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Debate – Captain America: The First Avenger Vs Wonder Woman


Posted June 11, 2017 by

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Captain America: The First Avenger Vs Wonder Woman

This shouldn’t have been inevitable, but it is. Wonder Woman has just been released, and we spent the majority of the film involuntarily comparing it to Captain America: The First Avenger. This was not the intent – we don’t usually size up DC films against Marvel; that would seem like a redundant exercise. However, with Wonder Woman, we have ourselves a splendid film, rife with flaws, but breath-taking in its own way. This character has been itching to make it to the big screen for so many years, she deserves plenty of plaudits.

But, given that the majority of this story is set during the First World War, elements of the film harked back to CA: TFA, giving it a familiar yet unique feeling. So, we ask – what is it that they have in common? What worked and what didn’t? Some of the comparisons are simple, but others may be subtle, causing us to generate own views on them. Notably, the comparisons are based solely on the two films, and don’t look into the comic book subtext – we would be here all century if we dug into those. Needless to say, spoilers for both films abound…

captain america comic     wonder woman comic


Captain America

The story of Captain America is intrinsically tied with World War II. The German Nazis are clearly the bad guys, and Cap punching out Hitler is an iconic piece of comic book history. The film has him punch out Hitler, but only in propaganda promos – he has other battles to fight.

Given the war-torn era of the film, the visuals capture the bleakness of the period in history, while staying away from the gritty realism.

Wonder Woman

The film-makers decided to transport Diana’s story to the First World War – apparently in an effort to cement the idea of her immortality. But the feel of the war is very similar – Diana is also fighting the Germans and their enhanced tech.

In Wonder Woman however, director Jenkins places us smack-bang in the middle of all the suffering. There is plenty of gory, disturbing imagery of soldiers and civilians dead, dying or maimed. As superhero films go, this isn’t quite as sanitised or easy to watch.


Captain America

The film begins and ends in contemporary times, with the discovery and awakening of Steve Rogers. The bulk of the tale is told in flashback.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman similarly begins in modern times with a photo leading Diana to reminisce about her past. At the end of the film, we return to the photo and understand it’s significance.


Captain America

Steve’s poor health means he’s almost child-like when it comes down to it, he’s been molly-coddled all his life, and has had next to no meaningful relationships of the romantic kind.

Wonder Woman

Diana lives with the Amazons on Themyscira, an island hidden from all mankind. She is the sole child on the island, and given her secret history, her mother, Queen Hippolyta, spends all her time shielding her from her destiny as a demigoddess. These women are the only people Diana knows.

Moral Compass

Captain America

Steve’s desperation to join the war effort is evident from his endless attempts to join the army, and continued failures to do so, due to his numerous ailments. He believes he must fight because soldiers are dying – and he should be helping to save them.

Wonder Woman

Diana strongly believes that Ares, God of War, has caused turmoil in the world – and with her trusty ‘God Killer’ sword by her side, only she can stop him. Despite her mother’s pleas, Diana feels she must join the war because she cannot stand by while innocent lives are lost.


Captain America

The only person Steve Rogers has ever known well is Bucky. He has shielded him, saved him from fights, and is the quintessential hero of their times.

Wonder Woman

Diana is closest to her aunt, the island’s greatest warrior, General Antiope. Antiope would secretly train Diana for war when she was young, and eventually convinced her mother to let Diana become the warrior she was destined to be.

Love Interest

Captain America

Captain America’s closest ally, aside from Bucky, is Peggy Carter, a high-ranking intelligence officer who believes in Steve, and aids him in battles.

Peggy’s arc is tied with Steve’s – they’re part of the same team.

What was unique about Peggy & Steve’s relationship is that Peggy serves as a great inspiration for Cap. She egged him on to be the best version of himself, and aided him to make the right (albeit illegal) decision to rescue the 107th.

More importantly, Peggy was by his side as he mourned Bucky’s death – this was an important role reversal back in 2011, as she was allowed to be the emotional support. Thus meaning this allowed him to respect that Bucky died fighting for something and someone he believed in.

