havoc Hydra wreaked with it - until Vanko cut loose.
    • It also goes a way towards explaining some of Tony's extreme 'my technology, you no touch' reactions to the arc reactor and the suit, if he had it drilled into his head from early on that anything falling into the realm of 'tesseract stuff' had to be strictly controlled and kept out of government hands.
    • Further, it goes more into why Tony rankles Steve. Tony's genius may match his father's, but his egotism and reckless use of technology reminds Steve of the Red Skull.
  • Iron Man 2 has the Stark Expo song "Make Way For Tomorrow Today" which is a Disneyland Tomorrowland-type song in the vein of "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow". This isn't coincidence - MWFTT is written by one of the Sherman Brothers, who were legendary songwriters for Disney, including that Tomorrowland song. You might also think it isn't a coincidence that Howard Stark appears to be a mix of Howard Hughes and Walt Disney (Hughes for the tech, Disney for the family friendly showmanship and public persona).
  • Hovering on the edge of Fridge Horror (and tipping over due to what we see in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), when Steve finds him, Bucky is repeating his name, rank and serial number (to an empty room, because he's so out of it). According to the Geneva Conventions, this is exactly what a soldier's supposed to do when being interrogated. What edges it toward horrific is that in Hydra's case, interrogation can be assumed to mean torture and/or attempted brainwashing. Though it's probably Translation Convention, this may also have implications of Switch to English for Hydra's higher-ups speaking in English instead of German if some of the mooks are actually brainwashed Allied soldiers.
  • Remember how in Iron Man 2, the shield Tony uses to prop up his particle accelerator is mostly made of plastic with a little bit of metal? Howard Stark says that the Vibranium shield is made out of just about all the vibranium they have; the plastic shield Tony's got is just a stand-in for the real deal.
  • We finally have a sane, rational justification for the codifier for No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup - Dr. Erskine kept all the essential math for the Super Soldier Serum in his head because the serum "Makes good great and bad worse". He's seen it create the Red Skull. He knows that the Army wants to use it on bullies. He died trying to keep history from repeating itself.
  • Why did Kruger wait until after the experiment? He had to make sure it worked. If it failed, he just would have sent back a message saying the Allies are still no closer to a proper serum. But since it worked he followed his directions carefully; notice that the only time he actually stands to confront Steve is when he has taken the child hostage, any other time the spy's either trying to lose him or taking potshots to keep him in cover while extending his lead.
  • The "HEIL Hydra!" salute looks like a doubling up of the Nazi salute, which is sort of cheesy... but their motto is "Cut off one head and two more will take its place." Something doubled-up makes perfect sense.
    • Also consider what their plans are for the Nazi regime.
  • Having Gabe Jones be the one to capture Arnim Zola wasn't just an attempt at giving him one scene of focus - it was twisting the knife in the wound. Nazi or Hydra, they're Aryans after all.
  • As opposed to the period-accurate wardrobe of the '40s scenes, the costuming of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent pretending to be a '40s nurse is all wrong — the hair, the tie, and especially the visible bra lines showing through her shirt, which were noticeably absent from Peggy Carter (late 1930s bras had wider straps and looked more like this). Steve, being who he is, really isn't likely to get that but he does look at her chest for a few seconds when dropping his gaze, gaining a suspicious expression. Later, he says he was tipped off to the simulation after recognizing the supposedly live baseball game on the radio, but he may well have just been too polite to call attention to a woman's underwear.
  • The S.H.I.E.L.D. the agent wasn't lying when she said Steve was in a recovery room in New York City. She merely failed to disclose the date, for fear of traumatizing him further.
  • Take a close look at just where Schmidt picks up the Cosmic Cube: Tønsberg. Which Thor established was the site of a major battle in the Asgardian/Jötun War. The few surviving humans would have had the first-hand experience just how dangerous the powers Asgardians and their like are dealing in can be to humans, and a great reason to feel indebted to the Asgardians. In other words, the perfect start for an Ancient Tradition guarding a (seemingly, at least) Asgardian relic.
  • The super-soldier serum may have made Steve stronger and faster, but he remained dorky, with little charisma to speak of. The stage shows he starred in took care of that; he went from needing cue cards taped to the back of his shield, to the charismatic hero figure he was destined to be.
  • Bucky's body is never shown; he falls into icy terrain, and just like with Steve, he's found by Soviet soldiers still in the ice and is used to create The Winter Soldier.
  • Peggy Carter:
    • Prior to the procedure, Dr. Erskine has to point out to Peggy that she should be in the observation booth. It's subtle, but an indication that she's already falling for Steve.
    • Not to mention that during the procedure when Steve starts screaming in pain, Peggy is the first person to shout for them to shut it off.
    • Plus, there's the "Grenade!" scene where Peggy is actually the only person running to Steve for diving heroically over the grenade, while everyone else ran for cover.
    • He may have been a scrawny guy having trouble with the basic training run, but Peggy was clearly amused he solved the flag problem.
  • Dr. Erskine just happens to be there when Steve talks to Bucky passionately about joining the fight. Kismet? No, he's there at the invitation of Howard Stark, who was presenting at the expo, and nipped over to the recruitment tent because he's always looking for recruits.
  • Perhaps a small, unintended bit of brilliance. When the Red Skull gets taken into the Bifröst, the effects almost make it look like he is getting burned. In addition, he gets taken away, rather than dying like the rest of Hydra. In Greek mythology, the only way to keep a Hydra's head from regrowing is to burn the stump after cutting the head off. Also, the last head of the Hydra is immortal, and most myths state that it is pinned under a boulder to deal with that. Maybe not the exact same thing as transporting it to a different realm, but kind of an interesting connection.
  • Rogers rejects the team Col. Phillips wants to assemble in favor of asking the POWs he rescued to return to the front. Not only did he see them in action and approve of their tenacity, but he would have compared them subconsciously to the men he went through boot camp with. There was a way besides Cutting the Knot to get that flag off the flagpole - they could have helped each other. Brawny guys like Dum Dum Dugan on the bottom. Mid-sized guys further up, bracing themselves against the flagpole. Rogers, the "ninety-pound asthmatic" determinedly crawling up the pile to retrieve the flag. "Whoever brings me that flag gets a free ride back to base with Agent Carter!" No reason it couldn't have been everyone presenting him with the flag and refusing to abandon the others. Instead they were yanking each other off the flagpole like crabs in an open bucket. That is why he wanted those weirdos - they worked together almost instinctively despite not only being from different units, but different countries.
