In 2008, Marvel Studios embarked on an incredibly ambitious project. Starting with Iron Man, the company began releasing a series of superhero movies based on their own properties that would eventually be tied together in the team-up movie The Avengers in 2012. The drawback, however, is that not everyone in the world is as obsessed with the characters as their key fanbase and while the films do cater to a wide audience, there are always going to be details that leave sections of the movie-going public saying, “Huh? The good news is that I’m here to help.
Just as I did prior to the release of Iron Man 2 and Thor, I’ve crafted yet another handy guide to the Marvel universe, this time for Captain America: The First Avenger, which comes out this Friday. If you still have no idea what the Cosmic Cube is or who the hell the Howling Commandos are, read on below for the full scoop.
WARNING: This article contains some minor spoilers for Captain America: The First Avenger. While the first seven entries are safe, the last two may affect the surprise element and are clearly marked. It should be noted that people who have viewed behind-the-scenes photos probably won’t be too shocked by this information anyway.
How Does It Fit? HYDRA, its armies, and the Red Skull together play the antagonist role in Captain America: The First Avenger. Using the organization’s resources and manpower, the Red Skull plans to execute his plans for world domination using a power never before seen by this world and previously thought to exist only in the world of myth. It’s up to Cap and his crew to stop these forces before it’s too late.
How Does He Fit? Though the character is introduced in a way that will make comic book fans smile, Arnim Zola is played by Toby Jones in Captain America: The First Avenger. At the start of the film, Zola has already made plenty of weapons for HYDRA, but they are not yet functional. To remedy this, the Red Skull finds the Cosmic Cube and harnesses its power. Though Zola is considerably weaker than the Red Skull, they are both high ranking members in both the Nazi party and in HYDRA.
The Cosmic Cube
How Does It Fit? Previously seen in the end credits sequence of Thor, the Cosmic Cube plays a much larger role in Captain America: The First Avenger. While Arnim Zola has developed quite a number of new technologies and weapons, they prove to be useless until Schmidt harnesses the power of the Cosmic Cube. Distributing its power as a blue energy source, the HYDRA guns become blasters capable of disintegrating their target in an instant and bombs are powerful enough to destroy entire cities in moments. Remember what I said about the cube’s power in the hands of a supervillain? This is what I meant.
Super Soldier Serum Or Erskine Formula
How Does It Fit? Steve Rogers starts the film as a sickly, scrawny orphan who wants nothing more than to fight for his country, and is discovered by Erskine and found to be the perfect candidate for the super soldier serum. The experiment turns him into Captain America, but Rogers isn’t the only person in the film given Erskine’s Formula. Before defecting, Johann Schmidt forces Erskine to give him the serum, but because vita-rays aren’t used and Schmidt’s evil intentions, the procedure results in Schmidt becoming deformed and going absolutely insane.
How Does He Fit? If you’ve watched the two Iron Man films than you have already been introduced to this character twice. First played by Gerard Sanders and then John Slattery, the young Howard Stark is played by Dominic Cooper in Captain America: The First Avenger and helps the hero in many ways. In addition to providing the super soldier with his famous costume and shield, Stark is even present when Steve Rogers is first given the super soldier serum and exposed to vita-rays.
How Does It Fit? This is actually not the first time that Vibranium has made an appearance in the Marvel movie universe. Though it’s not mentioned by name, it’s the element re-discovered and formulated by Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 as a replacement for the palladium core in his chest arc reactor. In this film, however, the ultra-rare metal is made into a shield by Howard Stark that Captain America paints and takes into battle.
How Do They Fit? Though they are never called the Howling Commandos by name, the group is formed after the members are kidnapped by HYDRA and freed by Captain America. Because Nick Fury isn’t around this early in the Marvel movie timeline, it is instead Cap who enlists the men’s help. Together they fight to take down HYDRA bases across Europe.
How Does It Fit? Captain America: The First Avenger largely takes place during World War II, but the story is framed by bookends set in the present. At the start of the movie a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are sent to the arctic to investigate a ship found in the ice. At the end of the film, Captain America wakes up in a compound in New York run by the organization.
How Does He Fit? In the comics the character’s origin begins in World War II where he was the leader of the Howling Commandos, but obviously that’s not the case in the film’s continuity as that would make Fury at least 70 years old in modern day. Fury shows up at the very end of the film after Captain America is woken up and has escaped from the S.H.I.E.L.D. compound in New York.