Steve Rogers, Captain America, Cap… These are the most common names that Marvel fans around the world use when referring to the iconic superhero.
Adorned by Stars and Stripes, Captain America is the first Avenger and represents the face of America. He represents freedom and justice for everyone in a country that is constantly battling to do what’s right. Cap is also the physical embodiment that you can stick with your guns (metaphorically and physically) without feeling forced to back down.
As a result, since his creation in 1941, Captain America has starred in several ongoing comic book series, as well as many interesting limited series and specials. He is also a large part of many Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies, all the way from Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) through to Endgame (2019).
But how strong can this one character truly be? And does Cap always need his shield in a fight?
If you want to find out more about Captain America in comics and movies, this article has got you covered.
Captain America In The Comics
In comics, Captain America is best known for his role as the leader of the Avengers. Working at peak performance thanks to a dose of the Super-Soldier serum, his character plays a vital role in all Marvel stories (comics and movies).
Though Captain America doesn’t have an ounce of the technology that Tony Stark possesses, nor the strength of the Norse God Thor, he still comes into his own because of his willingness to do what’s right. Because of this, Cap has become tied to his moral compass.
Utilizing The Shield
We’re all accustomed to seeing Captain America with his iconic shield, comic book story or in a movie. It’s an iconic staple of his character and is made from seemingly indestructible Wakandan Vibranium, also known as proto-adamantium.
Because the shield has been created using such a strong material it makes for an exceptional defensive and offensive weapon in a fight. It can really do some damage, too!
Notably, the shield has boomerang-like qualities and is used frequently by Cap himself to take out as many enemies in the vicinity as is possible. Cap also has the full strength to keep hold of his shield even when it is experiencing extreme explosive damage.
But Cap is also incredibly street smart (post-serum, of course) and is an excellent fighter in hand-to-hand combat. So much so, in fact, that he has managed to take down some of his foes – including HYDRA – in many comic book issues without even needing to use his shield.
That being said, Cap is also quick-thinking, highly intelligent, and incredibly agile, making him the textbook definition of a perfect soldier.
While his physical strength is a direct side effect of the Super-Soldier serum, his grit and determination is a trait that he has always – and continues to – maintain throughout the comics.
As a result, Cap is an incredible leader. He can conquer any and all situations with a cool head, and provides support and direction to his comrades even in the midst of battle.
Speaking of his agility, he can flip, hit, kick and generally just take on multiple foes at once without blinking – all while remaining in control of his surroundings. Overall, thanks to the serum, his endurance levels are practically inhuman.
Captain America In The Movies
Throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, Captain America is constantly defined by his physical and mental strength – similarly to his portrayal in comics.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger
This is the first time we see Cap on-screen, and he doesn’t disappoint! He is initially introduced as a short, scrawny man with a strong desire to serve his country in the First World War, despite repeatedly being rejected for health reasons.
But it is this relentless determination that gets him noticed by Dr. Erskine (head of the Super-Soldier project), and sees his application approved.
Post Super-Soldier serum, the physical changes to Cap’s body are glaring. He endures an impressive physical transformation that sees him gain large quantities of muscle, a couple inches in height, and an almost deadly superhuman strength. However, his resolve remains the same.
Steve Rogers remains driven by a need to protect, serve, and avenge. This is glaringly obvious in his successful mission to rescue soldiers taken by HYDRA – including his best pal, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes – and in his final battle with Red Skull.
At the end of the movie he also chooses to sacrifice a life with his love, Peggy Carter, to save the lives of thousands of civilians. This is a true testament to his moral integrity, and shows that he really is an honorable man. Overall, Cap’s strength post-serum remains far more than the eye can see.
2. The Avengers
After he is unearthed from the ice and integrated into the Avengers team, Captain America’s knowledge of warfare and his ability to problem-solve at a moment’s notice helps the Avengers to defeat the Chitauri.