  • The way Cap's Mighty Shield kept on getting its paint job messed up is odd for a supposedly indestructible shield, but read this review. The shield is itself indestructible, but the paint is just paint - it must be maintained and cared for to show the shield's true glory. So it is with America itself - we are not unsullied and invincible, we screw up and falter and make too many excuses, there is work to be done for us to shine at our best, but underneath the scarring, The American Dream is unbowed and unbreakable. The star at the center also doesn't seem to get scratched up, perhaps representing the ideals that's at the heart of every American's desire to live up to that American Dream.
  • The film trailer features "46 & 2" by tool. The song is about an evolving an extra pair of chromosomes and expanding upon human potential, referencing Captain America's super serum.
  • Schmidt mentioned early on that he'd been sent to the Swiss Hydra base because he "no longer fits Hitler's Aryan vision". Which could mean either his Red Skull deformity or him being dark-haired (even before procedure if the Erskine flashback is any indication). Take a look at the few Hydra goons we've seen unmasked, like Heinz Kruger or the "We fought to the last man" guy: All dark-haired. This subtly hints that Hydra is basically a Reassigned to Antarctica for the Nazis - adding to Schmidt's entire motive of putting down the Reich, so to speak.
  • Sure, Zola could have been lying about being a vegetarian because he was paranoid about the steak being poisoned—but it's perfectly likely that he really was a vegetarian. Like Hitler.note 
  • Part of the reason why Steve is so immediately disoriented and afraid when he first wakes up in 2012: the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are wearing heavy black armor, not too immediately dissimilar from Hydra armor, and the technology he encounters as soon as he breaks out is highly advanced beyond what he's familiar with, beyond, again, Hydra technology. Even if he doesn't think they're Hydra, he's going to be drawing some automatic and very emotional connections to Hydra regardless. Good instincts, too; Hydra had thoroughly infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • The "Vita-Rays" are a bit dumb-sounding and vague until you realize that this was probably the point. Erskine was trying to keep the super-soldier creation process known only to himself, so it makes sense that he'd hide not only the formula but the name of the radiation involved as well. This is a typical operating procedure for some secret government projects. The use of "tank" to mean a tracked armored vehicle with at least one powerful gun came about because the British were attempting to fool the German Empire into thinking it was a mobile water tank. It's good for keeping eyes away from your project by hoping your enemies think it's just something boring they can easily take care of later, or, in the case of the Vita-Rays, not fully sure what it is and maybe it is just a distraction because it's got a stupid name.
  • The first we see of the Hydra soldiers, they're dressed and armed no differently like other Nazi soldiers. Once they have possession of the Tesseract, we gradually see the Hydra soldiers look less and less like regular Nazi personnel, with their uniforms getting more heavily protected and their tech obviously getting more advanced. Then when you consider that Red Skull probably had Hydra completely split off from the Nazis upon making the discovery in Norway...
  • First, Steve gets 4F as a grade from the local Draft Board. Then, he gets 1A. These are actual military terms, but think about it: a guy played by Chris Evans went from 4F to 1A.
  • A very minor point but it does make an interesting parallel between the Captain and Red Skull. When Zola is trying to transfer the Tesseract's energy to an artificial cell, he stops at 70%, afraid to go further since it's untested technology, but Skull pushes it to 100, unwilling to stop going all the way after waiting so long. Later when Steve is undergoing the serum infusion, as Stark pushes the energy to 70% Steve begins to scream, and as Erskine tries to shut it down, Steve refuses to let him, insisting he can do it, and they keep going.
  • A bit of both Brilliance and Fridge Horror: Jim Morita's bitterness is justified, as does his line "I'm from Fresno, ace," when you consider that it means his family was incarcerated in a Japanese-American internment camp in Fresno in the wake of Pearl Harbor and he enlisted as an alternative to prison.
  • Cap and company fighting Hydra rather than straight-up Nazis. It might have come off as disrespectful to the real heroes of World War II to have Captain America winning fights against a very real enemy. Adding an element of a secret front to the war subverts the Reed Richards Is Useless problem and establishes him as a folk hero, someone who was there, but mysterious because dealing with this secret underbelly of super science.
  • A sign behind Cap in modern-day Times Square says "Innovating for the 21st century." Indeed.
  • It seems awfully convenient that Captain America was literally born on the Fourth of July, huh? Unless you think that whoever worked up the concept for the show looked at his birthdate and went, "Hey, I have an idea for the name!"
  • Steve finds Bucky strapped to a table, disoriented, and helps him stand up. At first, Bucky's head hangs a bit and Steve has to basically bump him on the chin to get him to make eye contact. But that wasn't because he was tired or couldn't hold his head up; Bucky, though he'd registered that his friend had miraculously appeared to save him, didn't know about the serum and was looking where Steve's eye level used to be.
    Steve: I thought you were dead.
    Bucky: ...I thought you were smaller.
  • Why is Dr. Erskine objecting to the photographer before the procedure? Well, he just finished an entire bottle of schnapps the evening before, it's obvious his hangover would not agree with bright flashes up close.
  • The credits sequence features a modified WWII poster for the Civil Air Patrol. What are their initials? CAP.
    • Civil Air Patrol was founded in 1941. They are still around, and still have a few members who worked with them in WWII.
  • Post-Infinity War, it becomes much more clear why the Tesseract activated and swept Schmidt away into distant space like it did. It could sense that its sibling, the Soul Stone, needed a suitable Keeper on Vormir: someone who couldn't possibly acquire that particular Stone for themselves. More so than anyone it'd encountered in who-knows-how-long, and probably more so than whomever the previous Keeper might've been, Schmidt made the ideal Keeper because covet the Stones' power though he might, there was absolutely nothing that he loved.
  • Sergeant Fury is uncharacteristically respectful of "Captain Rogers," telling him to be "at ease" and Breaking Bad News Gently. (It's especially apparent when you compare how he met Tony and Carol Danvers, with a lot more snark.) Comics canon showed that the original Sergeant Fury worked with the Howling Commandos, so he understood the strength of their bonds. Not to mention Fury knows that everyone thought Steve was dead and came to a logical conclusion on seeing that he hadn't aged in seventy years: that he had been asleep and missed out on the sudden flurry of news. It's no surprise that in The Avengers, Steve doesn't know what to do with this information but he treats Fury with mutual respect, silently thanking him for the gentleness.