Despite working together for a little more than two years, and sharing plenty of chemistry, the two characters aren’t able to explore the romantic side of their relationship (barring the rushed kiss during the climactic confrontation). All of which makes sense in the context of the film and the war.

Given Peggy’s popularity in the film, she was given her own short-lived TV show, which, despite fan support, was cancelled after just two seasons.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman essentially joins Steve Trevor’s team. Steve is a spy with British Intelligence and is rescued by Diana when his plane gets shot down. He brings news of the war to her, giving her impetus to leave her home and fight. Steve is very much the brains to Diana’s brawn and he is a far more fleshed-out character than Peggy Carter.

Steve leads the mission, while Diana follows – he makes the plans, but she executes them with her strength.

Even during the final boss-fight, Diana is preoccupied with killing Ares, but Steve still has the mission of stopping the planes carrying the poison gas. He has his own storyline and arc running parallel to Diana’s – something that was never granted to Peggy.

Diana doesn’t lean on Steve for emotional support – despite spending every given moment by her side. Steve doesn’t have the time to understand Diana’s mission; he doesn’t try and believe her either. The film’s script writes them as unlikely partners and doomed lovers, making the majority of their interactions simple, focusing on her naivety of the modern world, and Steve’s attempts to impress. Most of it plays out as cute and funny, but contrived as well.

Their relationship reminds one of Miranda and Ferdinand’s in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and more than once it seems like the writer may be paying homage to Prospero’s (pretend) concern about Ferdinand:

Thou think’st there is no more such shapes as he,
Having seen but him and Caliban: foolish wench!
To the most of men this is a Caliban
And they to him are angels.

Steve is not a ‘Caliban’, but he could have done with more of his Marvel counterpart’s respect for capable women. Their romance feels rushed; in the comics they were together for a long time – but in the DCEU timeline, he’s already been dead a while.

Unlike Peggy, who is an inspiration for Captain America, Diana is not inspired by Steve. She has a greater mission, that is tied to his smaller mission, and she really only needs his help to navigate the unfamiliar territory.

Rag-Tag Team Of Heroes

Captain America

Once Captain America has rescued Bucky and the 107th infantry, he employs a rag tag group of individuals from the 107th, forming a special team against Red Skull’s forces.

The Howling Commandos are a diverse bunch – including a Japanese-origin character from Fresno, a British gentleman and an African-American. They are integral to Steve’s successes in the war.

Wonder Woman

Steve Trevor and Diana fail to convince a war council to fight against Luddendorf and Dr. Poison. Naturally, they plan to go up against the bad guys anyway, with the help of three war-worn individuals that Steve has known for a while.

Steve’s war buddies also lend to the diversity of the film – they include Middle Eastern Samir, Native American The Chief and Scottish Charlie.

Hero’s Sacrifice

Captain America

The film ends with Captain America defeating Red Skull on his super-plane. The plane is on a course to destroy New York and Captain America decides to crash the plane into the ocean, so as to save the people and win the war. He is on comms to Peggy as he flies the plane to his certain death. She is powerless to stop or save him, and in a way, she makes her own hero sacrifice by letting go of someone she loves.

Wonder Woman

In Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor takes a plane filled with Dr. Poison’s poison gas weapons and destroys it, willingly sacrificing himself in the process. Diana, pinned down by Ares, sees Steve’s plane blow up and uses his death to fuel her retaliation, true to her belief that mankind fundamentally has more love in them than hate. This conviction gives her the power to defeat Ares. But, like Peggy, she is powerless to stop or save Steve. Steve never asks Diana if this is what she wants, or if there is another way (unlike Rogers, who pleads with Peggy to respect his choice the way she had asked him to respect Bucky’s).

Diana’s hero journey includes the sacrifice of Steve – someone she loves, respects and has fought alongside – but it’s one that was never placed in her hands.

While these two films aren’t quite comparable, they definitely have some similarities. Did you spot anything we missed out? Let us know in the comments.


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Written by:

Lestat de Lioncourt
Random Thoughts – Lestat’s Blog
Freelance Contributor


Louis Skye
Freelance Contributor

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