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It’s been 10 years since Chris Evans donned the stars, stripes and shield of Captain America for the first time.
With MCU mania making a comeback with WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki on Disney+, as well as Black Widow on the big screen, it’s crazy to think there was a time when the franchise’s biggest concern was the introduction of a B-list comics superhero: Iron Man.
It was a huge success, and Marvel’s box office domination took course across the world – even The (dismal) Incredible Hulk pulled in more than $264 million. Much like how Robert Downey Jr.’s swaggering ‘genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist’ was an instant hit, fans quickly fell in love with Evans’ turn as Steve Rogers, all the way to the Endgame.
Casting for The First Avenger wasn’t a foregone conclusion; if anything, Evans wasn’t keen at all. ‘At the time, I remember telling a buddy of mine, ‘If the movie bombs, I’m f*cked. If the movie hits, I’m f*cked!’,’ he earlier told Entertainment Weekly.
Bear in mind, Evans previously starred as the Human Torch in Fox’s kinda-underrated Fantastic Four movies, which weren’t exactly a rousing success. Ryan Philippe and John Krasinski were also in contention for the part, which The Office star still jokes about to this day.
‘I was like, yeah, look at that guy. Are you kidding me? He is Captain America. And I just saw Chris a couple of weeks ago and we were still laughing about it. I said, ‘I love that you retired in my role’,’ he earlier told Esquire. After declining the part three times, Evans eventually signed a six-picture deal with Marvel.
‘I was just scared. I realised my whole decision making process was fear-based, and you never want to make a decision out of fear. I can’t believe [I] was almost too chicken to play Captain America,’ Evans said.
With the first film in the Captain America trilogy leading directly into The Avengers, Evans became a fundamental component of the MCU going forward, carrying it through its battles with Shield in The Winter Soldier, fighting with Tony Stark in Civil War, facing down Thanos’ gauntlet in Infinity War and getting the perfect finale in Endgame, finally back in Peggy’s arms in the era once lost in the ice.
Pick any handful of iconic scenes and lines: the startling transformation into a jacked hero; the ‘Before we start, does anyone want to get out?’ elevator fight; vowing to Tony, ‘I can do this all day’ in their heated bout; ‘On your left!’; and handing Sam Wilson the shield as an old man.
We haven’t forgotten the best of all: picking up Mjolnir years after the first tease in Age of Ultron, and wielding the power of Thor against the Great Titan. Next to the double-punch of the ‘Portals’ return, it’s one of the most electrifying moments in superhero movies, if not modern mainstream cinema as a whole.
Reports emerged earlier this year of him returning to the role in some capacity, but they’ve yet to be confirmed (especially given the actor said it was ‘news to him’). For now, the shield lies in Anthony Mackie’s hands as Sam, and Evans’ legacy is one of the MCU’s strongest.
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