Since Kevin Feige is a big advocate of trilogies as a method for telling stories on the big screen, most of the solo series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been trilogies, although Thor is getting a fourth movie courtesy of Taika Waititi. Captain America’s standalone adventures were told in trilogy form: the first movie told his origin story, the second saw him adjusting to life in the modern age, and the third one was basically Avengers 2.5.

In all three Captain America movies — The First Avenger, The Winter Soldier, and Civil War — there are both satisfying moments that brought the house down and disappointing moments that let fans down.

10 Most Disappointing: Dr. Erskine’s Death

Against Colonel Phillips’ advice, Dr. Erskine chooses Steve Rogers to take the super-soldier serum. He doesn’t want to give strength to someone who’s already strong; he wants to give it to someone who’ll appreciate it. In the first act of Captain America: The First Avenger, Dr. Erskine becomes a mentor figure to Steve. Then, in a painfully predictable twist of fate, as soon as Steve takes the serum, Erskine is killed off.

Ever since Darth Vader struck down Obi-Wan Kenobi and he became more powerful than Vader could possibly imagine, blockbusters have been killing off mentors. Dead mentors can be found in almost every Marvel movie: Iron Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — the list goes on.

9 Most Satisfying: Steve Goes Into The Ice

At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve finds himself flying a plane full of WMDs. He’s too late to land the plane traditionally and survive the ordeal, so he decides to crash it into the ice.

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He has no idea he’ll be cryogenically frozen and then thawed out in the 21st century. He doesn’t hesitate for a second to make the ultimate sacrifice. His final transmission with Peggy is heartbreaking.


8 Most Disappointing: Weird CGI Mini Chris Evans

In the opening scenes of Captain America: The First Avenger, before Steve receives the super-soldier treatment and morphs into what Chris Evans looks like in real life, he’s a scrawny, spindly little guy.

But since Evans isn’t a scrawny, spindly little guy, this was achieved using CGI, and the head of a chiseled bodybuilder CGI’d onto a short, skinny body just looks weird.

7 Most Satisfying: Cap Takes Down A Quinjet

When Cap finds out that Hydra has been secretly controlling S.H.I.E.L.D. and he tries to leave their headquarters atop his trusty motorcycle, a Quinjet blocks the bridge out.

With nothing but his shield and his moxie, Cap manages to singlehandedly take down the Quinjet. This is a prime example of the Russos directing inventive super-soldier action where The First Avenger’s Joe Johnston mostly settled for generic action beats.

6 Most Disappointing: Apple Store

When Cap and Black Widow get ahold of a USB drive containing information about Hydra, they decide to take it to an Apple Store. The scene doesn’t have any obvious product placement, but it does stand out as unusual in this riff on ‘70s political thrillers.

The gag involving so-called “geniuses” fawning over Steve and Nat gets old quickly, while going to a public place and sticking the USB drive into an Apple computer doesn’t seem like the best way to avoid a shady Nazi-controlled government organization.

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5 Most Satisfying: The Winter Soldier’s Elevator Fight

When Steve figures out that Hydra has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., he finds himself in an elevator with a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who are actually Hydra agents. Realizing his fate, Steve says, “Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”

What follows is one of the most awesomely choreographed fights in recent memory. There’s plenty of visceral action in The Winter Soldier and this scene just might be the movie’s best set-piece.

4 Most Disappointing: Crossbones’ Death

The ending of Captain America: The Winter Soldier teased that Brock Rumlow would become the supervillain Crossbones in a future sequel. And lo and behold, in the opening scene of Civil War, the Avengers are on a mission to take down Crossbones.

Unfortunately, the build-up was for basically nothing because right after his big reveal, Crossbones is blown to smithereens almost instantly.

3 Most Satisfying: “I’m With You ‘Til The End Of The Line.”

The MCU is often criticized for having a “villain problem,” but Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t suffer from this problem, because the villain: a) poses a physical threat, owing to his decades as a brainwashed assassin, and b) has a personal connection to the hero, since he’s Steve Rogers’ childhood bestie.

In their final fight, Steve refuses to fight Bucky. He lays down his shield and calls back to what Bucky told him as a kid — “I’m with you ‘til the end of the line” — to jog his pal’s memory.

2 Most Disappointing: Civil War’s Casualty-Free Showdown

In the landmark comic book event that Captain America: Civil War is based on, dozens of superheroes join in the conflict, and a bunch of beloved characters are killed off.

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By contrast, the movie plays it safe. Iron Man’s team faces Captain America’s team in a showdown on an airport runway, but no one gets seriously hurt. War Machine is shot out of the sky, encased in metal, and the worst that happens is that he needs a new state-of-the-art back brace designed by Tony Stark.

1 Most Satisfying: Civil War’s Final Fight

Most of the final battles in Marvel movies total entire cities and feature armies of faceless aliens and/or robots for endless bloodshed. However, in Captain America: Civil War, the final fight is between three people, and it’s a million times more effective than the usual battle sequences.

Tony wants to kill Bucky to avenge his parents and Steve wants to protect Bucky because he’s his childhood best friend. The stakes and motivations are clear as day, and it makes for an emotionally charged climax to the movie.

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