Fridge Horror:

  • Colonel Phillips originally favored someone like Gilmore Hodge to be selected for the Super Soldier experiment. Dr. Erskine said Hodge was a bully (not without reason; we saw him make sexist remarks at Peggy Carter earlier). If Hodge had been selected, the world might have ended up being the setting for Red Skull vs. Red Skull.
  • If you live in Fresno, the "I'm from Fresno, ace" line is funny at first, until you think about it. Fresno was the site of an internment camp where many Japanese-Americans were held after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and one could escape the camps by joining the military. It's a funny line, but the character is actually talking about something terrible, and few people realize it.
  • It's no wonder Steve was screaming in the transformation capsule; he went from being five-four to six-two, a difference of 10 inches (25.5cm). He was basically being racked in there. At best it was the worst growing pains ever, condensed into about a minute.
    • Even worse, imagine how he would've looked if they had stopped the Vita-rays early!!
  • If you look closely after Bucky has been rescued, you can see bruises on his right cheek and temple. The same places where the memory suppressing machine electrocuted Bucky in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • Look carefully during the shootout between Bucky and the Hyrdra mooks on the train. Those crates he moves to when he swaps to his pistol read "BIOLOGISCHE WAFFEN"; Biological Weapon. Even with the Tesseract, Hydra is still committing more earthly war crimes.
  • Horrible as it is to say, Dr. Erskine's death may have actually been a good thing in the long run. If he hadn't been killed, the Army would've insisted on him making more super-soldiers, and sooner or later, people like Hodge probably would have been chosen over Erskine's objections, leading to a whole bunch of people like the Red Skull. Best-case scenario, Erskine would've most likely had to go on the run.
  • What was Steve thinking when he woke up in the fake recovery room? Given that men in black appeared, he seemed to fear that Hydra had captured him and had locked him up in a lab. And in a way, he was right because Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D..

Fridge Logic:

On the headscratchers page.

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