Cap understands the strengths and weaknesses of his team and plays those to their advantage against Loki and the Chitauri, which showcases his incredibly solid leadership abilities.
His strength in this movie is defined by the use of his Vibranium shield, hand-to-hand combat, and his mental ability to formulate plans on the fly. He’s also fully prepared to throw himself into the fray to rescue civilians.
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The movie demonstrates Cap at peak physical performance. It’s clear that his training with SHIELD has paid off throughout the movie, notably when he takes down a group of HYDRA agents, with fluid fighting moves that rival even the most experienced gymnast.
But, this movie also emphasizes his mental strength. Cap is strategic, intelligent, and built to endure. Especially during his epic final fight with the brainwashed Winter Soldier, where his main goal is to get his best friend back regardless of the personal consequences.
4. Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Captain America goes all out in this movie. From fighting hordes of the Iron Legion alongside the other Avengers to saving thousands of civilians there’s truly no end to his strength.
Since Cap’s main means of in-range fighting is throwing his shield and hand-to-hand combat, his main focus in this movie is trying to defeat ground-based enemies. This leaves plenty of room for Iron Man and Hawkeye to take out any flying enemies.
He also uses his shield as a way of deflecting laser beams from Iron Man’s suit towards any and all enemies.
5. Captain America: Civil War
In one of the Avengers’ missions in taking out HYDRA resistance, Wanda uses her power and unintentionally causes a bomb to go off in a building containing innocent civilians.
Because of this unrestrained act, the government suggests the Sokovia accords, proposing that the Avengers be government-sanctioned. This splits the team with half siding with Tony Stark, and the others with Cap himself.
This movie had a lot of fight scenes but focusing on Cap, not much has changed. He still fights for what is right, such as protecting Bucky and preventing Stark from becoming a murderer.
However, Civil War shows us that Cap’s strength can become brutal if his friends are in danger (even against humans). But, much like he prevented Iron Man from hurting Bucky, Captain America retains a sense of compassion by not killing Stark.
6. Infinity War And Endgame
In a battle against Thanos and his alien forces, the Avengers band together to collect the Soul Stones before Thanos can secure them and wipe out half of the world’s population.
In both Endgame and Infinity War, Captain America uses a Wakanda government-issued shield rather than his iconic shield. He still fights the same way, mostly using his fists, kicks, and shield throws.
All through his journey in the MCU the one thing that stands out the most in Captain America is his heart. He refuses to give up even if things look bleak and keeps those around him feeling motivated.
However, he receives a huge power upgrade in Endgame. To put it simply: he gains the ability to wield Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, after being declared worthy. Using the shield along with lightning from the hammer, he can defend himself and take out hordes of enemies.
7. Shield And Mjölnir
The first shield Cap used in the comics was triangular and made of steel. Today, however, Captain America (in the comics and movies) is synonymous with a Vibranium metal disc-shaped shield that is strong and can absorb kinetic blows.
Though this Vibranium shield is pretty much indestructible, there have been moments where the shield has been broken throughout the comic’s history. This includes being destroyed by Doctor Doom as part of the Secret Wars storyline.
Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, is made from Uru metal and can only be wielded by whoever is deemed worthy – a feat courtesy of the All-Father, Odin.
Perhaps one of the most significant comic book moments arrived in 1988’s Thor #390. In this issue, Captain America was initially deemed worthy of wielding Mjölnir. In terms of the movies, this significant moment arrived in Endgame where Cap was able to use the hammer to summon lightning strikes to enemy groups.
Overall, Cap’s ability to utilize both his shield and Thor’s hammer (amongst other tactical fighting moves) is a distinct sign of his strength and his worthiness.
Captain America is equally strong in the comics as he is in the movies. His physical strength post-serum is unmatched, while his mental strength and correct morals help him to use his power for good and just causes.
While this can sometimes be seen as his greatest downfall, his unwillingness to follow darker paths is his most prominent strength. And, as a result, we see more Steve Rogers than Captain America in both the comics and movies.