Three of my favorite Marvel heroes have different dynamics to their over-arching superhero stories. Steve Rodgers, Captain America, started out as a chihuahua and after the serum, he got the bite behind the bark. His character arc is extremely relatable as he is knocked down over and over only to continue to stand up. Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow, begins as an enemy spy and changes for the better with the help of her friends.
As the movies continue, Natasha goes from being the spy that wants to just complete the mission to the friend wanting the world to be in a better place. Last but not least is Bucky Barnes, Winter Soldier. Bucky seemingly has a more complicated arc, from being the protector to evil and brainwashed to a traumatized soldier. These three characters bring different aspects of Marvel heroes to the big screen that help us as audience members relate to them and keep us coming back for more.
Marvel Hero: Steve Rogers
“Captain America…Pretending you could live without a war” (Avengers: Age of Ultron). Ultron hit a nerve there with one of our Marvel heroes. If you think about it literally, Steve Rogers more than likely wouldn’t have lived beyond World War 2 without the serum, let alone 70 years into the future. The other way to look at it is, no one thinks of what Steve Rogers does outside of the constant war he is fighting with other beings alongside the Avengers.
We first meet Steve as a self-righteous man who doesn’t like bullies. He’s charming, cute, and definitely a bit of a smart ass. There’s no question as to why Peggy was looking at him like the handsome man he was even at his smaller size. Steve never strayed from his view on fighting a war.
He didn’t blindly follow what the government wanted. Steve was supposed to sign the accords in order to keep the Avengers in check by the government, and instead refused. Also, his best friend from childhood, Bucky Barnes, had lived after his supposed death and became a brainwashed assassin in the years after. Steve finds out that Bucky killed Tony Stark’s parents while brainwashed and has to protect him from Tony who is trying to kill Bucky.
Passing On The Mantle…
In Avengers: Endgame Steve becomes the type of Marvel hero Sam Wilson was. He became the logical thinker, the counselor, the one wanting everyone to move on from the past. While I don’t necessarily agree with the ending the writers decided for his character, he did change a little more than I would have thought. Instead of moving on and staying in the present time to continue to help his team make the world a better place, Steve decided to go back to the past in order to find his happiness with Peggy. It’s almost as if Tony and Steve switched places from the beginning of the movie, but that’s a different article.
Steven Grant Rogers: America’s Golden Boy
“I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.”
Captain America: The First Avenger
Steve Rogers is the classic American hero people wish for. He does what is right, not what he is ordered to do. He’s the type of man to enforce the “no” from a girl at a bar towards a man that won’t listen. Steve would stop the world for his friends before taking an easy way out. Yes, he sounds like a perfect man, but he has his flaws. Like stopping the world for his friends, the temper that got him into more fights than he needed to, his intense need to mother every sad-looking Avenger which, while charming, was probably annoying to a degree.
He also has his famous catchphrase “I can do this all day.” No matter what happened, how many fights he got into, how many punches he caught with his face, he got back up. This relates to people’s struggles every day.Whether it is weight loss, work, or a school bully, no matter how many times you move back a step, you have to get back up and fight back.
Marvel Hero: Natasha Romanoff
“Love is for Children. I owe him a debt.” (The Avengers) is easily one of my favorite quotes from the Marvel Heroes. We first meet Ms. Romanoff as Natalie Rushman, a personal assistant to Tony Stark. We get the first glance at Black Widow when Tony and Rhodey fall through the roof at Tony’s birthday party and Natasha automatically gets in a fighting stance.
Now when I first saw Iron Man 2, I did not think Natasha Romanoff would turn into my favorite MCU character. As the first female Avenger, her wit and straight face deliveries have dug a little Black Widow sized hole in my heart. We learn in The Avengers that Clint Barton, Hawkeye, was actually sent to take out Natasha when she was a Russian spy from the Red Room, where she was trained as a young child. Clint convinced her to come and work for S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of killing her. This leads to their bond that they show throughout the movies. I believe he is the main reason she continued to be the good person she became.
She Has Character Depth, Who Doesn’t Love Her?
Natasha Romanoff started as a calculating spy who was just interested in getting the job done. She grows to care about the misfit team she has come to call family. She became Auntie Nat and a co-parent to the new team of misfits. Natasha was nurturing enough towards the Hulk that she could reduce him back to Dr. Banner without violence. After the snap, she took over S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to be able to maintain order in the world. Usually, she would have been one in the field instead of the person in charge. Of course, in Avengers: Endgame, Natasha also gave up her life to get Clint the soul stone. I think that cleaned up her ledger as if it wasn’t clear before that.
Natasha Is The Ultimate Transformation Hero
“I used to have nothing. And then I got this job, this family. And I was better because of it.”
I believe her Marvel hero redemption arc relates to others because of how she changes throughout the movies. While it seems easier for her to be cold and unfriendly, she lives the most when she warms up to the others. Her ability to open up is slow, but that’s how a normal person goes about opening up to others. She learned to trust the people she had on her team and opened up. She began smiling more and joking with each movie.
“I remember all of them” (Captain America: Civil War) has to be one of the most heartbreaking moments for our Marvel heroes on the big screen. We meet Bucky in Captain America: The First Avenger as Steve Rogers’ best friend. James Buchanan Barnes has never been on our screens as a relaxed man. He was sent off to war, a brain-washed soldier, a traumatized man on the run, and a fighter alongside Steve.
After Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we find Bucky in Captain America: Civil War in Bucharest buying his plums. He is minding his own business, only to be brought back into the seemingly constant battle any Avenger faces. We assume he has not been fighting since the end of the previous movie, but he never relaxed. He was on the run from the government, Sam Wilson, and Steve in order to stay away from a fight.
The only decision we see Bucky make is his decision to go into the cryo until his trigger words are erased from his mind. He’s ripped away from his reality four times, basically all of the movies he is a part of. In Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky falls from the train where we, and Steve Rogers, believe he dies. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bucky is constantly wiped from his memory. He has this done to him in order to maintain his ability to follow directions from Alexander Pierce. In Captain America: Civil War, he goes into cyro to keep others safe. Avengers: Infinity War, he disappears in front of Steve once Thanos snaps his fingers (yeah I cried).
James Barnes Has A Lot To Offer
“It always ends in a fight.”
Captain America: Civil War
There are articles that use James Buchanan Barnes as an example of PTSD. Since I am not an expert on this, I have suggested two articles to read if you are interested.
Another thing to look at is the severe exhaustion that we can practically feel from Bucky. Even from the first movie, we meet him taking care of Steve’s bully that is obviously winning the fight. Dealing with the same situation multiple times, no matter how severe, can result in the same pure exhaustion we see in Bucky. Instead of Steve Rogers’ relentless need to fight, Bucky exhibits the exhausting duty of finishing a task. Much like people who have too many things to do or when your emotions are depleting, you have to just take each task with a sigh and continue. Currently, the movies have only scratched the surface of this Marvel hero. Thankfully, we are getting at least one season of TheFalcon and The Winter Soldier available on Disney+ in the Fall of 2020.
Why Do We Have These Feelings?
Empathy, of course. But why bother writing about these Marvel heroes who are so unlike us in a way that makes us want to cry for them like they are a friend? Having relatable characters is what brings us into the box office by us seeing a small part of the character in us and wanting that character to be happy. Steve Rogers makes people want to be better.
Natasha Romanoff gives me hope that my closed-off perspective in life won’t last forever. Bucky Barnes reminds me that even the most traumatic events can’t keep you down forever. These are all traits that people want to have or have faith in and why would you not root for the Marvel Heroes you see yourself in the most?